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Choose the most important that support your argument (the pros) and the most important to refute (the cons) and focus on them. Choose the one that you find most effective for your argument.Do you find it better to “sell” your argument first and then present the counter arguments and refute them? As with an essay, you should prepare and plan your commentary.
‘the emphasis on night and darkness in this passage...’, although you may need to support this by quoting the original words.
Points about style should be made by quoting words or phrases in the original, but with an English translation (in brackets) if there is some ambiguity of meaning.
This may be of a short poem in its entirety or of a passage from a longer text.
In this way a commentary repeats the kind of class work that does exactly this – going through a poem or looking at a particular passage in detail.
This is not just a matter of identifying the theme but also of looking at how it is presented. In a story or novel, the theme of the passage may be linked to characterisation. You should look for any key and repeated words/motifs, and for any tropes. Does one particular part of speech play a particularly significant role? In terms of syntax, pay attention to sentence type and structure. If the translation is a good one, however, it may be possible to draw attention to the tone and register of the language, as well as the rhythm of the passage as a whole. As with a prose passage, when looking at style in terms of lexis and syntax you should consider what kinds of word are being used and their register (e.g. Does one particular part of speech play a particularly significant role? In terms of syntax, pay attention to sentence type and structure. We encourage you to develop familiarity with these aspects of poetic form and to enjoy the ‘music’ of poetry, but take care in this area.
In this case you should consider not only what is revealed about a character but also how this is done, and maybe relate this to other aspects of the passage too. Whose words are these – the characters or narrator’s or author’s? What is the significance of the key words or motifs? You should look for any imagery, for key and recurrent motifs, for key and repeated words, and for any tropes. How are they arranged or developed through the poem? Effective interpretation usually needs to rest on thorough technical knowledge (‘slow’ and ‘fast’, for example, are not phonemic features in Russian).What is the compositional movement through the passage or poem? When you refer to the passage or poem, this should be done clearly and succinctly by reference, for example, to first, second etc. Are there any other tropes – exaggeration, paradox etc.? This may relate to the meaning of the passage or the writer’s general style. This may relate to the meaning of the poem or the poet’s general style.As you write your commentary you should be looking to illuminate the theme or themes (or mood or emotion) that the passage or poem illustrates and explores. paragraphs or sentences (for prose), to first, second etc. You do not therefore need to quote large sections from the text. When looking at style in terms of lexis and syntax, you should consider what kinds of word are being used and their register. How does the choice of words relate to characterisation? If you are studying the texts in translation, it may be difficult to comment on aspects of style. Are there any other tropes – exaggeration, paradox etc. When dealing with poetry, you should also look at other formal aspects, such as rhyme or sound play, stanza organisation, rhythm and metre, enjambment and internal rhyme (see the separate handout for information on this).In this it can be helpful to say something about the mode of the passage. In some cases it may also be useful to identify the broader literary context, e.g.the poem’s relation to a movement such as Romanticism.In situating the passage, and on the basis of your preparation and plan, you should also formulate in a brief but open way what you think it is about, what its theme or role is, as a key or framework to your commentary.For example, it may be a turning point in the narrative or key exposition of a character. Situate a poem in the chronology of the poet’s work if you can.Your reaction to a work of literature could be in the form of an expository essay, for example if you decide to simply explain your personal response to a work.The expository essay can also be used to give a personal response to a world event, political debate, football game, work of art and so on. You want to get and, of course, keep your reader’s attention. This is the type of essay where you try to convince the reader to adopt your position on an issue or point of view.Writing a commentary about a historical document is an exercise in many ways similar to working on a commentary on a passage from prose and poem.However, in your commentary on a historical document you will need to determine A commentary is an exercise in close and detailed textual analysis.