Eng4u Assignments

1.Write an essay in which you briefly describe the standards of the fictional society or societies in which the main character exists.Show how the main character is affected by and responds to those standards.In your essay do not summarize the plot.

2.The full significance of title of the novel becomes apparent gradually.Show how the significance is developed through the authors use of devices such as contrast, repetition, allusion, and point of view.

3.In retrospect, the reader often discovers that the first chapter of a novelintroduces some of the major themes of the work.Write an essay about how the first chapter of the novel studied functions in this way.

4.It has been argued that an effective literary work does not just stop; it concludes.In this view critics claim a work that does not provide the pleasure of closure has ended with an artistic fault; however, a satisfactory ending is not necessarily conclusive in every sense.Significant closure may require the reader to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty.Discuss the ending of the novel studied .Explain with specific text evidence why the ending is appropriate or inappropriate.Do not summarize the plot.

5.Choose an improbable or unrealistic incident or character in in the novel studied. Explain how the incident or character is related to more realistic or plausible elements in the rest of the work.Avoid plot summary.

6.Often the meaning of some literary works is enhanced by sustained allusion to myths, the Bible, or other sacred texts.Explain an allusion the predominates in the novel studied and analyze how it enhances the work’s meaning.

7.A critic has said that one important measure of a great work of literature is its ability to produce a healthy confusion.Explain how the novel studied createsa healthy confusion of pleasure and disquietude for readers.

8.Some works of literature use the element of time in a distinct way. The chronological sequence of events may be altered, or time may be suspended or accelerated.Show how the author’s manipulation of time contributes to the effectiveness of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

9.Some novels and plays seem to advocate changes in social or political attitudes or in traditions.Note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author apparently wishes to modify. Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader’s or audience’s views. Avoid plot summary.

10.Some of the most significant events in the novel studied are mental or psychological; for example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness.In a well-organized essay, describe how the author manages to give these internal events the sense of excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action.

11.Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that “Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” Yet Said has also said that exile can become “a potent, even enriching” experience. Explain how Pi experiences such a rift and becomes cut off from “home,” whether that home is Pi’s birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the character’s experience with exile is both alienating and enriching, and how this experience illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.


The thesis statement is the central idea of the piece of writing. The thesis statement is usually made in one complete sentence in the introduction.

It should be expressed in a clear and unambiguous manner.  It might help to think of a literary analysis thesis statement as having three parts:

a subject

a method

a message

The subject portion identifies the author and title.

The method portion identifies the literary technique or device used to convey meaning.

The message conveys the idea or lesson the author seeks to have the reader consider.

Use this framework to develop your thesis statement.  After some work try breaking away from the formulaic thesis and form your own based on the content of the book.  

In ____________________________________________________________________, 

                                                (title of the piece)

(author's name)

employs __________________________________________


to reveal ________________________________________________.
(message/ theme)


With the exception of a summary, all writing about literature is to some degree a form of argument.  This is not to use argument with the negative connotations attached to it.  Used in a different more traditional sense, argument refers to a writer’s or speaker’s attempt to establish the validity of a given position.  In other words, when you write a paper you want to convince your reader that what you are saying is valid and persuasive.  The reader is not the enemy, not someone whose ideas are to be crushed and refuted, but rather a person whose thoughts and feelings you have a chance to affect.  You are not arguing against your reader; rather, you are using your argumentative abilities to help your reader see the logic and value of your position.

To begin writing a literary argument, then, you must take a position and have a point to make.  This principal point will be the thesis of your paper.  It is important to distinguish between a topic and a thesis:  Your topic is the issue or area upon which you will focus your attention and your thesis is a statement about this topic.

It might help to phrase your thesis as a complete sentence in which the topic of the subject, followed by a verb that makes a firm statement or claim regarding your topic.  This is your thesis statement, and it will probably appear toward the beginning of your paper.  The foremost purpose of a paper, then, is to explain, defend, and ultimately prove the truth of its thesis.

Your thesis should be clear and specific.  The purpose of a thesis is to serve as a guide to both the reader and the writer, so it needs to be understandable and to point clearly to the specific aspects of the literature that you will discuss.

Your thesis should be relevant.  The claim you make should not only interest you as a writer but also give your reader a reason to keep reading by sparking his or her interest and desire to know more. Not every paper is going to change lives or minds, of course, but you should at least state your thesis in such a way that your reader won’t have the most dreaded of responses: “Who cares?”

Your thesis should be debatable.  Since the purpose of paper is to convince a reader that your thesis is correct (or at least has merit), it cannot simply be an irrefutable fact.  A good thesis will be something that a reasonable person, having read the literature, might disagree with or might not have considered at all.  It should give you something to prove.

Your thesis should be original.  Again originality does not imply that every thesis you write must be a brilliant gem that nobody but you could have discovered.  But it should be something you have thought about independently, it should avoid clichés, contain something of you, and do more than parrot back something said in your class or written in a textbook.

You should be able to state your thesis as a complete sentence.  This sentence, generally referred to as the thesis statement, should first identify your topic and then make a claim about it.  (Occasionally, especially for longer papers with more complex ideas behind them, you will need more than one sentence to state your thesis clearly.  Even in these cases, though, the complete thesis must both identify the topic and make a claim about it.)

Your thesis should be appropriate to the assignment.  This may seem obvious, but as we work with literature, taking notes, asking questions, and beginning to think about topics and theses, it is possible to lose sight of the assignment as it was presented.  After you have come up with a tentative thesis, it’s a good idea to go back and review the assignment as your instructor gave it, making sure your paper will fulfill its requirements.

Gardner, E. Janet.  Writing about Literature:  A Portable Guide 2nd Edition.  Bedford St. Martin’s:  New York, 2009.
More on how to write a thesis statement in literary analysis papers:
  • Assume your reader knows the basic plot and needs only a few brief reminders of its key elements
  • Keep in mind that your main purpose is to put forth, explain, and support a claim about the text -- your answer to some question you raise about it
  • After your introduction, try to begin each new paragrpah with a subcliam that helps you develop your main claim.
  • Instead of reciting plot details, write about how the work you are analyzing is constructed.
  • Instead of trying to plot details, try to concentrate on the author's specific language, exploring possible definitions and interpretations of particular words and phrases.
Schilb, John & Clifford, John, eds.  Making Literature Matter:  An Anthology for Readers and Writers 4th Edition.  Bedford/St. Martin's:  New York,
  • Keep your audience in mind.  Your job is to convince your instructor that your ideas have merit. 
  • Be clear.  Your readers cannot read your mind.
  • Assume the reader has read the work and avoid plot summary.  Only summarize and paraphrase those parts of work that illustrate your points.
  • Convince your reader of your ideas and observations.  Assume the reader wants to learn from you, but do not expect them to surrender their vies of the work just because you present yours.  Think of the reader as constantly asking, Why should I believe what you say? 
  • Make a rough outline
  • Begin writing
  • Write an introduction that explains your thesis
  • Use sound reasoning
  • Support key claims with facts
  • Organize your evidence according to a coherent plan
  • Write a convincing conclusion
  • Revise throughout the writing process
Understanding Essay Topics: A Checklist
Written by Margaret Procter, Writing Support

Printable PDF Version
Fair-Use Policy

Before you plunge into research or writing, think through the specific topic you are dealing with. Remember, you are not being asked just to collect facts, but to develop and display your powers of reasoning. You can save yourself time and frustration by beginning this reasoning early in the process. Here are some steps:

  1. Note the key terms, including those naming parts of the topic and those giving directions for dealing with it. Look especially for words that define the kind of reasoning you should be using: why, how, analyse, compare, evaluate, argue,etc. Be sure you understand the specific meanings of these terms.

    • Analyse means look behind the surface structure of your source material. See the relationship of parts to whole. Be able to recognize relationships such as cause and effect, even if it's unstated in what you read. Look for underlying assumptions and question their validity. How and why imply an answer reached by analysis.
    • Compare means find differences as well as similarities. You will need to formulate the aspects which you are looking at in each item; consider organizing your paper by using these aspects as headings.
    • Evaluate stresses applying your judgement to the results of your analysis. It asks for an opinion based on well-defined criteria and clearly stated evidence. Wording such as to what extent also asks for an evaluation of an idea.
    • Argue (or agree or disagree) likewise asks you to take a stand based on analysis of solid evidence and explained by clear reasoning. You will need to consider other possible viewpoints and defend your own in comparison.
  2. Note which concepts or methods the topic asks you to use. Are you to argue a point with others, or to explore your own responses? Does the topic ask you to go into depth about some material already covered? Or does it suggest that you evaluate a theory or model by applying it to an example from outside the course material? Whatever the design, an essay assignment expects you to use course concepts and ways of thinking; it encourages you to break new ground for yourself in applying course methodology.
  3. To generate ideas from which you can choose the direction of your research or preliminary analysis, ask yourself questions about the specific topic in terms of the concepts or methods that seem applicable. Looking for controversies in the material will also help you find things worth discussing. You may want to look at some general articles in reference works such as encyclopaedias to see how others have framed questions or seen problems to discuss. (For further advice on methods of generating ideas, see Purdue's file on Invention.)
  4. For an essay of argument, formulate a tentative thesis statement at a fairly early stage—that is, a statement of your own likely position in the controversy that most interests you, or your preliminary answer to an important interpretive question. You do not have to stick to this answer or statement, but it will help focus your investigation. (See Using Thesis Statementsfor advice on how and when to centre your papers on thesis statements.)

Now you will have some sense of direction—even if you eventually choose another path than the one you have mapped. You are ready to begin gathering and analysing your specific material (see Taking Notes from Research Reading).

  • Word process your essay using 12 Times New Roman font.
  • Use standard-size paper (81/2 X 11") paper.  Use a sturdy weight of paper.
  • Double-space everything, including block or indented quotations and works cited entries.
  • Number all pages, beginning with the first page.  Number pages consecutively, including pages for works cited.  Put the page numbers in the upper righ-hand cornier of each page.  To avoid having pages misplaced, put your last name before each page number, with a space betwen the two.
  • Leave one-inch margins at the top, bottom and sides.
  • One inch fom the top of the fist page, on the left-hand side, put your name, the instructors name, the course title, and the date, each on a separate line.  Double-space between the lines.  After the last line (the date), double-space again and center your title.  If your title has more than one line, double-space between lines.  Double-space between the title and the first line of text.  Do not underline your own title or put it in quotation marks.
  • Title pages are unnecessary.
  • Submit your essay through D2L dropbox.
Resources for MLA Documentation:
 Griffith, Kelly. Writing Essays about Literature:  A guide and Style Sheet 7th Edition. Thomson Wadsworth: Boston, 2006.

Literary Essay Outline

This structure will help you with the basics of an essay if you feel the need for support.

1st Paragraph

  • A broad statement introducing the subject in a general way in one or more sentences (this may be a statement of theme)
  • A specific reference to the title and author
  • Thesis statement presenting the main idea of the paper in one sentence
  • If you are stuck start with the formula:In the novel ______________ (insert name of novel, the author __________________ (insert author’s name) employs __________________(name a literary technique) to reveal ________________ (important idea/theme).

2nd Paragraph and subsequent body paragraphs

  • Point from thesis statement-- a generalization
  • An example or quotation to support your generalization
  • Analysis and interpretation of the supporting evidence to show how it supports the generalization in your topic sentence
  • Concluding sentence which ties this paragraph to your thesis


  • Thoughtful explanation of the significance of your thesis (answers the “so what?” question)

 Transition Words/Phrases


Qualities of an Excellent Literary Paper


  • brief yet illuminating – shines light upon some aspect of your thesis
  • relevant
  • tone in keeping with the rest of the paper


  • identifies topic
  • states thesis
  • to the point
  • includes a direct reference to the title and author
  • invites further reading
  • appropriate tone for the purpose


  • significant
  • clearly stated and precise
  • limited
  • debateable

Body Paragraphs

  • main points clearly stated
  • smooth and logical transitions between and within paragraphs
  • general point made specific through reference to text
  • quotations smoothly incorporated and thoroughly analyzed, showing relevance to and support for main points
  • concluding sentence ties to thesis


  • grows naturally from preceding paragraphs
  • explains significance of thesis
  • provides a sense of completion


  • ideas developed in proportion to their significance
  • logical and climactic arrangement of paragraphs
  • order is appropriate to thesis


  • unpretentious (does not use over-inflated language)
  • definite, focused, cohesive
  • shows that careful thought has been given to the topic
  • provides sufficient specific support
  • relies on careful analysis of text
  • developed through specific details and sound interpretation following three steps: 1) generalizations 2) details related to generalizations 3) analysis and interpretation of the details in relation to the thesis
  • limits plot summary to the limited amount needed for clarity
  • shows independent thinking, provides unusual insight or perspective

Control of Language

  • fluent expression
  • controlled sentences
  • each sentence has a logical relationship to surrounding sentences and fits smoothly into its context
  • variety of sentence lengths and patterns
  • precise word choice
  • natural and appropriate level of diction
  • uses present tense


  • no errors in punctuation, spelling or grammar


  • typed (double spaces)
  • one side of paper
  • citations follow MLA format

How to Write in the Literary Present Tense



Essay Rubric

MLA PowerPoint

- Review essay writing for the exam
- Here is a handy page with some useful resources.
- Prepare for exam. Good luck!
- Complete this survey on the game.
- Begin review and think about connections between "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and:
- The Things They Carried
- Any poems we have studied
- Any short stories we have studied (The Book of Sand, A&P and Araby)

- Discuss pages 14 - 41 with an emphasis on R.P. McMurphy.
- Read to page 62 for next class.
 - Read t0 page 62 for next class.

- Take-up questions on "The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong"
- Introduction and documentation for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".
 - Speculate on the significance of the fog in this story. What do you think it may symbolize? How do flashbacks of the Chief's childhood help him find his way out of the fog?

- What relationship is the author suggesting between the blue tick hound and Chief Bromden?

 - Read and ANNOTATE to page 41 to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
- Generate 3 questions you have about the story.
- Underline 3 parts of the reading you enjoyed or would like to discuss in class.
 - Make sure you return all game related forms for next class!!

Unreliable Narrator - a narrator who may not be telling the truth or who may betelling only part-truths. Reasons for false storytelling are varied; narrators maybe sick, ill informed, deliberately or innocently misleading, or incapable ofunderstanding what is happening. Example: Chief Bromden, the narrator of OneFlew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is delusional and in a mental institution; therefore,the reader must question whether what he says is true.
- Work on your passage analysis assignment. They are due on Wednesday April 24 and Thursday April 25.
 - Complete questions on "The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong".
- Read to page 14 of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and bring your copy to next class.
 - Take-up activities on "How to Tell a True War Story" and discuss the story.
- Continue reading: "The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" "Stockings" and "Church".
- Catch-up with the reading and choose a focus for your passage analysis.
- Please read "The Dentist" and up to page 104 of "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" for next class.
- Complete activties on "How to Tell a True War Story."
- Please read "The Dentist" and up to page 104 of "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" for next class.

- Undertake a Harkness discussion on "On the Rainy River".
- Write 2 - 3 paragraphs about what your learned about the story based on the discussion.
- Read and annotate "Enemies", "Friend", "How to Tell a True War Story" for next class.
 - Write 2 - 3 paragraphs about what you learned about "On the Rainy River" from the Harkness discussion.
- Read "Enemies", "Friend", "How to Tell a True War Story" for next class.
- Discuss "Spin" and "Love"
- Write a paragraph or two explaining the importance of stories as per your reading of "Spin" and "Love".
- Read "On the Rainy River". As you read note the following"
- Three questions you have about the story.
- A line or paragraph you liked about the story.
- What elements you liked or didn't like about how the story was written.
All of these notes will be used to have a formal Harkness discussion on the novel next class, so please be prepared.
- Complete paragraphs on "Spin" and "Love"
- Read and annotate "On The Rainy River" according to the listed requirements.
- Write mini-test on "The Things They Carried"
 - Read this intro handout to "The Things They Carried"
- Get together in small groups and fill in this chart.
- Read "Love" and "Spin".
- Complete chart for next class.
- Read "Love" and "Spin" for next class.
- Introduction to the Vietnam War and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.
- Spend the first 10 minutes of class to omplete the first two columns of the KWL chart.
- Finalize the last column of your KWL chart.
 - Complete KWL chart.
- Read "The Things They Carried"
- There will be a 5 point mini-test on "The Things They Carried"
 - Poetry Project Presentations.

 - Have a great holiday!

- Peer review each other's biographies.
- Continue to work on your poetry project by selecting a poem and beginning the proeccess of analysis. Please review this document on how to analyze a poem for details on how to fulfill each category of analysis. Have at least three categories of analysis complete for next class.
- Have at least three categories of analysis complete for next class.
 - Take up sonnet paragraphs.
- Finalize selections of poets.
- Complete your poet's biography for next class.
*** Keep track of all your sources, as the poetry project will require a bibliography.
- Complete your poet's biography for next class.

- Complete Student Surveys for this course in the additional resources section.
- Take up Sonnet questions from last class.
- Choose a poet for your project for next class. Have a second and third choice in the event that it coincides with another classmates. Disputes will be settled according to homework record.
- Research and find one example of an Italian style and English style sonnet that we have not read in class. Choose one, write a paragraph description of what it is about and identify the volta.
- Complete the sonnet exercise.
- Choose three possible poets you would like to study next class. Disputes will be settled according to homework record.
- Take-up "To His Coy Mistress" paragraphs and activities on metaphors.
- Define Iambic pentameter. Make sure you understand the meaning of meter, syllables,  foot, stressed and unstressed.
- Now read this introduction to Sonnets.
- Read Edna St. Vincent Millay's Sonnet 42. Explain whether the sonnet is Shakespearian or Petrarchan and why. Where is the volta in the poem? In a few sentences, what is the poem about?
- Find and bring one example of the type of sonnet that the one above is NOT.
 - Answer questions about Sonnet 42.
- Find and bring one example of the type of sonnet that Sonnet 42 is NOT.
- Submit corrected Hamlet essays and "To His Coy Mistress" paragraphs on Turnitin.com.
- Take-up "To His Coy Mistress Paragraphs"
 - Complete all the activities on metaphors for the next class.

- Take-up "The Fish" Questions.
- Read the childhood poems.
- Write one paragraph about what you liked about the poem, including two lines you enjoyed.
- Write one paragraph about what you found challenging or unpleasant about the poem. Choose a two line you found difficult to understand.
**Post both paragraphs on your blog.
- Read "To his Coy Mistress" by "Andrew Marvell"
- Complete two paragraphs and post them om your blog.
- Discuss the act of writing.
- Redraft your poems according to Murphy's style sheet.
 - Complete the final draft of your poem for next class and post it on your blog.
 - Complete the questions on "The Fish" for next class.
- Return "Hamlet" essays and review feedback. Corrected copies will be due on Feb. 6/7. All corrections must be made, including content chages. All corrections must be highlighted on the new versions, and you must resubmit the original paper.
- Discuss the process of recovering and recording memories.
- Meet in small groups to discuss what you wrote. Some may choose to read out loud.
- Have your childhood memory poems ready for next class.
- Complete Part I of the Childhood Poetry Writing Assignment.
Here are your three resource to look up poetic terms:
- Peer edit each other's free verse poems
- Share free verse poems.
- Write three paragraphs on the following for next class. Have both a copy on a word document and post it on your English Blog.
1) What is the theme that both these poems share. How is their treatment of the theme similar and different?
2) Discuss uses of language and structure (rhyme, stanzas, rhythm) that you enjoyed in each poem.
3) Explain which poem you liked best and why.
 - Complete three paragraphs on the two poems for next class.
- Submit your questions and answers on "Hanging Fire" to Turnitin.com.
 - Take a few minutes to discuss your findings with a partner, and then we'll have a group discussion.

- Write a minimum 8 line free verse poem that begins with "I am fourteen..." for next class.
- Have your poem prepared for next class. You may be asked to read it!
- Two of the poems in the Billy Collins TED talks:

- Complete poetry presentations.

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