Choose one of the following topics and write a 4-5 page (1000-1500 words) analytical essay. An analytical essay should cite evidence from the actual novel to support any claims that you make. The “evidence” should take the form of direct quotations of key words, phrases, and passages. An analysis does two things at once: it both shows and tells. The telling part is your interpretation and explanation. The showing part is pointing the reader again and again to the passages and events in the novel that allowed you to draw your conclusions.
1. The Victorian trope of duality or shadow self is present in several of the works we have read in this course. Write a paper that that examines this idea. For example, you could explain the characteristics of and relationship between the Eloi and the Morlocks from The Time Machine, reflecting on each group, their traits, and how Wells suggests that social evolution caused their separation into separate species. Alternatively, you could explore the duality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and reflect on how those divisions are present in all of us. Another idea is to reflect on the duality of the Captain and Leggat from The Secret Sharer.
2. Sigmund Freud believed that every human action is influenced by the unconscious mind. Early experiences, such as a boy‘s relationship with his father, have a profound effect on the development of the unconscious. Write an essay that analyzes Gregor‘s actions in The Metamorphosis as being influenced by his unconscious mind, particularly his relationships with his father, mother, and sister. Is Gregor transformed into a bug because unconsciously he can no longer bear the burden for supporting the whole ungrateful family? Could his new passiveness stem from an unconscious anger toward them? What passages in the novella support a Freudian interpretation?
3. Write an essay that compares a version of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale to Robert Coover’s retelling in Briar Rose. You may choose the Disney cartoon version, if you like. Another good possibility is the recent film, Maleficent, which tells the story from the viewpoint of the Evil Fairy who cursed the princess. You could explore the presentation of Rose/Beauty (how important is appearance to each? Innocence? Passivity?), of the Prince (is he presented in both versions as distinctly masculine, aggressive, in charge, dominant, etc.? Does he want to rescue Rose/Beauty because he wants to or because it is expected of him or because he wants fame?), of the Evil Fairy (Is her motivation similar in both versions?).
4. Write an essay that analyzes how "The Secret Sharer" treats the theme of knowledge. What, for example, are some of the different kinds of knowledge learned by the characters?
5. Watch a movie or read a story that features robots, androids, cyborgs, or other artificial life forms. Then analyze the similarities and differences between the robots portrayed in R.U.R. and the artificial creatures in the movie or book you have chosen. Tie your analysis in to a shared theme, mood, motif, or outcome of the story. For instance, does the movie you’ve chosen have the element of rebellion? Does it portray differing social classes? Are there male and female robots? Are they portrayed as inferior or superior to humans?
6. Write an essay that offers some research on fairy lore, then apply that information to the fairies presented in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Does Puck, for example, seem consistent with a traditional view of fairies? How so, or why not? Does the Fairy King Oberon’s insistence on having the little Indian boy make more sense when you find out about fairies and their reproduction abilities? Do the fairies parallel human behaviors or feelings in lore as they do in the play?
7. Lysistrata makes a clear separation between the motivations and attitudes of men and women. Write an essay that analyzes how each gender is portrayed by Aristophanes. Which sex is more sympathetic in the play, and why? Which is more rational, more practical, and more inventive, and why? What are the major characteristics of each gender as presented in the play? Do the men and women seem more or less the same as people today in their attitudes toward sex and relationships between the sexes? If not, give examples of differences. If so, explain how using specific examples.
8. Endgame is a post-apocalyptic play set on a dying planet. Analyze each of the four characters and how he or she represents something dying, decaying, hopeless, or futile. Does the humor in Beckett add or detract from his serious theme? Why, for example, are Nagg and Nell living in garbage bins with sand or cat litter beneath them? Is this a commentary on the elderly or infirm and how society treats them?
9. The Walking Dead, “Days Gone Bye,” focuses on Rick Grimes, who has been wounded and separated from his family. Like any hero, he faces obstacles in this first stage of his journey to reunite with them. Write an analysis of his hero’s journey, focusing on conflicts (both internal and external) he faces. What are the major obstacles in his path? Does he deal with them in a traditional or non-traditional manner?
Guidelines for the Essay
At the end of a sentence in which you use a direct quotation from most of our plays, you must include a parenthetical page citation, like this (Ibsen 401). Notice that the citation includes the author’s last name and a page number, separated by a space (not a comma or a “p.”). Also notice that the citation comes BEFORE the period. For Shakespearean plays, we cite like this (Dream III.ii.137-38). Notice that a short title for the play comes first, then Roman numerals for act and scene, followed by line numbers in Arabic numerals.
You should avoid long quotations (four or more lines), if at all possible. Shorter quotations are usually more appropriate in an analysis, and they avoid the appearance of “padding” a paper. If you must use a long quotation, then you should indent the passage, and set it off one full inch from your regular lefthand margin.
Analyzing a Literary Work. When we analyze literature, we have to both SHOW and TELL to support our claims. We “show” by including quotations from the play, and we “tell” by explaining or interpreting those quotations and using logical reasoning to connect them to our point.
Look below at an example body paragraph from a literary analysis. Notice how the following paragraph “tells” an interpretation but fails to “show” it with a single quotation:
Nora and Kristine are as different as embroidery and knitting, the symbols used in the play to suggest the decorative versus the practical. Torvald prefers the embroidery, as he prefers a pretty woman who defers to his wishes. He disdains knitting as being unattractive. Embroidery, on the other hand, is pleasant to the eye because a woman is taking tiny, delicate stitches on a fine fabric, holding her harms close to her body. Nora is the embroidery--a beautiful young woman who sings, dances, and utterly depends on her husband for support. She functions as a mere decoration or doll in the house, just as embroidered items—scarves and pillows, etc.—are for enhancing the beauty of a home. In contrast, Kristine is a plain, independent woman who is serious, practical, and an adult rather than a child or a toy. She makes her own decisions and depends on no one to support her. In fact, at the end of the story, she offers to support both Torvald (officially in her position at the bank) and Krogstad (personally, as his wife and partner). Just as knitted items are practical in nature—mittens, sweaters, mufflers, etc.—Kristine is the ultimately practical woman who makes hard choices. By the end of the story, Nora takes a big step toward independence when she leaves her husband, but for most of the play she is more decorative than practical.
Now look at how the paragraph becomes an actual analysis when quotations from the novel are added and clearly explained (thus “showing” how the student reached her conclusions):
Nora and Kristine are as different as embroidery and knitting, the symbols used in the play to suggest the decorative versus the practical. Torvald prefers the embroidery, as he prefers a pretty woman who defers to his wishes. He disdains knitting as being unattractive, the product of “ugly” work that looks somehow “Chinese,” with the “arms tucked in, the knitting needles going up and down,” and the elbows rising and drawing attention to themselves in large movements (Ibsen 419). Embroidery, on the other hand, is pleasant to the eye because a woman is taking tiny, delicate stitches on a fine fabric, holding her arms close to her body. When Torvald sees Kristine knitting, he advises her to give it up: “You should embroider instead” (Ibsen 419). Nora is the embroidery--a beautiful young woman who sings, dances, and utterly depends on her husband for support. In fact, she is so dependent that she must cajole him to give her money to secretly pay her debt: “Oh, please, Torvald darling, do that! I beg you, please” (Ibsen 398). She functions as a mere decoration or doll in the house, just as embroidered items—scarves and pillows, etc.—are for enhancing the beauty of a home. Before the play’s final scene, Torvald demonstrates his view of Nora as a lovely child without judgment or discernment: “You loved me as a wife ought to love her husband. It’s simply the means that you couldn’t judge. But you think I love you any the less for not knowing how to handle your affairs?. . . I wouldn’t be a man if feminine helplessness didn’t make you twice as attractive to me” (Ibsen 422). In contrast, Kristine is a plain, independent woman who is serious, practical, and an adult rather than a child or a toy. She is “pale . . . thinner . . . older,” a woman who has had to “scrape up a living with a little shop and a little teaching and whatever else [she] could find” (Ibsen 399, 400). She makes her own decisions and depends on no one to support her, in spite of her life seeming like an “endless workday without a rest” (Ibsen 400). In fact, at the end of the story, she offers to support both Torvald (officially in her position at the bank) and Krogstad (personally, as his wife and partner). Just as knitted items are practical in nature—mittens, sweaters, mufflers, etc.—Kristine is the ultimately practical woman who makes hard choices. By the end of the story, Nora takes a big step toward independence when she leaves her husband, but for most of the play she is more decorative than practical.
· 3-4 double spaced pages.
· 1 inch margins left, right, top, bottom
· 12-point standard font either (for example, Times, Arial, Cambria, Verdana)
· 4-line ID block on top, left-hand side of page one that includes your name, the instructor’s name (Dr. St. John), the course number (ENG106), and the date you are turning the paper in (December 8, 2009)
Treatment of a play’s title within your essay: When mentioning your play in the paper, use italics to indicate that it is the title of a long work, like this: In Waiting for Godot, the bare stage suggests a hostile, barren world for modern man.
When writing the title of your own paper, do NOT underline it or put it in italics or quotation marks. Do not make your title’s font larger or different in anyway.
Always capitalize the first and last word in a title and subtitle as well as all other important words. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet), or prepositions (e.g., to, in, of): Death of a Salesman
You are not required to use outside sources for this paper. In fact, I strongly discourage you from doing so. My concern is that the published ideas of others will inhibit you from forming your own ideas, and that if you haven’t had much experience with using sources, then you might put yourself at risk of accidentally plagiarizing a source ignorance of scholarly documentation conventions. If for some reason you feel compelled to use research in your paper, you must carefully and completely document your sources according to MLA format. If you Google your play and read someone else’s ideas, even if you don’t use his exact words, you must still document the source. Failure to do so is plagiarism will result in a failure of this paper and the class. If you have any concerns in this regard, be sure to ASK ME BEFOREHAND rather than turning in a paper that might get you in trouble.
Tips for Writing Literary Analysis Papers
ïƒ¼ï€ Read the play a second time, underlining key words or passages you think are worth further exploration. Focus on key scenes and dialogue.
ïƒ¼ï€ Write in the third-person. In other words, leave out expressions such as “I think” and “I believe” and “To me” and “In my opinion.” Do not use the pronouns “you” or “your” anywhere in your paper unless you are using the words in a quotation from the play. Following this rule will help you avoid awkward shifts in voice, that is a shift from third person (he, she, it, they) to first person (I, we) or to second person (you).
ïƒ¼ï€ Keep the essay’s focus on the literature and off of yourself. Avoid personal statements such as the following:
“I find the play interesting because . . .”
“After I read the play several times, I realized . . .”
“It’s a difficult play to understand, but . . .”
“When I read this play, I remembered a time when…”
ïƒ¼ï€ Use present-tense verbs when discussing what takes place in the play:
Didi and Gogo wait for Godot (rather than Didi and Gogo waited for Godot).
ïƒ¼ï€ Provide a clear, specific thesis statement.
Unclear, vague: The play is about two tramps who wait for a mysterious man named Godot, who never shows up.
Clear, specific: The two tramps represent modern man, who is isolated, despairing, and trapped by the meaningless routine of his life, hoping without reason for a savior.
ïƒ¼ï€ Back up every claim or assertion you make with specific evidence (in the form of quotes) from the play. SHOW the reader with quotations how you have reached a particular interpretation; TELL the reader what those quotations mean by explaining them clearly.
ïƒ¼ï€ Quote accurately when you use quotations, making sure to enclose verbatim (word-for-word) passages within quotation marks, and including a parenthetical page citation at the end of the sentence. If you are quoting dialogue from a play, simply use regular (double) quotation marks, like this: “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
ïƒ¼ï€ Avoid using long quotations. Instead, choose keyword quotations and weave them into your own sentence.
ïƒ¼ï€ Introduce a quotation; don’t simply begin the quotation without indicating who is speaking it. Use signal phrases such as Bottom the weaver says, . . .
Literary Analysis Essay Rubric
4-line ID block, essay typed double-spaced, 12-point font, MLA format, a title centered (1 point each) _____/10
Background information of five or more sentences (should include author’s name, play title, very concise plot summary that leads to your main claim) _____/10
Clear, precise thesis/Thesis last sentence of paragraph _____/10
BODY PARAGRAPHS (3-6)
Topic Sentence directly relates to thesis and is first sentence of each paragraph _____/20
Details, examples, evidence, explanation to develop each paragraph; includes sufficient
direct quotations from play/novella to support claims _____/90
Wrap-up sentence to conclude each paragraph and re-emphasize paragraph’s point _____/15
Summarizes main points or rewords thesis in completely different sentence structure/word
Ends with impact; points to bigger picture or significance of topic and discussion _____/5
Use of transitions; word choice; variety of sentence types _____/10
Grammar, punctuation, mechanics (spelling, etc.) _____/25
TOTAL POINTS: _____/200
|Due By (Pacific Time)||07/29/2015 12:00 am|
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