A common type of literary analysis asks you to compare and contrast elements of two different texts. This comparative analysis should follow a specific pattern of development, block by block or point by point. For example, you could analyze the similarities and differences between two characters, or you could examine how one theme is handled in similar and dissimilar ways in two different texts. The following literary elements are: plot, symbolism, theme, characters, setting, point of view.
You will focus your response, you will develop it, and you will use specific textual evidence. The difference is that you will be writing about two texts instead of one. You may choose from any of the readings in the textbook including poetry, short fiction, and drama.
Assignment requirements include:
Criteria for success
THIS IS NOT A FIRST OR SECOND PERSON RESPONSE. PLEASE REMEMBER, DON’T USE CONTRACTIONS.
While “Cliff’s Notes” and other study guides in some cases may provide useful background information, plot summaries and secondary bibliographies, these publications may not be counted toward your source material.
One strategy you might consider would be to explicate the theme of two stories. An essay on theme could include discussion about the characters, setting and symbolism, or any other elements that are particularly relevant to the author’s development of theme. In discussing each element, you should demonstrate how that element worked to develop the work’s theme. Do not simply summarize the plot, describe characters or outline the theme. Remember that this is a comparative analysis: how or why is the plot effective, how do the characters (atmosphere, setting, local color) contribute to the work’s theme, what is the theme and how does the author develop the theme effectively? These are the kinds of questions you should consider in an analysis.
Keep in mind that the audience is familiar with the work, so you don’t need to include much discussion or summary about the piece itself. Rather, concentrate and make some critical statement on the element(s). Further, this assignment is not meant to be a biography of the writer’s life, an historical, political, social or religious commentary; a forum for current issues or problems; or finally, a summary of the work. Your goal is to analyze some aspect(s) of the literature. All discussion in your analysis must somehow be predicated on the piece you have selected.
- You will compose an essay of 750 – 1000 words.
- You must use MLA citation format with a MLA works cited page.
You will need to support your analysis with at least 2 literary sources from your textbook and 1-2 sources that help explain the literary element(s) you use in the comparative analysis.
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