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Critical Post

Critical Post


The critical essay should be an interpretation of literary text(s) that

establishes the author’s intent by analyzing characters, imagery, and/or

themes/main ideas. Each paper should contain a clear, analytical thesis

statement. Develop your argument through close reading and textual

analysis using the SIEL method – State, Illustrate, Explain, Link —

that you have been practicing in journal entries.


1) Journal entry 3 requires you to answer specific questions about your essay topic. To write the entry effectively, you will need to define your topic specifically and decide exactly how you plan to support your thesis. I will give you feedback and suggestions about your topic. This journal entry will be due by 11:59 pm, Sunday, July 16th.

Final Drafts must be submitted by 11:59 pm Monday, July 24th.

Length: 4 -5 pages. Points will be deducted from your grade if

your paper does not meet length requirements.

Format: Typed, double-spaced, appropriately and

METICULOUSLY documented. All papers must be typed in 12-

point font with 1 inch margins on all sides.

Your analysis will be based on your own close reading of the texts. You

are not allowed to use secondary or critical sources in

developing your analysis. All essays should have a Works Cited page to

cite the primary text you are analyzing. BE SURE that you understand

the conventions of MLA parenthetical documentation. You will

be penalized at least a letter grade for sloppy, inaccurate or




incomplete documentation. Plagiarized papers will fail


Access the link below.


On the left sidebar: First click on Research and Citation. Next click on

MLA Style. Now click on MLA Formatting and Style Guide.

Don’t get frustrated! It looks a lot more complicated than it is.

For your essays, you will want to know:

1) What information to include in a parenthetical citation. Your citations

will be for a work within an anthology

2) What the Works Cited page should look like.


Consider and discuss the significance of the author’s intent in ALL of these

essays. At the center of any literary analysis are the core

questions: Why did the author create this work? What impact does the

author want the story or novel to have on his or her readers? What do you

consider an important purpose of the story?

Note that the questions within each possible topic are intended

as prompts. Your development of the essay will be guided by

your thesis statement. In other words, this is not an exam! You

do not have to answer all parts of the question!

1.) Write a thematic analysis of Benjamin Franklin’s The

Autobiography. Clearly establish what you consider a

controlling purpose or intent of his narrative. What do you see

as a controlling theme of the narrative? How does he structure

the narrative as a coming-of age story or Bildungsroman? What

assumptions does he make about the possibilities for his life as

an American? What does Franklin see as the challenges of being

an American like him? Discuss specific events that support your





2.) Write an analysis of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the

Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by

Himself. Clearly establish the purpose(s) of the narrative. What

do you see as a controlling theme of the narrative? Discuss

specific events or examples that support your thesis. The

following are possible approaches to the topic: In what ways

does Douglass seek to negotiate the constrictions of

enslavement? Address the ways in which Douglass claims his

personhood or humanity, and, specifically the ways in which he

defines and claims his manhood. What events do you see as

particularly critical to his eventual attainment of his freedom?

3.) Write an analysis of Olaudah Equiano’s Narrative. Clearly

establish what you see as an important purpose or intent of the

narrative. What do you see as a controlling theme of the

narrative? Be sure to provide specific supporting events or

examples from the narrative. You may want to focus on

(Prompts): Equiano’s comparison of his experience of African

and American /New World slavery; his conversion to

Christianity and how that informs his perspective and critique;

his depiction of the experiences of other enslaved people and of

his own experiences; his depiction of the extreme brutality and

deprivation to which many enslaved people are subjected; etc.

4.) Write a comparative thematic analysis of two poems by Emily

Dickinson. Possible themes that you can address: spiritual

and/or religious beliefs; death, especially whether or not there is

life after death; on becoming a wife; what it means to be a poet,

etc. At least one of the poems must be from the class


5.) Write an analysis of Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a

Slave Girl and her “Letter from a Fugitive Slave.” What specific

challenges did she face writing about her experiences as a

formerly enslaved woman? Why do you think she wrote the

narrative and the letter despite these challenges? What do you

see as a controlling theme of the narrative? Of the letter? What is

the tone of both? Who is her audience? Discuss specific events

or examples that support your thesis. The following are possible




approaches to the topic: Consider the ways in which Jacobs

challenges the preconceptions, of her “owners” as well as of her

audience. What do you think accounts for her strong sense of

self despite having been enslaved all of her life? What strategies

does she use to claim agency and some control over her life, even

as an enslaved teenage girl? What does she value most about


6 .) Melville has written a story that CANNOT be read as a simple

tale of good vs. evil. What is Melville’s intent? What about the

story makes it more complex than that? Within this context,

write a character analysis of ONE or TWO of the three main

characters: Babo, Delano, and/or Cereno. Depending on whom

you choose, consider the following questions: Do you see Babo

as a hero? Why or why not? How are our perceptions of him

influenced by the depositions of Cereno and Delano? Why

doesn’t Babo speak at his trial? Do you see Captain Delano as a

hero? Why or why not? Do we ever see him from someone else’s

perspective? What does he ultimately think of his own actions

on the San Dominick? Considering where the mutiny takes

place, do we see Cereno as a victim? Why or why not?