Essay Assignment 2

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 3000 to 3500 words or about ten to twelve pages. You may safely submit an essay that is 10% shorter or 20% longer than the guidelines (which translates to 9 to 14 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.

Your second essay cannot use the same text you used in your first essay. If your first essay treated more than one novel, you may use all of the same novels except for one.

The essay is due on March 18th 2004.

  1. Open topic: You may write on any topic of your choosing, so long as you describe the topic (in person or writing) to me and I approve it. Most topics will cover at least two novels, one of which is from the second term.
  2. Discuss the ways at least two novels respond to Christianity. At least one novel must be Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
  3. Discuss the use of the term "preternatural" in two to four novels. At least one novel must be from the second half of the course.
  4. Discuss the figure of the automaton in three or four novels. At least one novel must be from the second half of the course.
  5. Discuss the use or importance of music in at least two novels. At least one novel must be from the second half of the course.
  6. Examine the figure of the fallen woman in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and at least one other novel. Concentrate on her treatment by her society and the narrator/author. You may, if you are very careful, compare the fallen woman to the fallen man.
  7. Discuss the importance or effect of serial publication on two of the following: Vanity Fair, Bleak House, The Woman in White, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
  8. Discuss the significance of glass and/or windows in Bleak House and Wuthering Heights.
  9. Discuss the significance of metals in Bleak House.
  10. Discuss the cultural significance of coffee and/or chocolate in Bleak House. You may also use Vanity Fair (even if you have already written on it).
  11. Examine the tension between romance and/or fairy tales with the narrative structure of Bleak House. You must consult and refer to Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism, especially pages 186-206. If you are more ambitious, you may instead consult and refer to his The Secular Scripture.
  12. Discuss bird imagery in Jane Eyre. While your focus can remain on Jane Eyre, you should include at least a brief discussion of bird imagery in another novel.
  13. Discuss the manner in which the illustrations of Bleak House and/or Tess of the D'Urbervilles interact with the text. If you choose to discuss Tess, you should use the illustrations from The Graphic (of which our Penguin edition reproduces a few). You may include a discussion of Barchester Towers.
  14. Compare the treatment of women in three of the following five novels: Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, The Woman in White, Portrait of a Lady, Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Focus on the tension between the characters' treatment by their society and by their authors/narrators.