Essay 2: Drama Essay ENGL 112 Professor Hixon Objective: In 900-1200 words

Essay 2: Drama Essay
ENGL 112
Professor Hixon
Objective: In 900-1200 words (excluding Works Cited), write an essay that analyzes how Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun) or Edson (Wit) addresses one or more Christian themes in her play. (You must choose one play; this essay is not long enough to discuss both successfully.) You are arguing for your interpretation of the play through a Biblical lens. Argue about how the author’s decisions about literary elements and use of literary devices communicate something about one of the play’s themes or a couple of closely related themes. You will use two primary sources for this essay: your chosen play and your chosen version of The Bible.
Some Themes to Consider:
The wages of sin/grace (separately or as a pair – If you write about grace, consider how God sets an example for Christians to show grace.)
Redemption/Salvation
Prescription for behavior (rules, Ten Commandments)
Selfish ambition/pride v. humility
Trust in God (v. creating one’s own plans/relying on one’s own strength OR relying on another person)
Hope
God’s complexity
The Great Commission (Love God; love one another.)
God as Father/humans as His children
God’s image (Man is made in God’s image.)
Materialism
Adversity
Other themes you find in the text that interest you
*Note that neither play is going to tell you that it is engaging with any of these themes. You may have to dig a bit to find them. This is a different kind of essay from Paper 1 – here, I am asking you to read through a Biblical lens. This is not necessarily the kind of work you see in most literary journals (which publish literary criticism), though there are journals and conferences devoted to “Christianity in Literature.” Hansberry, in fact, is often cited for being critical of Christian faith. While this means we should not read her work as Gospel, it certainly does not mean she does not engage with Christian themes – consider her audience, after all – even if she does so inadvertently. (Sometimes what the text does is more interesting than what the author intends it to do.) You are also welcome to examine how your chosen play deviates from or contradicts Scripture. (If it’s easier for you, think of this essay as a comparison between how the play treats certain themes or how it suggests readers behave/believe and how the Bible treats these same themes/how it commands readers to behave/believe).
If you’re at a loss, start, as with the previous essay, with moments in the text you find odd or deem significant. For example, in Raisin, the long conversation between Beneatha and Asagai reads almost like a separate play. Consider how it fits in with the play at large and then how it might incorporate some aspects of what we learn from Scripture. Don’t forget to consider symbols, diction, motifs – all the elements and devices we studied in the short story unit – as well as dramatic conventions (spectacle, pity, terror, etc.)
Use evidence from both the play and from Scripture to support your claims. Do not forget that evidence must be explicated – both from the play and from Scripture. And don’t forget about the Old Testament – it has a lot of material to offer, too! Each body paragraph should cite both the play and Scripture.
Process:
Make a list of observations from the play, and look for connections. Peruse Scripture (in print or online) for passages/stories that relate to the action or your interpretation of the play. Form an outline then a draft. Please consider taking your ideas, outline, or draft to the Writing Center.
Introduction
Summarize your chosen play briefly. Discuss major theme(s) and the work’s contribution to society/literature. Your introduction should implicitly argue that your essay is worth reading. Develop a thesis statement – a disputable claim, something it is possible to disagree with, that addresses the prompt. Your entire essay, following the introduction, should aim to prove your thesis statement. Your thesis should be the last sentence of the introduction.
Body
Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence, a thesis statement for that particular paragraph. Each sentence in the paragraph that follows should work to prove that topic sentence. Each sentence should build logically upon the one before it, just as each paragraph should build logically upon the preceding paragraph. (Ex. You must demonstrate that “The Swimmer” is set in Suburban America before discussing why it is set there.)
Each paragraph must include a main idea (topic sentence), citation (textual evidence – usually a quote, though paraphrases and summaries may sometimes suffice), and explanation of how the evidence supports the claim. Don’t forget to end each paragraph with a transition into the next. (Note: For this essay, paragraphs should also include textual evidence from The Bible.)
Conclusion
Please refrain from merely summarizing your essay. It is short enough that I have not forgotten what you wrote on page 1. Do restate your thesis (in different words), and then try answering the “So what” question: why does your interpretation of the text matter? What does the text offer to its contemporary society and/or to ours? What should other scholars investigate about the text? Try to leave your readers with food for thought, not just with a recap of an already short essay. But do avoid making new interpretations/claims in the conclusion. You should have proven your claims in the body of the essay.
Notes: Keep plot summary throughout the essay to a minimum. Assume I am familiar with your chosen play. You are writing a literary analysis, not a book report, so you only need to provide brief summary when necessary to making a point (e.g. when you are using a plot event as evidence of a claim).
Always write about literature in present tense; the story happens anew each time you read it. Keep the tone formal: avoid personal pronouns (e.g. I, you, we, etc.), contractions, and slang.
You are creating an original piece of analysis. Do not use Sparknotes, Cliff Notes, Shmoop, Grade Saver, etc. Do not look to literary criticism for interpretations of your chosen text. You are not required to cite secondary sources, though you may cite reliable sources if you want to discuss history relevant to a particular setting. You must cite your sources using in-text citations and a Work(s) Cited page.
Format:
TNR, 12 pt. font, double-spaced
1 in. margins on each side
No extra spaces between sentences or paragraphs
Use an MLA style header and page numbers
Create MLA style citations (in-text and Work[s] Cited)
Format entire paper according to MLA 8 guidelines: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
Use standard written English to govern grammar and mechanics.