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Literature Essay Topics & Paper Examples

Rain of Gold

This is a non-fiction book of many layers. It’s about greed, prejudice, hate and anger, poverty and death. It’s also about family, love, relationships, and dreams. Parallel stories are told of two children, both babies of their families, who grow up during the Mexican revolution. Children of war who are driven from their homes in Mexico, hoping for a better life in America. In America, however, they find that the Mexicans are treated no better than dogs. It was interesting to read about prejudice against Hispanics. We hear about prejudice against the blacks all the time, but don’t think as much about what the Mexicans have gone through in immigrating to this country over the years. In the book, both…

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

“As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all around him with a sound like the shock of a cannon—then all is darkness and silence”. Ambrose Bierce has a unique way of captivating reader’s attention and it is perfectly shown in his short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. The story tells about a man in southern Alabama during the Civil War, which is about to be hanged by a group of Union soldiers. This man to be hanged is identified as a gentleman named Peyton Farquhar who attempted to destroy the Owl Creek Bridge, the same one they are standing on. Suddenly, the…

Love Songs in Age and Wild Oats by Philip Larkin

Throughout Love Songs in Age and Wild Oats, Philip Larkin uses various literary techniques, such as imagery, structure and symbolism to convey certain aspects of love and the passing of time. These aspects are illuminated by Dannie Abse in Down the M4. Love Songs in Age pictures a woman, perhaps Larkin’s mother, who has kept the musical scores of songs she used to play, perhaps on the piano, and rediscovers them after many years, when she is a widow. In the poem, Larkin uses lexical choice to explore how the idea of love is often distorted and in reality, love fails to live up to its promises of ‘freshness’ and ‘brilliance’. In the third stanza, the concept of ‘much-mentioned’ almost…

Close Reading

The answers to these questions emerge more from the doing than the talking. Briefly, close reading is a basic tool for understanding, taking pleasure in, and communicating one’s interpretation of a literary work. The skills employed in close reading lend themselves to all kinds of cultural interpretation and investigation. Close reading takes language as its subject because language can operate in different ways to convey meaning. Reading sensitively allows one to remain open to the many ways language works on the mind and heart. When an assignment calls for close reading, it’s best to start by choosing a brief but promising passage and checking your assumptions about its content at the door. Close reading often reveals the fissures between what…

Cult of Domesticity

Women faced many restrictions during the 1800’s based solely on their gender. The Cult of Domesticity served as a basic guide that explained the appropriate ways women of this time period were expected to act. It essentially laid out four proper characteristics women had to portray: piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness. Many authors captured the difficulties in a woman’s life with having to deal with such strict expectations in their writing. These included Emily Dickinson with her poems “I felt a funeral in my brain”, “This is my letter to the World”, and “These are the days when the Birds come back”, Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”. These pieces of literature…

Frustration on a Deserted Island

William Golding wrote a book Lord of the Flies that has his thoughts about human nature and his central idea of the theme civilization versus savagery. The book starts with kids that are stranded after a plane crashes and fight for survival. Two characters show their differences in the book known as Ralph and Jack. Golding uses these characters as a foil that will lead to the overall theme, shows how violent people get when there are no rules that control them and he also shows symbols in the book that defines each character. In the book Ralph and Jack have their differences and similarities. Ralph shows how he wants to rule in a form of civilization that will unify…

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Happiness is a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. In “A doll’s house” by Henrick Ibsen, the feelings concerning the home are not mutual. Torvald thinks that they have the ideal home and a perfect, happy life; Nora realizes that their life is far from perfect. Their home is like a playground, it is only all fun and games—there is no real love or care. A home that is like a playground, and not filled with love and care, is not a happy home. From the very beginning, Torvald treated Nora like a baby. Is that my little lark twittering out there? ” (5). “Is it my little squirrel bustling about? ” (6). Before…

Jimmy Carter and Political Maxim

Hardball by Chris Matthews is an interpretation of what many know as “hard-politics”. The book describes the skill of playing the game in Washington and how to be successful at it. The book is a guide that teaches a series of maxims that would be in favor of politicians to learn in order to be successful. The different tactics provided in the book hold a lot of knowledge that would make the life of anyone following these strategies much easier when trying to get ahead in life. Matthews describes a countless number of examples of successful politicians that rose to the top. Those politicians are the ones who learned how to play hardball in Washington. Matthews provides many of his…

The Speckled Band

Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “The Speckled Band,” within the book Sherlock Holmes: The Major Stories with Contemporary Critical Essays, is an attention – grabbing locked – room mystery that has elements of chivalry and of great danger, as well as complication and the classic reasonable deductions that all come into play during this enthralling narrative. These are combined with an abundance of unusual circumstances, characters, and clues that eventually lead to the conclusion of the story. The central character, aside from Holmes and Watson of course, is a young woman named Helen Stoner. After the death of her mother she and her twin sister live with their cruel stepfather, Dr. Roylott, who controls and abuses them both physically and…

The Wizard of Oz as a Fairy Tale

For hundreds of years, parents have been enthralling children with stories of magic and wishes coming true. Fairy tales are passed from one generation to the next through oral tradition, and, in modern times, books. As various societies develop, fairy tales are changed to fit the needs and morals those societies want to impress upon their children. Thus, the style and content of a fairy tale is directly affected by the social attitudes of a particular society at a particular time. Jack Zipes adopts and assumes the magical folktale is the oral version and the fairytale the literary version of a tale when he describes the rise of “the fairytale in the Western world as the mass-mediated cultural form of…

Telemachus’ Change in the Odyssey

Emergence of Telemachus’ Heroic Traits in the Telemecheia Joseph Campbell’s ten archetypal heroic traits appear in many literary protagonists. Physical strength, eloquence, leadership, and ties to supernatural forces are characteristics that are pervasive among heroes. King Gilgamesh, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, possesses the Campbellian traits of unmatched physical strength, confident leadership, and ties to gods. Whereas in the case of Telemachus in Homer’s Telemecheia, the young prince has not matured to Gilgamesh’s prominence, but several of Campbell’s attributes become apparent in the story. As Telemachus undergoes his journey, he begins to develop the heroic characteristics of having (1) connections with the gods, (2) eloquence, and (3) leadership. (1) Athena spurs Telemachus to develop his heroic traits by inspiring and…

The Role of Characters in Dracula and Carmilla

This paper would not have been possible without the help of many people. Firstly, I would like to thank my classmates for all of their inputs and perspectives, in class discussions, thread discussions and their papers, which helped me gain a complete understanding of the two stories. I would also like to thank my peer edit partners Joey and Michele who provided me with constructive criticism that guided me in writing my final draft. Thank you to Professor Kaplan who guided our class discussions and played the “devil’s advocate” to get me thinking about the opposing side of the argument more thoroughly. Finally, thank you to Bram Stoker and Joseph Sheridan LeFanu for writing Dracula and Carmilla. In a story,…

A Rose for Emily

In the literature piece of “A Rose for Emily” it’s clear that change is essential in a person’s life. Emily is an example of this based on how she stays in the past throughout the story. She remains the same since her pre-civil war self and Faulkner would agree that the past should stay in the past. The narrator is spoken in third person and he is seen as ghostly since his identity is unknown, from context clues you can assume it’s someone in the town “But the voice of the town is the most ghostlike: pervasive, shape-shifting, haunting. No wonder Miss Emily stayed indoors (Klein). Time is very important all throughout the short story it’s ”divided into five sections,…

Out of This Furnace

Out of This Furnace is a historical fiction that was written by Thomas Bell in 1941 and describes the life of immigrant workers in America. Bell grew up in Braddock in Pennsylvania, a mill town that was typical of many of the industrialized areas in America at that time. His novel reflects the hardships his family faced as they struggled to survive in the “new country” and he utilizes the medium of a fictional story to challenge the capitalist ideals of the government of that period through the trials and tribulations of his immigrant steelworkers. The book focuses on the lives of four individuals and describes how the four individual characters; Kracha, Mike, Mary and Dobie’s lives change as a…

Othello and the Moor of Venice

The play, the Tragedy of Othello and the Moor of Venice, written by William Shakespeare has many underlying and reoccurring themes throughout. One major theme is that of betrayal and loyalty. During the entire play every character is either loyal to, or betrays another character. The theme of betrayal and loyalty is seen through every character and every act in the play especially in Iago, Desdemona, and Othello. Every character that is portrayed as being loyal is disloyal, and every character that is portrayed as being disloyal is loyal. No one ever knows who and who not to trust, and this adds a lot of drama and build up to the story line. This play shows you that you can…

Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess and Shakespeare’s Othello

When we compare “Othello” written by William Shakespeare and “My Last Duchess” penned by Robert Browning, we found a lot of similarities and differences between these two works in realms of characters, events and incidences, and the causes of murder. Jealousy and possession are, however, the ruling passions in these two tragic works of art. There is remorse in “Othello” but there is none in “My Last Duchess”. Let us discuss these two masterpieces of domestic tragedy in detail in order to dig out the elements that made them happen. Let us start the discussion with the characters, first the male and then the female characters. Othello is a brave soldier. Unlike the Duke of Ferrara in “My Last Duchess”…

The Opening Scenes of Othello, King Lear and Macbeth

The influences of feminine powers from the Shakespearean plays, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth, portrayed during the opening scenes have affected the courses of male instincts and literary arguments throughout the play. In this study, the emphasis is given to the powers of feminine influences portrayed in the opening scenes and the effects of these to male characters and arguments throughout the play. The three plays of Shakespeare have shown significant interests on how females provided influential to seemingly manipulative roles throughout the play. In the opening scene of the play Macbeth, the feminine force of Lady Macbeth only becomes evident in the latter scenes (Act I: Scene V), but her character and roles in the play have shown immense…

Oscar Wilde’s

The following essay will examine British Literature in two fold: the first being that of Oscar Wilde’s contribution to British Literature and the second being feminism in British Literature in the 1800’s and on. It is hoped that focusing on two separate but entangled subjects will make the paper more accessible and therefore broader in scope and understanding of the reader to British Literature. Peacocks and Sunflowers:Oscar Wilde’s “Immoral Aestheticism” as an Escape from Reality into the Realm of Beauty Gilbert, the author’s alter ego in Oscar Wilde’s essay “The Critic as Artist” (originally published in 1888) declared that “[a]ll art is immoral” (274), and that phrase turned into a manifesto for the “immoral aestheticism” doctrine of the famous dandy…

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…