failing like never before


AP English Literature

Because I know everyone loves reading my old high school essays, heres another one from my AP English Literature class. I received a nine (out of nine) on this 40-minute timed essay, and was the only student out of 60 to score so high (not that I mean to brag, I realize that my writing skills have grown worse afer high school).

Here's the prompt:

Read the following two poems very carefully, noting that both contain a depiction of a blacksmith. Then, in a well-organized essay, discuss how the relationship of the speaker to the blacksmith affects his attitude toward him. In your essay, you may wish to consider such things as diction, tone, figurative langauge, and style.


James Joyce’s “Araby”

Here's a little one page thingie that I also wrote during AP Lit, on hoew James Joyce uses imagery to characterize the protagonist of his short story "Araby." Again, I didn't think this was that great, but I'm pretty sure it was graded more on content then style, so I ended up with a 38 out of 40. But now that I've read this "one-pager" again, I think the content is pretty craptastic too.

(Araby is a mispronunciation of Arabia) 

The protagonist of James Joyce's short story "Araby" is depicted through imagery to be a romantic who pays close attention to minute details and always shows a fascination with asthetics.

The detail with which the young boy describes the book drawing room hleps to show his proclivity to not looking past face values. Of the damp books, he likes The Memoirs of Vidocq the best of its yellowed leaves. His obssession with Mangan's sister is surprising as he never spoke to her, simply admired her physical attractiveness from a distance. Although the boy describes the girl's apperances in great detail, "her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side," he knows nothing of her beyond the physical.

The protagonist's romantic nature is also depicted through his obsession with Mangan's sister. In the scence in where the protagonist first speaks with the girl, he describes "the white curve of her neck" and how the light "lit up her hair." He thinks of things as perfect and pure, sees things in a rather romantic manner. "I may have stood there for an hour, seeing nothing but the brown-clad figure cast by imagination." In the scence where the young protagonist wlaks through the streets, "jostled by drunken men and bargaining women, :he imagines himself bearing his "chalice safely through a throng of foes." The street scence which one might imagine is a fairly normal occurance, is rendered by the protagonist to be an avenue of evil and horror through which he bravely and staunchly carries his "precious chalice." This could be considered going past simple infatuation.Also, the manner in which the protagonist pines after the girl futher contributes to characterize him as a romantic. The manner with which the boy "lays on the floor in the front parlor watching her door" every mornign and the image of this young boy tracing her footsteps, shows just how infatuated and romantic the boy is. THe protagonist also desribes his eyes as being "often full of tears," and how a "flood" from his heart "seemed to pour itself out into my bossom."

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