Literary Analysis 1

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  1. Several of the works we have read this semester deal with the theme of justice, including The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Medea, “Two Brothers,” “The Joseph Story,” and The Aeneid. Choose one or two texts and make an argument about the theme of justice. Some questions to consider: How do these texts define justice? Is revenge justice? Does doing what is “just” always have consequences, for the “offenders,” for “innocent” bystanders, or both? Ultimately, your essay should make an argument about the theme of justice in the chosen text(s).

Your final essay should be 3-5 pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman.

For this first paper, I want to see that you can make your own argument about the text using your own resources. This means NO outside resources should be used in thinking about or writing this essay; you should only use the primary texts as sources.

Regardless of the prompt you choose, your essay should have the following parts:

  1. An introduction with a thesis statement that makes an argument about the chosen works.
    • You should build to your thesis, so your thesis is the last thing the reader sees in your introduction
      • Ways to build to your thesis include:
        • Use a quote that relates to the topic/argument of your paper
        • Use a quote from the text that you don’t intend to use later in your paper
        • Tell a story that relates to the topic/argument of your paper
        • Offer a brief summary of the works before moving to the argument
  2. Body paragraphs (more than three — we are beyond writing five paragraph essays ☺)
    • Each body paragraph should begin with an argument that helps you prove your thesis. To be an argument, the topic sentence has to give you something to prove; it cannot be a plot fact. The best topic sentences will make a claim about both works.
      • Topic Sentence that does not make an argument: Papa Eugene is Catholic.
        • This is not an argument because the author tells us this fact within the text.
      • Topic Sentence that does make an argument: Papa Eugene’s violent adherence to his faith mirrors the violence present in Nigerian culture.
        • This is an argument because it requires you to interpret Papa Eugene’s practice of religion but also how Adichie portrays Nigerian culture. You have to prove/show how you see that Papa Eugene violently adheres to his faith as well as how Nigerian culture is filled with violence at this time. The author doesn’t come out and tell us this information; rather, she writes the novel in a way that allows us to interpret this.
    • Evidence from the text to support your point
      • As a general rule, you should use two pieces of textual evidence per paragraph to support your points.
      • You need to introduce the quotes and explain how they support your point. For examples on how to do this, see the Integrating Quotations Handout as well as the “Annoying Ways People Use Sources” video.
        • Cite the author’s name and page number for every quote (MLA format)
  3. A conclusion that wraps up your argument in a creative way.
  4. A Works Cited page (MLA format)
  5. Remember, the great thing about literature is that it is always alive, so be sure you write your essay in present tense!

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