Length and Format: The literary analysis should be 750 words in length (which will roughly translate to a length of about 2 ½ pages) and should be formatted according to MLA guidelines.
Assignment Overview: Having been introduced to the literary genre of American Realism, students will be expected to choose a corresponding short story and engage in analysis of what the author is trying to critique, comment on, or argue through the story.
Students should focus on a single symbol or two as the main point of analysis for their work, as focusing on any more in an essay of this length will cause the work to be shallow and lacking in critical depth.
Students should explore the relation of that particular symbol to the rest of the story and demonstrate familiarity with how the symbol is dealt with: how is the symbol described, what details does the author use to help convey its idea, how does the symbol relate to other aspects of the story, etc.
The more aware you are of all the details pertaining to the symbol itself, the better equipped you will be to make an assertion of what you believe the symbol both represents and communicates not only about the story but about the society that produced it.
Students should demonstrate a thorough awareness of the societal and historical context surrounding their particular text, as oftentimes literature is a response or a reflection of these very things.
Ultimately the purpose of your analysis here is to make both a unique and compelling argument about how a single symbol can be used to help you interpret the literary text in an original way […] your goal here should be to avoid making the same arguments that every online site makes about the text.
The essay should avoid plagiarism and long quotes (4 lines or more), and will need a works cited should you rely on additional sources.
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