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Republic of the Philippines

Mariano Marcos State University

Laoag City 2900

Name: Cabrera, Rama Grace T. Professor: Jeanette G. Dials

Major: MAEd Lang/Lit Date of Submission: January 9, 2016
Course Code/Title: Lit 201 Explication (Written Report)

(Elements and Devices)

An explication is not a paraphrase, nor a summary, nor a rewording

(though it may include succinct paraphrase), but a commentary revealing the
meaning of the work. To this end it calls attention, as it proceeds, to the
connotations of words, the function of rhymes, the shifts in point of view, the
development of contrasts/polarities, and any other contributions to the meaning.

"To explicate" something is, in the most general sense of the term, to spell
out its implications. Thus the noun "explication," in the corresponding sense, is,
in the first instance, the process of spelling out the implications of
something. And derived from this, in turn, is the sense of "explication" that refers
to the product of this process: some account of what the implications of
something are. Explication, in other words, is a kind of explanation. But usually
the thing whose implications are being explicated is a text, or something that is
being treated as a text.

"Explication" in a literary critical sense often refers to nothing more than

this: spelling out the implications of the text -- this bit, or that bit, on whatever
occasion may arise. In this sense, any time one draws an inference from any
explicit detail of the work, one is "doing explication." From a gesture or remark,
in some social context, one "sees" this or that motive at work. From the phrasing
of a narrator's or character's remarks, one understands that the speaker is being
ironic. From the realization that two characters (or two settings) stand in the
relation equivalent to one another, one notices something unstated about the
one on the basis of what has noticed (stated or unstated) about the other. It
may be that this interpretive activity is embedded in an essay whose overall

organization is some form of logical hierarchy of claims; but whenever one is
drawing out implications, one is doing explication in this broad, general sense.

There is another sense of the term that has arisen in literary critical
discourse, that is much more specific, and that takes into account
the organization of the interpretive activity, or at least of its presentation. In this
more specific sense of the term, "explication" involves going through the explicit
text, from beginning to end (as a whole, or within a section), and systematically
spelling out what the given string of explicit details, or events, or episodes, or
scenes, or stanzas, brings to mind to an appropriately engaged reader's
mind. When this is done, the resulting interpretation, the interpretive discourse
(whether oral or written) will be organized chronologically rather than
logically. That is, the organization of an explication, considered as a particular
type of critical discourse, is taken over from the work under discussion. And if
we are dealing with fiction, plays, films, and most poems, the order of explicit
details, events, episodes, that constitutes them is typically going to be
temporal. The reason for this is that time is the mode of experience, and works
of literature are generally designed, first and foremost, to convey some
experience. If we then undertake to unpack "on the fly" the unfolding of the
implicit dimensions of that unfolding experience, the order of our own
observations will be dictated by the order of the facts as presented in the work
that is seeking to sponsor or convey that experience.


syntax The grammatical arrangement of words in sentences.

Consider the subjects, verbs, and objects of each
statement and what these elements reveal about the
speaker. Do any statements have convoluted or vague
diction The articulation of speech regarded from the point of
view of its intelligibility to the audience
rhythm The way the poem sounds
synecdoche Uses a part to explain a whole or a whole to explain a
part. ex. Lend me an ear. ex. wheels to car

metonymy Synonym factor ex. crown = king. more a symbol for
something greater
caesura One line of poetry contains two different
phrases/statements. The phrases/statements are
separated by a semicolon.
enjambment Two lines of poetry are used to express one thought
form Does the poem represent a particular form (sonnet,
sestina, etc.) Does the poem present any unique
variations from the traditional structure of that form?
rhetoric How does the speaker make particular statements?
Does the rhetoric seem odd in any way? why?
vocabulary Why does the poet choose one word over another in
each line? Do any of the words have multiple or archaic
meanings that add other interpretations to the line? use
the dictionary as a resource.
patterns Rhyme, rhetorical patterns, patterns of sound, visual
patterns, rhythm and meter
rhetorical patterns Statements that follow the same format
rhyme The significance of the end words joined by sound. in a
poem with no rhymes, consider the importance of the
end words.
patterns of sound Alliteration, assonance, and onomatopoeia create
sound effects and often cluster significant words
visual patterns How does the poem look on the page?
rhythm and meter Consider how rhythm and meter influence our
perception of the speaker, his or her language, and the
first paragraph of The large issues, what conflicts are dramatized/themes
explication addressed. Start explicating immediately.

second paragraph Expand discussion of conflict/theme by discussing

of explication details of form, rhetoric, syntax, and vocabulary. discuss
how figures of speech and poetic devices reflect or
enhance the themes
Conclusion of NONE

A good poem is like a puzzle--the most fascinating part is studying the

individual pieces carefully and then putting them back together to see how
beautifully the whole thing fits together. A poem can have a number of different
"pieces" that you need to look at closely in order to complete the poetic "puzzle."
This sheet explains one way to attempt an explication of a poem, by examining
each "piece" of the poem separately. (An "explication" is simply an explanation
of how all the elements in a poem work together to achieve the total meaning
and effect.)

Examine the situation in the poem:

 Does the poem tell a story? Is it a narrative poem? If so, what events
 Does the poem express an emotion or describe a mood?
 Poetic voice: Who is the speaker? Is the poet speaking to the reader
directly or is the poem told through a fictional "persona"? To whom is he
speaking? Can you trust the speaker?
 Tone: What is the speaker's attitude toward the subject of the poem?
What sort of tone of voice seems to be appropriate for reading the poem
out loud? What words, images, or ideas give you a clue to the tone?

Examine the structure of the poem:

 Form: Look at the number of lines, their length, and their arrangement on
the page. How does the form relate to the content? Is it a traditional form
(e.g. sonnet, limerick) or "free form"? Why do you think the poem chose
that form for his poem?
 Movement: How does the poem develop? Are the images and ideas
developed chronologically, by cause and effect, by free association?
Does the poem circle back to where it started, or is the movement from
one attitude to a different attitude (e.g. from despair to hope)?
 Syntax: How many sentences are in the poem? Are the sentences simple
or complicated? Are the verbs in front of the nouns instead of in the usual
"noun, verb" order? Why?
 Punctuation: What kind of punctuation is in the poem? Does the
punctuation always coincide with the end of a poetic line? If so, this is

called an end-stopped line. If there is no punctuation at the end of a line
and the thought continues into the next line, this is called enjambement.
Is there any punctuation in the middle of a line? Why do you think the poet
would want you to pause halfway through the line?
 Title: What does the title mean? How does it relate to the poem itself?

Examine the language of the poem:

 Diction or Word Choice: Is the language colloquial, formal, simple,

 Do you know what all the words mean? If not, look them up.
 What moods or attitudes are associated with words that stand out for you?
 Allusions: Are there any allusions (references) to something outside the
poem, such as events or people from history, mythology, or religion?
 Imagery: Look at the figurative language of the poem--metaphors,
similes, analogies, personification. How do these images add to the
meaning of the poem or intensify the effect of the poem?

Examine the musical devices in the poem:

 Rhyme scheme: Does the rhyme occur in a regular pattern, or irregularly?

Is the effect formal, satisfying, musical, funny, disconcerting?
 Rhythm or meter: In most languages, there is a pattern of stressed and
unstressed syllables in a word or words in a sentence. In poetry, the
variation of stressed and unstressed syllables and words has a rhythmic
effect. What is the tonal effect of the rhythm here?
 Other "sound effects": alliteration, assonance, consonance repetition.
What tonal effect do they have here?

Has the poem created a change in mood for you--or a change in attitude?
How have the technical elements helped the poet create this effect?


Writing an explication of a short story will help you understand how the
writer used various tools to convey ideas in the story. An explication is to make
the implicit explicit. In an explication, it reveals the meaning a certain literary

piece. Knowing how to critically analyze the components, as well as the story as
a whole, will help you write an effective explication.


An explication requires you to analyze elements found in the story. You

will look at the characters. The main character should experience change by the
end of the story, so you may want to evaluate this change. Consider the themes
that appear in the story. Does the character experience loss or find strength to
succeed? Short stories may not have a stated theme or idea, so you will need
to consider the characters’ journeys through the story to help you find a deeper
meaning. Other elements you might consider important during your analysis
include the setting of the story and the narrative point of view. Main factors to
consider will vary between stories, each determined by a writer’s style and her
intent when writing the story.


In your explication, you can give a short summary of the plot, but you do
not need to give a detailed description of what happens. When summarizing the
events of the story, focus on the moments that make the biggest impact on the
characters. These important moments create the changes that occur within a
character, and pinpointing these plot points may help you understand the
writer’s methods.


A thesis statement in an explication will involve the theme in the story or

how the writer uses one or more elements to create a particular effect. Your
thesis will often refer to something you noted in your analysis of the story. For
example, “The writer uses description of the setting in each scene to portray the
theme of loss.”


Keep the specific guidelines in mind as you work on your explication.

However, the format for your explication will follow a standard essay layout.
Begin your essay with an introduction. List the title and author, and you might
choose to give a brief overview of the story or theme you uncovered. You will
place your thesis in the introduction. In the body of your essay, you use elements

of the story to help prove your thesis statement. You may have a number of
points to discuss, and this will depend on your instructor’s requirements as well
as the story itself. You will conclude your essay by restating your thesis
statement and summarizing how the points you made logically connect to your


Critical Concepts, Explication Vs. Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.k-


Betsy Draine. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Explication. Retrieved from


Literary Terms. Retrieved from http://theliterarylink.com/definitions.html

Literary Devices for Poetry Explication https://quizlet.com/9021447/literary-devices-for-


How to Explicate a Poem. Retrieved from http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/explcat.html

How to write an Explication for Short Story. Retrieved from