Short Fiction with Research

Essay 3: Short Fiction with Research

Spring 2020

Worth 15%

Choose one of the following topics:

1)Compose a formal essay analyzing a major theme of one of the two short stories using a combination of the following literary devices: symbolism, characterization, and/or setting.

2)Compose a formal essay analyzing the symbolism in one of the two short stories. Consider a symbol that recurs over the course of the story and look closely at each appearance it makes. How does the story’s use of the symbol evolve?

Choose from the following works: “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Typed in the basic MLA format

2 scholarly sources (research assignment) as well as the primary source

Includes a Works Cited page

750-1000 words in length

Submit through the Canvas tab by 11:59 PM, Thursday, March 5.

Introduction: You establish a context for the significance of your thesis in regards to the literary work as a whole. How does your argument contribute to understanding the author’s major literary/thematic concerns? What can other readers learn from your analysis.

Thesis: You state in 1-2 sentences your main idea. The thesis is the culmination of your introduction.

Organization: Your essay should follow that of a typical literary critique:

Since your focus must be on analyzing some literary motif or symbol, theme, or a combination of a literary elements (such as symbolism, character, setting, etc.), your essay must contain well-structured supporting paragraphs that contain a topic sentence, quotes from the primary text, quotes from secondary sources ( not sparknotes, enotes, ect), an explanation/discussion of the significance of the quotes you use in relation to your thesis, and a concluding sentence or two that situates the entire paragraph in relation to the thesis. Your thesis will focus on some kind of critical analysis of the primary text, so your supporting paragraphs should be organized around each of the quotes you use, explaining the significance of the quotes and why (or how) transitions and at least six (or more) sentences.


Regardless of which option you choose, you want a conclusion that avoids summarizing what you’ve just said. You also don’t want to say, “In conclusion…” Your aim in a conclusion is to place the discussion in a larger context. For example, how might your critical analysis of a literary character relate to the other characters in a work? How might your thesis be applied to other aspects of the text, say for example, the setting or symbolism?

Grammar and Mechanics: Your paper avoids basic grammar mistakes, such as fragments, comma splices, run ons, dropped apostrophes in possessives, subject/verb agreement, arbitrary tense switches, etc. Use only present tense! The paper demonstrates a commitment to proofreading by avoiding easy-to-catch typos and word mistakes (effect for affect, for example). The paper adheres to the MLA formatting style for the in-text citations and Works Cited citations. No fragments, fused sentences, or comma splices! These three errors count off 10 points each!

Presentation: Your paper meets the minimum length criteria of 750 words, is typed with a creative title. The paper is required to be in the MLA format, using the primary source, at least one scholarly secondary source but no more than two, in-text citations, and a Works Cited page. You must have both in-text citations and a Works Cited page or risk failure on the essay.

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