Literary Analysis II

You’re only being asked to analyze one story, this is an opportunity to take an extremely focused approach in the analysis—narrowing your focus can give you a stronger foundation for developing your ideas. Remember that this is an academic essay: your writing must employ scholarly language and MLA or APA citation style. Be sure to have a clear thesis statement, identifiably separate body paragraphs to develop your analysis, and clear conclusion that goes beyond simply restating the main ideas. A strong organization will help deepen your analysis by revealing where you should develop your points more thoroughly. If you have questions about academic essay structure, don’t hesitate to ask.
In this essay, you are expected to do the following:
1. Select one of the themes of Postcolonial theory that you would like to explore. This will be the lens through which you look at the literature. If you’d like to continue the same theme from Essay 1, you are welcome to do that. If you’d like to choose something new, that is also fine. As before, if you would like to focus on a theme outside of our “Postcolonial themes” list, that shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s necessary to double-check with me.
2. Describe the lens and explain why you chose it for this particular literary work. What ideas can be included in that lens? Why is it a worthwhile lens for discussing the literature? Be specific.
3. Apply that lens to Heart of Darkness. This should be the bulk of your writing. How does the theme function within the story? What specific moments in the story are valuable for drawing deeper insights about the theme? Your analysis should include specific textual evidence, not simply general statements about the plot elements or characters. Ultimately, the analysis should answer this question: What does Heart of Darkness teach us about how (your chosen theme) works?

Your essay should be a Postcolonial analysis, not just a character study or a general discussion of symbols in the literature. This focus should not be difficult to maintain given that the 20th century literature we look at in this course is directly tied to actual colonial events. However, it’s worth reiterating that you are expected to apply Postcolonial theory. If you need any help working through those ideas, please ask. It’s part of my job, and I enjoy doing it.

In my experience, the most common mistake in writing about literature is to include too much plot summary. While you will obviously be referring to plot points in your analysis, your focus needs to be on analysis, not on re-telling the story. Write as though your audience is already familiar with the story: they may need a few brief reminders here and there, but they do not need you to rehash the entire plot.
You are welcome to bring outside sources into your essay, but do not over-rely on the ideas of others. Your sources should support your ideas, not stand in for your ideas. I highly recommend that you list your own ideas and insights before looking to outside sources, and that outside sources represent no more than 20% of the writing.

Attached you will find additional notes regarding accepted post colonial themes to choose from and The Heart of Darkness text.