Your final essay will be a literary analysis. You will be guided by your own interpretation of literary devices that make up the short story. Literary devices are simply techniques that writers use for emphasis or to create a special affect. Ultimately, literary devices help us to understand a creative work in a deeper way. Appropriate literary devices for you to examine would be primary themes, symbols, metaphors, language use (i.e. Hurston’s use of black, southern dialect), tone, identity, character analysis, and/or vivid imagery that emerge in the plot. Regardless of what devices you choose, be sure to consider at least 3-4 different devices, so that you can develop one (1) full body paragraphs per device. You must have a clear, identifiable thesis statement in the introductory paragraph of your essay. You can also use the introduction to provide some interesting background information on your author. Don’t forget to cite your source for your biographical evidence. Do not use any secondary sources for the remainder of your essay—only use the primary text (i.e. “Sweat” or “Salvation”) for quotes/paraphrases. Do not include unnecessary plot summaries; assume your target audience are academics who have read the work many times. Your essay should be a minimum of 950 -1,100 words; Use 1-2 quote(s) per body paragraph as textual evidence. Do not forget MLA format for your varied signal phrases (i.e. Delia argues… Sykes retorts…) and parenthetical citations. When analyzing a creative piece such as a short story, it is standard to refer to the character’s instead of the author unless you are referring to the author’s style. Consider the following as possible topics for your essay. However, you are not limited to these topics, but they have worked well in past essays. Before you submit your final draft, let me know which story and what literary device (theme, symbol, setting, imagery, etc.) you plan to examine in your analysis.
Cavendish-Jones argues that the first sentence of Langston Hughes’s “Salvation:” “I was saved from sin when I was going on thirteen,” is ironic because Hughes’s story actually describes the corruption of an innocent and sincere child, who learned duplicity and dishonesty by going to church. Write a thematic analysis examining the ways in which the theme of dishonesty emerges in Hughes’s “Salvation.”
Write an essay that examines the way Zora Neale Hurston uses the symbol of a snake both literally and figuratively in “Sweat.”
Write a symbolic analysis that examines the way sweat functions as symbol for fear, anger, and labor in Hurston’s “Sweat.”
Many critics argue that Zora Neale Hurston’s “The Gilded Six-Bits” underscores the old adage, “all that glitters ain’t gold.” A few of the themes we discussed in class were: Appearance and Reality, Love and Passion, Marriage and Infidelity, Betrayal and Forgiveness. Write a thematic analysis that examines one or more of these primary themes.
Consider executing a character analysis: compare/contrast two protagonists from two different short stories. For instance, you could consider how the theme of love/marriage functions differently for Missy Mae (Gilded Six-Bits) and Delia (Sweat). Or, how the theme of dishonesty affects the protagonist in “Salvation” and one of the other short stories.
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