The first step, of course, is to carefully read and understand Eagleton's "Introduction: What Is Literature" to Literary Theory: An Introduction. Without this, you cannot hope to find a quotation to use in an answer. Eagleton's Introduction is very complicated. He goes through a pattern of reasoning on several theories of literature to reveal various ideas of what literature is, then he concludes with his assertion of what it is. The pattern he follows through the examination of each theoretical position is this:
- he states what the theoretical position is.
- he states what the problematic weaknesses of the position are.
- he states what is, in his opinion, relevant from the theory to a universalized answer about what literature is.
One of the theories he thus analyses is Russian Formalism, another is Marxism. In both of these, and in the others, he ends his analysis by favoring the part of the theoretical approach that he sees as a sound contribution to what literature is. Thus, one way to find quotes for this question is to quote his concluding remarks of analysis about one of the theories he discusses. You may use run-on quotations, which are incorporated seamlessly into the sentence you write, or you may use block indent quotations, which are inset from the margins of the text.
Another way to find a quotation is use Eagleton's final concluding statements where he makes some bold claims about what literature is. His claims incorporate elements from his earlier analyses of the various theoretical approaches he discusses. For instance, in his conclusion Eagleton draws on Marxism and asserts that literature is an ideologically important part of the superstructure of society that advances and maintains the power structure. If you read and understand his conclusion where he makes this assertion--here paraphrased, not quoted--you will certainly find good material for quotations.
Let's take an example from the conclusion of Eagleton's discussion of Russian Formalists (p. 3), which later forms part of the foundation of his final conclusion and his own assertion of what literature is. The quotation we'll work with is this: "Literature, by forcing us into a dramatic awareness of language, refreshes these habitual responses and renders objects more 'perceptible'." While a quotation itself is meaningless in relation to your own exam essay without the context, thesis, and arguments of your own analysis, this example will serve to show you how this quotation might be used effectively. What follows are two hypothetical sentences incorporating the above quote as a run-on quotation and as a block indent quotation.
- While Eagleton may emphasize other points in his final answer to the question of what literature is, his analysis of Formalism yet has salient application because literature's language does force "us into a dramatic awareness of language." A foundational part of Eagleton's final assertion depends upon Formalism's insights because ideologies undergirding value-judgements are made more "'perceptible'" by the heightened language of literature:
Literature, by forcing us into a dramatic awareness of language, refreshes these habitual responses and renders objects more 'perceptible'.