In this course, the focus of the papers should be primarily on the close readings of the passages that you select. Spend most of your time analyzing how these passages support your theme. If necessary, you may first summarize the scenes you select in one or two sentences. Remember, however, that plot summary is not analysis! Analysis involves taking the passage apart to explain how it works as a whole. You may also include direct quotations from the text, but you must anchor them within your paper to explain why they are significant or helpful to your argument. Be careful not to over quote --- I want to read your analysis, not the original text.
Here are some tips for writing your papers:
- Begin your paper with a clear statement of your main claim.
- Do not use first person in this paper. That is, avoid saying, "I believe that ... " or "I argue that ...". It is enough simply to state your claim: "Jane Eyre appears to be ... in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre."
- Use simple, direct language. Try to use active verbs rather than passive voice. Avoid empty subjects/verbs such as "It is," "There are," and "This is" unless absolutely necessary.
- Be sure to explain the significance of your quotations and how they work to support your claim. An example (using Mr. Rochester) is:
Mr. Rochester admits he acted shamefully when he says "I had not the wisdom to stay cool: I turned desperate, then I degenerated". (155)
Place the page number of the quotation in parentheses after you end the quotation; there's no need for "p." or "page".
- Give your paper a title. Your reader should be able to deduce something about your argument from the title of the paper. Long titles are fine, and you might try using a colon. For example:
The Moral Debasement of Mr. RochesterorA Selfish Determination: The Character of Edward Rochester
- End your paper by focusing again on your main theme, and summarize what you have attempted to prove.