Essay 2writing about Drama

For essay one, you will write an analysis of a short story we have read and dicussed this semester.

The first step is to choose a play you wish to write about:  Death of a Salesman, A Raisin in the Sun, or Antigone. (You'll complete a drama choice assignment.)  It is possible to compare a play and a short story or poem.  You can also compare a play to a movie adaptation. But for a short essay you need to be very careful if choosing these approaches.  (See me if you choose these options.)  Pick a play that interests you, that presents a question or issue you need and/or want to address.  While you should not simply repeat our class discussions in your essay, you should use our class discussions, your reading notes, the Course Notes when applicable, the questions at the end of your play, and our anthology as you plan, draft, revise, edit, and proofread your essay. I have included relevant page references in our anthology.

***For sample essays, see 1414 - 1417; 2141 - 2146. (Study these.)  You could also consult sample essays listed for essay 1.

CHOOSING A TOPIC (2117 - 118; 2124 - 125)

Once you choose your play, you need to find a topic to write about.  Given the essay's length, the scope should be narrow.  Planning your essay will be essential before you begin drafting.  We will work on this in class, and you will work on planning outside of class as well.  An outline (even if you do not usually write one) will be very helpful in giving you a clear idea of your essay's organization (structure) and content, including what quotations you will use and where they will go in your essay.

INTRODUCTION/THESIS (2126 - 2127; 2118 - 120)

Your introduction should be brief for a short essay--most likely one paragraph. Begin your essay by naming the work your are writing about and engaging your reader's interest. Frame the issue you are exploring or ask a key question(s) that you will address. You might also briefly contextualize the work you are writing about by comparing it to other works we've read. (**You don't have to do all of these.) Then state your thesis--the main point, conclusion, or claim you are making about your chosen work.  Be aware of the characteristics of a good thesis statement: debatable, specifc, focused.


After you have formulated a thesis, find the best evidence you can to support it. Think about how we've done this during our class discussions.  Do not organize your essay around "the plot"; organize it around the central idea you are presenting (in your thesis). Select the best examples to illustrate your ideas. You should use direct quotations--let the short story speak for itself and present readers with emphatic or telling examples that would lose their impact if paraphrased. Be careful if you use block quotations (you can use ellipses to avoid this), and do not use too many quotations. Remember, quotations are not a substitute for your own thinking. You must interpret them for readers. Quotations supplement/support your thinking and points

Using secondary sources

It may be helpful to use secondary sources to support your thesis and clarify your thinking.  Secondary sources also help to situate your discussion within the context of critical discussions about a play.  In our anthology: For Death of a Saleman, see Miller's "Tragedy and the Common Man" and "On Biff and Willy Loman." For A Raisin in the Sun, see Adler's "The Political Basis of Lorraine Hansberry's Art."  If you use these, cite them in your essay and on the works cited page.  See below.

See the MLA Handbook (7th ed.) for the mechanics of quoting. (A copy is on reserve under our course number in the library.)  For this essay, you will use in-text or parenthetical citations and a works cited page (which does not count towards the page total).  Finally, in your essay, you might reference or briefly make connections to other short stories or poems we have studied this semester to make apposite comparisons.


Audience: Assume you are writing this essay for nonmajors and English majors of all class ranks who want to understand the story more completely.  How do audience assumptions determine your writing decisions?  For example, do you need to include a brief plot summary of your play for readers who haven’t read it?  Would someone who hasn’t read the play even read your essay?  Will you use contractions, slang, or colloquialisms to be more informal in order to connect with readers?  Is this appropriate for a formal literary analysis?

Format: TNR, 12pt, double spaced (no extra spaces between paragraphs), one-inch margins.  Header: Your Name, My Name, Course, Date (double spaced--see examples in our anthology). Then double space and add your title (not essay 1).  Double space again and begin your essay.  You can print on the front and back of a page.

Length: 3 - 4 pgs.

Due Date: See syllabus