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Before you begin your explication, you might first want to look at a list of things to look for when explicating.

Once you feel comfortable with some of the terms discussed there, get the work you are explicating in front of you and read it a few times, at least once out loud. Then follow the instructions below. Type your answers to each task in the box below it. When you have filled in all the boxes, click on the button at the bottom of the page and you will be well on your way with an explication.


Step 1: Examine the mood of the work.

Does the work express an overall emotion or mood? If so, what is it? Who is the narrator and what kind of tone does he or she use? What words, images or ideas give you a sense of the tone?

Write about the tone of the work in the box below:



Step 2: Examine the structure of the work.

If you are explicating a poem, look at the number of lines, their length, their arrangement on the page. Is the poem arranged in stanzas? Is it a traditional form, like a sonnet or haiku? Are all the lines the same length or do they vary? Does the author use any odd punctuation, capitalization or typography (extra-large words, for instance)?

If you are explicating a short story or longer piece of fiction, think about the length of the work and the structure of the plot: how and when is important information revealed to the reader?

Does the structure of the work seem to have anything to do with what it says, or means?

Write about the structure of the work in the box below:




Step 3: Examine the sound.

If you are explicating a poem, does it rhyme? Does the rhyme occur in a regular pattern or irregularly? What is the meter, or rhythm of the poem? What other sound effects can you hear in the poem? Why do you think the author used these sounds in the poem?




Step 4: Examine the overall meaning, or intent of the work.

What does the author want you to think or feel after reading this work? If it seems that there is one overall meaning, or point, write it in the box below. Or, if you think the meaning is ambiguous or unclear, speculate on why:






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