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How To Write An Essay About French Poetry Of The 19th Century


If you are taking a French, Poetry, or French literature class, you will have to study the poets of the 19th Century. You will also need to know the characteristics of the genre and how those devices were applied. There are a few proven tips, suggestions, and guidelines for successfully completing this task.

Tips, Suggestions, and Guidelines


  1. Read the works-the teacher will always know when you have not done so

  2. Know your devices-be very familiar with rhyme, free verse, symbolism, metaphors, similes, allusions, and all of the other techniques and devices which make up the topic

  3. Know the different movements, such as:
    1. Parnasse (wishes to be objective about all things)
    2. Naturalism (takes place after the 1860s)
    3. Romanticism (the first half of the century)
    4. Realism (wishes to show the real world will all of its ugliness)
    5. Symbolism (the use began with Charles Baudelaire)
  4. Consider looking at just one poem or doing a comapre and a contrast of two poems:
    1. “Since I have Touched my Lips…”-Hugo
    2. “Her feet were bare’-Hugo
    3. “Gothic Song”-de Nerval
    4. “Horus”- de Nerval
    5. “Song”-de Musset
    6. “On a Dead Lady”-de Musset
    7. “The Hippopotamus”-Gautier
    8. “The Jaguar’s Dream”-de Lisle
    9. “O so dear”-Mallarme
    10. “Poetic Art”-Verlaine
    11. “Apotheosis”-Laforgue
    12. “Annie”-Apollinaire
  5. Consider writing about the message, and not just the devices, which are used in the piece. You can use some expert critical analysis as support for this.

  6. You will want to look at what is happening in the country at the time. You can look at the revolution, the First Republic, the Second Republic, Industrialization, the Napoleonic Wars, the Bourbon Restoration, the Long Depression, the Dreyfus Affair, Belle Époque, the Franco-Prussian War, Versailles, the National Constituent Assembly, Marie Antoinette, the Bastille, the ruler Louis XV11 or Napoleon and his rules.

  7. As always you will want to have a thesis statement, an outline, a rough draft, and a final draft. There will be research and there will be intext citations. You will probably write in the MLA form and you will need a reference sheet. Ask the teacher if he or she wants you to use a works Cited or a bibliography. This paper will be a tough task. Take your time, be meticulous, and work in baby steps as you work on this rigorous job.