Literature of Realism and Naturalism

Essay Guidelines and Reminders

§ Overview: This essay will prove a central point about one reading on the syllabus as listed below and demonstrate a

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close reading of the text using literary analysis. Consider this paper as an opportunity to work closely with one text and to

expand your skills in literary analysis and argumentation. As you advance an argument about the reading, remember to

balance your essay between overview, paraphrase, direct quotes to provide evidence, and analysis. This essay is not a

summary. Instead, this paper proves a central point about the reading and demonstrates literary analysis. The essay will

be directly related to the topic provided and will subsequently be related to our class discussion of the text. No outside

sources are needed or included in this essay. To encourage a range of writing experiences on a variety of genres, only one

essay for this class may focus on poetry. You are welcome and encouraged to discuss rough drafts during office hours for

consultation and assistance on any stage of the writing process.

§ Introduction and Thesis Statement: Begin with general remarks related to the topic; include the author’s first and last

name and the title of the text that you are writing about; place the title of the text in quotes or italics as needed.

Establish a thesis at the end of the first paragraph that presents the argument that will be proven throughout your paper

and that is directly related to the topic on the topics’ handout.

§ Paragraph Structure: Begin each supporting paragraph with a topic sentence that presents a specific aspect of your

thesis. Show how one idea leads to the next. Check for logical progression of ideas. Conclude each supporting paragraph

with a point connected to the topic sentence for overall unity of each supporting paragraph.

§ Textual Evidence: To support your thesis and main argument, provide direct quotes from the primary source text as

evidence. There should be approximately two quotes in each supporting paragraph. Quotes are not included in the

introduction or conclusion of the essay, as the quotes are serving as evidence. To allow for literary analysis and to show

how the quote serves as evidence, provide complete sentences for prose and complete lines of poetry, rather than a series

of phrases or words.

§ Citing Quotations: Introduce a quote with a signal phrase that identifies the speaker and provides a transition from your

ideas to the quote as evidence. Cite the page number in parenthesis following the quote, for example:

As Sylvia continues her climb up the tall pine tree, the narrator notes: “And the tree stood still and frowned away the

winds that June morning while the dawn grew bright in the east” (439). Through personification, the tree appears to

be sympathetic to Sylvia’s quest as it remained stationary and “frowned away the winds.”

When citing poetry, use line numbers rather than page numbers. Show line breaks by placing a slash between lines:

The speaker identifies a central tension of the poem: “With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, / And mouth with

myriad subtleties” (4-5). The references to “torn and bleeding hearts” emphasizes the contrast between “smile” and

“subtleties” in Dunbar’s poem.

When citing more than four-typed lines of prose or more than three lines of poetry, block the quotation by indenting 10

spaces from the left margin and double space. Limit long block quotes; extend analysis and the paper accordingly.

§ Literary Analysis: To show how the specific literary elements, support your argument, follow quotes with analysis of

the figures of speech, literary elements, and poetic devices.

§ Essay Format and Length: Essays will follow the MLA style. Essays should be four complete pages. The heading goes

on the first page, left-hand side and includes this information: Student name; Professor name; Course number; Date due.

One-inch margins, double-spaced, indent paragraphs, align text left (not justified margins). 12-point standard font (i.e.

Times New Roman; Cambria). Include page number and your last name in the upper right-hand corner.

§ Check Writing Mechanics: spelling, punctuation, pronouns; consistent verb tenses; noun-pronoun agreement; avoid

wordy phrasing; check for repetition of pronouns, words, or phrasing; check for a variety of sentence patterns.

§ Work Cited: Include a Work Cited notation at the bottom of the page four or on a separate page five. See sample

notations below.

Directions: Choose one topic below and write an essay that proves a central point about the text. Provide quotes from the primary

source that you are writing about as supporting evidence, rather than, for example, the headnotes. You are welcome and encouraged

to discuss rough drafts during office hours for consultation and assistance on any stage of the writing process: thesis, argument,

organization, format, grammar, and literary analysis.

William Dean Howells: “Editha” (314-26)

Discuss and analyze William Dean Howells’s “Editha” with attention to the characters’ various responses to war and

patriotism and how these responses may also reflect issues regarding, gender, social class, and/or direct experience with war.

Discuss the contrast between elements of “Realism” and expressions of the “ideal” in these reactions to war. Provide direct,

literary analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they support these themes in

William Dean Howells’s story. Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this story.

Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens): “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (101-08)

Discuss and analyze Mark Twain’s “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” as a critique of ambition,

competition, and individualism in this ironic sketch, whereby a “stranger in the camp” who tricks Jim Smiley makes this

parting comment: “‘Well,’ he says, I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog’’ (107). Provide

direct, literary analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they support these

themes in Mark Twain’s story. Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this story.

Sarah Orne Jewett: “A White Heron” (432-41)

Discuss and analyze Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A White Heron” as an initiation/coming-of-age story in which Sylvia’s encounter

with the hunter/ornithologist inspires her to protect nature rather than seek material reward. Include discussion of the

symbolism associated with the white heron. Provide direct, literary analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes,

and other literary elements as they support these themes in Sarah Orne Jewett’s story. Discuss how elements of Realism are

evident in this story.

Ambrose Bierce: “Chickamauga” (333-38)

Discuss and analyze Ambrose Bierce’s “Chickamauga” as a critique of war as presented from the perspective of a six-yearold

boy who has become lost in the forest and stumbles upon a horrific battlefield. Provide direct, literary analysis of the

language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they support these themes in Ambrose Bierce’s

story. Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this story.

Kate Chopin: “Désirée’s Baby” OR “The Story of an Hour” (441-48)

Discuss and analyze Kate Chopin’s “Désirée’s Baby” with attention to the issues of ethnicity, gender, and social class as

reflected in the marriage of Désirée and Armand Aubigny and the relationship between Désirée and her mother Madame

Valmondé. Consider how each of these characters responds to mixed race identity. Provide direct, literary analysis of the

language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they support these themes in Kate Chopin’s story.

Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this story.

OR

In “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Louise Mallard reacts dramatically on hearing the news about her husband Brently Mallard.

In your essay, discuss the imagery associated with Louise’s different reactions to this news. Explain how this story shows the

assumptions about Mrs. Mallard and expectations about her reactions. Include discussion of the final scene as it reinforces

themes of this story. Provide direct, literary analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary

elements as they support these themes in Kate Chopin’s story. Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this story.

Booker T. Washington: Up from Slavery (469-79)

In Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery, Chapter XIV, “The Atlanta Exposition Address,” he expresses his “desire to say

something that would cement the friendship of the races and bring about hearty cooperation between them” (471). In doing

so, he presents an extended metaphor of “a ship lost at sea” and also recounts his meetings with President Grover Cleveland

and other dignitaries. Analyze and discuss the issues of race relations, identity, and cooperation that are addressed in this

reading. Provide literary analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they

support these themes in Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery. Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this text.

Charles Waddell Chesnutt: “The Goophered Grapevine” (479-88)

Discuss and analyze Charles Waddell Chesnutt’s “The Goophered Grapevine” as a critique of race relations and social class

within the context of a conjurer’s tale in this story. Discuss how the connections between the grapes and Henry serve as

commentary for unethical practices toward African Americans. Provide direct, literary analysis of the language, figures of

speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they support these themes in Charles Waddell Chesnutt’s story. Discuss

how elements of Realism are evident in this story.

W. E. B. Du Bois: The Souls of Black Folk (559-77)

In W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, he makes this observation: “It is a peculiar sensation, this doubleconsciousness,

this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” He also finds that: “The history of the

American Negro is the history of this strife,— this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a

better and truer self” (563). In your essay, analyze and discuss these issues of race relations and identity. Provide literary

analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they support these themes in W. E.

B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk. Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this text.

Paul Laurence Dunbar: “We Wear the Mask”; “Sympathy” (633-64; 636-37)

Choose one of the Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poems to discuss and analyze in regard to issues of identity, race, and society.

Provide direct, literary analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements and poetic

devices as they support these themes in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem. Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this

poem.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The Yellow Wall-paper” (509-23)

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” the narrator’s creative expression is challenged as she undergoes a

“rest cure.” Discuss and analyze the gender issues in this story as illustrated in the narrator’s marriage to John, the social

expectations of motherhood, and attitudes about female intellectual and creative pursuits. Explain how the imagery of the

yellow wallpaper and the narrator’s repetitive words and actions contribute to these themes. Provide direct, literary analysis

of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they support these themes in Charlotte

Perkins Gilman’s story. Discuss how elements of Realism and/or Naturalism are evident in this story.

Edith Wharton: “Roman Fever” (524-55; 540-49)

In Edith Wharton’s “Roman Fever,” Alida Slade and Grace Ansley reminisce about their earlier excursions in Rome and

reflect on their current state as widows while having lunch of a beautiful spring day. In the process, their friendship is

threatened as secrets are revealed and assumptions are challenged. Discuss and analyze these issues of friendship, honesty,

and deception. Provide direct literary analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements

as they support these themes in Edith Wharton’s story. Discuss how elements of Realism are evident in this story.

Stephen Crane: “The Open Boat” (611-30)

Discuss and analyze Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” with attention to how the Correspondent, Captain, Cook, and Oiler

(Billie) respond to their situation as they are adrift on the sea in a small boat after their ship sinks off the coast of Florida.

Provide direct, literary analysis of the language, figures of speech, literary tropes, and other literary elements as they support

these themes in Stephen Crane’s story. Discuss how elements of Realism and Naturalism are evident in this story.

Jack London: “To Build a Fire” (639-52)

In Jack London’s “To Build a Fire,” the main character finds himself in a battle with the elements as he walks along a trail in

the Yukon watershed in sub-zero temperatures. In your essay, discuss how the narrator’s attitude toward his environment

affects the outcome. Consider how the dog and the man are depicted in this story as representing different reactions to the

environment. Discuss how elements of Realism and Naturalism are evident in this story.

Sample of Work Cited notations

Work Cited

Dunbar, Paul Laurence. “Sympathy.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Ninth Edition, Volume 2, 1865

to the Present. New York: Norton, 2017. Ed. Robert Levine, et al. New York: Norton, 2017. 636-37.

Jewett, Sarah Orne. “A White Heron.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Ninth Edition, Volume 2, 1865

to the Present. Ed. Robert Levine, et al. New York: Norton, 2017. 432-41.

The Title of Essay Goes Here and Reflects the Essay’s Thesis

The first line of your paper begins here. Double-space only once from the centered title. The paper is double-spaced

throughout, including quotations. Align text left (not justified margins). Leave one-inch margins at the top and bottom and on

both sides of the text. Number your paper in the upper right-hand corner with your last name and page number.

Sample Essay Outline

Introduction:

General remarks that lead to thesis and connect to theme

Identify author and title of the text that you are working on

Thesis: Main Point to be proven in the essay

Supporting Paragraphs:

topic sentence

elaborate on this point

follow with evidence in the form of direct quotes from the text that you are working on

analysis of the images, symbols, and other literary elements and the meaning of the quote

overall conclusion of this paragraph that returns to point of topic sentence

Conclusion: Brings all main points together and returns to central argument of your paper

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