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Quotations from the Reviews
from the review of "Slavery’s Dehumanizing Effects":
The strength of your essay is your realization of what is most important in terms of the content of Douglass' Narrative, its deep understanding of the negative impact of slavery beyond the cruelty exacted upon the slaves themselves. In your final paragraph you say this: “In analysis, Douglass effectively proves that slavery has a soul-killing effect on the slaveholders. Through the use of flashback, characterization, and imagery he effectively persuades the reader that slavery is contrary to the laws of nature.” The first of these two sentences is true and insightful. The second is partially true and trivial. What’s missing from your essay is an articulation of the link between the Narrative's analytic power and its persuasive power
from the review of "My Life":
If you fix nothing else here, fix “candy stripper.” Never has the addition of a single letter had such a devastating impact on the intended meaning of a phrase.
from the review of "'Essay on Journey's End' and 'Birdsong'":
The thesis of the essay is the biggest problem here. You don’t really have one. It doesn’t seem arguable, in any case, to say that these two works show the tedium of war. ... One general way to make a thesis arguable is to cite other opinions and disagree with them. You are clearly aware of this approach ... but your adoption of that approach is a little superficial. You refer to “some people” with whom you disagree, but don’t actually cite any specific sources. ... The essay moves from one topic to the next, and from one book to the other and back again, in an apparently random fashion. If you had a strong, complex argument to make, then you could organize the essay around the elaboration of that argument, but it doesn’t really seem that you are trying to convince your reader of anything beyond the fact that there are a couple of examples in these works that show men trying to cope with boredom; or when you go beyond that, as you do when you compare earwig races to horse races, the analysis seems to be merely ancillary.
from the review of "Pick Me!":
Finally, since I agree that ethics are important, perhaps you’ll forgive me for pointing out that your existence will be more ethically justifiable if you make a commitment never again to use the phrase “in no way, shape, or form” ... and never try to pass off “extra-curricular” as a noun.
from the review of "What is Death?"
The sublime irony of your essay is that even though it demonstrates (especially, but not only, in the second paragraph) a kind of entrenched unwillingness to bring the question of the meaning of death into its contemplation of life, it’s major insight, nonetheless, is that a life that flees from that question is in some sense inauthentic or incomplete. But an essay that hides its major insight beneath the false security blanket of platitudinous drivel is also inauthentic and incomplete. I suggest that you raise your insight to the level of an explicit thesis and ruthlessly delete everything that doesn’t help elaborate that thesis.
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