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Quote Notebook 101

January 19, 2012

1.  Choose a “meaty” quote.  A quote that simply captures an event or a character’s action is not as good as one that is rich in language, symbolism, or other literary techniques.  You need to be able to “pull apart” the quote to get at it’s meaning or significance.
2.  In your analysis, always set the scene.  What is happening in the story at this moment.  One sentence of contextualizing the quote is enough.
3.  Think about the following when crafting your analysis.  You don’t have to address each item, but you should attempt to analyze your quote from a variety of angles or perspectives.

  • Does the quote illustrate a theme and/or motif? Explain.
  • Does the quote hint at where the story is headed? Explain.
  • Does the quote hint at what is at stake for a particular character? Explain.
  • What intrigues you about this quote? Explain.
  • Does the quote illustrate the author’s style? Think about use of language and literary techniques.
  • What questions does the quote raise for you?  Explain
  • What does the quote tell you about a character?  Think about characterization and key character traits.
  • How do Conrad’s linguistic choices add to the meaning or significance of this quote?
  • Can you dissect the language of this quote to identify specific literary devices that Conrad is using?  Is there symbolism, metaphors, alliteration, etc… and how to do these things add to the meaning of the quote?

4.  In general, try to choose quotes in a variety of lengths.  Try to answer a variety of the above questions in your analysis.
5.  Don’t just tell me what the quote says.  Tell me why you think is it important.


6.  In order to get full credit for your analysis, you’ll need to actually quote your quote!


From → writing

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