Guidelines for Reading Response #2: Close Reading From The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong
In this final reading response, we are going to be working on an important writing skill that every student in university, regardless of major, needs to know how to execute. That skill is “close reading.”
In the following assignment, you are asked to select ONE of the passages below, each of which are excerpts from The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong. Each student will be asked to provide a close-reading of their selected passage. A close-reading is an analysis of the passage that pays careful attention to the precise language used in the passage, so as to understand just how precisely the passage works to make meaning. A high quality close reading will include:
1) Identifying which work the passage is from
2) Identifying where in the work the passage is from (i.e. contextualize the passage within the work)
3) Identifying what the central theme of the passage is (i.e. what central problem does the passage take up?)
4) Identifying some of the linguistic and/or formal nuances of the passage (i.e. what kind of language does the passage employ? How is it structured? From whose perspective is it being narrated? What impressions could the images, metaphors, and ideas contained in the passage leave on readers?)
5) How do the themes of the passage relate to the larger overall themes of the work as a whole?
A strong close-reading will seek to answer those questions in 350-500 words (not including your chosen passage itself).
Lady Sonhui realized that though her sick son could not be blamed, neither could he be trusted…now that his illness had reached the irreversible point at which he could not longer recognize his parents, if she, out of private love, were to delay and do nothing, and if perchance the Prince, in a senseless state, were to be drive by his frenzy to commit an unthinkable act, then what would happen to the four hundred-year old dynasty? Duty called upon her to protect above all else His Majesty’s royal person. The prince was irretrievably ill, and perhaps it was best that his suffering come to an end. (317)
Hurt that his mother was sending him away with no regard for human sentiment, my son went away crying endlessly. I do not have to say how I felt. His staying with me, however, was the way of private affection; the right way lay in his going up to attend His Majesty, learning and being trained in governance, and taking up the duties of a descendant, those same duties that his father had left unfulfilled. So I sent him away, sundering the attachment that causes us to cling in parting and to miss one another in separation. (331)
Though immensely grieved and pained, His Majesty had no choice but to resort to that act. As for Prince Sado, when he was his true self, he was deeply concerned lest he commit misconduct. Frustratingly, illness deprived him of Heaven’s endowment; he did not know what he was doing. It was lamentable that he fell victim to that illness, but there is a saying that even a sage cannot escape illness. Under the circumstances, he cannot be charged with misconduct in the slightest degree. I speak the truth and describe the situation as it was…When it comes to the late King [Chongjo], one should speak of his grief separately from his duty, in order not to distort the truth. Only then will his human emotion, as well as his duty, receive their just due.(335)
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