English 101 Final Exam

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For the following story and poem, write a full discussion of each (separately) in which you examine the various literary devices (the ones in your list of literary terms) used to craft the overall theme of each work.

STORY: THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson

POEM: LADY LAZARUS by Silvia Plath

Literary Terms (You should be able to define or recognize a definition for each of these terms, and be able to give examples of each from the texts you have read):

Theme: the overall idea of a work, such as love, death, fight for equality, education, etc.

Symbol: something tangible that stands for or represents something intangible, such as a heart for love, a skeleton for death, a vehicle for experience, etc. Symbols help create the overall theme of a work.

Character types:

round: A round character is one that is fully developed, and that we know a lot about as readers.

flat: A flat character is underdeveloped and often represents either an unimportant character or a stereotype.

static: A static character is one that doesn’t change or develop throughout the story, or as a result of experience.

dynamic: A dynamic character changes throughout the story.

foil: A foil exists to turn the focus of the reader back to the main character, or protagonist, or back to the main character’s personality characteristics.

protagonist: the main character, but not necessarily the “good guy”. Some stories don’t have a clear “good guy” or “bad guy”, but they will have a protagonist.

antagonist: The character who is either opposite of the protagonist, or in opposition to the protagonist. Not necessarily a “bad guy”.

setting: The setting is the WHEN and WHERE that a story takes place. It might include the physical surroundings (in a house, in the woods, etc.) AND the time (at 9am, in the middle of a cold winter, in 1943). The historical events that took place during the time period of the setting are also important. Even if they do not figure specifically into the story, they can help explain character behaviors.

allusion: (NOT “illusion”): this is a reference in one literary work to another well known work of literature or art. For example, if a story describes a character as “slithering and deceitful, just like the day he first met Eve”, this would be an allusion to the Bible’s story of Satan and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Allusions can be to something like Shakespeare, a famous speech or song, a painting, etc.

Freytag’s Pyramid: This is a way to plot the storyline. It begins with the inciting even (what starts the action), moves to the rising action, culminates in the climax of the story, moves into the falling action, then ends with the denouement or resolution where any loose ends are tied up or explained. Some stories will have each of the elements found on Freytag’s Pyramid, while others might be missing some.

To complete this, you need to do the following:

1. First, establish what you believe to be the main theme of the story or poem. For example, you might choose to state that the theme is “love”, or “death”, or you might be more specific and state that the theme is “choosing the person to share life with”. Either approach is fine with me.

2. Once you establish the theme, you need to identify what elements of the story and poem help create that theme. The author will have chosen specific literary devices to create and support the theme. For example, if you were to state that independence is a theme in Disney’s Little Mermaid, you would then identify and explain the literary devices that help create this. You might choose character development and discuss what a round, dynamic character is in general, then use specific examples from the story of Ariel’s development as a character. To do this, you would describe specific examples of her interactions with other characters, and so on.

3. After you have fully discussed (identified, described, and supported with examples) the use of literary devices to create the theme, you can wrap up your discussion.

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