excerpt from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love1, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others2, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love; and such a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no music with him but the drum and fife, and now he had rather hear the tabor and pipe3. I have known when he would have walked ten mile afoot to see a good armor, and now will he lie ten nights awake, carving the fashion of a new doublet4. He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and now is he turned orthography. His words are a very fantastical banquet: just so many strange dishes5. May I be so converted and see with these eyes6? I cannot tell; I think not7. I will not be sworn but love may transform me into an oyster; but I’ll take my oath on it, till he have made an oyster of me8, he shall never make me such a fool. One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well9. But 10 till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace11. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her; fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what color it please God12. Ha13! The Prince and Monsieur14 Love! I will hide me 15 in the harbor.

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Book I: The Shimerdas

I

The engine was panting heavily after its long run16. In the red glow from the fire-box, a group of people stood huddled together on the platform, encumbered by bundles and boxes. I knew this must be the immigrant family the conductor had told us about. The woman wore a fringed shawl tied over her head, and she carried a little tin trunk in her arms, hugging it as if it were a baby. There was an old man, tall and stooped2. Two half-grown boys and a girl stood holding oilcloth a bundles, and a little girl clung to her mother’s skirts. Presently a man with a lantern approached them and began to talk, shouting and exclaiming3. I pricked up my ears, for it was positively the first time I had ever heard a foreign tongue4.

Another lantern came along5. A bantering voice called out:6 “Hello, are you Mr. Burden’s folks? If you are, it’s me you’re looking for. I’m Otto Fuchs. I’m Mr. Burden’s hired man, and I’m to drive you out. Hello, Jimmy, ain’t you scared to come so far west?”

I looked up with interest at the new face in the lantern light. He might have stepped out of the pages of “Jesse James.” He wore a sombrero hat, with a wide leather band and a bright buckle, and the ends of his mustache were twisted up stiffly, like little horns7. He looked lively and ferocious, I thought, and as if he had a history. A long scar ran across one cheek and drew the corner of his mouth up in a sinister curl8. The top of his left ear was gone, and his skin was brown as an Indian’s. Surely this was the face of a desperado. As he walked about the platform in his high-heeled boots9, looking for our trunks10, I saw that he was a rather slight man, quick and wiry11, and light on his feet. He told us we had a long night drive ahead of us, and had better be on the hike. He led us to a hitching-bar where two farm wagons were tied, and I saw the foreign family crowding into one of them. The other was for us. Jake got on the front seat with Otto Fuchs, and I rode on the straw in the bottom of the wagonbox, covered up with a buffalo hide. The immigrants rumbled off into the empty darkness, and we followed them.

(Online Text)

Excerpt from Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

“Oh, it is not thus—not thus,” 12 interrupted the being. “Yet such must be the impression conveyed to you by what appears to be the purport of my actions. Yet 2I seek not a fellow feeling in my misery. No sympathy may I ever find3. When I first sought it, it was the love of virtue, the feelings of happiness and affection with which my whole being overflowed4, that I wished to be participated. But now that virtue has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned into bitter and loathing despair, in what should I seek for sympathy? I am content to suffer alone while my sufferings shall endure; when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrence and opprobrium should load my memory5. Once6 my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But 7now crime has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief, no malignity, no misery,8 can be found comparable to mine. When I run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness. But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil9. Yet 10even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone.”11

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time.12 That is the life of men.

Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.

So the beginning of this was a woman and she had come back from burying the dead. Not the dead of sick and ailing with friends at the pillow and the feet.2 She had come back from the sodden and the bloated; the sudden dead, their eyes flung wide open in judgment.3

The people all saw her come because it was sundown. The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky. It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk.4 These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human.5 They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.

Seeing the woman as she was made them remember the envy they had stored up from other times. So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish. They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs. It was mass cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song.6

“What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in? Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her?—What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal?—Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid?—Thought she was going to marry?—Where he left her ?—What he done wid all her money?—Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs—why she don’t stay in her class?—”7

When she got to where they were she turned her face on the bander log and spoke. They scrambled a noisy “good evenin’ ” and left their mouths setting open and their ears full of hope. Her speech was pleasant enough, but she kept walking straight on to her gate. The porch couldn’t talk for looking.

[Source]

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

When[1] Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor[2] a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it[3]. Even the grass was not green, for[4] the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but[5] the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.

When[6] Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober grey;[7] they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were grey also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled, now. When Dorothy, [8]who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child’s laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy’s merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at.

Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, [9]from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.

[1] Adverbial clause, suggests that Dorothy’s thoughts will follow. It also makes the following descriptions less boring by having a different start and a compound sentence. If you took away the “when” and just made it a sentence, it would set the tone as being short and simple sentences one after the other, and how quite trite that would sound.

[2] “Nor” is a FANBOY, but here it’s just a negative substitute for “or,” and has the effect of suggesting the scene had no good qualities.

[3] Absolute phrase, further detailing the condition of the soil, “cracks running…” Gives a clearer image of the soil as dry and suggests poor land to farm on, and evokes the question as to why people live there.

[4] Coordinating conjunction/FANBOY to connect the two clauses. The second is closely connected to the first and so, it flows better to have them joined by a comma and “for.”

[5] “But” used because two clauses contrast. The beginning suggests positive/hope but the second, longer clause has more negatives to overcome that hope, which gives the feeling that this place really kills everything.

[6] The “when” suggests dependency, and combined with the period separating it into its own sentence it serves to assert the main subject and provide one sentence to be contrasted by the rest of the paragraph.

[7] Semi-colon used because both independent clauses closely related, in fact the clauses are repetitive. It serves to create strong imagery of fading colors.

[8] Appositive, describing Dorothy as an orphan, which helps explain why she is living with her Aunt and Uncle.

[9] Not quite an absolute because no noun-adj. combination, but does focus in on noun details to show what the uncle looked like. The image is kind of strange, and suggests he is an old man and kind of a wilderness man.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The two horses had just lain down when a brood of ducklings, which had lost their mother, filed into the barn, 8 cheeping feebly and wandering from side to side to find some place where they would not be trodden on. Clover made a sort of wall round them with her great foreleg, and the ducklings nestled down inside it and promptly fell asleep. At the last moment Mollie, 2 the foolish, pretty white mare who drew Mr. Jones’s trap, came mincing daintily in, chewing at a lump of sugar. She took a place near the front and began flirting her white mane, hoping to draw attention to the red ribbons it was plaited with. Last of all came the cat, who looked round, as usual, for the warmest place, and finally squeezed herself in between Boxer and Clover;3 there she purred contentedly throughout Major’s speech without listening to a word of what he was saying.

All the animals were now present except Moses, the tame raven, who slept on a perch behind the back door. When Major saw that they had all made themselves comfortable and were waiting attentively, he cleared his throat and began:4

“Comrades, you have heard already about the strange dream that I had last night. But5 I will come to the dream later. I have something else to say first. I do not think, comrades, that I shall be with you for many months longer, and before I die, I feel it my duty to pass on to you such wisdom as I have acquired. I6 have had a long life, I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, and I think I may say that I understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living. It is about this that I wish to speak to you.”

 

Thank You Ma’am By Langston Hughes

She was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but hammer and nails. It had a long strap, and she carried it slung across her shoulder. 7 It was about eleven o’clock at night, and she was walking alone, when a boy ran up behind her and tried to snatch her purse. 2 The strap broke with the single tug the boy gave it from behind. But the boy’s weight and the weight of the purse combined caused him to lose his balance so, instead of taking off full blast as he had hoped, the boy fell on his back on the sidewalk, and his legs flew up. 3 The large woman simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter. Then she reached down, picked the boy up by his shirt front, and shook him until his teeth rattled. 4

. . .

Sweat popped out on the boy’s face and he began to struggle. 5 Mrs. Jones stopped, jerked him around in front of her, put a half-nelson about his neck, and continued to drag him up the street. 6 When she got to her door, she dragged the boy inside, down a hall, and into a large kitchenette- furnished room at the rear of the house. 7 She switched on the light and left the door open. The boy could hear other roomers laughing and talking in the large house. Some of their doors were open, too, so he knew he and the woman were not alone. 8 The woman still had him by the neck in the middle of her room.