Guidelines for Paper #1

ENGLISH 102 - Nel

Due Date:
Thursday, January 20 (Thesis, introduction, first "body" paragraph, & outline DUE)
Tuesday, January 25 (Draft DUE)
Friday, February 4 (Final version DUE in my office by 3 p.m. Slip it under the door if I'm not there.)

Read the selection from Aristotle's Poetics, pp. 1030-32. For your paper, formulate a thesis about Oedipus the King. Your thesis should answer one of the following questions:

1. Aristotle cites Oedipus in his definition of tragedy, but does Oedipus conform to his definition? Is Aristotle just bending Oedipus to fit his thesis or is Oedipus, in fact, an Aristotelian tragedy? Identify Aristotle's criteria, and then take a position on this question, and defend your answer (which will serve as the thesis of your paper) using examples from the play.

2. Discussing the characters of a tragedy, Aristotle says that they must be both good and appropriate. He then claims that women "as a class ... are inferior" and feels it "inappropriate for a woman to be manly or formidable." Despite what Aristotle says about women, could one apply his definition of tragedy to Jocasta? That is, might Oedipus be her tragedy, also? Or, do Aristotle's criteria make it impossible for Jocasta to be considered as a tragic figure? Identify what you consider to be Aristotle's most important criteria for a tragedy and argue for whether or not Jocasta meets that criteria.


Guidelines:

Getting Started....

1. Read and Reread. Read and reread Oedipus, with a mind to your present topic and the play's theme. Take careful notes and underline all relevant words, phrases, and images.

2. Brainstorm. Formulate ideas and collect quotations that will prove and develop your thesis.

Writing the Paper....

1. Formulate a thesis. Make sure your thesis is specific enough to be covered adequately in the space of your discussion. A common trap of a thesis is to identify a theme, but fail to make argument about that theme: In Hamlet, Hamlet's character chooses to be mad. This "thesis" (which isn't a thesis) identifies madness as a theme, and begins to make an argument about how madness function, but falls short. Instead: Hamlet exploits the fine line between madness and sanity in order to gain power over others. To demonstrate this, the writer would argue for a link between Hamlet's "mad" behavior and his relative position of power in relation to other characters. Refer to the handout titled "Thesis vs. Topic." When you're writing the paper, the thesis will fall at or near the end of your introductory paragraph.

2. Provide support. To persuade your readers to your position, you will need to provide some evidence in support of your claims. A quotation from the play should be used as evidence to prove your assertions.

3. Analysis and explanation of evidence. Be sure to analyze the quotation and discuss its significance. Explain for your reader how your evidence supports your claims

4. Conclusion. Your last paragraph should synthesize, not summarize. You should resolve - and not merely repeat - your argument.

And, after you finish your draft....

1. Revise and edit. Read your paper out loud to yourself. Often you will hear what your eyes will miss.

2. When in doubt, get help. My office hours are Mondays and Wednesdays 10-11 am, Thursdays 3-5 pm, by appointment. My email address is nelp@cofc.edu. Also, please make use of your Bedford Handbook and the Writing Lab at 216 Education Center. The phone number is 953-5635, and their hours are 9 to 4 and 6 to 8, Monday through Thursday, and 9 to 12 on Fridays.


Paper #1 |
Thesis vs. Topic | Syllabus for English 102 | Sample Essay (Intro + Outline)
This page was last updated on 12 January 2000.