ENGL 202, Spring 2011 — Essay 2

Background: The Victorian era is characterized by many hallmarks: an emphasis on morality, a nostalgia for the past, the importance of the everyday.  But one other characteristic is the advancement of science and technology. For advancements of that sort, logic and knowledge are paramount.

Texts: Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde OR Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Man With the Twisted Lip,” “A Scandal in Bohemia”

Task: For this assignment, you will first select the texts of  one of the above authors — you may not write about the works of both authors. Then, you will write a 5-7 page response (formatted in accordance with the guidelines set forth on the syllabus) to the following question:

To what purpose does the work(s) you have selected depict knowledge or logic?

Tips to help you:

  • If you choose Conan Doyle’s writing, you may use both stories or concentrate on only one.
  • A strong thesis for this assignment will provide one unified answer to the “to what purpose” part of the question. A strong thesis will not have a list of unrelated ideas; instead, think about the way in which the pieces of support that you’ve found are able to relate and tie together. 
  • Think about the different possible purposes of depicting knowledge or logic: to set an example, to critique science, to warn about dangers.  There are other possible purposes, too, but knowing what purpose you think exists in the text(s) will help you shape your proof.
  • Remember that body paragraphs need strong topic sentences (which provide the main point of the paragraph, and often include some form of transition from a previous idea to the main idea of the new paragraph).
  • Body paragraphs also need evidence, which usually takes the form of a quotation or a short piece of plot summary. Everyone’s essay should include quotations from the primary text – but make sure to include only quotations that prove your point.  That means that extended quotations should only be included if the entirety of the quote helps give evidence to your thesis – and remember that you need to discuss thoroughly each quotation you use.
  • The most important part of each body paragraph is your interpretation of how your evidence supports your thesis.
  • If you feel that a summary of the overall plot of the story is necessary, include a brief summary (only a few sentences) in your introduction. Many students’ grades suffer because their entire essay simply summarizes their primary text. Do not do this. The most interesting and important part of an essay is your analysis and explanation of how your evidence upholds your thesis — it should be the biggest part of each body paragraph, too.
  • Want to know the rubric by which your essays earn their grades? See this post for clarification.

Due date: Wednesday, April 13 at the BEGINNING of class.

A hard copy is required — an email copy will not take the place of a hard copy.

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