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5 pages/≈1375 words
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Literature & Language
English (U.S.)
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English 1120 Comparative Analysis: Thoreau & Solnit (Essay Sample)


Format & Mechanics—is the essay at least 4 pages in length? Does it properly cite/format quotes? Does it regularly bookend quotes with one’s own thoughts and analysis—i.e. making use of “the quote sandwich”?  Do the grammar, sentence structure, and diction prove adequate for an academic essay?     
Opening—do the essay’s opening paragraphs grab your attention?  Do they hold some semblance of a compelling thesis?  Do they succeed in getting the author’s foot in the door, establishing a relevant and convincing point of view on the governing ideas of Thoreau and Solnit?  Do they attempt some wider claims or do they feel too narrow?  
Thoreau & Solnit—does the essay do a good job dealing with the central texts? Does it pull in relevant quotes and properly elaborate/analyze them?  Does the essay show a reasonably sophisticated understanding of the texts? Is the analysis too vague or general?  Does it address common misconceptions of Thoreau, and Solnit’s arguments in favor of his relevance today?
The Personal and the Collective—does the essay make a convincing argument for why any of this matters—both to the writer (the essay’s “I”) and the general reader?  Does the essay engage the real world with its writing, or does it read merely like a class assignment? Does the speaker offer compelling thoughts for why 21st century readers should pay attention to Thoreau and what he might have to offer us?  Does this “bigger picture” feel fully integrated into the essay or merely tacked on in the intro and conclusion?    
Tone, Structure & Organization—Does the overall tone of the essay feel too stuffy or too casual?  Does the tone toward Thoreau and Solnit come off as too dismissive or else too eager to offer blind praise?  Does the essay feel jumpy and scattered or systematic?  Does it progress fully through its arguments and analysis or does it feel repetitive? Are there sections or paragraphs that might best be reordered? Does it give due thought to topic sentences and transitions?
Closing—is the closing paragraph more than just a rephrasing of the opening?  Does the conclusion attempt wider claims?  Does the reader feel like they have arrived at a new place and understanding by the end or do they feel like they’ve returned right where they started?


Solnit on Thoreau
The nineteenth century came with a number of developments, some of which were as pleasant and have continued to shape the society as of today. Some of the accounts of the time are captured in the literature that was published at the time and in some of the cases literature that was simply written and never found the light of the day. Of importance in the paper is to establish one specific writing and the impact that it had at the time compared to today. There is a pivotal element that is associated with the way a book is received by the audience, whether intended or otherwise (“Mysteries” 23). It is the worry of every writer that their content is going to have the desired impact on their audience now and for years to come. This is an element that is closely associated with the aspect of timelessness. Such that, while the text may have been written in the early nineteenth century, it is still relevant to this day. This is the same case with, Thoreau, who worried that the audience would actually get to understand the content at the time. He worried that it may be far removed or it may be less understood with the zeal that he intended or at least as he felt when penned the ideas in the book.
“There are probably words addressed to our condition exactly, which, if we could really hear and understand, would be more salutary than the morning or the spring to our lives.” (Thoreau, Henry David)
This is a quote that Thoreau used to refer to his own work, showing the hope that he had for the understanding of the content and the context. He was largely worried that it may have been too removed from the precepts, or that it was too obscure and challenging for them to understand what it meant. This is relative to the fact that, he was writing about concepts that were far removed from the experiences that he had in his life.
In the essay by Solnit, it is clear that Thoreau had experienced that would be termed as deep enough to contemplate what it was for those that experienced the brute of the segregation policies and practices in the country at the time. She tries to bring out her point in reference to the works that he had written and the experiences that he had had as a white. This were a different experiences compared to what the minorities experienced at the hands of the white supremacists. As she points out in the essay, Thoreau, had a close connection with his family. He was especially close with his mother emotionally and as such, he had the support that he needed to carry on his life (“Mysteries” 21). The family did not have any incidences of having to run away for the fear of their safety. In fact, as she points out in the essay, Thoreau was able to pay for the house that his parents lived in. He was also able to do most of the repairs on the home. At the same time he also had a place to live and would more often than not visit his parents. This goes to show that he had a stable upbringing and even the family were safe and carrying on with their lived, without the interference of the authorities. At the same time, the element of providing for his family was sustainable without much hustle. This was not the case of the slaves or the minority immigrants.
The lives of the slaves, were hectic and this was also the case with the immigrants. The slaves did not have the ability to make their own choices

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