7 ENGL 2335
Literary Analysis Essay: Theme Analysis and Argument
Description of assignment:
The theme of a work of literature relates to the comment the author makes about his or her
subject matter, a revelation about the behavior of human beings or the conduct of society,
an insight into the human condition. It is the insight we gain from thinking about what we
have read. The theme of a literary work is its underlying central idea, or the generalization
it communicates about life. At times, the authors theme may not confirm or agree with
your own beliefs, but even then, if it is skillfully written, the work will still have a theme
that illuminates some aspects of true human experience.
For this essay, you will choose one of the themes explored in one of the novels weve read
this semester and write an essay in which you analyze what that authors comment and/or
revelation about that theme is. (Keep in mind that in all of the novels weve read, each
author ultimately argues a specific point about that theme.) Your aim in the essay is to
write an argument about what that theme does for the story or what that theme makes the
reader realize about that story and life itself. Possible themes include but are not limited to:
Activism (spiritual or otherwise)
The individual vs. community
Anglo-European influence on tribal communities
Your thesis will identify the comment and/or revelation, and will be supported by both
excerpts from the novel (the primary source) as well secondary source material. In using
the primary text to support your idea, consider the following questions:
1. What do characters/narrators do that helps illustrate this idea?
2. What do characters/narrators say that helps to illustrate this idea?
3. What events take place in the work that help to illustrate this idea?
4. Are there any recurrent images or clusters of images? Do these images support
the idea or theme that you find in the work?
The essay should include an introduction with a clear thesis statement that makes a
claim about the theme youve chosen, body paragraphs that provide necessary
support for your thesis, and a conclusion that sufficiently brings the essay to a close.
You must use at least three secondary sources in support of your argument.
All source information (whether a quotation, summary, or paraphrase) must be
cited within the text of your essay as well as on the Works Cited page using MLA
Your essay must be three full pages (minimum) in length and no more than five
pages, typed (TNR12) and double-spaced with 1-inch margins, and prepared per
In addition to your essay, you must prepare and turn in a Works Cited page.
All pages must be numbered, with your last name and page number in the header of
Focus: You should have a clear, identifiable thesis for your paper. This will
ultimately be what you conclude about your theme. It should be presented in the
Introduction and supported throughout the rest of the paper.
Organization: The essay should have a clear focus and organization. The reader
should be able to understand each section of your essay, as well as how each section
relates to your thesis.
Development: I will be looking for examples and specific details that support your
thesis, including summary, paraphrase, and quotation of primary and secondary
sources. Ideas should be FULLY though out.
Style: You writing style should be effective and not include unnecessary clutter or
repetition. It should flow nicely; it should include transitions between major
points and/or paragraphs. Your essay should include a variety of sentence types
(different patterns and lengths). Use varied language/vocabulary as well.
MLA Citation: You should include in-text citations, as well as a Works Cited page, all
of which should show your understanding of MLA formatting and conventions.
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