The close reading essay was the first essay of the semester, and it definitely reaped the benefits of being the first obstacle for my ambition to take down. I’m always nervous to write an essay and constantly fighting off perfectionistic tendencies, but I was completely confident in my ability to write a decent essay once I found out the prompt. As a close reading analysis of The Tempest, all this essay formally required was to evidence an argument (the flavor and topic of which was up to my own choice) using only the text itself—no outside sources were necessary or allowed. Woohoo! I was tasked to argue something based solely on my own intellectual merit? What could be better?
While I was excited about how we were to write this paper, I had some trouble figuring out what to write this paper on. Since we could write about anything in The Tempest, I felt like I had too many choices. Sometimes when the world is your oyster, all you want to do is find the nearest shell and hunker down. So to get started I asked myself what was I angered by in the play; what got my inner ethical protester fired up? The answer came pretty easily to me: Prospero’s manipulation of Miranda. This spark led me to do my first free-write. The free-write focuses really heavily on Miranda alone, and you can also see one of my process assignments—the small works our class had to do that helped us create a communal paper trail of ideas.
From my free-write, I moved into my outline, which illustrates an entirely more sophisticated paper topic. Instead of just focusing on Miranda’s hierarchal relationship with her father, which was a good starting point, I broaden my scope to investigate how The Tempest treats hierarchy in general.
My outline lead to my first draft of the essay, which I then received feedback on from a peer. I ended up not changing my draft a lot based on this feedback since a lot of it had to do with grammatical errors anyways—some warranted, some not—and instead did some minor self revision since I consider myself to be my own hardest critic anyways.
I then turned in my professorial draft and promptly received more feedback from my professor, Dr. Scheler. From this point on marks the most revisions I underwent in an essay, taking advantage of submitting a second revised draft for a final round of feedback. This final version of my essay, which my professor deemed “ready for the presses” added more evidence from the text and greatly benefitted from some extensive cuts i paragraphs which added to the clarity of my argument.
I think that this essay underwent my longest revision process because I am always most ambitious at the beginning of the semester, always having a drive to prove myself to a professor, but also myself. I also think that because I was only dealing with close-reading in this draft, I had less to sort through in revisions and thus felt I had the time to revise more.
Either way, I consider this essay a large success because of its organization and the quality of evidence used to back up my claim. You can hear me speak more specifically on the argument of this essay in my presentation portfolio.