Possible Topics for Essay #2: Drama & Poetry
1. In a one-act play form, update a play like Antigone, Oedipus or Trifles in a one-act format. Even though we’re living in a relatively “free” society, what aspect(s) of our lives might be said to be “determined” by situations beyond our control? What would be a comparable situation today that would make someone stand up to the government? OR is there a comparable situation to compare with what happened to Mrs. Wright?
1. Read one of the plays we’ve covered with attention to its symbolic elements. In your essay discuss the major and some of the minor symbols that are at work in the play, and explain how they clarify the meaning or ideas of this play. Pick a few of the minor symbols, in addition to the major symbol(s) which are significant for a deeper understanding of the play.
1. Even though it was written about the situation in South Africa, could Fugard’s play, Master Harold, shed light on the African-American experience? What insights does it provide for you? Be specific with regard to time-frame, events and experiences you discuss. You may incorporate some research on Segregation (or Jim Crow ) Laws in the US at that time to do so.
1. Compare and contrast the women in Trifles with those in Doll’s House. In spite of the differences in cultures, are they universal characterizations? Why? Explain your reasons with specific examples from the plays and add some examples from modern society which would enable you to say that these characters are relevant even now.
1. Susan Glaspell’s short story, “A Jury of Her Peers,” also in our textbook, is a revised version of her play, Trifles, Compare the two. How does the story change the play? Does the theme work better in one genre than in the other? Why? BE SPECIFIC in answering these questions, quoting examples and some passages in both to explain which is the better version and why you think so.
1. Write up an extended analysis of a poem from our text that we did NOT cover in class OR explain/interpret some techniques or aspects in a long poem that we did cover, focusing on aspects we DID NOT discuss IN DEPTH in class. You may also compare/contrast two poems, perhaps taking one that we have discussed to compare it with another poem of a similar theme or topic that WAS NOT assigned. You could also comment upon poetic elements in a few song lyrics of a favorite group or artist. SEE ME to have the poem(s) or songs approved.
1. Take an aspect of a poem (such as Symbolism, Irony, or other figures of speech), and analyze HOW that aspect (or a couple of aspects) functions in the poem to create its meaning. Explain your analysis in essay form, making specific references to lines and images in the poem.
1. If you are interested in visual arts, sketch, describe and explain in detail HOW you would stage an important scene or act from one of the plays in our text. A Director always interprets a play to produce it, and often updates it for more modern audiences (for example, “West Side Story” is an update of Romeo & Juliet). Explain what you would so and why; submit sketches of your staging (computer-generated or line drawings), to support and illustrate your choices.
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