1st Essay Assignment/ Spring 2003
Due Date: 2/27 at 9 a.m. (If you want feedback on your draft, you must post it a week ahead of the due date and please let me know when you have posted a draft that you want feedback on.)
Choose the following short storY and explain its structure. Also include what you see as the main conflict, the setting, and the point of view (narration). Then discuss the main theme or point of the work. Use quotations from the story to support your claims.
"The Curse" p. 416
This essay should have a thesis statement that sums up your view of the story, a strong organization, and specific textual support from the story to back up your points. When you quote from the story, put the page number in parentheses, as in the sample paper below.
You may use the first person ("I")sparingly, but there is no need to use the second person ("you" or "yours"). Remember that using phrases like: "In my opinion," "it seems to me" "I think" are unnecessary and wordy. You wrote the essay; I know it is your viewpoint.
Grammar, punctuation and spelling are important and you will be graded on those things.
They should be typed and double-spaced, using the MLA format: (I know that the formatting probably will not be kept when you upload, but you should still get into the habit of using this format. The subsequent pages only need to have your last name and page number. If they do not stay put over on the right side of the page, don?t worry about it.)
Remember that this is a formal college essay; it is not a journal assignment, so treat it accordingly.
Student?s name Last name 1
Title of Essay
Body of essay???????
A K. H (to protect privacy, I am including only the student?s initials)
October 15, 2002
Analyzing "Young Goodman Brown"
In the short story, "Young Goodman Brown," by Nathaniel Hawthorne, we find a classic example of structure. In the beginning of the story, we are introduced to the main character, Goodman Brown. We are also initiated into the Puritan mindset and some of the customs of the time. It was perfectly normal, for example, for a husband to be commanding over his wife and to treat her almost like a child. He directs his wife Faith (who is also a parallel to his own faith) to "Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee" (220). He is wrapped up in her innocence and purity, hence the reference to her pink hair bows. It is also conveyed that the Puritan faith is very pious and all encompassing with a hint of paranoia in the old New England town of Salem. Straying, in any form, was looked upon as extremely controversial and demonic. If one was not motivated by godly desires, then one was possessed by Satan.
Complications arise when Young Goodman Brown starts out on a questionable journey. He seems to be ruled by fear and comes upon the devil in the guise of his old grandfather. Since fear is the underlying emotion, it is logical that his old grandfather should take on the form of the devil, as he Goodman Brown must have been intimidated by his grandfather as a child. Another great fear of that time was witchcraft and being labeled as a witch or wizard. One could never really trust his neighbor for fear that a neighbor may be revealed as a witch or that one might be falsely accused of witchcraft. When he is traveling and comes upon Goody Cloyse entertaining the devil, he is truly shocked because, as Young Goodman Browns says, "That old woman taught me my catechism!" (222). This begins the idea that there may be more to all the people he knows than what he sees on the pious surface, a certain duplicity.
The crisis, or main conflict, comes to fruition when he is struggling so deeply with his own faith. He calls out to his wife, Faith, and his thoughts of her mirror his own faith. He desperately says, "With heaven above, and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!" (224). Then, as he is further tempted, he replies, "My Faith is gone" (224). He begins to accept that he is under the devil?s influence and runs headlong into a meeting of all the wretched participants in a devil worship ceremony. At that point, the falling action occurs and he is crushed to see that everything he views as trustworthy and dear, has truly been under the veil of Satan?s rule. Every person he knows and holds in high esteem as a good Puritan, is really a weak human being tempted by the devil.
The resolution is very ironic. By trying to thwart the devil, he actually gives in to the devil. In the light of day, he sees his fellow Puritans, but is still deeply influenced by the events of his dream. When he sees and is blessed by the good old minister, "He shrank from the venerable Saint, as if to avoid an anathema" (227). His life is now tainted and he views the whole world through paranoid eyes. He can never be truly happy again because he sees that the devil is at work all around him.
The setting to this story is very important, as is the point of view from which the story is told. The images of a dark forest help to give the plot a sinister influence. When he comes upon the woods, he says, "There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree" and "What if the devil himself should be at my elbow?" (220). Thus making the woods appear to be everything that is out of our control and wild; whereas, the path through the woods is faith and trust. Because the story is told from the objective point of view, it also gives the impression of being impersonal and rigid, much like the Puritans of the time.
The main theme to the story of Young Goodman Brown was the crossroads of faith that every human goes through at least once in life. If one tries to achieve perfection and be a good as possible, it is a set up for failure. Only God in his mercy can help us from the temptations of the devil. Unfortunately, Goodman Brown followed traditional Puritan teachings and feared and mistrusted everyone instead of trusting in God and maintaining strength in his own faith.
This story is a masterful representation of Puritan culture. Through the structure, setting, and point of view we come to understand the Puritans and their motivations. However, most important is the conflict and theme of the story in which Hawthorne cleverly weaves fear and paranoia and how these emotions affect the life and belief system of Young Goodman Brown.
I WOULD LIKE TO DO THE ESSAY ON ANDRE DUBUS
, " THE CURSE "
Student Outcomes Assessment
A papers demonstrate an excellent understanding of the theme and critical issues in the assigned readings. The paper also provides strong evidence of critical thinking and original, creative insights. "A" papers also indicate excellent familiarity and understanding of literary terms in an analysis of the material (not a plot summary). The paper has a well developed introduction and organization ending with an appropriate conclusion. The paper presents evidence to support pertinent points with material quoted from the work in a correctly attributed and punctuated method. The paper has few if any grammatical, punctuation or mechanical errors and appropriately addresses the assignment.
B papers demonstrate a good understanding of the theme and critical issues in the assigned readings. There is some critical thinking in the paper, and it shows a good familiarity with literary terms and material. The paper is well organized and uses textual support from the literary work(s) correctly. There are a few errors in grammar, punctuation, and mechanics, but they do not impede meaning or understanding.
C papers show a competent understanding of the theme and critical issues in the assigned readings. There is little critical thinking or originality, and the insights are standard. The paper shows some understanding of critical terms. The organization is acceptable, but there may be lapses in use of transitions or paragraph development. Textual evidence is present, but may be faulty or lacking in appropriate attribution or punctuation. There may be some problems with grammar, punctuation, and mechanics, but overall the paper is readable.
D papers demonstrate a below average understanding of the assigned reading/critical issues. There is no critical thinking or originality and few if any insights into the literary piece under discussion. The paper is disorganized and shows poor paragraph development, introduction, transitions, and conclusion. There is little or no supporting textual evidence, or it is very poorly presented. Grammatical, punctuation, and mechanical errors seriously impede understanding and meaning.
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