How do I include the "how" or effect in my commentary when analyzing a quote in Macbeth?My teacher always says we need to say "how" a literary feature effects or emphasizes a quote. I feel like I...

How do I include the "how" or effect in my commentary when analyzing a quote in Macbeth?

My teacher always says we need to say "how" a literary feature effects or emphasizes a quote. I feel like I do yet she continues to say the same thing. An example would be "the consonance in this quote emphasizes Macbeth's worries about what he was told." but then I am told to write how, but I don't understand what to do. My teacher never expains, just says its wrong.

Asked on by lkuyck

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scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

From the example that you offer in your explanation, it looks as if you are missing analysis in your writing. What this means is that you need to support your statement with specific details. In writing that "consonance" in a quote "emphasizes Macbeth's worries about what he was told," you have simply identified that consonance is present and that it might be important. What your teacher wants to see from you is how that sound effect (consonance) relates to Macbeth's specific worries. For example, does the repetition of those specific sounds in the quote mirror the repetition of Macbeth's concerns that he has been duped?

It might be more helpful to think of "why" an author uses a specific device instead of just "how." Additionally, avoid using general phrases such as "to emphasize the author's point," "to get the audience's attention," or "to get his point across." Those types of phrases say nothing. Your teacher (and AP readers) want to see you analyze why an author specifically chooses to use a particular metaphor (Does it connect to a theme in the work; if so, how? Does is reveal something about a character; if so, how and what?)

If you can remember that you need to support all of your claims--which is what your statement about consonance is--with specific support, you will answer your teacher's questions. Please do not get discouraged with your writing. Once you have mastered identifying literary or rhetorical strategies in an author's work, you just need to begin building your confidence in writing about the specific purpose of those strategies. This is the part of writing and close reading that my students find to be most difficult, but with practice, they improve, as you will.

wreynolds11's profile pic

wreynolds11 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

First of all, I'm sorry that you feel like your teacher has given you the cold shoulder - from my experience, there are two possible angles to this: yours, and your teacher's.  Since your teacher is not here to defend herself let us give her the benefit of the doubt and consider two possible approaches to the problem.  The first possibility, as I see it, is that your answers, while sounding great are slightly off the mark.  For instance, this answer: the consonance in this quote emphasizes Macbeth's worries about what he was told - this sounds like a brilliant answer to me, but there was no quote included to verify - if you went on to describe the repitition of sounds in the line mimicing Macbeth's inner thoughts I'm sure you would receive full credit.  There is, however, another possibility; make sure that your answers are in fact correct.  With tricky literary terms, especially in Shakespeare, it can be easy to get mixed up.  It is possible that your teacher just wants a more detailed answer, it is also possible that part of your answers in the past were off base.  Either way, don't let it get you down, just keep working.  And include the quote in question if you are in doubt.

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