Prof. Jonathan Glance

Paper #4

Due Dates: Monday, 15 Nov., in class. Draft workshop on 9 Nov.
Length: 4 typed pages

Assignment:
In this paper you will analyze in detail some brief episode (no longer than three pages) from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 or Dickens’s Great Expectations. I want you to select some scene which may to the casual reader seem incidental to the main plot line, and argue why that scene in fact is significant; in other words, you will argue why an understanding of that scene is important for an appreciation of the story. You might analyze various aspects of that scene, such as the way it illustrates an important theme, or how it develops our understanding of a character, or its method of narration, its point of view, its structure, its use of imagery, etc., but make sure you focus your attention; stick to a single aspect, and emphasize that. Concentrate on details, and quote portions of the scene to show how the text supports your thesis. Make sure you also explain, however, how that quotation illustrates your thesis, and why the quotation means what you claim it does. Then offer comments that show how the portion you’re interpreting contributes to the work as a whole. As a general rule, “say more about less”: limit your focus to a small enough topic so that you can cover it in some detail in this brief paper.

Like the third paper, this assignment calls for you to consult and incorporate secondary sources (these usually mean articles and books which contain scholarly interpretations of the story, and possibly even statements by the author). While you will still be presenting your own views, you should bring in two other critics’ readings: one should come from the critics and documents in the back of our editions of the texts, the other from material available on the Internet. It is usually best to try to find both support for your thesis and opposition which you will refute.

Handling these outside sources will create certain challenges:
   1) Limit your focus. Choose a small enough topic so that you can cover it in detail. You need to pick an aspect that is brief enough to allow you to analyze both it and critical remarks about it in a 4 page paper.
   2) Defend your thesis. It is not enough merely to state a generalization about the selected aspect. You must also back up your claim with detailed, specific evidence (such as quotations from the text, or a statement by a critic who agrees with your reading); for your paper to be truly convincing, you should go even further and explain why the evidence supports your point.
   3) Document all outside sources. Whenever you quote, paraphrase or summarize either the text or a critic, you must supply a parenthetical citation providing the author’s name and the page number(s). If you have several consecutive sentences paraphrasing one particular source, you must either provide a citation for each sentence or (preferably) attribute the passages to the author, and cite the page number after the last sentence. [For example: "M. H. Smith disagrees with that reading, and asserts that we should read Great Expectations as a dramatic monologue. He goes on to argue that Dickens was more a Modern than a Victorian novelist" (33-35).] Finally, you must include a Works Cited page, which identifies the primary text and the critics you cite in your essay. Use the MLA format for all documentation. We will discuss that format in class.
   4) Turn in photocopies of secondary sources. Part of your grade for this assignment will come from your ability to quote accurately and use correct citation formats. I will require copies of your secondary sources so that I can determine this. You may copy just the pages you cite. Please place your paper, the rough draft, and these photocopies in a manila envelope (not a folder) when you turn it in.

This paper is due in class. I will penalize late papers by one letter grade per day. Please see me if it appears your paper will not be finished on time. I will be happy to discuss ideas for this paper, or examine rough drafts.