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Breaking Down the Prompt


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The story of Odysseus’ encounter with the Sirens and their enchanting but deadly song appears in Greek epic poetry in Homer’s Odyssey. An English translation of the episode is reprinted in the left column below. Margaret Atwood’s poem in the right column is a modern commentary on the classical story. • Read both texts carefully. Then write an essay in which you compare the portrayals of the Sirens. Your analysis should include discussion of tone, point of view, and whatever poetic devices (diction, imagery, etc.) seem most important. (Important to what? The BIG SO?)

  • Set up
  • Imperatives
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Every prompt has two primary elements: 1) A “WHAT” (the topic of the prompt) and2) A“HOW” ( devices/examples from the passage or poem) In the Sirens example:

• Discuss tone, point of view, and whatever poetic devices (diction, imagery, etc.) seem most important.

“WHAT”:

• Atwood’s portrayal of the sirens as a modern commentary on the original

“HOW”:

expectations of your literary analysis essay
Expectations of your Literary Analysis essay

In addition to understanding the contentof the passage that you read, and writing knowledgeably about the function of literary devices, you are also expected to writean insightful explanation of :

the BIG “SO?”

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SO… what is the overall significanceof the particular devices used in the poem?
  • SO… how does this text serve as a commentary on social, historical, or psychological concerns?
  • SO… what may be suggested meanings hinted at but not stated directly on the page? In other words, what inferencescan be made about the purpose of the work?
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LITERARY ANALYSIS

WHAT

(TOPIC)

HOW

(DEVICES/EXAMPLES)

WHY

(THE BIGSO?)

The topic of

the Prompt

(WHAT is the

subject of

the prompt?)

Direct Quotes, Summary, Details, Literary Devices (comes from the work; HOW the author illustrates the subject

Message, Insight, reflection

(aka “three Cs” : )