Literary analysis/ literary criticism

English 102: Essay #1 Literary analysis, also known as literary criticism, can be defined, at least for the purposes of the first essay, as a close reading and interpretation of a literary text. In other words, a literary analysis carefully examines the constituent elements of a literary text for both meaning and significance. Generally speaking, these elements include setting, plot, style, tone, point of view (narrative perspective), characterization, symbol, theme, and context (social, cultural, and historical). Of course, whether you choose to focus on one or a number of these elements, the purpose of a literary analysis is to persuade a reader that your interpretation of a literary text is both valid and significant. One of the ways in which a literary analysis achieves these ends is through the articulation, support, and development of a specific idea or claim. To put this in simple terms, your essay should contain a clearly stated thesis (claim), a coherent structure, and an abundance of relevant evidence (textual and otherwise). All of that being said, you have three (3) options for the first essay: 1.) A symbol is defined as “something that represents something else.” As you might guess, symbols are used in literature for a variety of reasons. Regardless, the use of symbols in literature is both specific and deliberate. In addition, if a story is well written, symbols will help the reader better understand the characters, the setting, the situation, the context, and the theme(s) of a story. Focusing on Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” or Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies,” write an essay in which you discuss how the symbols relate to and enhance the main theme and/or main conflict of the story. 2.) Focusing on James Joyce’s “Eveline,” write an essay in which you explain why Eveline stays in Ireland. 3.) Focusing on James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” write an essay in which you explain the argument Baldwin makes about race and racism in 1950’s Harlem. The requirements for the essay are as follows: • Essay must be exactly 2 pages in length (no more and no less) • Essay must be argumentative (persuasive) in nature • Essay must use a sufficient number of textual examples–quotations followed by explanation and interpretation–as argumentative support • Essay must adhere to MLA standards and guidelines • Essay must contain a “Works Cited” page In addition, here are a few things you should keep in mind as you are writing your essay: • Your essay should contain a well-argued thesis statement (claim) • The “body” of your essay should work to support your thesis statement (claim) • Your essay should be free of grammatical and punctuation errors Some Rules for Writing • Include the title and the author you are discussing in the first or second paragraph of your paper • Assume your reader has read the story you are discussing but does not remember it in detail. In other words, be sure to provide your readers with enough information (textual examples, etc.) so he or she can follow your analysis • When you directly quote something, make sure you incorporate the quote into your own analysis. Do not simply stick the quote into the middle of your writing (more on this below) • If you use a quote that is longer than four lines (when you type it out), indent the entire quotation and remove the quotation marks • Use quotation marks around the title of a story • Don’t plagiarize. Plagiarism is grounds for failing the class and for possible dismissal from the college



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