Tutor profile: Emily R.
What is the difference between a gerund and present participle?
A gerund is a word ending in -ing that takes the place of a noun within a sentence. Ex. "Running is my favorite sport." In this case, Running, while usually associated as a verb, is used as a noun. It is not an action the subject is taking, rather the name of something they enjoy, and as we know, all names/titles are nouns. A present participle is a word ending in -ing, but it does not take the place of a nouns; it is still considered a verb (ie. "Opening the door, he looked over his shoulder to send a seductive smirk to the man sitting on the bed behind him"). Here, we have two present participles: "Opening," and "sitting." Unlike most verbs that will give a sentence its tense (such as, "He runs," vs. "He ran") a present participle, while still speaking of the actions the nouns are taking, can be used within a sentence that is in the present or past tense; This is to say, a present participle is a verb ending in -ing that does not determine the tense of the sentence.
What message is Edgar Allen Poe trying to portray in his poem "The Raven"?
While there are many ways to interpret this poem, we can brainstorm on a few things to begin narrowing down our focus to something you like. The poem is given quite a lot of dark imagery as the author uses words such as, "dreary," "bleak," "ghastly," "grim," etc. This quickly and easily sets up the story to be a dark one with, meaning the message is most likely going to be bleak. The author also gives us a solid setting for the poem, placing the setting on a midnight in December. Midnight is known very readily as a "witching hour," or has been set up throughout the past as a time where people should be wary to leave their homes. December is also a clue for this darkness as many associate December with winter, and winter is classically known for resembling death in the literary community. Now that we've looked at some of the blanket aspects on this poem, we can delve deeper going in this direction. It is dark, and may involve death. If we look at it from this aspect, we can question if the meaning of this poem is related to or a remark upon death in any sort of way. The narrator within the poem does not die, himself, but he does make reference to one: "whom the angels name Lenore." This shows that he's lost someone quite dear to him, most likely a wife or girlfriend, once again intoning on the theme of death. However, this death may have very little to do with a commentary on the physical act of dying. Because the narrator is the focus, and each line leads him farther and farther on this path of darkness and death, one can conclude that Edgar Allen Poe may be commenting on a mental death. Ravens are associated with loss and ill omen, so it is no accident that Edgar Allen Poe chose to not only use it as a symbol, but the title of his poem, and by the end of the poem, the reader can see the narrator plead with this "talking" raven on its intentions and the fate of his beloved Lenore. Yet, the only answer the raven provides is to tell the narrator: "Nevermore," leaving his mind frayed with each passing beg. At the end of the poem, the bird never leaves and the narrator states, "And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted—nevermore!" showing his decent into a madness from which he will never return. Because of Poe's history with drinking and loss within his real life, one can conclude that this is a commentary on sanity and the loss of sanity due to the loss of a loved one.
How do I properly show my quote supports my overall argument?
Within a body paragraph, you are going to use quotes to show that the argument you are trying to make has a solid foundation, but as English Majors, our jobs is to show the reader exactly how out evidence does this. It is not up to the reader to interpret the meaning of your quote and how it connects to the points you are trying to make. After your quote, you must do one of two things: 1. Tell the reader how your quote supports your topic sentence (How does this quote prove the specific point you are trying to make?) 2. Tell the reader how your quote supports your thesis (How does it prove your overall argument?)
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