Close Reading Essay

Essay must relate the two passages below to style, mood, theme, plot, character, setting, point of view. Clearly discuss each passage’s contribution to the overall development of the work from which it is taken. If there are intertextual issues between the two passages, be sure to discuss them.


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1) Passage:

[The British Camp near Dover.] Enter, in conquest, with drum and colours, Edmund; Lear and Cordelia prisoners; Soldiers, Captain. Edmund. Some officers take them away: good guard Until their greater pleasures first be known That are to censure them. Cordelia. We are not the first Who with best meaning have incurred the worst. For thee, oppressèd king, I am cast down; Myself could else out-frown false fortune’s frown. Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters? Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison: We two alone will sing like birds i’ the cage: When thou dost ask me blessing I’ll kneel down And ask of thee forgiveness: so we’ll live, And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too, Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out; And take upon’s the mystery of things, As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out, In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones That ebb and flow by th’ moon. Edmund. Take them away. Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee? He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven, And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes; The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell, Ere they shall make us weep: we’ll see ’em starve first. Come. [Exeunt Lear and Cordelia, guarded.]

–from King Lear

2) passage:
“A year ago tonight was de storm what blowed ma porch away! You ‘members, honey? . . . Done seem like this year took more’n ma porch too. My baby chile’s done left home an’ gone to stay down yonder in de Bottoms with them triflin’ smothers family, where de piano’s goin’ night an’ day. An’ yo mammy’s done gone traipsin’ after Jimboy. . . . Well, I thanks de Lawd you ain’t gone too. You’s mighty little an’ knee-high to a duck, but yo’s ma stand-by. You’s all I got, an’ you ain’t gwine leave yo’ old grandma, is you?” Hager had turned to Sandy in these lonely days for comfort and companionship. Through the long summer evenings they sat together on the front porch and she told her grandchild stories. Sometimes Sister Johnson came over and sat with them for a while smoking. Sometimes Madam de Carter, full of chatter and big words about the lodge and the race, would be there. But more often the two were alone—the black washerwoman with the grey hair and the little brown boy. Slavery-time stories, myths, folk tales like the Rabbit and the Tar Baby; the war, Abe Lincoln, freedom; visions of the Lord; years of faith and labor, love and struggle filled Aunt Hager’s talk of a summer night, while lightning-bugs glowed and glimmered and the katydids chirruped, and the stars sparkled in the far-off heavens. Sandy was getting to be too big a boy to sit in his grandmother’s lap and be rocked to sleep as in summers gone by; now he sat on a little stool beside her, leaning his head on her legs when he was tired. Or else he lay flat on the floor of the porch listening, and looking up at the stars. Tonight Hager talked about love.

–from Not without Laughter

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