Due Friday, September 30, 2005

Length: Approx. 6-8 pages, double-spaced

This essay should analyze one or more of the works we have read this semester. The word "analysis" comes from a Greek word that means "untying." When you analyze a story or novel or poem, you "untie" its meaning in an essay by interpreting a portion of it. In this analysis, you should focus on your own interpretation of a critical problem, a crucial passage, or a comparison of various readings. You can analyze a character, a single incident, symbols, point of view, structure, and so on. No writer should try to take into account everything that goes on in a story; the paper would be longer than the story itself. So your paper should focus on one or two elements that you think contribute to the overall meaning or purpose of the story. A good analysis concentrates on details: you should quote portions of the story to show how the text supports your thesis. Then you should offer comments that show how the portion you're interpreting contributes to the story as a whole. You do not need to conduct any research for this essay. You may compare one story or novel or poem to another.

You should avoid simply summarizing the work you decide to write about. While your essay may begin with a short summary in order to set context, you should be certain to analyze rather than to summarize. The best way to avoid summary is to craft an argumentative thesis that takes an arguable point of view on the literary work(s) you have chosen to write about, a point of view that will require support from the text itself. For example, a paper that begins, "Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darknessis about a trip into the Congo," does not promise to develop into an argument about the meaning of the novel, while the sentence, "Marlow's journey into the Congo in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is not only a physical voyage, but also a symbolic rediscovery of elements of the human mind the modern world thinks it has repressed or escaped," suggests that the writer will focus her attention on one particular aspect of the text, analyzing how this feature (the "primitive" elements in Heart of Darkness) "works" in the book, both in terms of how it is presented superficially in the text and perhaps in terms of some tensions created between this superficial level and what really happens in the book.