Figure 17: Sample Essay Prompt for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Doesn’t Respond to Question.”

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You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

Figure 17:  Sample Essay Prompt for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are centered on a pilgrimage and a story-telling competition driving the telling of these tales; the groupings of these tales thus link together several ongoing themes and issues that are dependent on this dramatic interaction (Amtower).  Themes such as women’s role in marriage, the nature of experience and authority, and the “perfect/idealcharacter, are all representative of a larger meaning that reflects a conflict between social hierarchy and subjectivity.  Develop an analysis that illustrates your understanding of 1 or 2 of these themes in relation to the larger theme by comparing and contrasting two of the Canterbury tales, focusing your analysis primarily on the “character” and relationship(s) of these tale-tellers.  In your analysis, include specific scenes and context.

In the above essay prompt, your professor wants you to do the following:

1) Develop an “analysis.”

2) Use 1 or 2 themes.

3) Compare and Contrast TWO Canterbury Tales.

4) Pay close attention to “character” and “relationship.

5) Include specific scenes and context.

If you do anything beyond or not the above, then you have not answered the question. If you only discuss one tale, then you have not answered the question. If your paper is filled with plot summary and lacks analysis, then you have not answered the question. If you don’t include any of the themes, then you have not answered the question.

If you only compare two Canterbury Tales, then you have not answered the question. If you don’t include specific examples, context of any kind, then you have not answered the question. Always give attention to your conjunctions such as “or” and “and” because they are your greatest indicators of what to do and what not to do. “Doesn’t respond to the question” means that you have not given attention to all of the required elements of an essay prompt.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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