Project #84057 - 6 page essay

Paper 1 Assignment, due by midnight on Oct. 5 (keep scrolling down this page to see paper topics!)

This paper should be 5 pages, double-spaced. Please save your paper as an MS-Word file and submit it into the Paper 1 dropbox (under the Assessment tab on the top toolbar). If you have any questions, please contact me at

Please review the recommendations on the course syllabus for crafting a strong thesis statement.

Instructions: Select ONE of the following topics. Before writing your essay, draft answers to all the questions in your paper topic. Then, use your ideas to craft a thesis statement about the topic; remember that a thesis statement should propose an interpretation that can be debated. Support your interpretation with evidence from the two texts.


Paper Topics for Paper 1:

Topic 1:  In Henry IV, Part I, Hal exclaims, "€œI have a truant been to chivalry (5.1.95). Compare Hal'€™s offer to duel Hotspur one-on-one and redeem his reputation with Sir Gawain'€™s willingness to engage in the axe-game with the Green Knight. Gawain€'s reputation as a chivalrous knight is tested. Does he emerge tarnished by the end of his tale? Does Hal successfully transform his own tainted image? Explain your answers with details from each text.

Topic 2: Consider the ways that these two works question the concept of courage. Compare Falstaff's meditations about courage on the Shrewsbury battlefield, expressed in Henry IV, Part I, with Gawain'€™s decision to keep the Lady€'s girdle, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. When the Green Knight explains why he gave Gawain a slight cut on the third stroke of the axe, he says,

€˜But in this you lacked, sir, a little, and of loyalty came short. 

But that was for no artful wickedness, not for wooing either, 

but because you loved your own life; the less do I blame you.. (p115, section 95)

Why does the Green Knight forgive Gawain for his lack of loyalty? For this topic, you might also consider how Hotspur€'s rash courage at all costs contrasts with Falstaff€'s cowardly self-preservation.

Topic 3: At the end of Act I, scene 2, Hal reveals his plan to soon shine brighter in the people€'s admiration by setting low expectations for himself with his current debauched behavior. Hal's calculated rise from depravity to nobility suggests a Machiavellian ruler'€™s approach to gaining and retaining control over one'€™s subjects. Discuss how Hal can be viewed as Machiavellian. How is the relationship between a ruler and the people he rules portrayed differently in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?


Format for Essays and Citations:

All assignments should be typed in 10- or 12-point font, double-spaced, with a one-inch margin on all sides of each page. Please include your name, the date, and a title for your essay at the beginning of each written assignment.

Always italicize the titles of published works, such as novels, plays, and long poems (i.e., Paradise Lost). The titles of short poems should be placed in quotation marks, as in "To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time."

Refer to authors either by their full or last name; for example, referring to Yeats and Woolf, or William Butler Yeats and Virginia Woolf is correct, but writing about Will and Virginia is inappropriate.

When quoting any text, always follow the quoted text immediately with a citation. Please use a standard writing guide, such as The Modern Language Association's Handbook for Writing Research Papers or The Chicago Manual of Style to see how to properly cite lines from poetry, plays, and prose.

Some of the writing assignments specifically ask you to research particular topics for your essays. Always cite the sources you consult, including Websites. Again, please refer to a style guide for detailed explanations on how to format citations.

How to Write a Successful Essay:

  1. Avoid Generalizations about Author or Text

Avoid grand generalizations (such as, "Shakespeare was the greatest writer in the English language"). You do not need to convince me that Shakespeare was a talented writer, or that his works are worth reading; focus on interpreting the text.

  1. Avoid Plot Summaries

Assume that your audience (me) has just read the text; you do not need to tell me what happens in the work. Refer to specific lines or scenes with a minimum of description. For example, don't describe the action, as in "Each evening, Sir Gawain gives his host the gifts that he received that day." Instead, explain the significance of the action: "Sir Gawain remains loyal to the gift exchange game, until he receives the gift that might save his life."

Focus on interpretation; tell me what you think the text suggests about the topics and themes it depicts. So, for the example above, you might continue by discussing how Gawain's desire to live ultimately proves to be both his failing and the sign of his humanity.

  1. Thesis Statement

Begin your essay with a thesis statement that outlines your argument for interpreting a specific issue in the text. This argument should not be so obvious that no one would disagree with it, nor should it be so far-fetched that the text offers no evidence to support it (or worse, all the textual evidence contradicts the argument!).

It is useful to develop your thesis around a specific passage in the text. Show how the language and images suggest your thesis and refer to other passages or scenes that further support your thesis. Also consider textual evidence that could contradict your argument in order to explain how your interpretation still holds. Finally, link your interpretation of specific moments in the text to larger themes that the text addresses.

Examples of thesis statements:

Weak thesis: "Shakespeare portrays strong female characters in his plays." Too simple and lacks details.

Improved thesis: "In The Merchant of Venice, Portia is an example of an intelligent and independent woman, yet she still does not control her own destiny." Although this thesis is more specific, it is fairly self-evident. Would anyone argue against it?

Strong thesis: "In The Merchant of Venice, Portia's cleverness not only saves Antonio's life, and but also helps her circumvent her father's will, which attempted to determine her fate through the casket game." This position can be defended, and argued against, based upon evidence in the text. After presenting this argument, the writer would introduce specific passages that suggest how Portia manipulates the casket game to suit her own will. Then, perhaps in the conclusion, the essay would discuss how Portia either represents or contradicts the actual status of women in the society in which the text was written. To further impress the reader, include information from the commentaries in your textbooks in each essay about the cultural or historical conditions that may have influenced a text. Remember to include citations to any resources you use while crafting your ideas.

Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/04/2015 09:00 pm
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