In the past, I really enjoyed using block quotes - it sufficiently supported my point, and it took up space on a page. It soon became a habit that appeared in many of my essays, displayed here from Essay 2.2:
...The cliché characters of the Indian and the cowgirl show Esther’s internal battle in attempts of defining her identity. Esther explains her dilemma by relating it to the story of the fig tree:
One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor…I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet. (Plath 77).
Esther wants to fulfill her female obligations as a mother and wife, but at the same time, she wishes to pursue her professional dreams...
However, block quotes were not always effective. It did not show close reading and misdirected intentions. In the third essay, I really worked on trying to closely explicate and integrate each quote from the text:
On the following page, Kingston declares, “There is a Chinese word for the female I – which is ‘slave.’ Break the women with their own tongues!” (47). In these particular lines, Kingston’s comment does not refer to herself, but instead, addresses the whole Chinese culture because she is criticizing the language – a unifying cultural element. And the Chinese word that Kingston describes does not even exist. Critics debate the substantiality of this claim, but evidence has yet to be found. If it is an empty statement in a supposedly non-fiction piece, The Woman Warrior clearly directs attention to the “male importance” stereotype.
By further explicating, the quote had more significance in the essay. I feel that simply by explicating more and weaving my quotes directly into the paragraphs, my third essay was much stronger.