World Literature Literary Analysis 2

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Choose one of the following prompts for your second literary analysis essay:

  1. In Book I of the Aeneid, Virgil presents the hero Aeneas as a new kind of hero, one motivated by duty. Compare Aeneas to Beowulf or Gilgamesh. Why are there such different sorts of heroes in the ancient world? How do the heroes of the ancient world compare to the heroes of today? Your secondary sources should address what it means to be a hero in ancient times as well as in contemporary times. Ultimately, your essay should make an argument regarding what it means to be a hero both in the past and today. Are there certain traits that all heroes have? Use specific examples from the texts to support your ideas.
  2. Fate is a crucial concept in the Aeneid. Look for places in the text where fate is mentioned and discuss what you think Virgil meant by “fate.” Compare and contrast Virgil’s concept of fate with the way fate is viewed in one other text we have read this semester (i.e. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Book of Ruth, Beowulf, or The Thousand and One Nights). Your secondary sources should address the role of fate and fatalism in the ancient world as well as in our modern world. Questions to consider: Can one’s destiny or fate be changed? What does it mean to achieve one’s destiny? Ultimately, your essay should make an argument regarding the role fate plays in Aeneid as well as the role it plays in today’s world. Does Virgil’s concept of fate still exist? Use specific examples from the texts to support your ideas.
  3. Violence and rage play a prominent role in the Aeneid. Explore the importance (both good and bad) of violence or rage as it has been used in this and one other text that we have discussed (i.e. The Medea, Beowulf, or The Thousand and One Nights). Is violence necessary to carry out justice? Your secondary sources should address the ancient treatment of violence and our contemporary views on the treatment of violence. How does the ancient treatment of violence compare with the contemporary views? Ultimately, your essay should make an argument regarding the role violence or rage plays in the ancient world as well as in the modern world. Use specific examples from the texts to support your ideas.
  4. The Thousand and One Nights is an extensive exploration of gender roles. For this prompt, write an essay that explores gender roles in The Thousand and One Nights and one of the following texts: “The Ballad of Mulan,” Medea, or Beowulf. Questions to consider: According to these texts, what does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be a man? How do the texts define the relationship between a man and a woman, a husband and wife? Who is more powerful, the husband or the wife, or neither? Your secondary sources should address ancient and contemporary views of women throughout the world. Ultimately, your essay should make an argument regarding the relationship between men and women in the ancient world as well as the modern world.
  5. Francis Bacon’s phrase, “Knowledge is power,” can be applied to several works we have read this semester. For this prompt, write an essay that explores how knowledge is power in two of the following texts: The Prince, The Medea, or The Thousand and One Nights, or Hamlet. Questions to consider: How is knowledge used in these texts, for good or for evil? Who has knowledge? Are those with knowledge the only ones with power? How does the power the “knowledgeable” ones have differ from the other characters’ power? Your secondary sources should address how knowledge was viewed in the ancient world as well as how it is viewed today. Is knowledge still power?
  6. Human nature is believed to be the ways humans act naturally, without the influence of culture. We have read three works this semester — “Of Cannibals,” The Prince, and Hamlet — that explore human nature. Using two of these works (Hamlet, “Of Cannibals,” or The Prince, write an essay that makes an argument about human nature. Questions to consider: Are humans, by nature, judgmental? Are they greedy or selfish by nature? What makes some people feel superior to others? How does this affect the relationship between people of different cultures? Is it possible for culture not to affect one’s nature? Does human nature affect one’s ability to lead; if so, how? What makes the best leader; is it in one’s nature to be a good leader? Your secondary sources might address colonial practices, leadership, or human nature in the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries.

Your final essay should be 4-6 pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman.

For your second essay, you are required to use both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are original materials; in other words, they are the works you have been reading all semester long. Primary sources are from the time period involved and have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation. Secondary sources are accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight; in other words, secondary sources are articles you would find using the library’s database Galileo. In general, I want you to use secondary sources that discuss the idea or argument you are making rather than the texts you have chosen to write about for the essay.

Regardless of the prompt you choose, your essay should have the following parts:

  • An introduction with a thesis statement that makes an argument about the chosen works.
  • Body paragraphs that begin with topic sentences which address both works and make an argument that supports your thesis.
  • Evidence from the text that supports your argument.
  • Analysis of the textual evidence used.
  • In-text citations for both primary and secondary sources.
  • A conclusion that wraps up your argument in a creative way.
  • A Works Cited page (MLA format) that includes both primary and secondary sources.
  • Remember, the great thing about literature is that it is always alive, so be sure you write your essay in present tense!
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