Paper #1: Close Reading Fiction Using Gender/Political Criticism
You are writing an essay (of at LEAST 4 pages, double-spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point font in Times New Roman) in which you will closely read and analyze small sections of a short story. You will provide readers with a full, well-supported explanation of your analysis and conclusions.
Choose one of the following stories:
- “The Birthmark” by Nathanial Hawthorne (258-268)
- “A Sorrowful Woman” by Gail Godwin (Canvas)
- “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston (202-210)
You will NOT be using outside sources for this essay. Rely solely on the text. There are no right or wrong readings. As long as you can logically support your conclusions with specifics in the text, you will be applying close reading and gender/political criticism correctly.
You will, however, be using specific words/lines from the text. You must cite in proper MLA style.
This essay should be written for a college audience who know the story you are analyzing. Aim at people who are educated at levels of first-year students to professors. Your language, style and tone should reflect your audience and purpose. Be careful NOT to give too much summary—remember, you are supposed to analyze the text, not provide a detailed account of the events in the story. Your job here is to convince the reader to accept your interpretation of the story.
Look back over the stories and decide which one you feel most comfortable with. Reread it again, noting in particular passages that you could read closely and come up with something interesting to say about it. Most importantly, find several passages that relates to the story’s main conflicts and/or themes in it, particularly in reference to gender/political criticism.
Here’s a short list of questions to get you thinking about the story. Make sure you think about these ideas in way that you can make an argument using gender/political criticism:
- What conflict/theme is present in the passage? For example, you might find the struggle of dealing with certain questions/problems (or possible problems) in relationships.
- Are there any tensions present? Between which characters? For example, between husband and wife or having to make a difficult decision.
- Are there any ambiguities or words/phrases/actions that allow for more than one interpretation? Do they contribute to the theme in any way?
- Is there any irony in the passage, a place where things are not what they seem or a character/author says one thing but means another?
- Is there anything interesting or revealing about the tone, point of view, setting, or images that are in the particular passage?
- Don’t forget a title for your essay