English 4420 paper 1

Write an analytical or argumentative essay on a topic from the list of options below, avoiding plot summary (see nugget 1) and meeting each of the following requirements. Read each of these requirements very carefully, more than once.

  • 7-9 pages in length, 2100 words minimum, 2700 words maximum (in the body of the essay, excluding headers, name, date, title, works cited entries, etc.).

  • Your work must be formatted carefully and correctly, following MLA guidelines as outlined on my "simple stuff" web page. Papers not following these very simple conventions of formatting will be returned un-graded and will receive late penalties depending upon how many days it takes you to format them correctly.

  • A minimum of ten quotations from the work or works you examine is required: ten is an absolute minimum—you may certainly offer more than ten to illustrate or substantiate your primary claims thoroughly and effectively.

  • All quotations and other source material must be documented according to MLA guidelines as outlined on my quotations page. A works cited page is mandatory even if you cite only one work.

  • You are not required to incorporate research into this paper as you will be with paper 2, but you may if you wish bring in quotations and other support from secondary sources of legitimate scholarly criticism or commentary so long as you do not get your “research” from the world wide web. In fact, you should most emphatically not consult any world wide web pages outside of our course materials while preparing your paper.

  • Note that you must submit the final draft in both hard copy (printed on paper) and in digital form submitted via the Dropbox for the assignment in D2L Cochran students, only, do not have to turn in hard copy.

  • Paper proposals: as a graded assignment, you are to turn in a paper proposal in the form of a topic sentence outline beginning with the question your essay will strive to answer, followed by each body paragraph's complete topic sentence as it will appear in the essay itself, and ending with a thesis statement that a) answers the question you are addressing, and b) ties together the primary points in your topic sentences. The question you raise for this outline should be a literal question—an interrogative sentence ending in a question mark, not merely a statement of what your topic is. You may submit your topic sentence outline early in the body of an email message—that is, it’s not necessary to send the outline as an attachment. For full explanation of a topic sentence outline, including examples, see the paper proposal assignment page.

Topic Options:
Note that in all options below you are restricted only to novels we have read for this course. Comparisons or other significant concentration on novels we have not read is off-limits for this assignment.

  • Facets of Romanticism in Goethe's Sorrows of Werther (will require authoritative definition or description of literary Romanticism).

  • The conflict between illusion and reality in any two or three works we've read thus far.

  • The portrayal of women in any three works we've read thus far.

  • Different realisms in Madame Bovary and any one or two of the works we've read by Tolstoy.
  • The portrayal of marriage and/or romantic relationships in any three works we've read thus far.

  • A worthwhile topic of your choosing, that goes beyond pointing out the obvious and requires careful and sophisticated analysis or argumentation.

blue bulletI encourage you to seek my help with your paper outside of class. If my office hours don't mesh with your schedule, let me know, and we'll make other arrangements.


  • Offer concrete evidence (i.e. quotations) to support every one of your major assertions.
  • Make every body ¶'s topic sentence answer the topic sentence outline question directly.
  • Avoid plot summary: see nugget 1; introduce all quotes: see nugget 3.
  • Sweat the details: see the "Golden Rules," "Nuggets," "Simple Stuff," and "Quotations" pages and proofread carefully.