Short Writing 2: Analysis
Total Points: 60
Description: A rhetorical analysis of an essay
Format: MLA format, typed, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman Font
Due Date: Wednesday, February 6th
• In two paragraphs (roughly 400-600 words), complete a focused rhetorical analysis of either William Cronon’s “The Trouble with Wilderness” or Michel Montaigne’s “On the
Cannibals.” You will analyze one specific piece of evidence (10 on 1) to support your thesis.
o The first paragraph should be a brief and independent summary of the article in
question (keeping in mind the CABIN criteria/your summary training).
o End the first paragraph with your specific, unobvious, and non-list thesis. Your thesis ought to have two parts: 1. Recognize an important implicit (unstated) element
in the essay (for example, a rhetorical strategy or assumption that you wish to examine). 2. Suggest one specific, important way the unstated element contributes to
the function of the essay or the advancement of the author’s argument.
o Remember the distinction between content and design. This analysis is about what
the author does to design the argument and reasoning as to a key consequence of
that design to the rhetorical function of the essay. It may help to include the author’s intended audience in your thesis (however, this is not a requirement; if you
do include the audience in your thesis, be sure to specify precisely who the audience
o After you compose your thesis and CABIN summary, follow up with a second paragraph that defends your thesis by examining one key piece of evidence from the essay (10 on 1). Your goal here is to give the reader a better understanding of the essay through this piece of evidence. Examine specific parts of the evidence to illustrate your thesis. Be sure to defend both parts of your thesis—after recognizing the
role of an implicit element in the author’s argument, reason as to a key consequence
of this implicit element to the essay’s function.
o Use a topic sentence for the second paragraph. Rely on attributive tags and transitions where appropriate throughout.
o Remember to link evidence and claims by providing adequate explanation. Connect
the dots. At least half of the second paragraph should be your words explaining the
evidence in service to your thesis. Do not give me two paragraphs of summary.
o Cite all paraphrases and quotes.
o Refrain from personal judgement. Pursue rational analysis of the evidence.
o Give the exact word count at the end.
• To recognize implicit rhetorical strategies
• To defend a thesis
• To quote and paraphrase accurately and gracefully
• To lay the foundation for writing effective responses to civic and academic debates
Criteria for Evaluation
Complete: Does the analysis offer all the necessary parts of the assignment (thesis, CABIN
summary, evidence, analysis of the evidence in light of the thesis, etc.)?
Accurate: Does the essay accurately represent the material?
Brief: Does the analysis use language precisely and economically to say as much as possible in the allotted space?
Independent: Would the analysis make sense to readers who have not read the essay?
Clarity and Design: Is the analysis well-written, easy to understand, and easy to follow?
Does it have an effective structure and an appropriate style? Are sources properly documented? Are transitions and attributive tags used well? Is it organized and coherent?
Editing Skills: Is the analysis free of grammatical and mechanical errors?
A - Model paper. One or maybe two minor errors and no major errors.
B - A few minor errors and perhaps one major error counterbalanced by better than average
C - Complete assignment. One or more major errors accompanied by several minor errors.
On balance, however, the paper does fair work satisfying the requirements. A “C” paper is
a successful paper.
D - A medley of major and minor errors. Usually an incomplete assignment. Often times
“D” papers demonstrate reading and assignment comprehension issues or are a product of
student sloppiness and laziness.
F - Failure.
Major Errors: Result in the loss of anywhere between 6-15 points, depending on the severity.
These errors usually involve issues related to accuracy and misrepresentation, the thesis, independence, citation, evidence/analysis, and completion.
Minor Errors: Result in the loss of anywhere between 1-5 points, depending on the severity.
These errors usually involve issues related to grammar and editing, organization, clarity, and neutrality. However, sometimes a problem with accuracy, the thesis, independence, evidence/analysis,
or citation is insignificant enough to fall under this category.
Keep in mind that minor errors can snowball and cause major errors. For instance, minor errors in
organization could conceivably make a paper very difficult to follow overall, giving rise to a work
that lacks independence and clarity.
1:31 . On the Cannibals
31. On the Cannibals
[The cannibals mentioned in this chapter lived on the coasts of Braz il. Montaigne had read
many accounts of the conqiust of the New World, including Girolamo Benzoni's Historia
de! mondo novo (Venice, 1565) in the French translation by Urbain Chauveton, the
very title of which emphasizes the dreadful treatment of the natives by the Conquistadores:
A New History of the New World containing all that Spaniards have done up to
the present in the West Indies, and the harsh treatment which they have meted out
to those peoples yonder .. . Together with a short History of a Massacre committed
by the Spaniards on some Frenchmen in Florida (two editions in 1579).
Montaigne's 'primitivism' (his respect for barbarous peoples and his admiration for much
of their conduct, once their motives are understood) has little in common with the 'noble
savages' of later centuries. These peoples are indeed cruel: but so are we . Their simple
ways have much to teach us: they can ser~e as a standard by which we can judge Plato's
Republic, the myth of the Golden Age, the cruelty, the corruption and the culture of
Europe, and show up that European insularity which condemns peoples as barbarous
merely because their manners and their dress are different. J
[A] When King Pyrrhus crossed into Italy, after noting the excellent
formation of the army which the Romans had sent ahead towards him he
said, 'I do not know what kind of Barbarians these are' (for the Greeks
called all foreigners Barbarians) 'but there is nothing barbarous about the
ordering of the army which I can see!' The Greeks said the same about the
army which Flaminius brought over to their country, [C] as did Philip
when he saw from a hill-top in his kingdom the order and plan of the
Roman encampment under Publius Sulpicius Galba.1 [A] We should
be similarly wary of accepting common opinions; we should judge them
by the ways of reason not by popular vote.
I have long had a man with me who stayed some ten or twelve years in
that other world which was discovered in our century when Villegaignon
made his landfall and named it La France Antartique. 2 This discovery of a
1. Plutarch, Life of Pyrrhus and Life of Flaminius.
2. Durand de Villegagnon struck land, in Brazil, in 1557. Cf. Lettres sur la
navigation du chevalier de Villegaignon es terres de l'Amerique, Paris, 1557, by an
author who calls himself simply N .B.
boundless territory seems to me worthy of reflection. I am by no means
sure that some other land may not be discovered in the future, since
so many persons, [CJ greater than we are, [A] were wrong about
this one! I fear that our eyes are bigger than our bellies, our curiosity
more 3 than we can stomach. We grasp at everything but clasp nothing but
Plato brings in Solon to relate that he had learned from the priests of the
town of Sai's in Egypt how, long ago before the Flood, there was a vast
island called Atlantis right at the mouth of the Straits of Gibraltar,
occupying an area greater than Asia an~ Africa combined; the kings of that
country, who not only possessed that island but had spread on to the
mainland across the bre;idth of Africa as far as Egypt and the length of
Europe as far as Tuscany, planned to stride over into Asia and subdue all
the peoples bordering on the Mediterranean as far as the Black Sea. To this
end they had traversed Spain, Gaul and Italy and had reached as far as
Greece when the Athenians withstood them; but soon afterwards those
Athenians, as well as the people of Atlantis and their island, were engulfed
in that Flood.•
It is most likely that that vast inundation should have produced strange
changes to the inhabitable areas of the world; it is maintained that it was
then that the sea cut off Sicily from Italy [BJ
Hax loca, vi quondam et vasta convulsa ruina,
Dissiluisse ferunt, cum protinus utraque tellus
[Those places, they say, were once wrenched apart by a violent convulsion,
whereas they had formerly been one single land.)'
[A] as well as Cyprus from Syria, and the island of Negropontus
from the Boeotian mainland, while elsewhere lands once separated were
j oined together by filling in the trenches between them with mud and
sterilisque diu palus aptaque remis
Vicinas urbes alit, et grave sentit aratrum .
3. '80: our bellies, as they say, applying it to those whose appetite and hunger make
them desire more meat than they can manage: I fear that we too have curiosity far
4. Plato, Timaeus, 24E etc., and Girolamo Benzoni, Historia del mondo novo, Venice
1565. Cf. also Plato, Critias, 113 A ff.
5. Virgil, Aeneid, lll, 414-17.
1:31. On the Cannibals
1:31. On the Cannibals
(Barren swamps which you could row a boat through now feed neighbouring
cities and bear the heavy plough. )6
emigrated with their wives and children and started living there. The
Carthaginian lords, seeing that their country was being gradually
depopulated, expressly forbade any more to go there on pain of death and
drove out those new settlers, fearing it is said that they would in time
increase so greatly that they would supplant them and bring down their
But that account in Aristotle cannot apply to these new lands either.
That man of mine was a simple, rough fellow - qualities which make for
a good witness: those clever chaps notice more things more carefully but
are always adding glosses; they cannot help changing their story a little in
order to make their views triumph and be more persuasive; they never
show you anything purely as it is: they bend it and disguise it to fit in with
their own views. To make their judgement more credible and to win you
over they emphasize their own side, amplify it and extend it. So you need
either a very trustworthy man or else a man so simple that he has nothing
in him on which to build such false discoveries or make them plausible;
and he must be wedded to no cause. Such was my man; moreover on
various occasions he showed me several seamen and merchants whom he
knew on that voyage. So I am content with what he told me, without
inquiring what the cosmographers have to say about it.
What we need is topographers who would make detailed accounts of the
places which they had actually been to. But because they have the advantage
of visiting Palestine, they want to enjoy the right of telling us tales about
all the rest of the world! I wish everyone would write only about what he
knows - not in this matter only but in all others. A man may well have
detailed knowledge or experience· of the nature of one particular river
or stream, yet about all the others he knows only what everyone else
does; but in order to trot out his little scrap of knowledge he will write
a book on the whole of physics! From this vice many great inconveniences
Now to get back to the subject, I find (from what has been told me) that
there is nothing savage or barbarous about those peoples, but that every
man calls barbarous anything he is not accustomed to; it is indeed the case
that we have no other criterion of truth or right-reason than the example
and form of the opinions and customs of our own country. There we
always find the perfect religion, the perfect polity, the most developed and
perfect way of doing anything! Those 'savages' are only wild in the sense
that we call fruits wild when they are produced by Nature in her ordinary
course: whereas it is fruit which we have artificially perverted and misled
from the common order which we ought to call savage. It is in the first
Yet there is little likelihood of that island's being the New World which
we have recently discovered, for it was virtually touching Spain; it would
be unbelievable for a flood to force it back more than twelve hundred
leagues to where it is now; besides our modern seamen have already all but
discovered that it is not an island at all but a mainland, contiguous on one
side with the East Indies and on others with lands lying beneath both the
Poles - or that if it is separated from them, it is by straits so narrow that it
does not deserve the name of'island' on that account.
[B] It seems that large bodies such as these are subject, as are our own,
to changes, [C] some natural, some [B] feverish.' When I consider
how my local river the Dordogne has, during my own lifetime, been
encroaching on the right-hand bank going downstream and has taken over
so much land that it has robbed many buildings of their foundation, I
realize that it has been suffering from some unusual upset: for if it had always
gone on like this or were to do so in the future, the whole face of the
world would be distorted. But their moods change: sometimes they incline
one way, then another: and sometimes they restrain themselves. I am not
discussing those sudden floodings whose causes we know. By the coast-line
in Medoc, my brother the Sieur d' Arsac can see lands of his lying buried
under sand spewed up by the sea: the tops of some of the buildings are still
visible: his rents and arable fields have been changed into very sparse
grazing. The locals say that the sea has been thrusting so hard against them
for some time now that they have lost four leagues of land. These sands are
the sea's pioneer-corps: [C] and we can see those huge shifting sanddunes marching a half-league ahead in the vanguard, capturing territory.
[A] The other testimony from Antiquity which some would make
relevant to this discovery is in Aristotle - if that little book about unheard
wonders is really his. 8 He tells how some Carthaginians struck out across
the Atlantic beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, sailed for a long time and
finally discovered a large fertile island entirely clothed in woodlands and
watered by great deep rivers but very far from any mainland; they and
others after them, attracted by the richness and fertility of the soil,
6. Horace, Ars poetica, 65-6.
7. '88: changes sickly and feverish. When ...
8. The Secreta secretorum is supposititious. Montaigne is following Girolamo
1:31. On the Cannibals
1:31. On the Cannibals
kind that we find their true, vigorous, living, most natural and most useful
properties and virtues, which we have bastardized in the other kind by
merely adapting them to our corrupt tastes. [C] Moreover, there is a
delicious savour which even our taste finds excellent in a variety of fruits
produced in those countries without cultivation: they rival our
own. [A] It is not sensible that artifice should be reverenced more than
Nature, our great and powerful Mother. We have so overloaded the
richness and beauty of her products by our own ingenuity that we have
smothered her entirely. Yet wherever her pure light does shine, she
wondrously shames our vain and frivolous enterprises:
solder. I would tell Plato that those people have no trade of any kind, no
acquaintance with writing, no knowledge of numbers, no terms for
governor or political superior, no practice of subordination or of riches or
poverty, no contracts, no inheritances, no divided estates, no occupation
but leisure, no concern for kinship - except such as is common to them all
- no clothing, no agriculture, no metals, no use of wine or corn. Among
them you hear no words for treachery, lying, cheating, avarice, envy,
backbiting or forgiveness. How remote from such perfection would Plato
find that Republic which he thought up - [C] 'viri a diis recentes' (men
fresh from the gods]. 12
[BJ Et veniunt ederc~ sponte sua melius,
Surgit et in so/is formosior arbutus antris,
Et volucres nulla dulcius arte canunt.
[Ivy grows best when left untended; the strawberry tree flourishes more beautifully
in lonely grottoes, and birds sing the sweeter for their artlessness. ]9
[A] All our strivings cannot even manage to reproduce the nest of the
smallest little bird, with its beauty and appropriateness to its purpose; we
cannot even reproduce the web of the wretched spider. [C] Plato says
that all things are produced by nature, fortune or art, the greatest and
fairest by the first two, the lesser and least perfect by the last. 10
[A] Those peoples, then, seem to me to be barbarous only in that they
have been hardly fashioned by the mind of man, still remaining close
neighbours to their original state of nature. They are still governed by the
laws of Nature and are only very slightly bastardized by ours; but theirpurity is such that I am sometimes seized with irritation at their not having
been discovered earlier, in times when there were men who could have
appreciated them better than we do. It irritates me that neither Lycurgus
nor Plato had any knowledge of them, for it seems to me that what
experience has taught us about those peoples surpasses not only all the
descriptions with which poetry has beautifully painted the Age of Gold"
and all its ingenious fictions about Man's blessed early state, but also the
very conceptions and yearnings of philosophy. They could not even
imagine a state of nature so simple and so pure as the one we have learned
about from experience; they could not even believe that societies of men
could be maintained with so little artifice, so little in the way of human
9. Propertius, I, ii, 10-12.
10. Plato, Laws, X, 888A-B.
11. Cf. Elizabeth Armstrong, Ronsard and the Age of Gold, Cambridge, 1968.
Hos natura modos primum dedit.
[These are the ways which Nature first ordained.]"
(A] In addition they inhabit a land with a most delightful countryside
and a temperate climate, so that, from what I have been told by my
sources, it is rare to find anyone ill there;" I have been assured that they
never saw a single man bent with age, toothless, blear-eyed or tottering.
They dwell along the sea-shore, shut in to landwards by great lofty
mountains, on a stretch of land some hundred leagues in width. They have
fish and flesh in abundance which bear no resemblance to ours; these they
eat simply cooked. They were so horror-struck by the first man who
brought a horse there and rode it that they killed him with their arrows
before they could recognize him, even though he had had dealings with
them on several previous voyages. Their dwellings are immensely long, big
enough to hold two or three hundred souls; they are covered with the bark
of tall trees which are fixed into the earth, leaning against each other in
support at the top, like some of our barns where the cladding reaches down
to the ground and acts as a side. They have a kind of wood so hard that
they use it to cut with, making their swords from it as well as grills to cook
their meat. Their beds are woven from cotton and slung from the roof like
hammocks on our ships; each has his own, since wives sleep apart from
their husbands. They get up at sunrise and have their meal for the day as
soon as they do so; they have no other meal but that one. They drink
12. Seneca, Epist. moral., XC, 44. (This epistle is a major defence of the inn ...
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