ENGL 210: English Literature IFall 2018

Assignment for Essay #2

Due date: Friday, November 30, 2018 (submit an electronic copy to Safe Assign)

Use MLA Documentation Style

Your second essay should be a focused, well-organized and polished piece of critical writing, of about 1000 words (about 4-5 typed, double-spaced pages including the works cited page) that addresses one of the following topics:

Tragic heroes: The title characters in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and in Shakespeare’s Othello can both be considered as tragic heroes: men of considerable stature who fall because of a tragic flaw. Write an essay in which you explore the differences between Faustus and Othello as tragic heroes, drawing conclusions about how those differences contribute to the sense of tragedy in each play.

Diabolical characters: Both Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Milton’s Paradise Lost present diabolical characters who contribute to or cause the downfall of the main characters of these literary works. Write an essay in which you contrast the role of Mephastophilis in Marlowe’s play with the role of Satan in Book 9 of Milton’s epic poem, drawing conclusions about which character bears more responsibility for bringing about the main characters’ downfalls.

Women: In Book 9 of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Eve is the first to engage in the disobedience that causes Adam and her to be exiled from the paradise of the Garden of Eden. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago convinces the title character that his wife is being unfaithful to him, even though the audience of the play knows that she is not. Write an essay in which you contrast the actions and character of Milton’s Eve and Shakespeare’s Desdemona, drawing conclusions about how much responsibility they bear for the unhappy outcomes in Paradise Lost and Othello.

Outsiders: In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift writes of the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver as he sails the seas and finds himself stranded on several different islands where he has to survive as an outsider. In Part 2, “A Voyage to Brobdingnag,” Gulliver tells of his experiences after a shipwreck when he finds himself on an island where the inhabitants, the Brobdingnagians, are huge (but human shaped) creatures. In Shakespeare’s Othello, the title character Othello is also an outsider, a Moor, who is the military commander in the European nation-state of Venice and is sent to Cyprus to defend Venice’s interests there. Write an essay in which you contrast the treatment of Gulliver by the Brobdingnagians with the treatment of Othello by the Venetians, drawing conclusions about the significance of the differences in their treatment.

Marriages: In both Shakespeare’s play Othello and William Hogarth’s story in pictures, Marriage A-la-Mode, marriages turn out badly, with both husband and wife dead. Yet only one of the two works is tragic. Write an essay in which you draw conclusions about what makes the marriage of Othello and Desdemona tragic, while the marriage of the Squanderfields in Hogarth’s work is not.

Whichever topic you choose to write about, your essay should represent your best work. That is, its ideas should be clearly expressed, it should conform to the standards of formal written English, and it should be carefully proofread before it is turned in. Most importantly, you should show that you know the details and themes of the literary works and can explain their significance. You should use a few brief, but well-chosen quotations from the literary works to illustrate the points you make – and since you will be quoting the works you write about, you should include a works cited page as part of your essay.

Your essay should be your own work and should consist of your own words, with just a few quotations used for support and illustration. You may use outside sources in this essay; however, those sources should be authoritative and used judiciously, to develop your own thinking and to support your own claims. You SHOULD NOT quote or cite study guides, such as those from Sparknotes, Shmoop, Bookrags, enotes and so on. If you look at study guides as you are reading the literary works to help you gain a better understanding of them, be sure to close those study guides before you begin writing your essay. Keep in mind that a student will earn a grade of “zero” for a plagiarized essay (all or part).

There will not be an opportunity to revise for a higher grade after your essay has been turned in, but I will be glad to schedule a conference to help you with your draft before the essay is due. Remember also that there are other resources available for help with writing: the Writing e-Portfolio Studio in Room 113 of Harris Hall offers in-person tutoring, and Smarthinking.com offers on-line assistance.

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