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PROMPT: Read “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe and “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh, both found in your Renaissance Poetry Packet. Compare and contrast Marlowe and Raleigh’s poems. Analyze how both use poetic techniques to achieve their differing attitudes towards their subjects.

Our tasks today:

1. Write a thesis statement (P1s and P2s) responding to the prompt above.

2. Circle P3s (textual evidence) that you would quote in your essay – must fit a P2 category.

Step 1: Read and annotate the poems carefully. This is the most essential step. You must be able to comprehend the poem and understand it before you can begin analysis.

Remember, we must have a solid foundation before we can ascend the pyramid of critical thinking.

Step 2: Prewrite - After we have comprehended the poems, now we can begin working our way up to analysis. Because this is a compare/contrast essay, a Venn diagram could be useful for organizing how the parts (diction, imagery, fig. lang., form, etc.) relate to the whole (purpose, theme, attitude, mood, etc.)

Marlowe Both Raleigh

Consider using the following chart to help organize your thoughts and later, your essay:







Shared P2:

With each step, you’ll see how I approach the step. These are my interpretations and by no means the only approach. My goal with this walkthrough is to help you develop effective habits for organizing a compare/contrast essay.

Step 3 – Identifying P1s: Consider the overall meanings of each poem (your P1). For a poem, this could be a specific attitude, theme, purpose, or mood. For prose, it could be these in addition to foreshadowing, characterization, setting, etc.

As you work through the poems, use specific P1s.

Weak P1: happy attitude toward love

Strong P1: optimistic attitude toward the devotion of love

My chart:



P1: idealistic attitude toward the eternal endurance of romantic love

P1: pragmatic and cynical approach to the inevitable deterioration of love



Shared P2:

Please note the specificity of my overall meanings (P1s). The attitudes I have identified are precise and address a tone AND subject. For an essay this short, we want depth over breadth!

NOT JUST: idealistic (attitude)

NOT JUST: eternal endurance of love (subject)

BUT: idealistic attitude toward the eternal endurance of romantic love.

Step 4 – Identifying P2s: Now that we’ve found the “whole,” let’s find the “parts.” Consider all the literary/poetic devices we’ve studied:





Figurative Language

Poetic Form



Rhyme Scheme


Sound Devices (alliteration, onomatopoeia)

Plot (open-ended essay)

It’s not enough to say that a speaker uses just a literary device. We need to qualify the device based on patterns we see.

Weak: the speaker employs imagery to suggest…

Strong: the speaker employs religious imagery to suggest…

Remember: You must be able to support your P2 with P3s (evidence from the text). If you don’t have evidence that a pattern of a certain literary/poetic device exists, then your analysis will be weak and unsupported.

My chart:



P1: idealistic attitude toward the eternal endurance of romantic love

P1: pragmatic and cynical approach to the inevitable deterioration of love

P2: naïve and intimate point-of-view

P2: diction related to decay

Shared P2: pastoral, natural imagery

After returning to the poems, I’ve found some P2s (parts) in both poems that help contribute to their respective P1s (whole). Notice how I didn’t use the vague P2s of just POV, diction, and imagery. I qualified/specified each to become what I wrote in the chart above: naïve and intimate POV, diction related to decay, and pastoral, natural imagery.

Additionally, it would be very difficult to identify 3 P2s for each poem in a 40 minute timed essay. I’d rather see strong, specific analysis with multiple quotations of evidence (P3s) and analysis than breadth of many unsupported claims. In college, you will have more time and essay length to flesh out the nuances and differences of poems.

Step 4 – Writing the thesis statement. This can be a bit misleading. For the compare/contrast essay, you can break this into two sentences to enhance clarity and efficiency. Your thesis statement should address the following in whatever order you find effective to your reader:

P1 of poem A,

P1 of poem B,

shared P2 of both poems,

P2 specific to poem A,

P2 specific to poem B

This way, you are completing the three tasks required by the prompt: analysis of poems, comparing of poems, contrasting of poems.

My thesis statement:

While Raleigh and Marlowe both employ pastoral visual imagery, Marlow expresses an idealized take on the eternal endurance of love, whereas Raleigh conveys a cynical, yet realistic approach to the inevitable deterioration of love. Where these two works differ can be found in the intimately naive point-of-view of Marlowe’s speaker and the inclusion of diction related to decay of Raleigh’s work.

Step 5 – Organizing the Essay: There are two main ways we can organize the compare/contrast essay.

Format 1: “by poem”

Format 2: “by lit device”

Format 1: By Poem

Paragraph 1: Intro. Give necessary background (titles, poets, context). Lead to Thesis Statement(s).

Paragraph 2: Mini analysis of Poem A. Connect P2s of Poem A to P1 of Poem A. ONLY ADDRESS POEM A.

Marlowe P2s -> Marlowe P1

Paragraph 3: Mini analysis of Poem B. Connect P2s of Poem B to P1 of Poem B. ONLY ADDRESS POEM B.

Raleigh P2s -> Raleigh P1

Paragraph 4: Make connections, draw similarities/differences of the poems.

Compare/contrast how shared P2s are similar/different. (Different functions of the pastoral, natural imagery)

Paragraph 5: Conclusion. Restatement of Thesis Statement(s). Answer to “So what?” question.

Format 2: By Lit/Poetry Device

Paragraph 1: Intro. Give necessary background (titles, poets, context). Lead to Thesis Statement(s).

Paragraph 2 - COMPARE: Analyze the use of shared P2 with regard to P1s of both poems.

Marlowe P2 (pastoral imagery) -> Marlowe P1

Raleigh P2 (pastoral imagery) -> Raleigh P1

Paragraph 3* – CONTRAST: Analyze the use of different, contrasting P2s in the poems.

Marlowe P2 (innocent POV) -> Marlowe P1

Raleigh P2 (diction of decay) -> Raleigh P1

*This may end up being too large of a paragraph, so feel free to break into smaller paragraphs when necessary.

Paragraph 4 – Conclusion: Wrap-up similarities and differences, make salient connections between works, answer “So what?” question.

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