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Writing About Literature Mrs. Buono’s take on Roberts’s text

Writing About Literature Mrs. Buono’s take on Roberts’s text

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Writing About Literature Mrs. Buono’s take on Roberts’s text

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  1. Writing About LiteratureMrs. Buono’s take on Roberts’s text Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature, 11 ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2006.

  2. The Goal: To Show a Process of Thought “As you approach the task of writing, you should constantly realize that your goal should always be to explain the work you are analyzing. You should never be satisfied simply to restate the events in the work…[t]herefore, always, your task as a writer is to explain something about the work, to describe the thoughts that you can develop about it” (Roberts 17).

  3. Our Text “The Necklace” is a short story written by French author Guy de Maupassant in 1884. The main character, Mathilde Loisel, is a young Parisian housewife who is married to a minor clerk in the Ministry of Education. We have read and responded to the story actively and have focused specifically on aspects of Mathilde’s character.

  4. Imagine the goal of one of your paragraphs is to explain the deep dissatisfaction Mathilde feels in the early part of the story. You might write the following:

  5. In the early part of the story Maupassant establishes that Mathilde is deeply dissatisfied with her life. Her threadbare furniture and drab walls are a cause of her unhappiness. Under these circumstances her daydreams of beautiful rooms staffed by “elegant valets,” together with a number of rooms for intimate conversation with friends, multiply her dissatisfaction. The meager meals that she shares with her husband make her imagine sumptuous banquets that she feels are rightfully hers by birth but that are denied her because of her circumstances. The emphasis in these early scenes of the story is always on Mathilde’s discontentment and frustration. Notice that your paragraph ties the story’s events to the idea of Mathilde’s unhappiness. The events are there, but you are explaining that the events are directly related to her unhappiness. The paragraph illustrates a process of thought.

  6. Here is another way you might use a thought to connect the same materials: In the early part of the story Maupassant emphasizes the economic difficulty of Mathilde’s life. The threadbare furniture and ugly curtains, for example, highlight that there is no money to purchase better things. The same sparseness of existence is shown by the meager meals that she shares with her husband. With the capacity to appreciate better things, Mathilde is forced by circumstances to make do with worse. Her drams of sumptuous banquets are therefore natural, given her level of frustration wit the life around her. In short, her unhappiness is an understandable consequence of her aversion to her plain and drab apartment and the tightness of money. Here the details are essentially the same as in the first paragraph, but they are unified by a different idea, namely the economic constraints of Mathilde’s life. What is important is that neither paragraph tells only the details; instead each illustrates the goal of writing with a purpose.

  7. So…what do you write about? • The earliest stage of writing is unpredictable and frustrating. You know you need to write about something, but the question is what? • Not only must you decide what to write about, you must simultaneously develop some thoughts on how you will do it. WHAT = central ideaHOW = evidence WHAT + HOW = THESIS STATEMENT (more on this later…)

  8. Consider the work you have read as a circle from which a number of points shine out. very cool work (Like a twinkling little star.)

  9. These points are the various subjects or topics you might decide to write about. That is, the WHAT of your essay. what? what? very cool work what? (Look at me still twinkling!)

  10. There are many, many ways to consider literary works; but for now, let’s focus on just five: 1. Characters 5. Any artistic/stylistic quality 2. Historical period/background very cool work 3. Social and economic conditions it depicts 4. Major ideas (themes)

  11. Each of these topics is extremely broad; you should aim to focus your writing on a specific aspect of one of them. Now read the photocopied handout from the Roberts text on the specifics of each general topic. Retyping all of that would have been ridiculous.

  12. Base your essay on a central idea. Your central idea is your WHAT. Or your twinkling ray of starlight. “By definition, an essay is an organized, connected, and fully developed set of paragraphs that expand on a central idea” (Roberts 27). • Each paragraph refers to the argument (WHAT) and demonstrates HOW selected details from the work support it. • Your central idea must be a sentence. It is not enough to assume that your central idea is something like “setting and character”.

  13. Now that you know your central idea, choose the specific evidence you will use to demonstrate and support it. Example: Central Idea The setting of “The Necklace” reflects Mathilde’s character. Evidence • Her first apartment • Dream-life mansion rooms • Her attic flat

  14. Put that all together and you have… Mathilde’s growth as a character is related to the progression of settings in the story, namely her first apartment, her dream-life mansion rooms, and her attic flat. A THESIS STATEMENT! WHAT + HOW = THESIS STATEMENT

  15. …and the rest is up to you! Once you have this “skeleton” to work with, all that’s left is to fill in the spaces between the WHAT and the HOW (one how per paragraph) with the glue. That glue is your intellectual machismo, and the reason you are in an Honors English class. how how how WHAT introconclusion What are you talking about? Why should I care?