I. Essay of Critical Analysis
Discuss an aspect of the novel, such as theme,
characterization, structure, imagery, narrative techniques,
or prose style. Possible topics for the novels follow:
- General topics. The role or treatment of women, the significance of the title, freedom of choice, violence and/or the abuse of power, the role of the family or the relationship of parents and children, the portrayal of the orphan, the effectiveness of the epistolary novel (e.g., its presentation of action and characterization), snobbery and class consciousness, portrayal of society and/or an institution, such as the justice system in Humphrey Clinker.
- Robinson Crusoe. The novel's universal appeal, Crusoe: representative of the aloneness of human beings, Crusoe: the representative of the powerlessness of human beings, Crusoe: indomitable and resourceful, Crusoe an Everyman?, Crusoe: the emotionally repressed man, Crusoe's conversion: true religion or self interest, Crusoe as economic man, Defoe's use of the journal structure, significance of the imagery of being consumed, Crusoe: self-isolating or castaway, Robinson Crusoe as spiritual autobiography.
- Joseph Andrews. The role of religion, love, chastity and/or lust, true charity, the country versus the city, the role of the narrator, Adams: moral exemplar, Joseph Andrews: the hero.
- Clarissa. The need for power and control, the effect of society's customs, rules, public opinion, and gossip on Clarissa, Lovelace's code of behavior, Lovelace's ability to love, Clarissa asexual?, Clarissa's virtue: founded in pride or in principle?, the power struggle between Clarissa and Lovelace or between Clarissa and her family, friendship, the development of Clarissa or Lovelace.
- Humphrey Clinker. The physical journey as a moral, psychological, and/or spiritual journey, the role and/or treatment of servants, appearance versus reality, precursor of the modern world or society, luxury and corruption, friendship, Matthew Bramble's development, town versus country, charity versus selfishness, hospitality, snobbery, Smollett's use of the epistolary technique, marriage, relationship of body and mind.
- Tristram Shandy. Time, cause and effect, modern quality or qualities, Tristram as character and narrator, an organized or disorganized novel, the brothers' relationship, effect of the digressions and other devices, Tristram Shandy: a novel about writing a novel?, the hobbyhorse as a characterizing device .
- Evelina. A novel of anxiety?, portrayal of the upper classes and/or the middle class, Evelina's social initiation, the necessity of and the dangers of innocence.
- A Sicilian Romance. Flight and learning, the heroine: transcending victimization, portrayal and function of servants, the consequences of unrestrained passion, the role of suffering, the functions of landscape, sensibility: a female trait?, the patriarchal relationhsip versus the martriarchal relationship, mystery and irrationality versus clarity and rationaltiy.
Or you may analyze a key scene in the novel to explore a
major theme or the nature of one or more characters, for instance, Crusoe's discovery of the footprint, Lovelace's final duel, or Evelina's first ball.
Minimum length: 1200 words.
Sample critical essays