ENGL 200C—Fiction Analysis Assignment

ENGL 200C—Fiction Analysis Assignment

Write a literary analysis essay at least 1000 words in length (roughly three pages) that focuses on how one of the literary elements discussed in the fiction section of the course relates to the overall theme of one of the stories we read this term.

A fiction analysis is an essay that “singles out” a specific element within a story (character, setting, symbol, etc.) and interprets its function within the story, specifically, in most cases, the relationship between the actual story (i.e., its plot) and the protagonist’s struggle. And remember, you are doing this to write a persuasive essay that argues your interpretation of the work’s theme (the major idea or slice of wisdom the writer is trying to get across to the reader).

Of course, you will find yourself referring to other elements of fiction within the same analysis because a symbol or character, for example, does not exist alone within a story. That is, you must consider every literary element in the story before you can thoroughly analyze one aspect of it. However, you are to refer to these other elements only to help develop your thesis that narrows itself to one element. What follows is a sample thesis statement from a literary analysis essay:

In an episode of The Simpsons’ titled “Lisa’s Pony,” the plot reveals how typical American fathers try to easily fix their major parenting mistakes by buying their children’s forgiveness, which often results in significant harm that is physiological, psychological, and financial.

It’s always a good idea to reread the work you are analyzing (with pen in hand for active reading purposes). This will not only help you break down the work into manageable and useful parts, but it will also keep you from simply summarizing what happens in the story. Although a literary analysis requires you to summarize specific parts of the story, you should not merely summarize the entire story to avoid writing a persuasive essay. If you do, you should be prepared to receive a failing grade. Instead look for the most important evidence that supports your thesis statement and then quote specific words, phrases, and lines from the story to support your interpretation. Also, be sure to include citations when you use quotations from the story.

As mentioned in the course syllabus, your essay should be written using MLA documentation style (including a “Works Cited” page) and submitted electronically as a Microsoft Word document attached to an email. For help understanding this assignment, you are free to contact me at any time. However, please first read the chapters on formal literary essays and MLA documentation, which I will be sending you as email attachments.

It’s entirely okay to research or debate your chosen story and its theme to clarify your thoughts and narrow your thesis statement, but your analysis cannot incorporate sources or information outside of the story; in other words, you are to use your natural ability as a critical thinker to analyze the story (thus why it’s called an “analysis essay”).

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