Character Analysis Paper

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Character Analysis Paper

Character Analysis

Your first assignment this semester is to write a 4-5 page essay in which you analyze (break down for study) a main character from one of the short stories on our syllabus*. First, choose a character that you find admirable, intriguing, or at least worthy of the time you will need to spend with him or her as you examine the many facets of this literary persona. Getting Started: Begin by brainstorming about various personality traits and how they are revealed within the story. Avoid superficial or circumstantial descriptions except as they reveal deeper inner aspects of the person. Consider the character’s dynamics (round or flat?), verisimilitude (true to life, plausible, fantasy?), their successes or failures, humor, etc. Does point of view (POV) matter here? Form some preliminary theories or positions about the character and read the story again, this time looking for "proof” or evidence to support your preliminary position. Write down your central idea (or main stand) about your character (although you are completely free to revise or discard it right up until your final draft). Next, develop a thesis (or list of ways you can support your central idea). Keep in mind that your thesis should be a debatable claim. By the way, it’s perfectly fine to combine your central idea and thesis into one smooth sentence (this is sometimes called a divided thesis). Example–Mathilde is a vain woman who brings about her own destruction through her dissatisfaction with her life, her lack of appreciation for her husband, and her failure to communicate. This could be set up in a simple topical outline: Central Idea- Mathilde is a vain woman who brings about her own destruction. Thesis-Her downfall comes from three main flaws: A. Dissatisfaction with life B. Lack of appreciation for spouse C. Failure to communicate Now reread the story a third time. This time write down all the specifics (details and direct quotes + page numbers) which you think best illustrate and develop your supporting points. At this point you should be able to draft the well supported essay that this assignment requires. Remember that each of your 3-4 paragraphs will focus on a separate aspect of your thesis. In addition to your analysis of this main character, your essay must include two critical sources: a brief biographical sketch of your author (5-7 sentences), and a general criticism. First, find and read one multi-page article about the author’s life. In the Pellissippi library reference section, an excellent source is Literary Sources, but you may also use any reliable multi-page print sources (hard copy versions such as books, encyclopedias, journals). Do not use general sources from the web. After studying your biographical source that you judge to be thorough and thought provoking (not just a list of dates and facts), compose (in your own words) a brief sketch (5-10 sentences) which summarizes the author’s life and accomplishments-especially those which relate to the character you have chosen to analyze. Because this factual information is found in both sources and is considered to be "common knowledge," no acknowledgement of your sources is necessary here. However, be sure to include at least one quote that you judge to be less factual and more speculative or theoretical. This, in your judgment, is the intellectual property of one biographer and must be acknowledged with proper MLA documentation. After your attention-getting opener, and your biographical sketch, finish your introduction by smoothly leading your reader to your central idea and your thesis. Next, properly integrate your second critical source within the body of your essay. Now you are ready to put your essay components together: 1) Begin with an introduction paragraph which names your author and title, but also captures the reader’s interest. (See LB pp.4-5). Move to a brief summary of the author’s life with at least one idea or observation (in quoted form) that requires that you identify and document its scholarly source. End this paragraph by narrowing your focus to one character, stating your central idea about that character, and listing in your thesis 3-4 ways you will "prove" or develop that main idea. 2) In each body paragraph, remind your reader of your central idea and develop one of your 3-4 supports. Be sure to include explicit details and quotes from the story to illustrate each paragraph. A reliable way to integrate your quotes is to build a "quote sandwich" in which you include a quote between a tag phrase which introduces it and an internal citation which ends it. Example: This disregard is obvious as she peevishly tells her husband, "I have nothing to wear and therefore can’t go to the party. Give your invitation to someone else at the office whose wife will have nicer clothes than mine" (6). Of course, you must also then add your own commentary on the quotes or your paragraph becomes just a string of quotes, a mosaic of others’ words, with no insight of your own. 3) Compose a conclusion paragraph with some final reflection on your character. As with any analysis of a literary element of a story, it’s best to conclude by relating the element (character) to theme (the author’s general insight on the human experience). How does this character help this author make his/her point about the human condition? 4) Attach an alphabetically arranged Works Cited page which includes MLA style entries. Checklist: Do not use definitions from the dictionary. Do not use 1st/2nd person pronouns

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