Write a paper in which you engage in a close textual analysis of two literary (or visual) texts, with the purpose of demonstrating how they address a particular theme covered in our class readings and discussions about today’s society.
While you may employ comparison-and-contrast techniques, comparing the two texts should not be a goal in itself; therefore, your paper should not become a simple list of similarities and differences between the two texts. Keep in mind that you are still required to write an argumentative paper, with a clear thesis statement and supporting ideas. Your thesis statement should answer the following question: What messages or ideas about individuals and their role in society do the texts convey and what specific means each text uses to convey those messages?
This paper is not asking for a review of your chosen texts (i.e. whether you like them or not). Instead, stay focused on the analysis in terms of the messages they send about your topic. Beyond the introductory paragraph, do not spend time simply summarizing the literary (or visual) texts you’ve chosen. Focus instead on making a clear set of points regarding the messages about individual and society being sent within your chosen texts.
For your Comparative Essay, you may choose to compare one of the texts we analyzed in class to a new text on a similar issue, or two new texts dealing with issues similar to those discussed in class. Here is the list of topics from which you need to choose ONE to develop into a Comparative Paper:
1. How do Sophocles’ play “Antigone” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” address the issue of civil disobedience? How does the gender/race of the disobeying individual impact the meaning of the texts?
2. Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” alludes to the negative impact unquestioned or unchallenged dogma may have on an individual’s life (and death) in a community. Read Salman Rushdie’s 1993 essay “Imagine There’s No Heaven” and compare this author’s view of organized religion and its effect on society to that implied in Jackson’s text.
3. The two plays by Susan Glaspell and Lynn Nottage, “Trifles” and “POOF!” respectively, focus on the issue of gender inequality in marriage. How do the two playwrights portray the female characters in relation to their male counterparts? Considering the plot similarities, could “POOF!” be considered a revisionist version (or a rewriting) of the 1916 “Trifles” from a contemporary (African-American) perspective?
4. How does Angela Carter’s story “The Company of Wolves” address the subject of sexual awakening implied in the “Little Red Ridding Hood” fairy tale? What are some of the subtle points in Charles Perrault and/or the Grimm Brothers’ version the contemporary author uses to expand on the theme of sexuality? As an alternative, you may also discuss Bernard Capes’ 19th-century story “The Thing in the Forest” (and its emphasis on the religious perspective) in connection to any or all other versions.
5. The 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty, an adaptation of Charles Perrault’s fairly tale “The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood” (and the Brothers Grimm later version titled “Little Briar Rose”), fleshes out the conventional antagonist in the original, the evil fairy, by creating the iconic “queen-of-all-evil” image and aptly naming the character Maleficent. The 2014 live-action movie Maleficent provides a revisionist version of the fairy tale by focusing on the backstory of the evil character. How does the 21st-century approach to the original story change your understanding of the characters and their motives? Does the contemporary perception of gender roles influence the new version of the plot and character interaction/relations?
Please note that all literary works listed above are available to read either in your textbook, Arguing about Literature, or online (just click on the title to follow the link). Also, DVD copies of the two film titles are available at the Broward College Library.
Before beginning to work on this assignment, read the chapter titled “Strategies for Writing a Comparative Paper” in Arguing about Literature (pages 112-120) and all course lessons in Learning Unit #2. To help you get started in your analysis, look for details within the plot, the portrayal of characters, dialogue, sound and visual cues, and/or even framing preferences that might send messages about gender.
For this assignment, YOU MAY NOT DO ANY ADDITIONAL RESEARCH beyond reading the assigned literary works (or watching the assigned movies) and studying the theoretical chapters in Arguing about Literature. You must develop your paper based on your own ideas and observations (informed by the readings and class discussions) and the assigned essays in this learning unit to support your comparative analysis. Therefore, you should choose those texts about which you feel you can develop an intelligent ana