This is for my American Literature class. We’ve been talking about Nathaniel Hawthorne and the major themes in his writing.
Here is a list of the Hawthorne material we’ve gone over.
– Rappaccini’s Daughter
– The Scarlett Letter
– Young Goodman Brown
– The Custom House
– The Blithdale Romance
– The May-Pole of Merry Mount
– The Birthmark
Basically, the essay can be over any of these stories or a combination of them. It’s an analysis of the underlying themes in them with examples to back it up.
Here are the instructions from my professor:
In the first few paragraphs, you should describe clearly and succinctly what your argument or thesis is and how you will go about supporting it. If this is done well, there is no need for a “conclusion” at the end that simply repeats what you have already said. On the other hand, if you have something new to say, or if you would like to sum up in different words or from a different perspective what has already been conveyed, a “conclusion” is in these cases very appropriate.
After the introductory paragraphs, you should proceed to elaborate your argument or treatment in a systematic way that discusses representative examples from the texts of the points you want to make. I say “in a systematic way,” but this need not be rigidly systematic. In particular, try not to make your essay a listing of isolated points or examples that are unconnected.
Well-written essays are those whose parts are closely connected to one another and to the central theme or argument you are presenting. For this purpose, transitions between different points are very important and should be effected in as smooth and logically coherent way as possible. This ideal is not always possible to achieve, but if you find yourself making abrupt transitions, you should ask yourself why: perhaps you have not thought through sufficiently the connections between the different points you are making; perhaps there is even a hidden contradiction or tension between your different points, in which case the solution is not necessarily to eliminate that tension or contradiction but rather to recognize and articulate it, showing the reader why the material or text you are discussing requires that it not be entirely resolved. Precisely because the experience of literature is a partly emotional and personal one, you should try to be as logical and rational as you can be without imposing preconceptions or easy solutions on the language of the texts you are examining.
Critical references other than the primary text you are discussing are encouraged but not required. In all cases of citation, or quoting from the primary text or critical references, I recommend that you use the MLA (Modern Language Association) method of “Works Cited,” giving page numbers from the Norton Anthology and your other sources in parentheses after an abbreviated title at the end of the sentence. For example: “The sentence ended” (Norton 333). However, any other method of citation is also perfectly acceptable. Do not spend a lot of time worrying about these technical matters; if you get something wrong I will correct it but not penalize you in any way for the error. Spend your time worrying about the content and writing of the paper, rather than these technical matters. If you quote from the primary text, make your quotations brief (2-6 lines), with page numbers in parentheses. Be sure to explain how you are interpreting the passage quoted if this is not absolutely self-evident. In general, never assume that the reader (in this case, myself) will understand what you mean, or what your quotation means, without your explicitly saying so in a clear and succinct fashion.
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