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- Introduce every quotation smoothly and grammatically into a statement of your own. Do not leave the quotation hanging with no introduction, and do not violate the rules of grammar to include the quotation. The second example below is a fused sentence.
- A changed man, Macbeth wearily exclaims, "Out, out, brief candle!" (5.5.23).
- Your sentence must comment on the significance of the quotation. As you quote, clearly indicate the context of the passage and the purpose it serves in your argument.
- Upon hearing that his wife has died, Macbeth can only cry, "Out, out, brief candle!" (5.5.23), for life now seems to him no more than a flame that quickly vanishes.
- Quotations up to three lines long. Reproduce capitalization and punctuation as they appear in the poem (often the first word of each line is capitalized). Use a slash, with one blank space before and after, to mark each line break:
- Macbeth now sees life as a mere "tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing" (5.5.26-28).
- Quotations longer than three lines. Use extracted quotations (see QL3). Use no slashes. Copy indentation as closely as possible. Many poems are indented according to their pattern of rhyme and meter. With modern free verse which follows no consistent rule of indentation, just imitate the way the poem looks in print.
- I never may believe
- These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
- Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
- Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
- More than cool reason ever comprehends. (5.1.2-6)
- vary your handling of quotations. Do not introduce all quotations in the same way. Aim at a variety of sentence patterns and punctuation, and a balance of short (one- or two-word), medium and long quotations. Do not rely on the mechanical "this shows that" pattern:
- The "tarnished gold head" (27) on Emily's cane is a symbol of faded glory.
- use present tense. Write about the action that takes place in them using the present tense.
- Huck now is sorry that he played a trick on Jim.
avoid the irrelevant "I" and "me." Do not write "I feel the poem means . . ." or "When I first read the story. . . ." Readers will assume that any argument you present is your own, unless you explicitly state otherwise: "Some commentators have argued that Twain's novel is racist."
- do not rely on the "this shows that" pattern.
- Like the "tarnished gold head" (27) on her cane, Emily is. . . .