Nalysis of Paradise Lost, Book 2, lines 910 through 927

This assignment is an exercise in a?close readinga?; the goal is not just to show that you understand a given passage of verse, but to demonstrate the rich linguistic texture of that passage and the way that its language produces an abundance of meaning beyond simply its literal paraphrase.

Specifically, you should do an analysis of Paradise Lost, Book 2, lines 910 (a?Into this wild abyss...a?) through 927 (...a?The steadfast eartha?). This assignment must be completed individually; you may consult the text assigned for this class, a dictionary, myself, and/or a tutor from the Writing Center. All other research or assistance (even indirectly) by the internet or other sources is off limits, and violation of this guideline will constitute plagiarism. You should write your explication as a coherent essay, using a very brief introduction followed by paragraphs with topic sentences. Do not write in a?commentary-style,a? where you quote a line and then explain it; rather, organize your paragraphs thematically where you discuss one aspect of the passage, then another aspect. When you cite part of the passage, simply put the line number in parentheses following the quotation; no a?works citeda? is necessary. The paper should be 900-1000 words, double spaced.

As you prepare, begin by reading the passage slowly, making sure you know the meaning of every word, and of every line, and of every sentence. Do not make any assumptions or skip over any part. Next, re-read the passage out loud several times, keeping an eye (and an ear) out for different aspects each time; mark as you go. When explicating, keep in mind the following questions in order to emphasize how this passage works to produce meaning (that is, donat write your paper simply by answering these questions mechanically one after another). Be careful not simply to point out all the things you notice for the sake of pointing them out, but because they contribute to some significance that you are exploring.

a?How can the meaning of the passage be subdivided?

a?How is rhythm or stress working when you read a line out loud? How does rhythm contribute to meaning?

a?Is there use of rhyme, assonance, alliteration, or other sound-devices? How do they contribute to the meaning?

a?How does punctuation work? Is there any use of caesura or enjambment, and what might their significance be?

a?What kinds of imagery, metaphors, or similes are being used, and what effect do they have?

a?Do you see any patterns or elements of repetition in the passage?

a?Are any elements in the passage in tension with each other, or threaten to create a paradox of meaning? Are there elements that seem deliberately ambiguous or ambivalent?

a?How does the passagea now that youave read it so thoroughlya complicate or illuminate what is happening within the larger work?
Some Important Poetic Terminology

Alliteration: The repetition of identical consonant or vowel sounds at the beginning of words. Example: a?The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, / The furrow followed free.a?

Anaphora: The repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive lines. Example: As I ebbad with the ocean of life,
As I wended the shores I know,
As I walkad where the ripples continually wash you....

Assonance: Similar vowel sounds used within a group words. Example: a?Ride high the mindful tide.a?

Blank verse: Unrhymed regular verse (usually iambic pentameter). Example: a?Was this the face that launched a thousand ships, / And burnt the topless towers of Illium?a?

Caesura: A break or full stop in the middle of a line of verse. Example: a?Joined with me once, now misery hath joined / In equal ruin; into what pit thou seest.a?

Chiasmus: A a?mirror imagea? (AB-BA) pattern in a sentence, where the first half of the sentence matches the second half in reverse. Example: a?Fresh woods / and pastures new.a?

Couplet: Two consecutive lines of verse with end rhymes. Example: a?But when to mischief mortals bend their will, / How soon they find fit instruments of ill!a?

Enjambment: The lack of any pause or punctuation from one line of verse to the next line. Example: a?Of manas first disobedience, and the fruit / Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste / Brought death into the world . . .a?

Iambic: A pattern of unstressed stressed syllables. See a?Blank versea? for example. Note: other typical patterns include Trochaic (stressed unstressed, like a?doublea?), Anapestic (unstressed unstressed stressed, like a?contravenea?) , Dactylic (stressed unstressed unstressed, like a?merrilya?), and Spondaic (stressed stressed, like a?Die! Die!a?)

Imagery: Use of words that evoke an object or experience beyond the literal meaning of the lines. Example: a?Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows or outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them.a?

Metaphor: An analogy identifying one object with another and ascribing to the first object the qualities of the second. Example: a?All the worldas a stage.a?

Pentameter: A line of poetry with five stressed syllables. See a?Blank versea? for example. Note: other typical patterns include Trimeter (three stresses in a line), Tetrameter (four stresses), Hexameter (six stresses), Heptameter (seven stresses), and Octameter (eight stresses).

Simile: An explicit poetic comparison, usually using a?likea? or a?as.a? Example: a?A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, / As one great furnace flamed.a?