General Guidelines for this literary analysis:
An analytic paper is devoted to textual analysis, not summary; it cites carefully chosen examples from the reading(s) in support of a specific argument about them. An argument is not simply descriptive (a statement of facts) – it takes a position on a debatable point – a thesis – which is based on textual interpretation (and which could conceivably be argued another way). The thesis embodies the central message of your paper. It should be stated clearly within your introduction (usually at or near the end of the first paragraph).
The best analogy to writing a good analytic paper is a lawyer arguing a case in court. Both the lawyer and paper writer must build a carefully constructed argument to prove the validity of a debatable point. The topic and text you are investigating is your “client”; your client’s “plea” – guilty or innocent of what specific charges – is your thesis.
Like a good lawyer, you should begin with an opening statement (the introductory paragraph) which fully articulates your thesis and indicates how you will organize your argument. While your opening paragraph should not get into the specific examples you will discuss in the body of your paper, it should indicate what kinds of evidence you will .use to make your case.
Thus, the introductory paragraph is more than a statement of topic — it should clearly state what interpretation you are defending and sketch out the parameters (but not the details) of the argument you will make to prove the validity of that interpretation. This information should NOT be saved for your conclusion or revealed gradually, one idea at a time, in the body of your paper – it should be fully articulated UP FRONT, letting your reader know where the paper is going and how you intend to argue your case. As you articulate your argument (a sort of narrative outline of your paper), make sure its organization is dictated by logic, not by the order in which passages or events occur in the text you are writing about. You should be able to generate topic sentences for each paragraph of the completed paper, in order, from what you say in your introduction.
Do not begin your paper with truisms, statements of personal philosophy, generalities, or examples from modern life; get to your point, which is an interpretation of the primary texts. You have a limited amount of space in which to make your case; don’t waste it on a “hook.” (You already have my full attention.) Avoid using the first or second person (I, we, you) in constructing your argument, which should be presented as objectively as possible. First-and second person- references are conversational in tone, inappropriate for this type of formal expository writing. Moreover, they undermine the rhetorical efficacy of your argument. First-person references (“I believe,” “I think,” “we see”) imply subjectivity; if your paper is simply a statement of personal opinion, what makes it more valid than opposing viewpoints? A tone of objective neutrality is rhetorically more effective in convincing the reader of the validity of your argument.
Working from one of the following prompt, write a literary analysis that is 3 to 4 pages (your introduction should be no longer than 400 words). Be sure to have a conclusion paragraph. You may have several body paragraphs, depending upon your concentration on the topics.
Be sure to write in the present tense when referring to literature.
Please discuss the fusion of pagan and Christian elements in “The Dream of the Rood” In order to keep this analysis from being purely descriptive, be sure to have a thesis concerning what the authors are trying to achieve and why the familiar story of the Crucifixion must be changed to make them relevant to that target audience. Elements to consider: the characterization of Christ; the way the Rood (Cross) and other protagonists in the tales of that period caught pagan and Christian beliefs.


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