Essay Assignment 1
Write an essay on one of the subjects below. A good essay will
argue for a well-defined thesis based on the given subject and be
well-written. An excellent essay will also be original, insightful, and
interesting. You may use as little or as much secondary criticism as you
want. My preference is to read papers that result from your own personal
interaction with the texts, but intelligent research reports are welcome.
The length of the essay should be approximately 2500
words or about eight pages. You may safely submit an essay that is 10%
shorter or 20% longer than the guidelines (which translates to 7 to 10
pages). Essays that are shorter or longer than this might be returned
unread. I prefer you use MLA guidelines for both the presentation of the
essay and the documentation of sources in the essay. If you don't use the
MLA format, you must use one of the other standard documentation formats.
I am not fond of title pages for essays less than twenty pages in length.
Essays should be double spaced. Printed essays should use a 12-point,
serif font and should not have a justified right margin. Consult the
course website for tips on essay writing.
The essay is due on December 5th 2003.
You may modify any of
the topics, but you must consult me about the modifications by November
18th at the latest.
- To look to the future, one must study the past. Discuss
treatment of the eighteenth-century past or the medieval past. When
considering the past, you may consider the political, the literary, the
artistic, the philosophical, or the social past.
- To look to the future, one must study the past. Discuss Barchester
Towers's treatment of the medieval past. When considering the past,
you may consider the historical, the literary, the artistic, the
philosophical, or the social past.
- Examine the use of science in Middlemarch. What is the novel's
ultimate statement on the value of science? You may contrast the use of
science with the use of art, literature, or philosophy.
- Examine the treatment of Christianity in North and South. You
might want to look at Nicholas Higgins as the centre of religious controversy.
- Discuss the importance of the illustrations in Vanity Fair or
Barchester Towers. To what extent do the illustrations support,
enhance, or undermine the text?
- Compare the private and public worlds of Vanity Fair. In which
world do the most significant transitions occur (you may consider any of
character, plot, social progress, etc.).
- Compare Margaret (from North and South), Dorothea (from
Middlemarch), and Marcella (from Marcella). Focus on any of
characterization, treatment by the narrator and/or author, and social
- Examine the literary and/or social function of dress (or clothing)
- Discuss "airs" in North and South.
- Discuss the metamorphic trait of Will Ladislaw in comparison to one
or two other characters in Middlemarch and perhaps the novel as a
- Discuss the influence of the higher criticism on Middlemarch.