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Literature Essay Topics & Paper Examples

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….

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a story written by Flannery O’Connor. It is a tragic story that happens in Toombsboro, Georgia. The story is written in a third person narration with plenty of characters to narrate. This story follows a sad plotline about a family who has intents to go on vacation to another state. They originally are from Atlanta, Georgia. Unfortunately, bad events happen to the family. O’Connor writes this story with a lot of foreshadowing and symbolism. Each character means something to the story, and contributes to the storyline. With all the foreshadowing and symbols in the story, the grandmother plays the most significant part as a tragic character in the story with her arrogance,…

The Lottery

Have you ever imagined being killed for winning a lottery? In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, the author does an outstanding job describing the main character, the plot, and the theme. The character Tessie Hutchinson in this story makes the reader feel as if he or she is a part of the plot. Additionally, the plot of this story is very surprising and unexpected. Jackson does a really great job writing the story, and in the end it is very easy to think about a theme. Certainly, “The Lottery” is a perfect example of a story combining an interesting plot, good characterization, and a clear theme. Tessie Hutchinson starts out being a regular citizen of the village and ends up…

Miss Havisham

Miss Havisham is first introduced to the reader when Mr Pumblechook (Pips Uncle) announces that Miss Havisham Requests Pips presence to play at her house. Miss Havisham fits into the main plot because she trains Estella to “ break their hearts.” When Pip sees Estella for the fist time, he instantly falls in love with her. Miss Havisham sees this and she encourages Pip to do so. Miss Havisham was also, in Pips eyes, the cause of his ‘Great expectations’ Miss Havisham may also have been placed in the novel by Dickens, To explore how the effects of bad experiences on people. In this case it would be Miss Havisham being jilted on her wedding day In the first description…

Rhetorical Analysis of a Modest Proposal

Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” written in 1729 was his proposal “for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to he publick” (Swift, Title). This proposal included the selling, skinning and buying of babies at the age of one. This proposal that he has come up with is a very inhuman and controversial one when it comes to being socially acceptable. Swift begins his essay by describing walking down a street in Ireland. He describes how you would see, “beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms” (Swift, Para. 1). This gives…

How to Tell a True War Story

O’Briens “How to Tell a True War Story”, is a compilation of war stories and some experiences that men have had while away from home, at war during a battle. The theme of O’Briens short story is to always look at the positive side of all things that may happen in one’s life. There is a positive side in every single action that takes place in people’s lives. O’Brien tries to explain a war story as best as he can but, most believe that to actually know the events that happened and how gory or pleasant each little thing was, one must experience it themselves. O’Brien’s objective is to prove to the audience that it is next to impossible to…

The Crucible

The character of Abigail is often accused of being one-dimensional. She doesn’t express one shred of remorse the entire time, making her seem almost inhumanly diabolical. However, even though Abigail’s actions are ruthless, they are in some ways understandable. Miller slips in an interesting detail about Abigail’s childhood that gives us a clue as to where her mercilessness might stem from. When she was younger, Abigail witnessed both of her parents murder. She tells the other girls, “I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ head on the pillow next to mine” (I. 19). It’s no surprise that a person exposed to such brutality at a young age might eventually act brutally herself. Her ruthless, manipulative tactics might also be a…

The Man Who Knew Infinity

The book The Man who Knew Infinity, by Robert Kanigel, sheds light on the life of Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. Ramanujan’s story is exceptional due to his background and all the circumstances that surrounded his life. The book explains to the very smallest detail, who Ramanujan really was as a human, the challenges he overcame and why he was so special. In the book, Education, Religion and Society (including family influence) are the some of the things that shaped Ramanujan and his way of thinking. Coming from an impoverished family in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, during British Rule, Ramanujan knew life’s economic difficulties. He had essentially grown up a single child, since his only 2 surviving…

A Review of Tom Piazza’s City of Refuge

It was mid-August on a hot summer day hurricane Katrina damaged a city, New Orleans, possibly for a lifetime. The novel: City of Refuge by Tom Piazza gives readers an omniscient point of view of two families lives during this tragic event. The Williams family from the Lower 9th Ward and the Donaldsons originally from the upper Midwest who had made their way to New Orleans share the same traumatic experience; in different ways of the levees breaking from hurricane Katrina changed both of their lives forever. On Friday morning Craig Donaldson saw on the news that Hurricane Katrina had moved into the Gulf, heading in their direction. Craig and Alice, his wife contemplated leaving the following day or the…

Fairy Tale Gone Wrong – Snow White

Most parents have, or will, tell their child a bedtime story that they may have heard when they were younger. These stories, otherwise known as fairy tales, are thought to be nothing but a mere story to entertain, but what if these fairy tales had an underlying meaning of their own? Fairy tales have been around for more than thousands of years and are passed on frequently from one person to another. Today, most are seen as harmless stories that were made up to entertain children; however, it seems that these fairy tales may actually hold meanings that are larger than the average child can grasp. Many have heard the well-known story Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; yet, few…

Things Fall Apart

Advertising has become an important factor in society. There are many advantages to advertising. However, there are also disadvantages that occur when there is advertising. It’s been able to provide information to people, but it has also caused the purchasing of unnecessary products. Advertising is seen as an advantage to today’s society because it helps people learn and can even help people who are in need. In source A, lives can be saved because people saw the advertisement about the American Red Cross. Information referring to the American Red Cross was given to the people through an advertisement to inform people that their donation will be able to save the lives of many. By creating this poster it allows people…

The Last Leaf

To be perfect short story neatness, brevity and a significant incident or an aspect of character or an experience of some psychological moment is essential. Within its short frame work, it must have a beginning, middle and an end. There must be completeness in its structure. All the elements plot, character, dialogue, descriptions and background must be organically connected with other. Generally a good story has a surprising end which bears a sense of endlessness. All these characteristics of a good short story are fulfilled in the short story of O Henry’s The Last Leaf. It has an ironical twist at the end that is surprising and at the same time striking to the readers. Old Behrman’s bold self sacrifice…

Heart of Darkness

Often, an author of a work of literature will raise questions in one’s mind, but will not answer it to ensure contemplation of the idea presented before the reader. In his novel, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad utilizes characterization, narration, and heavy imagery to effectively raise questions in the reader’s mind as the book continues in its tedious, yet poetic journey on the Congo. Conrad uses a lot of action to describe his characters because there isn’t much physical description or speech. Since Marlow is the protagonist, he is given more of an in-depth look. All the others, including Kurtz, show a great space between their words and their actions. Often their actions are far more indicative of their true…