Here are some of Debi's A+ essays, written for American Literature, British Literature and Literary Criticism.
They are pretty wordy, but if you're interested in reading, here goes.
A work of Artifice
by Marge Piercy
The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightening.
But a gardener
carefully pruned it.
It is nine inches high.
Every day as he whittles back the branches,
the gardener croons,
It is your nature to be cozy,
domestic and weak:
How lucky, little tree
to have a pot to grow in.
With living creatures
one must begin very early
to dwarf their growth;
the bound feet,
the crippled brain,
the hair in curlers,
the hands you
love to touch.
Marge Piercy: A Work of Artifice
My initial response to “A Work of Artifice” by Marge Piercy, was one of profound sadness. In defining myself as the actual reader of this poem, my background becomes significant in my emotional response. “It is this reader who comes to the text shaped by cultural and personal norms and prejudices.” (Bressler, p. 72) I come from a family of poets and published writers and have been reading and composing poetry since the age of 4. My first poem was published in the local newspaper, in which I won first prize, at age 5. I have experienced all kinds of texts, as well as many different forms of art. My mother is a prominent sculptress, and has won many awards for her art, and has had three showings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (to view her artwork, you may see pictures at her website: http://members.tripod.com/allredlinda). Being exposed to art and literature at such a young age has given me a wide variety of experiences and a huge cultural repertoire. I have even been to Pablo Picasso’s home studio in France a number of years ago.
What strikes the familiar chord in me through this poem, however, lies not in my cultural repertoire nor my literary background, but my own recent personal background. Having spent many years in an abusive relationship, I can identify with this poem on a very sensitive level. “It is your nature/ to be small and cozy,/ domestic and weak” (12-14). Throughout history, women have been subjected to prejudice and discrimination as the “weaker” sex, oft times becoming subservient to their husbands, bosses, etc. Men have been dominant for years, and in such, have squeezed the role of woman into the domestic realm, that which they believed to be “woman’s work.” Experiencing this first hand, although I did work two jobs to support a non-working husband and three children, I have felt a sense of weakness and being oppressed or kept down, kept small, which is the essence of this poem. The idea here represents the cultural norm (although this has changed in our culture today) of keeping women from speaking their mind by relegating them to purely domestic chores of little importance.
I found no key gaps within this poem on a personal level, although I can define some that would occur should a reader not be familiar with the concept of bonsai trees. My father has grown bonsai trees for many many years, thus the concept of pruning back and stunting the growth of such trees has been in my cultural and personal repertoire since childhood. For those who have never experienced the nature of bonsai trees, they would have a hard time imagining a tree that could possibly “have grown eighty feet tall” (3) as being only “nine inches high” (8). I think the largest bonsai tree that my father grew was perhaps a foot tall, at the max. For someone who’s never seen a bonsai tree, they would be unable to fill in those gaps with their own personal knowledge. But as far as gaps are concerned, I felt the poem flowed smoothly and the imagery was fairly clear. The only part where I felt some interpretation must be made was in lines 17-24, the reference to a bonsai tree being like a woman, or an oppressed woman at that.
Piercy does an adequate job of likening a tree to a woman, with such key words as “attractive” (2) and “domestic” (14). These are terms which refer directly to the horizons of expectations of the period in which this was written. It was during this era between WWI and WWII that our nation was feeling the after effects of the depression, and women’s roles were still defined by homemaking and child rearing. Such terms as “domestic” and “weak” were used in relation to women at that time, until WWII led women out of the home and into the work force to replace the men away at war. After WWII was over, women were reluctant to return to their previous stereotypical oppressed roles as homemakers. The lines “the bound feet” (20) and “the crippled brain” (21) directly refers to this idea of keeping women oppressed, keeping their ideas stunted, their growth limited to the home. Women were not allowed to have a voice in decisions, and women writers were not taken seriously or were coined with phrases such as “loose women” or “women without morals.” It wasn’t until after the second world war, that women’s rights were seen as legitimate and women were able to stand up for themselves and declare their right to develop their minds and individualities.
My own identity theme has allowed me to view this poem from a personal standpoint. Having spent years being in an oppressed situation, being told what to think, wear, eat, how to act, gives me the background to liken myself unto a bonsai tree, thus making this poem one of deep familiarity for me. And in knowing other women who have been culturally or physically repressed in some way, adds to this sense of identity. I have struggled very hard to overcome the “pruning” of my thoughts and ideas by my former spouse, and now I can truly be an individual, unlike the bonsai tree, which is kept in a state of perpetual “weakness.” For many years I would have been just like the bonsai tree, with “bound feet” (20) and a “crippled brain” (21). “The hair in curlers” refers to the domesticity of women common during that period between the two world wars, and the “hands you love to touch” (24) implies the sense of men’s adoration for such creatures who were following the norms of the times. Currently, however, through my own “lens” or “world view” I would be the tree whom the gardener gave up upon, whose growth was too strong to be kept down, who would have “grown eighty feet tall.” (3)
As stated in my introduction, my response to this poem was one of sadness, as I could identify personally with the theme of being “kept down” or “stunted growth.” It made me sad because such oppression of women still occurs through discrimination and abuse, in which I see women who are not allowed to think for themselves, not allowed to grow as individuals, but are made to cater to the whims of others (like the gardener) who prunes away their every individual thought and idea. My interpretation of this poem lies in a collective consciousness of oppressed women throughout history, through literature and art. I believe many women who read this poem would identify on a personal level with the ideas presented, the ideas of the “bound feet” (20) and “crippled brain” (21). “How lucky, little tree/ to have a pot to grow in” (15-16) and the idea of the “attractive pot” (2) are interpreted as, again, the domestic sense of setting, perhaps a cozy home in which a woman is kept to. Perhaps at the time, it was indeed lucky to be able to have an “attractive” home, for in the years following the depression, not many had such fineries and wealth to afford things “attractive.”
Overall, this poem represents a very disturbing and clear picture of the historical ideology of this period as it relates to women. Women were expected, as a cultural norm, to be domestic and weak, to be in the home, to keep their thoughts and ideas “bound” and to leave the decision making to the men, who were dominant. If anyone has seen a bonsai tree, they are very cute and amazing. But behind this “cuteness” lies the real image of a tree who has not been allowed to reach its full potential, much as women during the 1930’s were not allowed to become individuals and seek out their own personal growth through education and liberation.
1. Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (2nd edition). Prentice Hall, New Jersey, C. 1999.
2. Meyer, Michael (ed.). The Bedford Introduction to Literature (3rd edition). Bedford Books, C. 1993.
This response was for American Literature, and the teacher asked if she could post it on the college website (which I will list here when I get it).
Debra A. Mills
Reader Response #6
One Man’s Journey through suburban life
“The Swimmer,” by John Cheever, illustrates one man’s journey from a typical suburban life to loneliness and isolation. This short story is characteristic of John Cheever’s typical characterizations of suburbia, with all it’s finery and entrapments. Cheever has been noted for his “skill as a realist depicter of suburban manners and morals” (Norton, p. 1861). Yet this story presents a deeper look into Neddy Merril’s downfall from the contentment of a summer’s day to the realization of darker times.
The story begins with a scene of midsummer, with the laziness of those who can afford to lounge near the pool, those with money who are able to joke about having “drank too much” (Norton, p. 1862). Typical of suburban lifestyle are the nightly parties and social events surrounded by cocktails and lush poolside conversations. “It was a fine day” and “The sun was hot” give us a sense of this careless abandon for those whom work is not necessarily an 8 to 5 regularity (Norton, p. 1862).
Neddy, himself, is compared to a “summer’s day” and carried “the impression of youth, sport, and clement weather” (Norton, p. 1962). Cheever gives us an impression that Neddy belongs to the “jet set,” his daughters playing tennis, himself and his wife enjoying an afternoon poolside with friends. His idea of swimming from pool to pool to reach his home is unusual, and perhaps a bit eccentric, not something an ordinary person might do. His reasoning is that “a long swim might enlarge and celebrate its [the day’s] beauty” (Norton, p. 1863).
Neddy likens himself to a pilgrim, an explorer, by taking such an unusual route home, and he imagines himself a sort of hero with “friends all along the way; friends would line the banks of the Lucinda river” (Norton, p. 1863). The first few pools he encounters stay within the characteristic suburban lifestyle, being offered drinks and refreshment, “like any explorer, that the hospitable customs and traditions of the natives would have to be handled with diplomacy...” (Norton, p. 1863). He remains friendly, not rude, and continues upon his way.
As he continues from pool to pool, each house is described by the various occupants, who most are drinking or having a party and welcome him, keeping his mind on the idea of being an explorer/hero. The first inclination of a turning lies in the coming storm, “the stand of cumulus cloud - that city - had risen and darkened, and while he sat there he heard the percussiveness of thunder again” (Norton, p. 1864). As he starts again to make his way towards home, he begins to be a bit foggy, wondering what time it has gotten to be. It is almost as if his mind is clouding over, the imagery of darkness descending, “it was growing dark; it was that moment when the pinheaded birds seem to organize their song into some acute and knowledgeable recognition of the storm’s approach” (Norton, p. 1865).
His growing “fogginess” becomes more apparent as he is unable to recall details of his life, “...and rain lashed the Japanese lanterns that Mrs. levy had brought from Kyoto the year before last, or was it the year before that?” (Norton, p. 1865) “He seemed to remember having heard something about the Lindleys and their horses but the memory was unclear” (Norton, p. 1865). He is baffled and disturbed by the fact that the Welchers had not merely gone away for the summer, but moved away entirely and he ponders the fact that he cannot quite remember unpleasant facts clearly, perhaps pushing them further back in his mind so as not to remember. “Was his memory failing or had he so disciplined it in the repression of unpleasant facts that he had damaged his sense of the truth?” (Norton, p. 1865) This statement perhaps epitomizes the entire story, as we see at the end that he has indeed repressed the truth and has been unwilling to accept it.
His journey begins to be more cloudy, unclear, represented by the changing weather and the distant voices of party goers and tennis players. A glimpse of the man standing on the highway in his swim trunks gives us an impression that perhaps he isn’t quite right in the mind, as people laugh and poke fun at him as they pass. And yet, even then “he was determined to complete his journey even if it meant putting his life in danger...” (Norton, p. 1866). He is convinced that his trip has only taken an hour so far, that he can still hear the faint voices of the party he left, yet for him there is no return.
Passing from suburbia into the public pool represents his passing from the lifestyle he was accustomed to, to one more publicly average, perhaps lower class in which no one has their own pool. “Neddy remembered the sapphire water at the Bunkers’ with longing and thought that he might contaminate himself - damage his own prosperousness and charm - by swimming in this murk...” (Norton, p. 1866). Yet he continues on, ever the explorer, unable to see the descent from his accustomed life to another of loneliness. Here there is much more noise, the well manicured lawns are replaced by “treacherous footing.” His encounter with the Hallorans, while they are wealthy, they are also far from the suburban norm, being whispered as Communists, and perhaps quite eccentric in bathing in the nude, which Neddy himself accepts and follows while he swims their pool.
This encounter is the first time we hear actual words that perhaps Neddy has suffered some kind of downfall financially, “we’ve been terribly sorry to hear about all your misfortunes...” and “why, we heard you’d sold the house and that your poor children...” (Norton, p. 1867). Until one reaches the end of the story, this seems merely more of the eccentricities of the Hallorans. But as he journeys on, he is becoming more and more tired, his limbs are starting to fail him, his body seeming to grow older before our eyes. “His arms were lame. His legs felt rubbery and ached at the joints. The worst of it was the cold in his bones and the feeling that he might never be warm again” (Norton, p. 1867).
Another clear indication that not only is his body failing him, but his mind is not clear as well is in his visit to the Halloran’s daughter Helen’s house, where he asks for a drink, not customarily a politeness to drop in and ask for a drink. We find out here that “there hasn’t been anything in this house to drink since Eric’s operation. That was three years ago” (Norton, p. 1867). His “gift for concealing painful facts” once again has clouded his memory, and he wonders for the first time if he has indeed sold his house and perhaps his daughters are in trouble, and how could he forget his friend was ill.
He continues his journey, only now we have seen that perhaps this isn’t just a swim across town. Perhaps something is going on other than what the readers suspects by the mere words of the text. Neddy stops next at the Biswangers’ who are not part of his “set,” much like the Hallorans, he is out of his element, yet he pursues the longing for a drink to warm his cold bones, and let him finish his journey. Here he is not greeted warmly, called a “gate crasher” and his downfall from suburbia is evident. He is no longer the hero/explorer, but merely trying to make the last few stops to his home. Even the bartender is rude to him. This represents that he is not the “jet set” man as he started out to be, for if he were, he would be accorded more respect. His second to the last stop, at a previous mistress’ home, where he is again unwanted and unwelcomed, reveals that he is near his last rope. He cries, the “first time in his adult life he has ever cried” (Norton, p. 1869). He is confused and feels the age and weakness. No longer is he youthful. He “staggers with fatigue” (Norton, p. 1869) much as an old man would do.
Upon finally reaching his home, he is baffled that there are no lights on and the door is locked. When he peers through the windows, the house is empty. The finality of this fact reveals that he has progressed from the suburban life to the muddled old age and emptiness, his misfortunes are real and have caught up with him. No longer can he deny the painful memories of what has occurred in his life through his journey. The semi-surrealism of this journey can in theory be a progression of his life, his mind having gone from clarity of a midsummer’s day to the darkness of approaching night and old age, with its frailties and troubles, his lapse of memories coming to clarity in the end.
The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Fifth Edition, Vol. 2. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. C. 1998
This is a mid-term paper for British Literature, of course an A+, following are also the teachers comments on her grade.
Debra A. Mills
ENG 103 Midterm
Henry Mayhew: “The Watercress Girl”
The Effects of Industrialization on the Urban Children
The age of Industrialization brought about many enlightening changes to urban society. The technical innovations of the machine age and the inventions of mass transit (railroad) brought people in droves to the cities, forcing crowded unsanitary conditions. The increased need for workers put women and children into the workforce, providing cheap labor, but resulting in inhumane working conditions and “some of the worst evils of the factory system, [in which] workers, including children, toiled for up to sixteen hours a day, six days a week, under inhuman conditions: deafening noise, poor ventilation, dangerous machinery...” (Longman, p. 1818). Even though the industrial revolution brought about more jobs, “periodic economic depressions resulted in unemployment.” (Longman, p. 1819)
The suffering of the children was by far the worst of society’s ills. Henry Mahew’s four volume “London Labour and the London Poor” (1851) depicts the plight of the common people in the aftermath of the industrialization of London‘s society. He interviewed hundreds of London’s poor and gave voice to the forgotten workers, particularly the children, who earned meager subsistence from “hawking goods, begging, performing, and providing various services, from running errands to prostitution.” (Longman, p. 1838)
“The Watercress Girl” is an account from Henry Mahew’s four volume works. It symbolizes the harsh reality of child labor and the pathetic conditions in which many of the poor lived. The watercress girl, as many of the urban poor children, had lived in her short life such conditions as to virtually have no childhood. She skipped those years and went straight into womanhood, by virtue of all that she had done and seen, “..although only eight years of age, had entirely lost all childish ways, and was, indeed, in thoughts and manner, a woman.” (Longman, p. 1838) Other references indicate that she was far beyond her years, that the life she had led thus far had aged her considerably, “her little face, pale and thin with privation, was wrinkled where the dimples ought to have been, and she would sigh frequently.” (Longman, p. 1838)
The children of this time did not have the leisure to enjoy their youth. Hard times, starvation, crowded conditions prevented children from their inherent right to youth. Frequently, children too young to work in the factories took care of even younger children, “before that, I had to take care of a baby for my aunt.” (Longman, p. 1839) I find it incredible that babies were left to the care of children of 5 years and even younger, when today, we wouldn’t think of doing so. Children of this age also were taught work skills at a very early age, “mother learned me to needlework and to knit when I was about five.” (Longman, p. 1839)
The industrialization of society did bring about many important changes for humanity, yet the harsh aftermath created such a life for the children as to wipe out their childhood, literally, they were merely small adults. And although the British Health and Morals of Apprentices Act (1802) and other child labor laws were passed to regulate the conditions of children, they achieved little. (Agatucci, May, 2001) Many ignored them all together.
The part I found most distressing about “The Watercress Girl” was the characterization of nearly all the children which she knows. “No, I never see any children crying, it’s no use.” (Longman, p. 1840) There seemed to be a sense of fatalism, which I find pathetic, among the young. They had very few friends, “they never speaks to me, so I don’t speak to them,” (Longman, p. 1839) and most did not have time to play, “We children never play down there, ‘cos we’re thinking of our living.” (Longman, p. 1839) In effect, the industrialization forced the children to grow up from the time they were born. And a society without its children, is a society in which misery abounds.
At a time when many authors were conveying a “wistful longing for a romanticized past,” (Longman, p. 1820) many others, like Mayhew were expounding on the evils of class structure and trying to enlighten their readers of the horrors of the urban poor, particularly of it’s lost children. “The Watercress Girl” is only one prime example of a child without a childhood, grown to adulthood before her body had even reached adolescence, the direct result of industrialization.
1. Agatucci, Cora. “Down and Out in the Victorian Age” Class lecture, posted May 02, 2001.
2. Longman Anthology of British Literature. Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, C. 2000.
Matthew Arnold: “The Buried Life”
The Psychological Exploration of the Human Soul
One of the modes of poetry theme and content was that of psychological exploration of self, as characterized by the poem “The Buried Life” by Matthew Arnold. Class structure and gender roles were vividly looked at in depth, “definitions of masculinity and femininity were earnestly contested throughout the period, with increasing sharp assaults on traditional roles...” (Longman, p. 1888). What it was to be a man (or woman) was frequently in question, and much of Victorian poetry addressed this.
Arnold felt that, “literature must directly address the moral needs of readers.” (Longman, p. 2017) He felt a need to instruct and educate society to a fuller understanding of its democratic goals. “The Buried Life” can be seen as man’s struggle against society’s forced class and gender roles.
The poem speaks with an “I” point of view, something that was new for the Victorian era, yet which became an increasing mode throughout poetry. We know not who the “I” is in this poem, and I would doubt that it reflects the author himself.
The character of this poem, right from the beginning feels a sadness that comes from the inner struggle between what society depicts as “should” and what a person really feels, “I feel a nameless sadness o’er me roll,/ yes, yes, we know that we can jest,/ we know we, we know that we can smile!/ But there’s a something in this breast/ to which thy light words bring no rest.” (3-7) There is the beginning sense here that he is starting to see conflict within himself, first characterized by his emotions.
In the second stanza of the poem, nearly all the lines reflect the characters feeling of powerlessness to put a voice to this inner struggle, to be able to call forth the words to express his feelings without being deemed ridiculous or shunned by society, “Alas! is even love too weak/ to unlock the heart, and let it speak?” (12-13) and “Their thoughts, for fear that if revealed/ they would by other men be met/ with blank indifference, or with blame reproved.” (17-19) He notes that even though men cannot voice their thoughts and emotions, that “the same heart bets in every human breast!” (23)
The conflict between man and society’s ideology is seen further, “Ah! well for us, if even we/ even for a moment, can get free/ our heart, and hour our lips unchained/ for that which seals them hath been deep-ordained!” (26-29) Deep ordained here connotatively means that with society has deemed acceptable, which may not often coincide with what is really felt. Along these lines of social repression of true self unless in acceptable manner, that society felt a person should be molded into an acceptable framework, “And well-nigh change his own identity/ that it might keep from his capricious play/ his genuine self, and force him to obey,” (34-36) and “the unregarded river of our life/ pursue with indiscernible flow its way/ and that we should not see/ the buried stream.” (39-42) These last few lines imply the inner self, in which society has no use for, which continues on its way, even though hidden, throughout eternity.
The fact that even though repressed, the inner self will eventually stir something in the person, always seeking to come out of its shell. “There rises an unspeakable desire...a thirst to spend our fire and restless force/ in tracking our true original course.” (48-50) This again characterizes the internal conflict of social class modes of acceptability and the repression of the inner self. If you have ever tried to act in a way that is not in your true character, it is easy to see how in a short time, it is hard to keep the facade going, for the true self emerges almost unconsciously, “ from the soul’s subterranean depth upborne/ and from an infinitely distant land/ come airs, and floating echoes.” (73-75)
“But hardly have we, for one little hour/ been on our own line, have we been ourselves.” (59-60) This line again shows how powerful the ideology of the dominant class was in determining the moral codes and conduct, including how one acts and presents one’s thoughts.
The characters thoughts finally roam to the time when the true self will emerge, unable to be repressed and freed by the truth and beauty of love, “only, but this is rare/ when a beloved hand is laid in ours....our eyes can in another’s eyes read clear” (77-80) and “a bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,/ and a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.” (84-85) And finally, allowed to be freed, “and what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know/ a man becomes aware of his life’s flow.” (87-88) This brings about the calmness and peace of coming in twain with one’s own self, one’s own unconscious feeling and emotions, “an air of coolness play upon his face,/ and an unwonted calm pervades his breast.” (94-95)
Freudian theory would call this poem a conflict between the pleasure principle “craves only pleasures...ignoring moral and sexual boundaries established by society“ and the reality principle “that part of the psyche that recognizes the need for societal standards and regulations.” (Bressler, p. 180) “The Buried Life” adequately portrays this inner struggle between the self and society, between was is felt and what is acceptable. I believe that is what Arnold was attempting, to enlighten his readers of this inner struggle and sense of self in a time when strong moral character was being questioned.
1. Bressler, Charles. Literary Criticism. Prentice Hall, New Jersey, C. 1999
2. Longman Anthology of British Literature. Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, C. 2000.
Here is the teacher response to Debi's midterm.
Midterm Discussion Paper (worth 25% of
Midterm DP 98 98.0% A+ 5/8/01
MIDTERM DISCUSSION PAPER NAME: Debi Mills
Eng 103, Dr. Agatucci, Spring 2001 Evaluation: 5/12/01
Worth 25% of Course Grade GRADE/POINTS: 97 / A+
Submitted on time: Revision Option: YES
YES+SUGGESTED LENGTH: The Midterm has two parts. The
suggested length for each part is at least 2 typed/word processed pages (or at
least 400 words); and the total suggested length for the entire Midterm (Parts I
& II combined) is 4-to-5 typed/word processed pages (or about 800-to-1000
Exceeds Minimum Expectations: Excellent (A)
Very Good (B)
Meets Minimum Expectations: Satisfactory (C)
Does Not Meet Minimum Expectations: Needs Work (D)
Excellent MIDTERM PART I: 19th-Century BRITISH LITERATURE IN CONTEXT:
Explain and illustrate the ways in which one (or more) assigned 19th century British literary text(s)--of your choice--represent(s) significant elements of the context(s) (literary-historical-biographical) that produced the chosen text(s). In writing your Part I discussion be sure to explain and illustrate your main points by citing and analyzing relevant specific examples--from the literary text/s and from context source/s. Be sure to explain how/why the selected element(s) is/are significant to better understanding the literary work(s) and context(s) under discussion.~Excellent
Identify and explain significant characteristics of major British
literary-historical periods (such as the Victorian Age, Realistic Novel,
Aestheticism, Modernism, World War era, British Imperialism and
Post-Colonialism), using illustrations from representative literary texts.
Situate individual works of British literature within their larger
literary-historical-biographical contexts, and explain significant ways that
these texts reflect or represent those contexts.
Communicate one's literary interpretations effectively in informal and formal
writing, supported by relevant, well-selected evidence from primary British
literary texts, as well as relevant secondary sources (i.e. on the cultural,
literary, historical, biographical contexts of the
British literary text). Excellent
Avoid plagiarism by citing course and any outside sources using an acceptable
[i.e. MLA] academic documentation style. I am
particularly impressed by the fact that you chose to focus on a poem that we did
not have time to discuss in class - yet mobilized course resources and your own
keen perceptions derived from close reading of primary and secondary texts to
produce an illuminating interpretation of "Buried Life," Debi.
(For Part I, I also appreciate the fact that you drew upon "Down and
Out.," which was not required or explicitly recommended but very much
relevant and applied effectively to your Part I topic.)
Excellent MIDTERM PART II: INTERPRETATION OF SELECTED 19th-Century BRITISH
LITERARY WORK(S): Present and support your interpretation of one (or more) assigned 19th century British literary work(s), focusing on one (or more) literary aspects (e.g. literary concepts, terms, genre conventions) that you deem significant to understanding the literary work(s) under
discussion. In writing your Midterm Part II discussion . . . Be sure to cite and analyze specific examples from the literary work(s) to support and illustrate your main points. Be sure to explain the significance of your interpretation in terms of how it can help us better understand the literary work(s) under discussion. Excellent
(3) Define and illustrate key literary concepts, terms, genre conventions (such as theme, point of view, narrative frame, Byronic hero/ine, literary realism, dramatic monologue,.), using well-selected examples from selected British literary texts. In both Parts I and II you pay appropriate attention to the ways that literary elements and form serve literary themes and the contexts that produced them-and you do so very effectively!! Excellent
(5) Use close reading, literary analysis, course "discussions" and other relevant resources, to identify and interpret significant relationships among the thematic content and literary form, as well as relevant the literary-historical-biographical context(s), of selected individual texts. See comments above. In addition, I appreciate the fact that you are applying to Eng 103 literary analysis relevant concepts (e.g. Freudian criticism) that you are learning in other classes. Excellent
(7) Communicate one's literary interpretations effectively in informal and formal writing, supported by relevant, well-selected evidence from primary British literary texts, as well as relevant secondary sources (i.e. on the cultural, literary, historical, biographical contexts of the British literary text). Excellent
Avoid plagiarism by citing course and any outside sources
using an acceptable [i.e. MLA] academic documentation style. Excellent.