Figure 18: Essay Excerpt on “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” Thomas De Quincey

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Move Beyond Summary of Author’s Ideas (Analyze vs. Summarize).”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “M” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

Some would say that De Quincey was being hospitable and others might flat out contend that he was narrow-minded.  The latter holds more water.  For example, a couple lines down De Quincey divides the opium into three pieces and gives it to the Malay; and with one mouthful, he swallows it whole.  De Quincey returns in thought, “The quantity was enough to kill three dragoons and their horses:  and I felt some alarm for the poor creature:  but what could be done?” (450).  De Quincey rationalizes that he had given the Malay the opium because he was traveling by foot from London and it must have been three weeks since he’d last conversed with a human being (450); “I could not think of violating the laws of hospitality . . .” (De Quincey 450).  That would be his main defense if ever questioned.

Figure 18: Essay Excerpt on “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” Thomas De Quincey

Critique

Don’t use clichés to convey a point. Don’t substitute clichés for analysis. Learn to express a point without using a cliché.

Questions

1) Why does De Quincey divide the opium into three pieces?

2) What impact will this have on him or the other person?

3) Who is traveling by foot? De Quincey? The Malay?

Problem

The student doesn’t use proper grammar to present the summary accurately.

Evaluation

The student summarizes the events of the work, but fails to provide distinctions between the actions of each character. The student also uses clichés to analyze the work, which is just another form of summarizing the topic. The comment “Move Beyond Summary of Author’s Ideas” is an instruction to help students identify plot summary, convert it into analysis, and continue discussing the topic.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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