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Tutor profile: Isabel R.

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Isabel R.
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Good writing consists of clear, grammatically correct sentences and original, well-thought-out ideas. These pillars of writing are both equally important. Which would you address first when writing a paper? There are no wrong answers, but make sure to take a stance and use evidence to support your opinion!

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Isabel R.
Answer:

Many of my teachers expect students to have a proficient grasp of grammar, and if I make many grammar mistakes in an essay they will take points off of my grade. In this way, I understand the stress some writers place on the accuracy of their grammar. However, some writers focus heavily on their essay's grammatical elements and bypass the importance of the structure of their ideas and thoughts in their essay. While good grammar is an essential component of a well-written essay, making clear sentences and communicable, grammar does not necessarily clarify my essay’s overall argument. In my essays, I first focus on what ideas I want to convey because I want to be sure that I demonstrate my ability to critically analyze and respond to questions. For me, the critical thinking that goes into addressing a topic and then putting it into words is the most important aspect of writing. This pillar of writing matters the most because it teaches someone how to communicate. Some students believe that once they fix their grammar, they will be better able to communicate their thoughts. However, I worry that while their sentences may be more coherent, they may not adequately address the task they set out to accomplish. By fixating on grammar, a writer takes their attention away from the thesis statement and the reason they are writing the paper. In this sense, I believe that, in the practice of writing, the interpretation of a question and the subsequent critical analysis a writer performs is the most beneficial part of writing in the long run. Accurate grammar is technically important and can make a writer sound coherent. However, I believe that writers are even more successful if they can relay their ideas on paper and carry a well-built argument with strong, purposeful claims from the introduction of their paper to its conclusion.

Subject: Literature

TutorMe
Question:

How does Geoffrey Chaucer’s depiction of pious women in The Canterbury Tales affect the reader’s understanding of women’s role in religion? Use examples from at least two of the book’s tales to support your answer.

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Isabel R.
Answer:

In Chaucer’s setting of “The Man of Law’s Tale” and “The Clerk’s Tale,” religion provides moral guidance for women to live piously. However, while Chaucer portrays Custaunce and Grisilde, the heroines of these respective tales, as immensely devout and almost saintly, they also endure the most suffering of all female characters in The Canterbury Tales. Unpleasant circumstances repeatedly test their devotion to God despite their constant virtue and piety. This suffering is not only caused by tests of religious devotion but by men who manipulate these women. In these tales, women are not only subject to God’s authority, but they are also under the governance of men, complicating the relationship between divine figures and mortal subjects. While both Custaunce and Grisilde embody the pure and gentle ideal woman that religion attempts to cultivate, tension manifests in these character’s respective texts as they are expected to adhere to both religious doctrine and the wishes of mortal men. As Grisilde and Custaunce subject themselves to two different figures of authority, Chaucer reveals a paradox rooted in medieval society: women must equally obey the commandments of God and the desires of men. In both “The Man of Law’s Tale” and “The Clerk’s Tale,” Custaunce and Grisilde's steadfast submission to patriarchal society perpetuates their lack of self-agency because they obey a source of male authority that is not God: the ultimate sovereign, according to the Bible. As men exploit the heroines for their gain and attempt to embody a god-like figure of authority who they know the pious women will obey, they take advantage of the heroines' obedience. While Custaunce and Grisilde resemble each other in their perpetual acquiescence, Custaunce is often deceived by men, whose desires are deceptively concealed as God’s plan. Grisilde, on the other hand, directly complies with male authority as she is bound to the sacred institution of marriage overseen by God. Nevertheless, the patriarchal societies in which the heroines live exploit their exceptional, devout behavior as men attempt to imitate God, who surpasses their mortal authority.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

Read T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. After reading, consider: what is the tone of the poem? How does form and/or structure contribute to this tone? What literary devices or techniques support the tone?

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Isabel R.
Answer:

After reading T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, I found that the poem’s tone was nightmarish. The poem’s abrupt transitions between a total of five sections of verse, all bearing non-linear, fragmented scenes, conveyed a sense of chaos. Moreover, Eliot’s language emulates anxiety that exists in dreams, particularly nightmares. For example, when Madame Sosostris reads the tarot cards in the first section, she describes one of them as “blank,” telling the narrator that while she is “forbidden to see” the future, they should “fear death by water” and be “careful these days” (I. 53-55, 59). Unsureness and mystery mark this section, which seems especially ominous given that tarot cards are supposed to read the future. Eliot’s myriad of literary allusions adds to the dream-like tone of the poem. These multiple references include work by Shakespeare, Dante, Ovid, and seventeenth and eighteenth-century poets, all of which collide and intermingle with one another in this poem. Without sober analysis, dreams seem fragmented and nonsensical. The way Eliot makes use of a vast mixture of literary allusions resembles the subconscious picking from vaults of knowledge and memories, attempting to piece together a story that results in, as Eliot writes, “a heap of broken images” (I. 21-22). Eliot's presentation of fragmented knowledge and refusal to create a harmonious narrative highlights the poem's chaotic, nightmarish tone.

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