Research Essay Paper

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Research Paper Assignment Packet: Character Analysis

Resource: Introduction to Literature: Custom Textbook for Professor Sharon Race


Write a research paper (500-750 words) which analyzes one of the characters listed below from a short story we have read in this course.Your essay will answer this question: What two major personality traits does the character exhibit within the short story? Your paper will point out and explain two qualities that significantly define who this fictional person is.

Choose ONE of these characters for your character analysis:

Sammy in “A & P”

Queenie in “A & P”

Montresor in “The Cask of Amontillado”

Fortunato in “The Cask of Amontillado”

Miss Emily Grierson in “A Rose for Emily”

The grandmother in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

The Misfit in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

Jig in “Hills Like White Elephants”

The American in “Hills Like White Elephants”

I am interested in your personal and reasonable analysis of two significant traits of your character. Base your analysis on the evidence in the short story, and include insights from at least two other critics. You may also use the PowerPoint lesson as an optional fourth resource for this essay.

Requirements of the Research Paper:

  1. The essay will present a thesis statement in the introduction, and the body paragraphs of the essay should provide evidence from the story and from at least two other sources to prove or illustrate your thesis.
  2. The essay must use at least three sources, and they must be the following:
    1. Required First Source: the short story itself
    2. Required Second Source: a database article from online SPC Library databases, such as Academic Search Complete or Literature Resource Center.
    3. Required Third Source: another database article from online SPC Library databases, such as Academic Search Complete or Literature Resource Center.
    4. Optional Fourth Source: another database article or my PowerPoint lesson over the short story
  3. Use MLA 8th edition (2016) format and documentation style for this research paper, with in-text parenthetical citations and a works cited page. Use the MLA 8 (2016) Style link under Course Tools in our Blackboard course that takes you to the Purdue OWL MLA formatting guide.
  4. The essay must contain at least four direct quotations from the short story.
  5. The essay must contain at least two other direct quotations or paraphrases from two separate database articles.
  6. The last page of the paper will be a Works Cited page, which lists the short story as your primary source, at least two database articles as secondary sources, and possibly my PowerPoint as a secondary source.
  7. Originality report when you submit the paper should be no higher than 40%. The paper should be 500-750 words, not including the works cited page.

How to Create the Research Paper

  1. First, study carefully these resources at the end of this packet:

  • Diagram of the Structure of a Character Analysis Essay, page 6 (this diagram shows exactly what you should include in your introductory paragraph, the body paragraphs, and the concluding paragraph)
  • Model Character Research Paper, last four pages of packet (notice the thesis statement, topic sentences, and restated thesis, and also study the works cited page)
  1. Read the section on character in short stories, page 3 in Introduction to Literature: Custom Textbook for Professor Sharon Race. Pay special attention to the devices writers use to develop characters. You may also want to review the course PowerPoint on “Characters: The People in Fiction.”
  1. Choose a character from the list of options on page one who interests you, or one whose personality you would like to explore in greater depth.
  1. Study your character to discover two significant traits. Like people, fictional characters have personality traits that they exhibit in the course of a work. Character traits are attitudes or behaviors that reflect one’s personality.For example, like people, characters may be brave, cowardly, supportive, sarcastic, domineering, submissive, cold, loving, passive, aggressive, open-minded, prejudiced, naïve, sophisticated, admirable, pitiable, proud, humble, strong, weak, patient, manipulative, dishonest, selfish, generous, stingy, patient, wise, foolish, gullible, violent, snobbish, and so on.To create these qualities, authors use a variety of methods of characterization.Consider the following questions to help identify two important traits of your chosen character (consider yourself a literary detective and take notes as you search for evidence in the story to support a particular trait):
    1. Does the character’s physical description help convey a character trait? (ex. the physical description of Phoenix Jackson conveys her frail physical state)
    2. Does the character’s name give insight into the kind of person he or she is? (ex. What do these characters’ names reveal about them: The Misfit, Phoenix, Fortunato?)
    3. What actions or choices by the character reveal a particular trait? (ex. Fortunato’s pride is revealed when he disregards his health to continue into the catacombs and demonstrate his wine expertise to Montresor.)
    4. Which speeches or conversations reveal a particular character trait? (ex. What is a statement the grandmother makes in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” that illustrates her racial prejudice?)
    5. What traits are revealed through your character’s thoughts and feelings, or what you know of your character’s past? (Ex. We learn that Minnie Wright was a lively, outgoing person before her marriage).
    6. What are the causes of your character’s actions, choices, or thoughts and feelings?
    7. What changes, if any, does your character undergo in the course of the work?
    8. What points of likeness or difference exist between your character and another character in the work?
    9. What do we learn about your character through what the other characters or the narrator say about him or her?
  1. Create a thesis for your essay.The thesis is your central argument or assertion about your character.Write your thesis and essay as an answer to this question: What two major personality traits does the character exhibit throughout the work?

Sample Thesis:

Mme. Mathilde Loisel brings about her own fate through her frustration with her life and her deceptiveness.

Character: Mme. Mathilde Loisel
Trait 1: frustration with her life

Trait 2: deceptiveness

  1. To develop the two character traits, you must use three required sources, one of which is the short story, your primary source. Your other two required sources must be journal articles from an SPC library database, such as Academic Search Complete, Academic OneFile, or Literature Resource Center.An optional fourth source is my PowerPoint lesson for the story.You are not permitted to use any other kinds of sources! So now it’s time to do some research! Go to Handouts in our Blackboard course, and find the document called “Doing Academic Research Using Library Databases.” This short lesson explains what library databases are and explains step-by-step how to use them to find the two required database articles for your research paper.
  1. Locate specific pages and quotations in the short story and from the two database articles that prove, explain, and illustrate the two personality traits (thesis points) you have chosen.It’s especially important that you use evidence from the story to support your thesis. Remember you must include at least four direction quotations from the story, as well as two direct quotations from two separate database journal articles.
  1. Cover each character trait in a separate body paragraph of the paper.
  1. Use the diagram on page 6 and the “Character Research Paper Plan Sheet” on page 7 to organize and plan your essay, but you do not have to submit it with the essay. When developing the body paragraphs, remember that the explanation sections are the most important.Consider how the quotations or details from the story illustrate or reinforce a particular trait.If, for example, you say a character is dishonest and then quote a character telling a lie, you must explain HOW and WHY this behavior shows that she is deceptive.
  1. Conclude your essay by restating the two traits you have analyzed about the character and by emphasizing the importance or the significance of the character in the work as a whole.

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