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Long Analytical Essay (20%): This essay must be a minimum of 1500 words (approximately five typed pages). Essays shorter than the required word length will be penalized (longer essays are fine).

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·    The essay must respond directly to one of the prompts available on Blackboard (Course Materials) or cover a topic preciously approved by the professor.

·    This essay must use and cite (directly or indirectly) two peer-reviewed sources found through Berkeley College’s Online Library. This paper should show a thoughtful, intellectual analysis of one or more of the works of literature studied this quarter and engage in critical thinking on the topic.

·    Students must also employ two direct quotations and two indirect citations.

Essays without appropriate documentation and Work Cited/Bibliographic entries will be penalized. Plagiarism will result in a grade of zero for the assignment. Egregious examples of plagiarism will result in a grade of zero for the course.


Research & Documentation: You are expected to conduct some outside research for this essay. Papers must include a Work Cited page that lists the appropriate bibliographic entry for your texts including your primary source (the play!). To show that you have used your sources, you must have two examples of indirect quotes and two direct quotes in your paper.


MLA documentation: All documentation, including citation from the novels and/or poems must use appropriate MLA citation, together with parenthetical references to authors and pages.


When researching your essay, you must use reputable, reliable, academic sources. Sparknotes, wikipedia,, etc. are not acceptable sources.

To find appropriate sources, use Berkeley College’s online library (or go to the actual library!). Through the Library tab on Blackboard, fine on the left-side of the page “Electronic Databases A-Z.” Here you will find two applicable sources for research:

ØBloom’s Literary Reference Online



Type your topics in the specified areas. Be sure to search for “full text” and “peer-reviewed” articles to make certain you have a scholarly article.

Documentation & Work Cited Entries: use the following website to help you with documentation:



Format & Grading: Refer to the syllabus for specifics.



Possible Topics: choose one of the topics below, or contact me after if you have another idea. All essays should involve serious, critical and analytical thinking on the works we have read and discussed in class. In other words, summary should be kept to a minimum. Analysis of the literary work should be thoughtful, intelligent, moving clearly beyond the emotional reaction of liking or disliking the literature to contemplate the larger themes and philosophy present in the literature. These essays should link the literature with the broader subjects explored in our class. Be sure to indicate to which essay you are responding on your paper.


1. Write an extended character analysis of one of the characters from our reading. You may choose either a principle character, such as Othello, Oedipus, Nora, Stanley, or Blanche, or secondary character, such as Jaconda, Creon, Desdemona, Emilia, Stella, or Mitch.

Any good character analysis will detail how that particular character is an essential component of the literary work. Perhaps this character is constructed to embody a specific idea, philosophy, or theme articulated by the work. Perhaps that character plays a pivotal role in the main action of the novel, acting as a catalyst to jump-start the events. This form of literary analysis should reveal how understanding the character is essential to the reader’s comprehension of the novel as a whole. To wit, without that character, the literary work would be entirely different.

To achieve this kind of in-depth analysis, you should think about the identity (both physical and mental) of the character: who is he/she? How does he act, speak, and relate to the other characters? What does he do? Where does he live? What does he look like? How is this character described by the author? What do all these details reveal about the character’s role in the novel? How does this character play and essential, pivotal role in the literary work?


2. Classical and Modern tragedy: Hegel suggested that modern tragedies, such as Othello and A Streetcar Named Desire, differ in part from classical tragedies like Oedipus Rex in the construction of the protagonist’s conflict. Characters such as Oedipus experience a conflict that is largely external: he is cursed by the gods. Othello’s conflict, however, is largely internal: he is easily swayed by negative influences. Compare and contrast the development of tragedy in these plays, taking special note of Hegel’s theories on classical and modern tragedy.


3. Theater as a venue for social commentary: Theater becomes a venue in which to express, explore, and even contest the doxical beliefs of society. Analyze any of the plays we have read/watched this quarter to show how they uphold (or not) society’s doxa. In your essay, examine the play for evidence of doxical beliefs, define these values, and then reveal how the play either sustains or questions these beliefs.


4. Aristotle detailed four characteristics necessary to the ideal character in a tragic: goodness, propriety, true to life, and consistency. Explain how the character of Othello, Blanche, or Stanley fits—or perhaps does not entirely fit—Aristotle’s definition of character.


5. In most examples of drama, particularly classic drama, there is an example of an “inciting incident” also known as “the point of no return.” In other words, this is the moment when the principal conflict of the play begins, and the protagonist has no choice but to move forward into the tragic conflict. Explain where one might locate the “inciting incident” in either Oedipus Rex or Othello, or A Streetcar Named Desire, giving special care to explain how this particular moment in the play is the “inciting incident” and how it affects the protagonist and other characters in the play.

6. It has been suggested that Tennessee Williams invented the concept of desire for the later half of the 20 th century. Having seen Kazan’s film based on the screenplay by Williams, explain how this statement might be true. How is desire represented in this film? What is desired? Who desires what? How do they desire? What does Williams (and Kazan) teach us about love and desire? In your response, you should consider the traditional literary elements such as plot and character, but also use the unique visual structure of film to bring to light your ideas. In other words, analyze specific scenes, costuming, acting,mise en scène, lighting and sound to elucidate your thesis.

7. The Visual Arts: In the play and film A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams suggested that the setting of the poker night scene imitate Vincent VanGogh’s painting, Café De Nuit. Use the painting to construct a detailed analysis of this scene. How does our knowledge of the painting illuminate our understanding of this evening?


8. Define Aristotle’s concepts of hamarteia and hubris in terms of the tragic hero, applying these definitions to one of the characters from our reading: Oedipus, Othello, Nora, Blanche, or Stanley.


9. Character comparison: Compare the characters of Oedipus, Hamlet, and Blanche. Each has been defined by modern commentary as representative of the tragic hero. Construct a compare-contrast analysis of these characters, using the ideals of the tragic hero established by Aristotle in The Poetics as your underlying thematic methodology.


10. Consider the theme of madness in one of the plays we have studied this quarter. Which characters show elements of madness? Who considers this character to be mad? What does the character appear to think of this definition—does he or she accept or deny it? What has driven the character mad? Is it a true madness, or one imagined? What are the repercussions of this madness? How is madness dictated by society? In other words, is it madness defined by an individual’s inability to submit to the expectations of the polis?


11. Film: Elia Kazan’s 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the few films that surpasses the power of the written text. What specifically makes this film so spectacular? How does the film illuminate the drama of the text in a way that reading or a stage performance cannot? What techniques do the director and actors employ to create this powerful drama? Be sure to analyze and think critically about the film- do not merely represent your opinion. You may wish to focus on a few specific scenes to conduct your analysis. Analyze the film using the elements of filmmaking and visual art discussed in class, such as costuming, acting, mise en scène,lighting and sound to elucidate your thesis.



12. Anagnorisis and peripeteia are, according to Aristotle, essential to high tragedy. Use Aristotle’s Poetics to define these terms, and then analyze one of the tragedies studied in this course to illuminate how this coincidence functions in high tragedy. 

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