quotation response essay
You have previously received from your writing coach the full theses for your essays (ABFT). Please take some time to read through the comments and/or recommendations your coach provided on your second essay and make whatever changes are necessary.
Last week you started your first essay. Your task this week is to use your revised full thesis to guide you in composing a first draft of your quotation response essay. Below you’ll find the material from the previous assignment explaining the basics of this type of essay. Feel free to review the content from last week. It will provide helpful guidance for crafting a well-structured first-draft. Focus on building a strong, persuasive argument and arranging your paragraphs in the most effective order. Content and structure should be your emphasis for this first draft.
Remember, however, that you will have two more opportunities to work on this paper, and your writing coach will be helping you along the way. Don’t get anxious and don’t spend too much time perfecting it. The idea of a first draft is to get the basic content and structure in place. We’ll work on style and mechanics later.
Note: Any changes you make to your full thesis are for your own benefit. Do not submit a revised thesis this week—just the first draft of your essay.
The Quotation Response Essay
This essay is similar to the kind you will find on many standardized tests. You will be presented with a quotation of some kind, perhaps a familiar proverb or maxim, and you will be asked to respond to the statement in essay form.
This is a good way to spark an essay because well-chosen quotes strike us immediately as either true or false, wise or foolish. That response will be the key to a strong thesis statement from which we can build an argument.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are asked to write an essay in response to the following quote:
No man is an island, entire of itself. ~John Donne
Where do you begin? First, be sure you understand what the quotation is saying. What is the point? In this case, it may not be obvious at first glance. Think it over. Wrestle with it.
In this quote, Donne is using a metaphor (a comparison of two apparently unlike things), but in the negative sense. He is stating what man is not — specifically, that man is not like an isolated island. Perhaps this is a creative way of saying that men are not meant to go through life alone. The best way to be sure you understand the quote is to paraphrase it — say it in your own words. Maybe another way of saying this is, “People need one another to get through life.”
Once you are satisfied that you understand what the quote is saying, it’s time to decide whether or not you agree with it. Don’t be afraid to disagree just because the person quoted is famous. Creators of these kinds of essay questions often choose controversial statements in order to get a range of responses. It’s pretty hard to disagree with this particular statement though, so we’ll begin an essay defending John Donne’s idea.
Once you’ve decided that you agree or disagree, create your thesis statement. Since you are being asked to respond to the quote, be sure to include a reference to it in your thesis. Next, you’ll have to come up with points that contradict and support your thesis. When you’re done, you’ll have a full thesis.
Below, you’ll find six quotations and assignments. Choose one of these to respond to in your essay.
Note: This assignment is similar to the writing component of standardized tests, like the SAT. The difference, however, is that you will have as much time as you like to prepare for and write the essay, and you will have the opportunity to revise and improve the paper over several drafts. We think this is excellent, early exam preparation. Once you learn to compose an effective quotation-response essay under ideal circumstances, you can start preparing to write one under timed exam conditions. First learn to write well, then learn to write well under pressure!
Quotation Response Essay Topic Options
Choose any of the following options as the subject of your quotation response essay. You must choose from this list. No substitutes, please.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” –Socrates
Is it possible to be happy without thinking deeply about life? How important are thought and reflection? Is the search for meaning necessary to a fulfilling life? In an essay, support your opinion with examples from literature, history, science and technology, the arts, or your personal experience or observation.
“Above all else, to thine own self be true.” –William Shakespeare
Is it always best to follow our own inclinations and heed our own conscience? Or are there times when we should do the opposite of our instincts? In an essay, defend your position with examples and illustrations from your studies or personal experiences and observations.
“Wish not so much to live long as to live well”. –Benjamin Franklin
Americans spend a lot of time and money on health, diet, exercise, and wellness. Do we worry more about our long life than our inner health and happiness? In an essay, defend your position with examples and illustrations from your studies or personal experiences and observations.
“It’s in adversity that we know our genuine friends.” –John Collins
What makes a true friend? Do you agree that the ultimate test of friendship comes in times of trial and adversity? In an essay, defend your position with examples and illustrations from your studies or personal experiences and observations.
“Usually, when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when people get angry, they bring about a change.” –Malcolm X
Is outrage over injustice a good thing? Is it possible for justified anger to bring about change for the good? In an essay, defend your position with examples and illustrations from your studies or personal experiences and observations.
“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.” –Mary Pickford
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” –Sir Winston Churchill
Is it possible that failure can ultimately be a good thing? If failures are unavoidable, how can we overcome and benefit from them? In an essay, defend your position with examples and illustrations from your studies or personal experiences and observations.