23 Jun To iterate, students are to choose one of the protagonists from the stories read in class (Mrs. Mallard, the narrator from ‘Sonny’s Blues,’ or Connie) and analyze that p
To iterate, students are to choose one of the protagonists from the stories read in class (Mrs. Mallard, the narrator from "Sonny's Blues," or Connie) and analyze that protagonist's character arc, which is how and why a character changes within a story. Consider first how the protagonist is initially presented then discuss how various plot events help to propel that protagonist to some kind of epiphany or self-realization by the end of the story. To
Short Fiction Analysis: Character Arc Essay
Format: Paper should be formatted according to MLA style: double-spaced, indented paragraphs, standard font (Times New Roman, standard print size (12), and margins (1”) with a unique title and proper placement of name and class information. You can view this placement within the Sample Character Arc Essay under Module 1: Week 2 or for a tutorial on how to format your paper, access the first video from
Tone and language will be appropriate for an academic audience. For this analysis, avoid the use of first person (I, me, in my opinion, etc.). It will be clear that these are your critical thoughts and ideas.
Length : 3-4 pages. You may go over the maximum, if needed, to ensure a thorough analysis.
Weight: 20% of final grade
Objective: In popular fiction—murder mysteries, dramas, and the like—many believe that plot is the most important element. However, in the literary short story, what happens in the story is driven by character. To put it simply, the main character, the protagonist, usually runs into some kind of conflict as the result of encountering an antagonist (whether a person/people or an internal conflict which can be considered antagonistic), and this conflict gives rise to a significant event or moment that changes the protagonist’s life in some way.
As discussed in the literary terms review (Module 1/ Week 1), the significant part of the character arc is how the protagonist changes from the beginning of the story to the end. These changes can be dramatic or subtle and can range from changes within the character and/or how the character views the world or others. For this essay, you will choose a main character from one of the stories discussed in the discussion boards and examine how this process works: Your paper will analyze the way this particular character functions in the story by tracing his/her character arc. What do we initially know about the character, and how do plot events affect that character and bring about an epiphany, ultimately resulting in change by the story’s end? Ultimately, your analysis will answer these questions.
Possible selections for protagonists : Mrs. Mallard (from “The Story of an Hour”), the narrator of “Sonny’s Blues,” or Connie (from “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?). Please select one of these characters.
The paper will have the following elements:
· Title for Essay: Your title will indicate the main focus of your essay. Here’s a hypothetical example: Freedom in Death: An Examination of Mrs. Mallard in Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.”
· Introduction: The introductory paragraph will engage readers, be relevant to selected story and will lead to thesis statement. (Be sure to identify the story and its author somewhere in this paragraph.) Short story titles are placed in quotation marks. Once you introduce the author by full name, subsequent references can be by last name only. Do not use the first name of the author as this is too informal—i.e. Kate writes…. (revised: Chopin writes…)
· Thesis statement: You will state a thesis (usually) at the end of the introduction, a one to three sentence statement that sums up the main focus of your paper and is indicative of the objective of characterization. This thesis will make a claim about the character and his or her role in the story.
In Anthony Bartlett’s “Night,” William’s violent and tragic past so consumes him that, as an adult, he refuses to trust or love anyone and ultimately lives a lonely, bitter life. This serves to emphasize the author’s message that______________. (give indication of theme or themes).
So, here, this thesis is indicating an analysis of William’s former life and what happened to him and how it changed him as an adult, thus reinforcing the objective of character arc. The thesis also connects this arc with the author’s theme(s).
Because of various, often dramatic events, the heroine in Stephanie Dodd’s “See Me” undergoes a significant epiphany by the end of the narrative. This self-actualization demonstrates the author’s intention to____________________. (give indication of theme or themes).
So here, the thesis indicates that an analysis of certain events and how it affected the protagonist and changed her will be presented, thus reinforcing the objective of character arc. The thesis also connects this arc with the author’s theme(s).
For your thesis, do not use first person or what is known as the announcement tone—i.e. “In this paper, I will…”
· Supporting body paragraphs: The body paragraphs will focus on how the protagonist is initially presented to readers (traits, beliefs etc.) and will identify and analyze how certain plot events lead to a change of some kind within the character by the end of the story. In other words, readers will be presented with an initial portrait of the character but then the protagonist’s character arc will be traced. Plot events will be discussed and analyzed in terms of how they are affecting the character and how it leads to an ultimate change. The body of your essay should NOT just be a summary of the story. Yes, you will mention significant plot events, but then go beyond identification to analyze how these plot events are affecting the protagonist (whether it be mentally, emotionally, physically or a combination thereof). The number of body paragraphs you will need will be dictated by your story/protagonist selection.
· Each body paragraph of the paper will begin with a clear topic sentence and content of the paragraph will include textual support from the text to support your analysis.
· Conclusion: Your concluding paragraph will begin by re-examining/reiterating the thesis (use slightly different diction for this than what was presented in the introduction) and then reflect on how this epiphany emphasizes the theme/message of the story and if said theme/message is universal in nature, thus resonating with readers.
· Citations from story: When quoting directly, please cite a paragraph number if writing about “The Story of an Hour,” a publication page number if using “Sonny’s Blues,” and no parenthetical citations are needed for “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?” since the document does not provide stable page numbers from the story. (Note: Try not to “over-quote.” Select direct quotations that best support your thesis, points made about the character arc, and avoid extended quotes (more than four typed lines). Consider working quoted words and phrases neatly into your own sentences through the use of a signal phrase i.e. Finally, Mrs. Mallard says her first words “over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!”(par.11 ). Another way to integrate a quote is to introduce it with a full signal sentence, followed by a colon, then the extracted quote—i.e. Finally, Mrs. Mallard abandons her fear and embraces her epiphany: “But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome” (par. 13). Please follow the conventional MLA placement of period outside of the parenthetical citation which contains a page number.
*The MLA abbreviations to be used if citing a paragraph number or page number:
(par. 4). This indicates paragraph 4.
(143). This indicates a publication page number.
· There is no research required for this story. This essay should be your own unique analysis, originating from you and not outside sources. Please avoid going online to unreliable websites such as Sparknotes, Bookrags, Schmoop, Course Hero, “help with essays” sites and Wikipedia. These sites are not deemed as scholastic sources. Your essay should be your own critical insights. Because you will be using only one source (your selected story), you do not need a Works Cited page. SCROLL
· If you absolutely believe that outside research is merited, you should document your sources with in-text citations and a Works Cited that presents these sources using MLA style of documentation. Please email me if you have any questions about the literature or documentation. If there is any evidence of plagiarism within the essay, the essay will receive a failing grade. Refer to plagiarism policy in our Syllabus.
The rubric that will be used to assess this assignment is below:
RUBRIC: Analytical Essay on Fiction: Characterization & Character Arc ENGL 1020
*Please see the rubric section that corresponds to your assessment. The rubric assessment/percentage that a student is given is the one which best fits/describes the quality of the submission.
In general, a solid “A” paper will receive a 95 (anything above a 95 is generally considered superior), an A- paper will receive a 93 and so forth. Percentages may be higher or lower depending on quality of content/mechanics and will be clarified through professor’s brief notes:
Instructor’s brief notes:
Intro and Thesis: Introduction presents a clear, appropriate lead-in to thesis and holds appeal for a wide audience; work to be discussed and author’s name is presented. Thesis is well crafted and clearly indicates, explicitly or implicitly, the analytical direction of the characterization. Announcement tone and use of first person is avoided in thesis.
Organization: overall, strong organization with effective topic sentences and transitions; contains clear introduction, body paragraphs, and satisfying conclusion. Content: a thoughtful, in-depth essay which addresses and supports thesis and is developed through skillful and varied diction; paraphrases and direct quotes from text are skillfully woven into the work. Diction and tone: employs precise choices of vocabulary; tone demonstrates a high degree of audience awareness. Mechanics: sophisticated sentence structure, demonstrating a command of subordination and parallelism; contains very few (or no) errors, showing a mastery of the conventions of written English. Adheres to formatting: double-spaced indented paragraphs; page length is adhered to; direct quotes are documented by parenthetical indication of page number.
Intro and Thesis: Overall, introduction is clear, but may need to be more engaging for a wide audience. Thesis is effective (but may need slight revision in some instances).
Author and work to be discussed is presented.
Organization: Overall, clear organization but slight revision may be needed with effective topic sentences and transitions as well as with creating in-depth intro and conclusion. Content: a good response which addresses the analytical strategy of characterization and is developed through effective diction and integrated direct quotes, although some content areas may need more development.
Diction and tone: employs a good vocabulary which may be less precise than a superior paper but are still appropriate; tone demonstrates audience awareness. Mechanics: while sentence structure may be less sophisticated than a superior paper, it is still effective; may contain a few agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization errors which may distract slightly from content. Adheres to formatting: double-spaced indented paragraphs; page length is adhered to; direct quotes are properly documented by parenthetical indication of page number.
Intro and Thesis: Intro may not be suitable for a wide audience and may lack interest/appeal; thesis needs revision to more clearly indicate analytical direction of essay. The author and work to be discussed may be lacking.
Organization: essay follows basic principles of organization, but topic sentences may be inconsistent, and transitions may be weak; some paragraphs may lack unity and need more development.
Content: a satisfactory response which attempts to address the analytical strategy of characterization; the diction and textual support (direct quotes) is apparent, though the inclusion of some quotes may be awkward, may lack relevance or may be repetitive. Some points in body of essay may lack development and support. Diction and tone: employs generalized vocabulary which may be less precise than a strong paper; audience awareness may be weak. Mechanics: sentence structure is adequate, but may be noticeably simpler than in the categories above; contains errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization which distracts from content. Adherence to essay formatting and page length requirement may be inconsistent. Documentation of direct quotes may be either inconsistent or lacking.
Intro and Thesis: Intro is not suitable for analytical strategy and appeal for audience is lacking; thesis is unclear and needs significant improvement. Author and work to be discussed are lacking.
Organization: essay may have significant problems with organization, topic sentences, and transitions; coherence may be weak Content: the response makes a weak attempt to address the analytical strategy of characterization and some parts may not correspond; use of varied diction and support (direct quotes) may be lacking or underdeveloped. Diction and tone: vocabulary is too general and vague; may have some usage errors; may lack audience awareness. Mechanics: sentence structure is often awkward; may lack subordination and parallelism; contains enough errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization to be distracting. Essay may not adhere to proper formatting and page length may not be met. Documentation of direct quotes is lacking or inconsistent.
Intro and Thesis: Intro is either too brief and/or is not relevant to essay and thesis is poorly presented or lacking. Author and work to be discussed are lacking.
Organization: essay is disorganized; lacks or has ineffective topic sentences and transitions. Content: fails to address the analytical strategy ; lacks varied diction and integrated support (direct quotes) ; is too brief and underdeveloped. Diction and tone: vocabulary is very basic; may use words inappropriately; lacks audience awareness. Mechanics: sentence structures are overly simple or have confusing structure with excessive coordination; contains distracting errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization; meaning may be difficult to determine. Essay’s formatting is inconsistent or lacking; page length not met; documentation of direct quotes is lacking.
The Story of an Hour
by Kate Chopin
Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death.
It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband’s friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of “killed.” He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.
She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.
There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.
She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.
There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.
She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.
She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.
Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will—as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.
When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!” The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.
She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial.
She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.
There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow- creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.
And yet she had loved him—sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!
“Free! Body and soul free!” she kept whispering.
Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. “Louise, open the door! I beg; open the door—you will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven’s sake open the door.”
“Go away. I am not making myself ill.” No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.
Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.
She arose at length and opened the door to her sister’s importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister’s waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.
Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry; at Richards’ quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.
But Richards was too late.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of joy that kills.
Kate Chopin wrote “The Story of an Hour” on April 19, 1894. It was first published in Vogue (the same magazine that is sold today) on December 6, 1894, under the title “The Dream of an Hour.” It was reprinted in St. Louis Life on January 5, 1895, with two changes that are included in this version of the story. One of those change adds the word “her” to the first sentence of paragraph 14.
You can find additional accurate information about “The Story of an Hour,” about other Kate Chopin stories, about Chopin’s two novels , about her themes, and about her life at many places on this website.