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Tutor profile: Annabeth L.

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Annabeth L.
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Questions

Subject: Writing

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Question:

My professor keeps marking my essays for "misplaced or dangling modifiers"-- what are these and how do I fix them?

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Annabeth L.
Answer:

Dangling misplaced modifiers are tricky for most people to spot in their own writing because we often speak them in everyday life. Here is an example of a dangling modifier in a sentence: Exhausted from staying up all night, it was difficult for me to focus on the exam. Sounds okay? While we may use this phrase in real life, it contains a misplaced modifier. Because the first clause "exhausted from staying up all night" begins with a descriptive modifier, the word that directly follows the comma must be the object of the modifier. In this incorrect sentence, "exhausted" modifies "it." The correct sentence would be: "Exhausted from staying up all night, I found it difficult to focus on the exam." Now, it is the "I" who is exhausted. The easiest way to prevent yourself from doing this in your own writing is to look at the word directly before or after a modifying clause. Is it a person? Can the noun be modified? If not, try rearranging the sentence so the object matches the modifier.

Subject: Shakespeare

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Question:

Using evidence from the text, analyze and break down the meaning of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29.

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Annabeth L.
Answer:

With a slightly unusual rhyme scheme ‘abab cdcd ebeb ff,’ Shakespeare's Sonnet 29 can be divided into two distinct parts. The first eight lines are full of negative emotion, complaints, and dejection, while the final six suggest a shift in the speaker’s downcast state. The poem’s opening quatrain laments the loneliness the speaker feels when he is “in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.” He cries out to Heaven to plead for God’s mercy and aid, yet to no avail; Heaven is “deaf” and his cries are “bootless.” To the speaker, it is not useful to plead for God’s help. His state is so low that even the angels can’t notice or bother with his feeble cries. In the following quatrain, the speaker continues to illustrate his lament as he shifts his focus away from self-loathing and towards his jealousy for others. He wishes he were like someone “more rich in hope” with better features and more “friends possessed.” These lines begin to give us a sense of what the speaker is so upset about in the first quatrain: he is not very well liked and he doesn’t have a nice-looking face. He also regrets that his skills lack the same range and quality which other people seem to have, desiring “this man’s art and that man’s scope.” Yet the most troubling line of the poem arrives at the end of the first section: “with what I most enjoy contented least.” This line transforms the speaker’s state from mere sadness and woe-is-me jealousy into a sincere depression. If he no longer finds himself content with what he once enjoyed, the speaker can no longer experience his own life.

Subject: Literature

TutorMe
Question:

In Ben Jonson's Country house poem, To Penshurst, what kind of tone do the images help create? What evidence in the poem contributes to the speaker's tone?

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Annabeth L.
Answer:

The purpose of offering such blatant exaggerations in the poem's first few lines is to evoke a satirical tone; Jonson points towards the fact that the upper class dwellers of the estate overlook the work of those under them and instead simply expect everything to appear. In this way, Jonson critiques the aristocracy and suggests their reality of life at Penshurst is an idealized delusion. Jonson expands on this critique when he describes Penshurst as a place of perfect order and social harmony. In Jonson’s Penshurst, “all come in” and no one is left “empty-handed”; the guests are equal to the master, eating and drinking just as he does (Jonson). Rather than providing a genuine praise for Sir Robert Sidney, these lines further the hyperbolic and satirical tone undergirding the poem.

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