English 178/393 Essay 2 Assignment Sheet


This essay is worth 75 points and should be at least 1000 words long (393 students should aim for at least 1250 words). The essay should be typed and double-spaced, using a 12-point professional font. It should be carefully organized around a clear, specific, and interesting thesis. The essay should demonstrate that you have given your topic thoughtful consideration, and should provide thought-provoking insight into your topic. Always use specific examples to support your claims. For this essay, you may discuss any of the texts we’ve read over the course of the semester, with the exception of those you discussed in your first essay. You may discuss other texts and/or use outside sources in this essay, but be sure to cite those outside sources correctly. Your essay must discuss at least one text we read for this class.

The essay will be evaluated according to the rubric that I will hand out separately.

Pick one of the topics below, and indicate in your essay’s header which topic you have selected. The essay is due in class on Tuesday, November 13.

Essay Topics:

1. Compare and contrast two (or more) characters, from the same text or from different texts, in terms of how the portrayal of the characters influences the theme(s) of the works. Make clear how the similarities and differences between the two characters affect each of their texts and influence the themes and the reader’s response to the characters and the text(s).

2. Compare and contrast the settings of two (or more) texts. How does the period and location in which the events of the story take place affect the text’s characters, plot, and/or theme(s)? How do changes in the place or time of a story affect the treatment of the subject matter?

3. Compare and contrast the way two (or more) texts explore the same theme, such as the meaning of “home,” good versus evil, becoming a hero, coming of age/growing up, love, or magic. How successful is each text at getting its central idea or insight across? How does each text do so? Does one text present the theme more effectively than the other?

4. Trace an element of fantasy (a fictional setting, supernatural/mythical creatures, magic, etc.) through two or more texts, and compare and contrast how that element is used in the texts you’ve chosen. How do the elements of fantasy used affect the impact of the text? Why might each writer have chosen fantasy as the genre through which to tell this particular story?

5. Discuss the portrayal of gender or race in two (or more) texts. Focus on the explicit and/or implicit portrayals in the texts, comparing and contrasting them to come to an understanding of how each work addresses the subject, and what the significance of its portrayal is.Be sure to make a specific argument.

6. Compare and contrast the role of adolescence in two of our texts. Discuss specifically what each text has to say about adolescence and/or the adolescent experience, and make an argument about the similarities and differences in the way the texts discuss the topic.

7. Compare and contrast the role of non-human species in two of our texts. It is not enough to note attributes of these species; rather, you need to make a specific argument about what the use of these species reveals about the text’s view of human nature or human identity. In other words, how do the texts use non-human species to provide insight into humanity? Make a specific argument backed up with strong evidence and analysis.

8. Compare and contrast the role of family in two of our texts. Don’t just use general observations about family. Rather, make a specific argument about what each text reveals about family. You might consider discussing how the protagonists are shaped by their families, what it means to be family, or to what extend being biologically related to someone else makes one family (or doesn’t make one family).

9. Compare and contrast one of the texts we’ve read with a work of art in a different medium that deals with similar themes. Note in what ways the pieces are similar or different, and the significance of these comparisons. You might also wish to consider how genre, medium, political view, culture or other aspects affect the similarities and differences between the two works. Back up your analysis with lots of strong evidence.

10. CREATIVE OPTION: Write a short story between 1000 and 5000 words that exemplifies your definition of fantasy. Include a cover page that states your definition of fantasy and briefly discusses how you tried to exemplify that in the story. If you need additional guidance, please feel free to consult with me! What I will be looking for when grading this story will be the links between the cover page and the story, world-building, cohesion (does it actually seem to hang together as a story?), and style.