Analysis of Narrative Techniques

Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of one of the following short stories: Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mark of the Beast,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” Select ONE of those three stories and evaluate how effectively it uses narrative techniques (plot structure, characterization, point of view, style, and so on) to create a satisfying experience for its reader. Your essay should be about 2-3 pages (500-800 words).

Concentrate on the experience the story provides and on what about that experience seems either admirable or inferior to you. Support your evaluation by a close, careful analysis of the story. Find concrete details to support every claim you make.

Your paper must have a thesis (an idea you intend to prove or demonstrate) and you must support your thesis with detailed evidence from the text; with very few exceptions, your evidence will consist of direct quotations from the story.

Although your analysis can address many different narrative techniques, you may want to focus on just the one or two techniques you find most crucial. Analyze those techniques carefully and precisely; figure out how they work and what they contribute to the story.

Everything you say in your analysis must relate directly to the actual words of the text. Do not get sidetracked; stick with the words. Focus on analyzing a particular story, not on short stories in general, or the culture that produced them, or on the moral messages they may or may not contain, or on anything else but the story in front of you.

Since you are writing for an audience who has already read and understood the story you will analyze, do not waste any time on plot summary or paraphrase.

Make your writing clear, concise, specific, and engaging. Don’t waste my time and yours trying to sound impressive. Make every word count.

In evaluating your essay, I will focus on the intelligence and specificity of your ideas, the precision of your analyses, the clarity of your prose, and the originality and persuasiveness of your thesis.

Your only source for this essay will be the text of your chosen story. You can find You can find “The Mark of the Beast,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “Young Goodman Brown” on the class website under Readings. (See You may download the stories from there or use another printed text of them to refer to in your essay. In either case, you must have a Work Cited page with proper bibliographic information on the text and parenthetical references with page numbers. Use proper MLA style for formatting your document. (See “Document Format,” “Anatomy of a Citation,” and “How to Quote Prose.”)

Due: October 1
Bring THREE copies of your essay to class for Peer Critiques.

Revision Due: October 11
Bring your Revised Draft, your Initial Draft with my comments on it, and all the Peer Critiques you received to class in a folder with your name on the front cover.

Page Last Updated: 10 December 2011