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Literature Essay Topics & Paper Examples

George Orwell, 1984

The last and arguably most powerful book to be written by renowned novelist George Orwell (pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair), 1984 is the chronicle of mankind’s gradual decay under aggressive totalitarianism and blind ideology. The influence of the novel is such that some terms such as “Big Brother”, “doublethink” and “newspeak” have somehow found their way into the modern lexicon. Orwell visualized a world under constant war, with entire societies threatened by an omniscient government that wields control even over an individual’s very thoughts. Half a century after the book’s publication, academics and casual readers alike continue to find disturbing similarities between Orwell’s 1984 and today’s increasingly intrusive institutions. With censorship, political rhetoric and propaganda becoming more and more like…

Answers to queries on Orwell’s 1984

In the essay Why I Write, Orwell explained that all the serious work he wrote since the Spanish Civil War in 1936 were “written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism. ” (Orwell, 5) What can you add by looking at his life and his mental state when writing the novel? The author wrote the novel in 1947–1948 while critically ill with tuberculosis. The writer himself wrote about the stages of his life leading to the period when he wrote the novel: First I spent five years in an unsuitable profession (the Indian Imperial Police, in Burma), and then I underwent poverty and the sense of failure. This increased my natural hatred of authority and made me for…

Common Themes in Orwell, Lessing, Nehru and Chamberlain’s Texts

The texts by Orwell, Lessing, Nehru and Chamberlain each present clear arguments about colonialism, arguments that are delivered powerfully by the various techniques employed by each author. Taken collectively, the texts show that colonialism causes poverty and backwardness in the colonized country or countries, and that it brings about various pressures on the colonizer. In all these texts, the era of colonialism is depicted as a period wherein it is the colonizer that is the subject, acting on the colonized – an object that resists understanding and has a mind of its own. Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell. The argument put forward in this short story is clear. In the beginning of the story, he already knows that “imperialism…

Origins, After/Otherworld & Codes Of Living

Literature has been a useful way of understanding many aspects about the world and even the essence of the existence of mankind. The connection of literature with humanity can be evidently seen in different historical accounts of stories that have become famous internationally. These literary works may have been mythological, fantasy, religious or even non-fictional, but despite all of this. Finding greater realizations about man can be deeply understood within the confines of these stories. There can be similarities and differences that might appear at the stories. But sometimes, readers would find it surprising when he or she realizes the connections. To further understand man’s origins, understanding literature is one form of assistance. The contents within stories across the centuries…

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse – Five appeared on the list of Time magazine’s 100 all time best English language novels since 1923. Written in 1969, this novel is considered a classic and is also known as one of his best works. Slaughterhouse -Five spans the different time periods of the life of Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist. Vonnegut witnessed the Bombing of Dresden in World War II, and this novel portrays the aftermath of the war. Vonnegut uses time travel as the plot device to portray human conditions from an unusual perspective. He was a prisoner in the Battle of Bulge in December 1944; in Dresden, Germany as a battalion scout. In all likelihood, the bombing of Dresden saved him from…

Analysis Of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman

This American drama was first premiered in 1949. It was an instant success and it also won Arthur Miller a place among one of the best American playwrights of the 20th century. It was a satirical attack on the Great American Dream of prosperity and material wealth and had also challenged the ideals of the past 160 years that constituted such dreams. This exemplary play by Arthur Miller is a modern masterpiece, in which the inherent conditions of human existence and a fierce battle to fight through it, is lived by the protagonist Willy Loman, that finally ends in a tragedy called, death. Willy Loman is a disillusioned sixty three year old man who has trouble distinguishing between past and…

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The parable of the Grand Inquisitor is told by Ivan to Alyosha found in the novel, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Both Ivan and Alyosha are brothers. The difference is in their respective religions wherein Ivan is a dedicated atheist while Alyosha is a monk. The parable is an important component of the novel and also one of the most famous passages in modern literature because it contains ideas about human freedom and nature. The parable also consists of a fundamental ambiguity. The leadership of the Grand Inquisitor is based on his amazing and exceptional strength to have freedom that has endured that majority of the human beings found it so terrible. From his point of view, only people…

Letter from Birmingham Jail

The “Letter from Birmingham Jail” written by Martin Luther King is striving to justify the need for an action that is direct and nonviolent. It also talks about the Black people and their possibility to resort to disorder and civil disobedience and King’s own frustrations with Church whom he thought as not doing the duties and responsibilities that people of God should do. Martin Luther King does not want violence to ensue. He just wants to implement or make amendments to the existing laws of the country and the ruling of the Supreme Court in 1954 to be observed. According to King, an individual has the moral responsibility to not obey or observe laws that are unjust (King 1963). The…

King Lear

One of the lesser characters of Shakespeare’s play, King Lear, is the character of Edmund. Edmund is the illegitimate son of Gloucester and was loved despite being a bastard child like his brother. In any good play about tragedy, what makes it work is the villain or the emissary of evil. Despite the equal love that was given to him, he plotted to frame his brother as the one who would murder their father. He was willing to betray his father to please the sisters, Goneril and Regan. He is also the cause for the rivalry between the sisters. Edmund’s character is opportunistic and short-sighted. His ambitions will lead him to join forces with Goneril and Regan. The injustice done…

A Contemporary Critique on Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji

The Heian court and the social structure it provided is a compelling aspect of Japanese history. The 21st century reader is intrigued by such an era and its artistic representations because the general norms, collective conscious, and interpersonal relationships seem to be in clear contrast with the social practices of today. At face value, it appears that Murasaki Shikibu’s discontentment with the aforementioned characteristics of court life manifested itself within the pages of The Tale of Genji. The acclaimed Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov once stated, “A masterpiece of fiction is an original world and as such is not likely to fit the world of the reader. ” Thus, although Murasaki Shikibu’s work is deeply rooted in exposing the pretense associated…

Literary Analysis of Barn Burning

Child abuse has been a common occurrence throughout the times of this world. In the story Barn Burning that was written by the author William Faulkner, a story is told of a boy named Colonel Sartoris Snopes who lives with his family. His father is a man who has seen the brutality of war and has a very cold heart. His name is Abner Snopes. His heart is so cold that it is almost as if he is not even human. William Faulkner in the story uses words comparing Abner Snopes to a house fly, or stinging wasp and also says that he lifts his hand like a curled claw. This suggests that the Author was trying to give the…

The Crucible

In the play The Crucible many of the characters learn things about themselves as well as others. Discuss the insight gained by the characters of Elizabeth Proctor, Reverend Hale, and John Proctor. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, Elizabeth Procter, learns about the character and morality of other people, her own actions of the people around them, and most importantly how to admit and deal with her own mistakes. Reverend Hale’s insight into himself reveals his new perspective on people in general, this leads him to realize that his reasons and purpose for hunting the witches could have been correct, but his one mindedness in doing so was a great weakness to him. The protagonist John Procter goes through many…

Hedda Gabler

In the beginning when the reader meets Hedda Gabler, one can see how she is quite a high maintenance character by how she complains that the maid has” opened the door. I’m drowning in all this sunlight. ” (Ibsen 1469). Exerting her power over her husband, George Tesman, she demands him to close the curtains, which he does complacently. Later Hedda notices an old hat lying on the chair and worries that someone may have seen it. When she learns that the hat belongs to Miss Tesman, George’s dear aunt, she does not apologize for her comment which shows her tendency to belittle others, even if they are family. Hedda utters to her husband, “But where did she get her…

A Raisin in the Sun

In the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry you go back in time to when segregation was still aloud. In this play you meet a cast of people with dreams of a better life. The American Dream, to be specific. This dream is portrayed differently for each character, all of which impact the play. Two of these character`s are Walter Lee Younger and Lena Younger. In Raisin in the Sun Mama and Walter’s American dreams conflict and impact the family through materialism and desire to be the ideal American family in society. Mama and Walter both desire to provide for their family. They both look at money as success. When the $10,000 insurance check comes along, Mama…

What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl

Comparison of “What it’s like to be a black girl” and Country Lovers African American Literature dates back to the 18th century. These writings tend to focus on issues of racism, inner struggles, slavery, prejudice, and the pursuit of freedom as well as equality. Two renowned contributors to this field of literature are Nadine Gordimer and Patricia Smith. Throughout this paper, details of the short story Country Lovers, by Nadine Gordimer and the poem, “What it’s Like to Be a Black Girl,” by Patricia Smith, will be compared and contrasted to each other in regards to form, style, and content. Nadine Gordimer has eight novels and more than 200 short stories included in her repertoire. She clearly has a talent…

Hard Times as a Moral Fable

The creative part is the fairy tale which often involves animals rather than humans. It speaks to our hearts as it entertains us; the ending is the logical, moral conclusion that satisfies our logical brains and seems “right”. The problem with all moral fables is that there are often 2 sides to the same story … things are rarely so black and white in reality … so there could be more than one ending … e. g. here are times when speed is necessary over steadiness – of course, there also has to be good judgement. Although it is not appropriate to describe a work of art, which Hard Times undoubtedly is, as a moral fable or a morality play,…

The Storm

As we embark on the twenty-first century, the obligation to abide by traditional gender roles and social conventions has become somewhat of an ancient practice. Presently, some may feel as though they are trapped by certain social conventions. However, for the protagonists of Kate Chopin’s late nineteenth century “The Storm” and Zora Neale Hurston’s early twentieth century “Sweat”, the Social Conventions of the time are clearly identifiable. In Chopin’s “The Storm”, a married women named Calixta, is content and occupied in her situation and with the duties that come with maintaining a home. She sat at a side window sewing furiously on a sewing machine. She was greatly occupied and did not notice the approaching storm” (Chopin sec. II, ph….

The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried Ben Cornelius The story “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien is an enormously detailed fictional account of a wartime scenario in which jimmy Cross (the story’s main character) grows as a person, and the emotional and physical baggage of wartime are brought to light. The most obvious and prominent feature of O’Brien’s writing is a repetition of detail. O’brien also passively analyzes the effects of wartime on the underdeveloped psyche by giving the reader close up insight into common tribulations of war, but not in a necessarily expositorial sense.. He takes us into the minds of mere kids as they cope with the unbelievable and under-talked-about effects or rationalizing death, discomfort and loneliness as well…

Stubborn Miss Emily

What can you do with a person who is stubborn to a fault? In “A Rose for Emily,” author William Faulkner shows that the townspeople come to pity Miss Emily, the stubborn, unchanging main character in this classic short story. Miss Emily, a spinster whose father abjured every possible suitor, is an individual who cannot changer her prideful stubbornness. Faulkner uses several different methods to show this, such as descriptions of Miss Emily’s house, changes in the town that occur over time while Miss Emily lives there, and her relationships with close people, such as her father and Homer, to give the reader a better understanding of Miss Emily’s lack of ability to change. One of the simplest ways to…

A Rose for Emily

Decay is found in numerous parts of “A Rose for Emily”. The image pattern works its way from Emily’s mind to the inside of her lover, Homer Barron’s, resting chamber. In “A Rose for Emily” you find five major elements of decay. The first element of decay that is found in “A Rose for Emily” is the decaying of Emily’s mental state. Emily may have felt trapped because her father wouldn’t allow any male suitors to visit her, so when her father died she likely felt she should trap his body and not bury it as revenge because he wasted her youthful potential for love and an independent life. Emily’s denial of her father’s death expands the theme of death…

Touching Spirit Bear

In the novel Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen he discuses the idea of morals. As the reader reads the novel it is filled with many important lessons from many perspectives. Understanding that all these lessons made Cole a better person. The most important lessons learnt from the book are life is what you make it, forgiveness, and that people can change. The lesson “life is what you make it” was a big part of the novel. But also this lesson was reflective. When Edwin asked Cole to go to the freezing pond, he gave him a stick and says that the right end of the stick represented happiness while the left end represented anger. Cole broke the anger side…

Symbolism Used in James Joyce’s Dubliners

Symbolism is a powerful tool used by people every day to force people to look past the obvious and find the deeper meaning. Symbolism is used by authors, musicians, priests, and many others. James Joyce, a well-known Irish author, uses symbolism repeatedly throughout his collection of short stories published in 1916. In these stories, titled Dubliners, Joyce uses symbolism not only to enhance the stories, but to also show the hidden, underlying message of each story without coming out and saying it directly. Joyce’s stories are centered on the problems of Dublin and through his use of symbolism Joyce is able to focus attention on what problem each story is addressing. James Joyce, author of Dubliners, uses symbolism effectively to…

I Can See Clearly Now

Flannery O’Conner argued that “[Distortion] is the only way to make people see”. This famous statement is initially contradictory and incongruous, but in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 it is easy to see the truth of this paradox. The pages of Catch-22 are lined with distortion and each instance provides for a new kind of clarity. Catch-22 is simply a war story illustrated by ridiculous behavior and illogical arguments and told in a flatly satirical tone. Though the book never states outright that matters are funny, the reader is always aware of how outrageously bizarre the characters and situations are. Heller uses out of sequence narration, a confused distinction between appearance and reality, and the irrationally logical paranoia of characters to create…

The Things They Carried

Some things in life become part of you. People, places, feelings; you can become so close that you are one. But sometimes, these things can consume you; swallow you whole. In Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried, many characters become one with the land of Vietnam. Vietnam consumes characters in different ways, but it always results in a character’s unity with the land. Unity is defined as “the state of being one; oneness”. Kiowa physically becomes part of the land in “Speaking of Courage”, when he sinks into the shit field, where Jimmy Cross ordered his troops to camp out. In this case, Kiowa is literally swallowed by the land. Mary Anne becomes part of the land differently in…

Criticism of the Church in the Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales, a collection of tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, was written in Middle English at the end of the 14th century (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011). It is considered to be the best work of literature in English in the Middle Ages (Johnston, 1998). Chaucer uses literary devices as no one had ever done. In addition, he chose to use English instead of Latin. This masterpiece is structured in a similar way as Bocaccio’s Decameron. The tales are organized within a frame narrative (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011) explained in the General Prologue by the narrator: a group of pilgrims that are going to visit St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury’s Cathedral. These pilgrims are from different estates of the medieval society: nobility, the church…

The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

Sometimes in death, it makes people think about their life. In the short story, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” written by Katherine Anne Porter, the main character, Granny Weatherall is doing just that; looking back on her life. In the film made based on this short story Granny Weatherall also thinks about her life, but as she is doing things around the house, living her life and not while being shut up in her bed. There are other differences that take place between both the film and the short story. But in the end they both tell the story of an old woman named Granny Weatherall. The short story version of “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” has a stream of…

Fahrenheit 451

People’s actions and their individual perceptions can influence and develop change in another person’s character. In Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, the main character, Guy Montag, makes a complete metamorphosis with the help from his neighbor Clarisse, his wife Mildred, and his boss Beatty. In the beginning of the novel, he despised the whole idea of reading, had no thoughts or questions about his life, and was just going through the motions of life. He changes from a stolid character, incognizant of the activities of his surroundings, to a conscious person of. So enlightened, by the new world he is exposed to, he comes to the realization that there is more life than what meets the eye. There are many…

The Cask of Amontillado

This tale by Edgar Allan Poe is not only about revenge but betrayal. The narrator, otherwise known as Montresor, tells the reader the tale of him, 50 years before, getting revenge on an old friend named Fortunato who had done him wrong in some unknown way. Within this short story, Poe uses many examples of black humor and irony. Poe uses Fortunato’s name symbolically, as an ironic device. Though his name means “the fortunate one” in Italian, Fortunato meets an unfortunate fate as the victim of Montresor’s revenge. Fortunato adds to the irony of his name by wearing the costume of a court jester. While Fortunato plays in jest, Montresor sets out to fool him, with murderous results. In The…

The American Dream

The concept of the American Dream has been ingrained in our thoughts ever since America became was established. You may have heard it anywhere such as politician’s speeches, popular songs, and hundreds of books. “What is the American Dream? ” some might say. The American Dream has a number of meanings, but the most popular definition is that every American has the chance for prosperity, and with wealth and material items bring happiness. The American Dream to this day is still around but has greatly evolved to the changing times. The desire to achieve great wealth can be seen in the origin, evolution, and variations of the American Dream. The American Dream also has an opposing side, as Fitzgerald exposes…

Readers Response to John Updike’s A&P

In the summer of 1961 we meet Sammy. Sammy is a 19-year-old clerk at the local A&P in a small town, and one day a few girls walk in, in their bikinis. Everyone in the store either stares at them lustfully or averts their eyes uncomfortably. When the manager gets back he scolds the girls and tells them that they cannot come back in there dressed that way again. So Sammy quits. I personally enjoy this story because of the dated wordplay and the character development. John Updike fleshes out Sammy quite well. We learn that he has been working that the store for some time, and in doing so has noted many peculiarities about the people who frequent it….