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Theme Analysis Term Paper

If you’ve been asked to analyze a piece of literature, try following these steps:

  1. Identify the author's purpose.  Ask yourself, what theme or main idea did the author want the reader to understand after he or she had finished reading?
  2. Think of the characters, tone, setting, rhythm, plot, imagery, etc. as devices or tools that help ensure that the reader "gets" the meaning that the writer intended him or her to learn.
  3. Ask yourself, why did the author choose to use these devices, in these particular ways?  How does this kind of character, plot event, or type of imagery help the reader understand the theme?
    Remember, tell us how & why—don’t just summarize!

Need an example?      

Sample Story

Summary

Analysis!

Robin Hood

Robin Hood stole goods and money from the rich residents of his town to give to the town’s poorer residents. 

The use of a monarchy or kingdom setting in Robin Hood allowed the author to portray the abuses of power that often occur among the wealthiest members of a community.

Snow WhiteSnow White falls into a deep, death-like slumber when she takes a bite of a poisoned apple.  The use of certain plot elements in Snow White, such as the poisoned apple and resulting slumber, help readers understand that being too trusting can lead to dire consequences.  
CinderellaCinderella tells the story of a young girl whose evil stepmother tries to keep her from her true love. The author of Cinderella paired lazy female characters with a hard–working female protagonist to show that hard work leads to love and happiness. 

Sample Papers

Dr. Obermeier'sSample Paper Files

You are advised to peruse these sample papers previous students have written for my classes. The papers are either pdf files or HTML files, in which I have embedded comments to explain why they are superior efforts. The comments refer to the following sentence, phrase, or word. Clicking on the comment link will bring up the content. You have to close a comment window before proceeding to the next one. Clicking on the header will give you instructions on how to make such a running header for your papers. Because of HTML restrictions, the formatting might appear slightly off. You still need to keep your papers double-spaced with 1/2-inch paragraph indent. Even if there is no specific explanation for a specific paper, the papers generally share the following superior qualities: descriptive and analytical titles; analytical theses; superior analysis of the texts; correct inclusion of quotations and formatting.

For instructions on how to do a running header for your paper in MS Word, click here.

Click on your class in the lineup.

 

For Engl. 250

  • Paper 1 "Sheppard" Characterization
          • This paper has it all: outstanding thought and content, excellent organization, superior sentence structure and diction. This student's command of the language is superb. A few minor problems could have been edited out. The paper received the grade of 96/A.

  • Paper 1 "Girl" Characterization
          • This paper is an excellent example of superior analysis coupled with stylistic economy and succinctness that avoid anything superfluous. The introduction and organization deserve high praise. The paper received the grade of 96/A.
  • Paper 2 Explication of "Sonnet 46"
          • This explication of a Shakespeare sonnet is superbly done. The student outstandingly fused the analysis of the poem with an excellent and virtually error-free style. The paper received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 2 Explication of "Sonnet 42"
          • This is a very good example of a Shakespeare sonnet explication. The student clearly understands the nuances of the sonnet, with great sections on metrical discussion. The paper received 94/A.

            Here are the high-scoring essays for our assignment two. Per announcement in class, these uploads are not following the format as faithfully. I just wanted to get you the info without having to worry about getting everything lined up to MLA standards. Note also that I am providing these examples for the sophistication of the explication, the students' knowledge of technical aspects and detail of analysis; the essays, however, may still contain other weaknesses.

  • Paper 3 Explication of "The Victim at Aulis"
          • The student provides a superbly analyzed and written thematic poetry explication. Notice that the paper is organized around the student's thesis, ie., the major players in the myth and the poem, and not just the chronology of the paper. The paper received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 3 Explication of "Cassandra"
          • This paper is an excellent example of a thematic poetry explication, demonstrating superb intertextual understanding and control of the primary texts. Note the student's concise and honed style. The paper received the grade of 96/A.
  • Paper 4 Synthesis of Millay Poems
          • This paper offers a beautiful synthesis not only of three poems but also two critical approaches: Feminist and Freudian. It is almost flawlessly written and received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 4 Synthesis of Mythology Poems
          • The paper is up, but I am still working on the comments..
  • Paper 5 Shrew Research Paper
          • This is an exquisite research paper utilizing a postmodern approach to Taming of the Shrew. Notice that the critical approach is incorporated into the paper; therefore, there is no extra Barry page. The paper received 98/A+. Sorry, no comment boxes yet.
  • Paper 5 Yankee Research Paper
          • This is another outstanding research paper. It shows the incorporation of the research especially well. Notice that the Barry page is appended after the works cited page.The paper received 98/A+. Sorry, no comment boxes yet.
      • Return to Student Resources Page

For Engl. 304

 

For Engl. 306

For Engl. 351

Paper 1a here was written for Chaucer's Canterbury Tales but also works for Love Visions. To save time, I did not create javascript comment boxes but inserted my comments in square brackets into the actual paper. Notice that the paper has all the aspects an outstanding paper should: original thought and analysis, clear organization and thesis, interesting intro, correct sentence structure, superior diction, and mostly correct MLA format. The paper received a score of 98/A+. Clicking on the header will give you instructions on how to make such a running header for your papers. Because of HTML restrictions, the formatting might appear slightly off. You still need to keep your papers double-spaced with 1/2-inch paragraph and 1-inch block quotation indents. Papers 2a and 2b were written for the shorter Love Visions assignment, 2c for the longer paper; these papers have no comments in them and are in pdf.

For Engl 449/559

For Engl 450/550

For Engl 451/551

For Engl 581

For Engl 650