Eng 216 Topic 1

Keith O'Neill
Spring 2020

Paper One (20% of final grade)

For your first assignment, write a 3-5 page paper on one of the following topics. Your paper should follow the standard conventions of college writing, including an introduction with some kind of statement of thesis, body paragraphs with support, a conclusion, and a work(s) cited page. Ideally, your paper should focus on no more than one or two scenes from the text. Your paper should consist of a solid argument, NOT a simple rehashing of the plot. Remember also that grammar and editing problems are taken seriously, so revise and polish your work carefully.

1) Discuss setting in Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" as a psychic terrain. In what way is the story's setting allegorical (or not)? What reason does Poe have for using setting the way he does in this story? Feel free to consult the excerpts from Poe's non-fiction in your text (p. 891, 934-936) for supporting material.

2) Analyze the development--or lack of development--of Young Goodman Brown's character in Hawthorne's story. How does his developing adult identity compare with the identity he was prepared for as a child? What might Hawthorne be saying with this contrast?

3) Look at the use of point-of-view in Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener." Explore how perspective is closely related to the story's themes.

4) Explain the complicated notion of life and death in "The Death of Ivan Ilych." For example, look at the title character's illness as holding a symbolic, i.e. more than literal, meaning.

5) Explore the thematic significance of home in either "The Story of Hour" or "The Yellow Wallpaper." Explain what Chopin or Gilman might be saying about her society at the time.

6) Examine the mysterious narrative structure of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. What effect does the framing device have on the story? What purpose does constructing the plot this way have in relation to the work's themes?

7) Devise your own topic. Please submit your idea to me in advance.

8) The fiction option.

This assignment is due at the beginning of class on Thursday, February 20.