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Tutor profile: Jenna M.

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Jenna M.
Corporate paralegal with strong background in English Literature and Creative writing
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Questions

Subject: Writing

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Question:

You are tasked to write a 500-word persuasive essay of your choice. The topic should correspond to the latest reading done in class.

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Jenna M.
Answer:

This is a question that came to me often in AP English my senior year in highschool, and it wasn't always the simplest to accomplish. The most important step is to first establish your own opinion. Easy enough, right? Except that you want to make sure that you can also support your opinion using textual details from the reading, rather than stating an opinion and arguing about it. Persuasion isn't argumentative. It is using your personal interpretation of text to support your own thoughts. So, the first step will be in deciding what your opinion is. This will establish your opening paragraph, and create the thesis for your essay. You want to make sure this opening paragraph is free of textual evidence. This should be where you explain your opinion, finishing the paragraph with what will be considered your thesis statement. Let's use the identity of Alec D'Urberville. A sample thesis statement may be: Alec D'Urberville, through his deception, created mayhem and havoc for Tess. The following paragraphs should then cite examples from the text, at least two of three, in support of your argument. Each paragraph should focus on character development, action, or speech. You don't want to merely state the facts of the text, you want to weave the text into your own personal statements as support. For instance: Alec D’Urberville, who is actually a Stoke-d’Urberville was “no more d’Urberville of the true tree” (27) . You can see the page number, which cites the quoted text from Thomas Hardy's novel, and how the quoted text supports the statement. Finally, you want your conclusion paragraph to not only summarize your support paragraphs, but you want to reinforce your point. If continuing with the example of Alec D'Urberville, it would not simply restate the belief that Alec created mayhem and havoc for Tess, it would take that concept and then push it further even more, perhaps stating something such as: Alec D'Urberville's actions and speech sent Tess down a path of misconception that ultimately impacted her love and her own happiness in pursuit of his own desires. You can see that sort of closing is not only restating your original thought, but certainly packing a punch at the very end.

Subject: Literature

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Question:

Do 19th century authors focus on the creation of strong-female characters, or do they largely focus on what is considered to be "a woman's place?"

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Jenna M.
Answer:

If you focus on authors such as Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, you can find many instances of developed and strong female characters. Largely, many modern women resonant with Austen's character Elizabeth Bennett and the way that Elizabeth chooses to pursue love and choice, rather than follow what is considered a sensible marriage as her friend Charlotte. We easily see Elizabeth's passion and protective nature for her family, and we see her faults. Similarly, in Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre," Jane takes it upon herself to build a life that transcends the expectations of a typical Victorian woman. Again and again, Jane is placed in adversities that stress both her emotional and logical reactions. Bronte focuses largely on Jane's independent nature. Then you look at a character such as Tess from Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D’Urbervilles" who tries her hardest to exemplify Victorian ideals by assisting her family and doing as she is instructed by her parents. This leads her down a road of misery and angst, largely wrought with misinformed choices. Though by first appearances, Tess appears to uphold the traditional Victorian model, that Hardy focuses on her strife and her decisions may make her yet another heroine succumbing to circumstance despite her best efforts. While some authors may indeed seemingly create weak-willed characters, they are often placed in positions that challenge them and demand emotion and logic largely unexpected of Victorian women.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

Explicate ee cummings' poem “Tulips and Chimney’s” in order to speak to the perspective of elite societal members of the time.

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Jenna M.
Answer:

He uses the sonnet form in interesting ways to mock the women in the upper echelons and describe the immatureness of their view of reality. The sonnet immediately portrays how twisted their vision is in the way that it reverses the traditional Petrarchan sonnet form. Traditionally, the Italian sonnet follows the rhyme scheme of abbaabba followed by cdecde. However, cummings switches the rhyme scheme, making the octave abcddcba and the sestet eeffee. The octave contains various descriptions of the Cambridge ladies, which are atypical in themselves. The ladies are described as “unbeautiful [with] comfortable minds” (2), which goes against the typical image of a Cambridge lad. Cambridge often represents knowledge and prestige with an amount of dignified glamour. The reversal of the stereotype shows how the ladies are not what they appear, especially to the outside world. The way the rhymes are more distanced from one another mimics the way the two images of these ladies are drastically different. There is the perception that they are intelligent and beautiful, but what they are actually people who “live in furnished souls” (1). This statement indicates that Cambridge ladies are, in a way, built. The term “furnished” brings to mind a very organized room or space, arranged in a particular fashion. This makes the ladies appear to be cookie-cutter versions of a single person. There is also controversy within the lines when the ladies “are invariably interested in so many things –/ at the present writing one still finds/delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?” (6-8). These lines are a paradox. The ladies claim interest in various things, yet continue to do the same thing. It is another reversal of expectation that the form helps define. The volta comes right at the end of the octave, and is defined by the shift in rhyme scheme and the change in content. The poem subtly changes with the use of “permanent faces coyly bandy” (9). “Bandy” is an adjective that describes how a person’s body curves so that the knees are farther apart. This is an interesting use of the word because it is joined with the term “coyly,” which is a synonym for shyness and both are describing the faces of the women. It is the last comparison of the poem that is inherently controversial. The faces are described as being set in stone, and yet they bend when there is the mention of an affair. This could be interpreted that the faces alter at the mention of a scandal, which is some form of excitement at the lowest level. It shows that they can only take some sort of pleasure at another person’s expense. The sestet moves into more detailed metaphors, relating the sky to a lavender box and the moon to candy. The difference between the images depicts how the ladies do not understand anything bigger and greater than their own world. The rhymes in the poem are subtle and often hidden by the enjambment, which helps the ideas in the poem flow together. The rhymes are also primarily half-rhyme to allow the poem less of a nursery rhyme feeling. However, the sestet is complete of full rhymes. This distinction lessens the impact of what cummings is saying because of the childish feel. However, that same childish tone reinforces that the ladies are incapable of understanding the larger picture. The argumentative form of the sonnet works well with the content that cummings is speaking about. Using the form he is able to present the truth about the character of Cambridge ladies, and then take what is the truth and relate it to the real world. It is interesting that he does not take two different stands in the poem, which is typical of a sonnet. Rather, he makes a claim, and applies it in a grander scheme to reinforce his point and come to a conclusion.

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