Literary Analysis Essay on I Heard a Fly Buzz by Emily Dickinson


For your Literary Analysis Essay, you will have the choice to analyze either one or two poems. One poem that you write about must come from our course reading list (Roethke, Dickinson, Trethewey, Smith, Whitman, Vuong, or Brooks). If you choose to write about two poems, your second poem does not have to be from our reading list, but it can be. If you analyze two poems, your essay should be a comparative essay. In your analysis, you should rely on the analytical skills you have learned so far during the first four weeks of our semester. Consider one or some of the following literary elements in the poem or poems you’ve chosen: Point of view Figurative language Symbolism Setting, atmosphere, mood Allusion Theme Voice, tone, diction It is up to you to choose the appropriate amount of these elements to analyze; a strong analytical essay will focus on one or a few of these rather than all of them. Remember to close read your poem or poems in order to develop a strong analysis. We can brainstorm specific topics in class if that is helpful, but here are a few quick examples you may choose from (but do not have to!): Tone, diction, and ambiguity in Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” Representations of death in Dickinson’s “I heard a Fly buzz–” and Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking”  Racial injustice in Trethewey’s “Incident” and Smith’s “say it with your whole black mouth” Your essay should include a thesis statement, and we’ll discuss strong thesis statements for literary analysis essays. If you compare two poems, your thesis statement should indicate your comparison. Please avoid using “these two poems are similar but different” – your thesis should be as specific as possible. You should not use secondary sources for this paper, meaning you should only quote from the poem or poems you are analyzing. I want this analysis to come from you, not someone else. Your final essay should be around 3 full pages and formatted according to MLA style. We will at least briefly discuss citing poetry in class, but for more information on how to cite poetry, visit the Purdue OWL website on formatting quotations in MLA.

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