Thematic Analysis of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Answer this question – “What is this story about?” Book: Pride and Prejudice; by Jane Austen Pick ONE thing – JUST ONE – as the theme of the text and explore how that theme is developed and explored in the story. Do not say “Story A is about X, Y and Z and  talk about all of those things in a paragraph apiece.” NO. Say instead “Story A is about X and  discuss X as it appears in the text for 5-8 pages” (well you wouldn’t say that, but you get my drift). ONE THING. Do not talk about the plot (although that is important and should be discussed in the context of your answer – but NO extensive PLOT SUMMARIES, this is not a book report), but what is the text REALLY about thematically. What is hidden between the lines, or, on the bottom of Hemingway’s iceburg? For example, take Le Guin’s “Omelas”- is it about the ones who walk away, the tortured child, the ones who stay, society itself, the nature of guilt or freedom, or something else entirely? That is for you to decide…and to explain. If you wish to use outside secondary sources for this paper (such as academic criticism) you may, but it is not required (and if you do you must cite it properly, of course). Always use quotes from the text to back up your analysis. Because this is English Literature and not science or mathematics, there is no easy answer. For those who don’t think they can get 5-8 pages out of one topic, just consider when doing an analysis: Characters: What kind of people does the story deal with? How do they interact with each other and how does that effect the story? Motivation: Why do the characters behave as they do, and what motives dominate them? Plot: What do the characters do? Are they in control of their lives, or are they controlled by fate? Tone: What kind of voice does the narrator of the story use? How does that effect how you read it, and what the story wants us to feel or believe? In addition, how does the author get his point across? Direct statements? Imagery and symbolism (think of the changing dress colors in “The Dandelion Girl”)? A character’s thoughts or statements (think of the conversation in “Hills Like White Elephants”?) A character who stands for something e.g. an archetype (think of the child in Omelas as that society’s scapegoat?) Even in the briefest of stories there is a lot to be mined. Go for it. Just remember, the paper should be designed just like any other essay – it should have an introduction, with a thesis statement (which could be as simple as “Hills Like White Elephants is fundamentally a story about abortion…or the destruction of a relationship…or two people in Spain having a beer). If you include summary of the story of the facts of the story it should be no more than a paragraph. Most of the paper should be your analysis (your response). Body paragraphs that provide examples from within the text, and a conclusion that summarizes your thoughts and offers some final reflections. TIPS: • Remember to use the present tense, throughout the paper. For instance, you would never say “X said that” but instead “X says this”, in your response. You don’t say that “He/she believed” (past) or “He/she will believe” (future) but “He/she believes that X….” (present). “Is” and “are” are the present, “was” and “were” are the past, “will be” is the future. ALWAYS use present and be consistent about it throughout your paper. • In MLA, names of short stories are in quotations marks as in “The Last Leaf”, names of novels and books are in italics as in Murder on the Orient Express. The paper should be formatted correctly. • Use names of characters, if you know them, and not just he or she. You want the reader to know who you are talking about.

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