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Argumentative essay topics on poetry

argumentative essay topics on poetry

Arguments in an Essay on Literature

Summary:

These sections describe in detail the assignments students may complete when writing about literature. These sections also discuss different approaches (literary theory/criticism) students may use to write about literature. These resources build on the Writing About Literature materials.

Contributors:J. Case Tompkins
Last Edited: 2010-04-21 08:27:30

One of the great struggles for writers in literature is making and sustaining coherent arguments in their papers. Although argument is an essential part of all papers, the literary paper has aspects of rhetoric that are all its own.

Other OWL Resources:

A good argument in an essay on literature has:

A tight, specific focus

Rather than broad sweeping statements, a good argument teases out a single aspect of a piece of literature and analyzes it in minute detail: literature under the microscope.

Example: Loose: “Characters in this novel spend time a great deal of time looking at each other, and an examination of those gazes can give us great insight into the characters."

Problems:

  1. Too big. You would have to write a book to do the subject justice.
  2. Too general. Whose gaze is being considered? Are we considering the object of the gaze? The person doing the looking? What insight exactly is to be gained?

Tighter: “When the protagonist turns her gaze upon her former lover in their final meeting, it is her own fears, her emotional blindness, and her refusal to learn from the past that can be read in her eyes as she looks upon him."

Solutions:

  1. Small. Rather than gazes in general, this statement focuses on one event.
  2. Specific. It makes an arguable claim about the implications and suggests a close reading to support those claims.

A step beyond the teacher’s assignment

Some may tell you that a good paper rephrases a writing prompt as a statement rather than a question. Do not believe it. Instructors want to see evidence that you have read the work in question with enough seriousness to reply to the prompts given in your own way. Remember: If an answer seems obvious, keep digging.

A gaze that remains fixed on the work in question

When your argument ceases to discuss the work itself and begins to focus on the personal (your own reaction) or the biographical (the author’s life), you need to get back on track. Make no mistake: a sense of audience and information about the author can be important. When these details become central to the essay, however, you are no longer writing on literature.

Example: “One of the worst parts of this book begins in chapter three when . . .”

This statement reflects a personal reaction to the work. If you want to show that a particular piece or part of a piece is better or worse than others, begin with your evidence rather than starting with emotion.

“This could be a result of the time the author spent in jail in 1938. On the 30th of April he was arrested on charges of . . .”

Although evidence is vital to a sound paper, the statement above focuses on historical rather than critical evidence. If you include biographical information, always be ready to direct that information back into the main point of the essay. Stray from your topic only as long as is strictly necessary.

Purdue Writing OWL: Essay

argumentative essay topics on poetry Purdue OWL: Essay Writing

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Solutions:

  1. Small. Rather than gazes in general, this statement focuses on one event.
  2. Specific. It makes an arguable claim about the implications and suggests a close reading to support those claims.

A step beyond the teacher’s assignment

Some may tell you that a good paper rephrases a writing prompt as a statement rather than a question. Do not believe it. Instructors want to see evidence that you have read the work in question with enough seriousness to reply to the prompts given in your own way. Remember: If an answer seems obvious, keep digging.

A gaze that remains fixed on the work in question

When your argument ceases to discuss the work itself and begins to focus on the personal (your own reaction) or the biographical (the author’s life), you need to get back on track. Make no mistake: a sense of audience and information about the author can be important. When these details become central to the essay, however, you are no longer writing on literature.

If you want to show that a particular piece or part of a piece is better or worse than others, begin with your evidence rather than starting with emotion.

“This could be a result of the time the author spent in jail in 1938. On the 30th of April he was arrested on charges of . . .”

Although evidence is vital to a sound paper, the statement above focuses on historical rather than critical evidence. If you include biographical information, always be ready to direct that information back into the main point of the essay. Stray from your topic only as long as is strictly necessary.

Take a clear stand and write as if you want to convince the reader to agree with you. Know what you're writing about in great detail, because everything you write in the essay needs to be supported by facts.

Form a thesis. As you will be expected to weigh the pros and the cons about your thesis all through your essay, be able to defend it with clear and factual arguments. Your thesis can, for example, be, "The most memorable poems were written in the romantic era."

Start with arguments that support your thesis. You are trying to convince your reader to believe you, so you should begin the essay with facts that speak in favor of your thesis. The before-mentioned thesis can be supported by mentioning a few famous poets from that era. Name three or four and explain why they are remembered.

Convince your reader further. You will need at least three arguments that support your thesis for a good argumentative essay.

The themes often used in romantics were love, loss and nature, as well as self-doubt and self-questioning. Explain how those themes are timeless and how many people still relate to them today.

Find an opposing idea. Although it may seem counterproductive, the structure of an argumentative essay needs an idea that recognizes differing viewpoints. When you are writing about poetry, you can pick another poet, poem or era that also carries significance today and describe why others feel they are memorable.

Conclude with the main ideas. Go through your essay and sum up the main points you made, including your main thesis in the conclusion of the essay. Keep the conclusion short and describe each idea with only one sentence.

Tips
  • Do your research. If you want to write a good essay on poetry, you will need to know a lot about what you're writing about.
  • Make an outline before you begin writing to make sure you create an essay with a proper structure and help you not to get lost in the writing process.

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