Your task is to write a thesis-driven essay that presents a
nuanced, specific argument about a Shakespeare play we have read in this class.
There are several ways to approach writing a thesis about a
Shakespeare play. The best options usually are: choose a theme to explore (and
make an argument about it); track a character’s journey in a play (major or
minor character), making an argument about said character; or you can examine
stagecraft, tracking a prop throughout a scene or play for its implications or
reading the implications of the metatheatricality.
Whether writing about a theme or character or stagecraft,
the goal of the essay is to make a nuanced argument about your chosen topic.
For example, you shouldn’t just argue “that x is a theme in a play” but
instead, make an argument about what that theme reveals for the audience and
how it emerges in the text. If your paper does not explicate the significance
of your argument, it cannot be successful.
One good way to ensure a paper feels focused is to choose a
particular approach for examining your theme, character or stagecraft: feminist
approach, critical race theory approach, Marxist approach, postcolonial
approach, ecocritical approach, or an intersectional approach.
Christopher Sly is an obvious figure of ridicule in Taming
of the Shrew, but the high degree of farce and disguise, especially as it is
explored in the characters of Tranio, Petruchio, and the Lord, dangerously
suggest that elite masculinity is highly performative and unstable, leaving it
open to both cooptation and ridicule.
Though Portia’s interactions with props, such as the knife
and the coals, can be read a sites of agency for her character, I argue that,
through these interactions, Portia’s body is actually transformed into a prop
in order to attach audience sympathies to Brutus.
Twelfth Night particularly defies the neat comedic end of
marriages bringing a “happy ending” by having several character, such
as Antonio and Malvolio, express the desire for romantic intimacy but fail to
Essays Should have:
• Argument: Introduction paragraph ending in a nuanced, specific, and original thesis statement about the play
o A series of body paragraphs with argumentative, specific topic sentences, and clear organization of ideas both internally with a paragraph and strong logical flow across and between the paragraphs.
o A conclusion paragraph that coalesces the paper and discusses the argument’s significance.
o A clear logical flow of your argument throughout the entire paper
• Evidence: Paragraphs should be filled with quotes from the poems, at least 2-3 quotes per paragraph.
• Analysis: Clear and specific articulation of how the evidence supports the claims and overall argument of the paper.
• Style: Full sentences and paragraphs that use grammar to present ideas clearly and logically. Follow MLA Style and Formatting for citations and Works Cited.