Essay One- Engl 385

For essay one, choose one Sherlock Holmes story to analyze and interpret.  Since this is a short essay, focus narrowly on one key idea or area of interest for you in the story: e.g., character, theme or concept, plotting, Holmes's methodology. 

Choose a story we have read.  Or you might pick a story we will read but have not yet--look at the syllabus. 

You cannot write about an adaptation, but you can briefly make comparisons to an adaptation--or for that matter another story--in your essay if appropriate. 

Your essay should illuminate readers' understanding of the story, complementing (e.g., building on) our class discussions but not simply repeating them.

Remember that for a literary analysis you are making an argument (your thesis) about how to read/interpret a work or works of literature.  This means your claim (thesis) needs to be debatable, specific, and supported--your reasons/examples and quotations from the works.


Length: 2.5 pages (minimum & maximum.  It's ok if  you need an extra sentence beyond this limit.)

Formatting: TNR, 12pt, double spaced, one-inch margins, indenti paragraphs--no spaces between paragraphs, simple heading (name, course, date--single space), and title

Documenation style for parenthetical citiations--MLA, 8th ed.  No works cited page is needed since we are all using the same edition.  No secondary sources are required.  If you wish to cite from the critical introduction, that is fine.  Use the appropriate parenthetical (in-text) citations, but no works cited page is needed.

Assume readers, who are students taking a 200- or 300-level English literature course, have a basic (not complete) knowledge of the work's plot. (Is there still some need for some plot summary?) What will this audience expect to learn from your essay? What will be their reason for reading it? 


Start by selecting a story you wish to write about--explore, ponder, analyze--and define a topic you will focus on in your essay. 
From your notes, develop a working thesis and supporting ideas/examples/quotations.   You will present these initial ideas in class
with a short presentation--see the syllabus.

Then outline your essay (5pts) before drafting it.  You will make a short scratch outline, which we will define (handout).

**See the syllabus for outline & draft due date.

As you draft, see info below



For a short essay, a brief, to-the-point introduction is best.  Name the story your are writing about. Frame the topic you are exploring: ask a key question(s) that you will address or identify the key issue.  Why does your topic matter?  Then state your thesis--the main point, conclusion, or claim you are making about your chosen story.


(Thesis is in brackets)

Title: Marriage as an Experience in Eliot's Middlemarch

Intro: After reading Middlemarch, one's thoughts focus on the novel's two central marriages. Since both marriages result in unhappiness, it appears as though George Eliot views marriage as a confinement or a source of self-inflicted pain. This interpretation results from taking a narrow view of the novel and not considering its entire scope. [Through its central marriages, Middlemarch reveals the growth or loss which results from marriage. Marriage is not an end, but a beginning, a single fragment of human experience resulting in a fruitful relationship or an unfortunate loss.]


After you have formulated a thesis, find the best evidence you can to support it. Do not organize your essay around "the plot"; organize it around the central idea(s) you are presenting in your thesis. Select the best examples to illustrate your ideas. You should use a few/some direct quotations--let the work 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 (make use of ellipses) 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 your thinking.  For prose, fiction, and drama, use page numbers; for poetry cite line numbers.  See the MLA Handbook (8th ed.) for the mechanics of quoting. Copies are in the library.


For a short essay, this can be brief.  Consider situating your story within the context of other Homes stories, our discussion of detective fiction (PPt Slides), and/or the late nineteenth century (Victorian Britain).


Feel free to see me if you have any questions. I'll also be glad to look at outlines/drafts as you write them.

The essay's due date is on the syllabus.