Deconstruction is a way to interpret and critique a piece of literary art. You literally deconstruct the meaning behind the piece and break it down as much as possible via the language and imagery used by the author... It came about because of Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher who is simply amazing but it can be difficult to grasp and quite formidable because it's based on the ideas of linguistics... For Derrida, all communication (especially writing) uses signs (letters, numbers) which yield more signs (words, which yield sentences, which yield paragraphs, which yield stories).
Also, deconstruction is really difficult to define, as it is believed that Derrida would never have wanted it to become a way to pick apart or criticize literature. He would never define it, but rather, define what it is NOT.
I found the easiest way to deconstruct a piece was to pick out the Binary Oppositions within a piece - the two conceptual oppositions (God/Humans, Good/Evil, Up/Down, etc.). Like, we know there is truth, because we have been deceived - without deception there would be no truth... we know good because we have experienced bad,... etc. etc. etc.
Check out that essay on Binary Opposition, which to me is the easiest of the strategies of Deconstruction.
Which essay were you asked to Deconstruct? When is it due? I LOVE Literary Criticism and once you realize HOW to see the meaning of a piece, you'll never read something without realizing the meaning again...
And don't be nervous - this is a difficult theory and heavy on philosophy so your instructor is probably anticipating a lot of questions and confusion,... in fact he/she probably WANTS to see how confused you'll get - it's probably part of the lesson.
I think I am starting to get it. Weeds are bad because they are stronger and more genetically predisposed than other plants, yet weeds can be used for good things (ie ethanol, fuel) and perhaps they have been misunderstood?
Just from glancing at the article (that thing is long!), I would maybe pick the "apprehension vs. admiration" as the binary opposition, and break the article down by that conflict. You are def. onto it with the "weeds are bad (apprehension), yet good (admirable)" idea... the fact that weeds are misunderstood is what you construct with those two opposing ideas... I think you got it - just go backwards - don't draw conclusions, draw basis for the conclusions.
Right! Recognize what you conclude from the article and take it apart to identify WHY you came to that conclusion... but your essay shouldn't be about your conclusion.
I think your final paragraph should have a neat little summary of what your personal conclusion is, so long as you recognize the pieces that got you there, you've got an essay! Good luck! Glad I could help in some small way!