How to write an initial draft for a term paper comparing and contrasting Wyatt's and Marlowe's poetry using formal analysis, structural features, paraphrases and synthesis? How do I approach the...

How to write an initial draft for a term paper comparing and contrasting Wyatt's and Marlowe's poetry using formal analysis, structural features, paraphrases and synthesis? How do I approach the paper with my proposal to compare and contrast the two?

Asked on by elmabalic

1 Answer | Add Yours

huntress's profile pic

huntress | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

Since you’re writing a term paper, I assume you are not being asked to compare the body of their work, so the first step is:

1. Select a poem from each poet. I’d recommend sonnets, as they were both fans, but you’re under no obligation to do so. Choose poems that interest and intrigue you—not poems that seem easy to “get.” I know this is counter-intuitive, as it seems to add difficulty to an already intimidating assignment, but trust me on this: poems that seem straightforward and easy will bore you—the student—and produce mind-numbing papers which will bore your teacher. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself a bit. Also—because you must synthesize them—select poems that are dealing with the same issue.

2. Next, I’d read each poem several times through, looking up words I don’t know and many I think I do (because 17th C. poets can surprise you), then paraphrase each one. This helps you get into each poem and explore it. (It’s also apparently a required part of the assignment). As you do, make notes of anything you notice. Wordplay, themes, tone, attitude, poetic devices….

3. Structural features should be readily apparent as you work through the poems you’ve chosen. Are they sonnets? What type? What is the history and typical use of the style of sonnet in each case, and how is the poet in question using that form? Has he changed it? To what effect?

4. You’re still working on your notes, by the way. You have not yet begun the first draft. At this point, synthesize the two poems. To synthesize, you must summarize, emphasize main points, then point out similarities and differences between the ideas presented.

5. A formal analysis usually includes structural features, but I’ll add that you should look at each poet’s tone, imagery, use of metaphor, literary devices, rhythm (is it steady or ragged?), rhyme (is it perfect or slant?), alliteration (are the consonants soft or hard?), assonance, consonance, use of rhethorical devices, and so forth.

6. By this point, you should have a very good idea of what each poet was writing about and why and how. It’s time to ask an important question about the poems themselves—and no, I don’t mean “How are these poems alike and different?” I mean some more along the lines of, “By studying Marlow’s _________ and Wyatt’s __________ what can we learn about the different poets’ attitudes toward romantic love?”

7. The answer to your question is your thesis.

Good luck!

We’ve answered 318,989 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question