Unit Two Essay: New Critical/Formalist Essay (without Additional Research)


By the end of this unit, you will have practiced considering how the components of a work of literature affect the literature as a whole. You may read

a short story and pay close attention to the point of view or the types of characters or the setting or an element of the structure or the tone and

style used in the author’s word choice or the symbols, or as you read, you may examine the overall idea or theme as developed through the characters’

actions and setting and symbols!

What you should notice from the prior paragraph is that you’re not reading and enjoying the literature in this and future Units like you did in Unit

One—for a reader-response to discuss the relationships between what we read to our own experiences anymore. Instead, you’re reading (and enjoying–

hopefully) the literature in Units Two-Four to make new connections. As your textbook points out on page 1571:

The aim of the new critical study of literature is to provide readers not only with the means of explaining the content of works (what, specifically,

does a work say?) but also with the insights needed for evaluating the artistic quality of individual works and writers (how well is it said?).

New Critical/Formalist Essays: A Literary Analysis

Before you begin this essay, please read pages 30-52 in your textbook as a refresher on essay drafting. You will also want to read pages 1571-1573 for

more details and example paragraphs about this essay format so you can apply the concepts from this reading in your own essay. The purpose of this

essay is to explicate or analyze a reading that you choose from the options below. You will learn about explication and analyzing during this unit. In

your textbook, each chapter on fiction (Part II) contains sample essays you should review and model. If you have questions, feel free to post them to

the Course Q&A Discussion Board.

Topic Options

You may choose one of the following works of literature to analyze for your Unit Two essay.

Short Stories: Joyce’s “Araby,” Walker’s “Everyday Use,” Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Silko’s “The Man to Send Rain Clouds,” Chopin’s, “The

Story of an Hour,” O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” Tan’s “Two Kinds,” or Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”

Not sure where to start? Which work of literature do you most enjoy in this unit? Choose to write about that one. Then, examine the chapter titles in

Part II/Fiction. Which chapter title(s) relate closest to the reasons why you enjoy the work? Read those chapters and write something about that

literary element!

Your thesis statement should be narrowly focused and unique so your analysis relates to concepts learned in Part I and Part II of the textbook.


Length: Your analytical essay should be 500-1,000 words. With this large word span, you should not go over or under this limit, so choose your topic

wisely and edit your essay effectively.

Formality: This is not a personal essay, so third person is required. First and second person writing is unacceptable. Do remember that this is a

college-level essay, so it should be written at that level of academic formality.

MLA: Standard MLA format applies to this essay. The heading and page format must comply to MLA format. You must cite your work of literature accurately

within the essay paragraphs and provide a full citation for this work at the end of your essay.

Although you may use some research for your weekly assignments to help you explicate and analyze the literature as you learn about your topic, this

essay should NOT include outside source material. The content should be derived from your own analysis, based on class discussions and your own


Grading Criteria: Please see the grading rubric in the Student Guide folder.

REMINDER: Keep in mind that you will be developing either this essay or your next essay for your Unit Four research project, so choose your topic