Analysis of a Sonnet

Write a two-to-three-page (500-800 words) analysis of ONE of the following sonnets:

“On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” by John Keats

“Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

N.B. The assignment sheet includes the text of the two sonnets.

Analysis In this essay you will analyze a sonnet using both research and explication. As in you Othello paper, your explication will explain how the sonnet’s poetic and rhetorical techniques help convey the meaning of the poem. Remember that explication must analyze form as well as content: not just the themes and ideas in the sonnet, but also how the author crafts and styles the language. Your research will provide a broader context for you analysis by exploring the author’s biography, the sonnet’s cultural history, or the critical commentary on the sonnet.

To help you develop both your analysis and your thesis you will write a set of Sonnet Journals.

Structure of Sonnet Essay
(1 paragraph)
  • Introduces the critical question your essay will address.
  • Ends with a thesis statement (your answer to the question).
(1 paragraph)
  • Provides relevant information about the biographical, historical, or critical background of the sonnet.
(3-4 paragraphs)
  • Supports each element of your thesis with a close, careful, and detailed reading of the sonnet.
(1 paragraph)
  • Briefly summarizes your analysis.

Sources Your essay will have at least FOUR sources: one primary source (the text of the sonnet itself) and at least three secondary sources. Your secondary sources will provide background information relevant to your analysis. You may look for information on the sonnet’s author (biographical sources), the sonnet’s historical context (historical sources), or at what literary critics have said about the sonnet (critical sources). Make sure all your secondary sources provide specific information directly relevant to your analysis of the sonnet.

Your essay must have a Works Cited page with full bibliographic information on your sources, and it must employ in-text, parenthetical references. Use proper MLA formatting throughout your essay. (See, especially “Document Format,” “Anatomy of a Citation,” and “How to Quote Verse.”)

Schedule for Essay 2 — Analysis of a Sonnet
Outline Workshop April 17 Sonnet Journal 4 (including your Working Thesis, Informal Outline, and Works Cited page).
Peer Review Workshop April 19 THREE copies of your First Draft.
Revision Workshop April 24 Return Completed Peer Reviews.
Revision Conferences April 26 No class. (Optional Revision Conferences in CASA 325.)
Final Revision Due May 3 Revised Draft, First Draft, all the Peer Reviews you received, and all your Sonnet Journals (in a two-pocket folder with your name on the front cover).

Please Note This essay builds on all the skills you learned from writing your first two essays. Therefore everything the assignment sheets for those essays said about Thesis, Evidence, Structure, Style, Audience, Drafts, Revision Conferences, Proofreading, and so on applies to this essay too.

Page Last Updated: 2 April 2012