Essay Writing

Essay Writing

Part 1:

There are a few different ways you could approach the writing of this essay:

· The thematic approach: You will choose a theme or idea that you see in the play and then make an assertion about how and/or why that theme is being used. Consider the following themes:

o Love

o Alienation/Otherness

o The American Dream/Nightmare

o The Quest for Identity/Coming of Age

o Conformity/Rebellion

· Perform a character study. Discuss what motivates this character to do what he or she does. Perhaps you’d like to discuss how and why the character deals with the conflicts within the play. You might also choose to compare and contrast two characters.

· Compare and contrast the play—or some element of the play—with another literary work. If you choose this method, you may use only a literary work – poem, story, and/or dramatic work – we have read in this class.

· Formalist approach: In addition to or in place of the approaches described above, you might want to employ a formalist’s approach to analyze and interpret the literary work you have chosen. You might consider the following questions and considerations. If you choose this route, you will thoroughly analyze your claims using the text and dramatic action of the play and any supporting details from your research.

o How do paradox, irony, ambiguity, and tension work in the play?

o Is there a central or focal passage that can be said to sum up the entirety of the work?

o What are the key symbols in the play?


Part 2:

Once you decide on an approach and a topic:

1. If you have any questions or need guidance, discuss your choices with your instructor.

2. Make sure you have a fairly clear working thesis statement. This should not be a question or a synopsis of what happens in the play. Instead, it should be your own fresh idea that takes a firm stance on your chosen aspect of the play. Keep in mind your thesis may change or become more specific as you research – and certainly as you begin to identify and to elaborate your discovered claims. The final thesis statement, discovered in your conclusion, will be clear and precise.

3. Establish and prove your assertions. To do so, you need to:

o Analyze your primary source (Death of a Salesman) to find quotations from the text that support your assertions.

o Find secondary sources (scholarly articles in GALILEO) to support each assertion. (These sources will come from your working bibliography.) Once you quote from one of the sources, that item must be identified on your Works Cited page. This is your scholarly research. By finding scholars to support your ideas or even to counter them, you are backing up your own thoughts using evidence from experts in the field.

4. Follow MLA Format:

o Use MLA format for the paper: Purdue Owl: MLA info

o Length: minimum of 1200 – 1500 words

o Include a Works Cited page, not to be counted in the 1200-1500 word minimum

o Appropriate Scholarly Secondary Sources Included: a minimum of three (3) scholarly sources are required. These sources are in addition to the play itself, which must also be accurately listed on the Works Cited page.

Be sure to have an appropriate title for your essay (See Titling Your Essay)

Write with an analytical purpose: Do not spend too much space summarizing the text. Assume that your reader has already read or seen the play. Aim for an organized paper that offers your reader some new insight into the play. Analyze, don’t Summarize!


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