1. Analyze a single character or compare characters, including studies of motivation, behavior, interaction with other characters, psychology, etc. Answer questions such as "Why?" and "How?"

2. Discuss the function of important symbols in the story, play, or poem. How do these symbols set up a pattern that points to theme?

3. Analyze the appeal and effect of imagery in a literary work. How do these images enhance our pleasure and understanding of the story and its theme?

4. Notice such details as colors and names of characters (or lack of names) and how they function to underscore the character, theme, or conflict.

5. Discuss the point of view of a story: why did the author choose this angle or central consciousness; how does it filter the story; how would the story change if told from a different point of view (don't just simply say that it would); what is the total effect on the story and on the reader?

6. Analyze aspects of setting (both time and place) that contribute to characterization, mood, theme, conflict, etc. How important is the setting? Why did the author choose that setting? What is its overall effect?

7. Analyze aspects of the author's tone (attitude) and style: satirical or ironic? Angry or sad? Elevated or concrete diction? Interesting sentence patterns? Effective use of imagery? What are the effects of tone and style on one's appreciation of the literary work?

8. What is the central conflict of the story? Analyze its development and outcome, showing how it underscores the character and theme. But DO NOT write a plot summary.

9. Analyze the theme of the literary work: how does the author arrive at this theme? Does it express a universal truth (the story may simply have as its goal pure entertainment, but it still can have a theme, albeit perhaps not as "heavy"). What characters, symbols, or other devices lead to this theme?

10. If you have time, compare/contrast themes, characters, symbols, approaches in works by the same author; or two works by separate authors. Be sure if you do that you run your comparisons point by point.

REMEMBER: Always give me a change to go over your topic with you. If you want to do something else, talk to me and I will work with you. You MUST let me see your thesis and outline a week ahead of time. Do not try to do more than one or two of these topics in a single paper: that is too broad a focus for such a short study.


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