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Sample Literature Argument Essay

Dr. Obermeier'sSample Paper Files

You are advised to peruse these sample papers previous students have written for my classes. The papers are either pdf files or HTML files, in which I have embedded comments to explain why they are superior efforts. The comments refer to the following sentence, phrase, or word. Clicking on the comment link will bring up the content. You have to close a comment window before proceeding to the next one. Clicking on the header will give you instructions on how to make such a running header for your papers. Because of HTML restrictions, the formatting might appear slightly off. You still need to keep your papers double-spaced with 1/2-inch paragraph indent. Even if there is no specific explanation for a specific paper, the papers generally share the following superior qualities: descriptive and analytical titles; analytical theses; superior analysis of the texts; correct inclusion of quotations and formatting.

For instructions on how to do a running header for your paper in MS Word, click here.

Click on your class in the lineup.

 

For Engl. 250

  • Paper 1 "Sheppard" Characterization
          • This paper has it all: outstanding thought and content, excellent organization, superior sentence structure and diction. This student's command of the language is superb. A few minor problems could have been edited out. The paper received the grade of 96/A.

  • Paper 1 "Girl" Characterization
          • This paper is an excellent example of superior analysis coupled with stylistic economy and succinctness that avoid anything superfluous. The introduction and organization deserve high praise. The paper received the grade of 96/A.
  • Paper 2 Explication of "Sonnet 46"
          • This explication of a Shakespeare sonnet is superbly done. The student outstandingly fused the analysis of the poem with an excellent and virtually error-free style. The paper received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 2 Explication of "Sonnet 42"
          • This is a very good example of a Shakespeare sonnet explication. The student clearly understands the nuances of the sonnet, with great sections on metrical discussion. The paper received 94/A.

            Here are the high-scoring essays for our assignment two. Per announcement in class, these uploads are not following the format as faithfully. I just wanted to get you the info without having to worry about getting everything lined up to MLA standards. Note also that I am providing these examples for the sophistication of the explication, the students' knowledge of technical aspects and detail of analysis; the essays, however, may still contain other weaknesses.

  • Paper 3 Explication of "The Victim at Aulis"
          • The student provides a superbly analyzed and written thematic poetry explication. Notice that the paper is organized around the student's thesis, ie., the major players in the myth and the poem, and not just the chronology of the paper. The paper received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 3 Explication of "Cassandra"
          • This paper is an excellent example of a thematic poetry explication, demonstrating superb intertextual understanding and control of the primary texts. Note the student's concise and honed style. The paper received the grade of 96/A.
  • Paper 4 Synthesis of Millay Poems
          • This paper offers a beautiful synthesis not only of three poems but also two critical approaches: Feminist and Freudian. It is almost flawlessly written and received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 4 Synthesis of Mythology Poems
          • The paper is up, but I am still working on the comments..
  • Paper 5 Shrew Research Paper
          • This is an exquisite research paper utilizing a postmodern approach to Taming of the Shrew. Notice that the critical approach is incorporated into the paper; therefore, there is no extra Barry page. The paper received 98/A+. Sorry, no comment boxes yet.
  • Paper 5 Yankee Research Paper
          • This is another outstanding research paper. It shows the incorporation of the research especially well. Notice that the Barry page is appended after the works cited page.The paper received 98/A+. Sorry, no comment boxes yet.
      • Return to Student Resources Page

For Engl. 304

 

For Engl. 306

For Engl. 351

Paper 1a here was written for Chaucer's Canterbury Tales but also works for Love Visions. To save time, I did not create javascript comment boxes but inserted my comments in square brackets into the actual paper. Notice that the paper has all the aspects an outstanding paper should: original thought and analysis, clear organization and thesis, interesting intro, correct sentence structure, superior diction, and mostly correct MLA format. The paper received a score of 98/A+. Clicking on the header will give you instructions on how to make such a running header for your papers. Because of HTML restrictions, the formatting might appear slightly off. You still need to keep your papers double-spaced with 1/2-inch paragraph and 1-inch block quotation indents. Papers 2a and 2b were written for the shorter Love Visions assignment, 2c for the longer paper; these papers have no comments in them and are in pdf.

For Engl 449/559

For Engl 450/550

For Engl 451/551

For Engl 581

For Engl 650

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arguments in an Essay on Literature

Summary:

These sections describe in detail the assignments students may complete when writing about literature. These sections also discuss different approaches (literary theory/criticism) students may use to write about literature. These resources build on the Writing About Literature materials.

Contributors: J. Case Tompkins
Last Edited: 2010-04-21 08:27:30

One of the great struggles for writers in literature is making and sustaining coherent arguments in their papers. Although argument is an essential part of all papers, the literary paper has aspects of rhetoric that are all its own.

Other OWL Resources:

A good argument in an essay on literature has:

A tight, specific focus

Rather than broad sweeping statements, a good argument teases out a single aspect of a piece of literature and analyzes it in minute detail: literature under the microscope.

Example: Loose: “Characters in this novel spend time a great deal of time looking at each other, and an examination of those gazes can give us great insight into the characters."

Problems:

  1. Too big. You would have to write a book to do the subject justice.
  2. Too general. Whose gaze is being considered? Are we considering the object of the gaze? The person doing the looking? What insight exactly is to be gained?

Tighter: “When the protagonist turns her gaze upon her former lover in their final meeting, it is her own fears, her emotional blindness, and her refusal to learn from the past that can be read in her eyes as she looks upon him."

Solutions:

  1. Small. Rather than gazes in general, this statement focuses on one event.
  2. Specific. It makes an arguable claim about the implications and suggests a close reading to support those claims.

A step beyond the teacher’s assignment

Some may tell you that a good paper rephrases a writing prompt as a statement rather than a question. Do not believe it. Instructors want to see evidence that you have read the work in question with enough seriousness to reply to the prompts given in your own way. Remember: If an answer seems obvious, keep digging.

A gaze that remains fixed on the work in question

When your argument ceases to discuss the work itself and begins to focus on the personal (your own reaction) or the biographical (the author’s life), you need to get back on track. Make no mistake: a sense of audience and information about the author can be important. When these details become central to the essay, however, you are no longer writing on literature.

Example: “One of the worst parts of this book begins in chapter three when . . .”

This statement reflects a personal reaction to the work. If you want to show that a particular piece or part of a piece is better or worse than others, begin with your evidence rather than starting with emotion.

“This could be a result of the time the author spent in jail in 1938. On the 30th of April he was arrested on charges of . . .”

Although evidence is vital to a sound paper, the statement above focuses on historical rather than critical evidence. If you include biographical information, always be ready to direct that information back into the main point of the essay. Stray from your topic only as long as is strictly necessary.

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