Assignment 2: Literary Analysis

The major assignment for this week is to compose a 900-word essay on a central theme that appears in one of the selected readings: The Metamorphosis or The Waste Land. In this paper you will write an in-depth analysis using your own ideas, scholarly research, and excerpts from the story in the form of quotes, paraphrase, or summary. 

As you prepare to write this essay, make sure you understand what you are being asked to do. 

Pick a Topic

First, identify a topic in consultation with your instructor or write about one of the following options:

  • Compose an essay analyzing Gregor’s character and how it develops over the course of the story. Start by exploring Gregor’s identity. How does Gregor see himself, his job, his family? Has his view changed by the end of the play? Pay special attention to Gregor’s thoughts as well as to the dialogue between him and other characters. As the story progresses, Gregor becomes more isolated, and he is treated as an outcast. One way to approach this assignment is to focus on how Gregor adapts to his new and changing situation. Another is to delve into the subtopic of personal identity and family duty.  
  • Many scholars suggest that The Metamorphosis depicts the Industrial Revolution’s dehumanization of the worker—a “deadening of the soul.” Gregor’s transformation into a giant bug symbolizes his alienation from society and his loss of human self. Gregor is valued only for as long as he can work. He labors for others and has little control over his life. Analyze the story’s depiction of an industrialized society and peoples’ relationships to each other within the social structure. 
  • From its initial publication, The Waste Land was seen as Eliot’s attempt to convey the loss and destruction brought about by WWI. The poem is deliberately constructed from a series of disconnected images and allusions which Eliot calls fragments. Select three or four of these fragments or images for your analysis. What do the fragments you have selected reveal about Eliot’s view of modern Europe? How do they convey the sense of physical and cultural loss brought about by WWI?

Develop a Tentative Thesis

As you consider different options for your thesis,

  • Develop a few hypotheses about the text that are based on your own perspectives and relate to the topic that you chose to explore for this assignment.  
  • In addition to considering the text’s plot, reflect on what genre and other elements of literature (see the online lecture on this topic) reveal about the cultures and important philosophies and values associated with this era and region.
  • Review the lecture on literary movements and determine if examining other literature will shed light on your hypotheses about the literary work.   


Gather evidence that is likely to support your tentative thesis. Your evidence should consist of quotes, paraphrases, or summaries from the text.

Next, choose one of the prewriting techniques discussed in chapter 3c, “Invent and Prewrite,” of The New Century Handbook and begin prewriting. 

Rough Draft

Write your rough draft. You are not required to submit it, but you should acquire the habit of writing one for every essay you compose in this and other classes.

Revise and Edit

Proofread the rough draft to ensure that the

  • Thesis is clear and well focused and the introduction includes all the necessary information.
  • Discussion of evidence includes quotes, paraphrase, or summary and synthesizes this material and your ideas.
  • Conclusion is appropriate and reinforces the paper’s main ideas without repeating the introduction word for word.
  • Essay is formatted in APA style throughout, it uses appropriate grammar, spelling and mechanics, and quoted material does not exceed 25% of the paper. 

View this partial example of a rough draft with student notes about the thesis and topic sentences

Use this APA Citation Helper as a convenient reference for properly citing resources.

This APA formatting handout will help you set up your essay using APA style.

Name your document SU_ENG2003_W5_A2_LastName_FirstInitial.doc. By Tuesday, March 1, 2016, submit your rough draft in a Microsoft Word document to the W5: Assignment 2 Dropbox.

Assignment 2 Grading CriteriaMaximum Points
Wrote a complete introduction that engages your classmates’ interest, explains the topic, provides a detailed thesis that identifies your argument, briefly states the main evidence, and maps the paper for your audience.20
Used key passages and quotations from the text to support and defend your thesis. Supporting examples and quotations are fully analyzed. The link between the thesis and the evidence is clearly explained.40
Outside sources were effectively incorporated into the paper.20
Examined in your essay’s discussion what the text suggests about the culture, philosophies, or ideologies that influenced it.20
Organized the paper effectively with unified paragraphs, each of which has a topic sentence and effective transitions to the next paragraph.20
Provided an appropriate conclusion that reinforces the paper’s main ideas.20
Met the word requirement (900).  20
Communicated clearly using your own words for the majority of the paper with correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling throughout.20
Formatted the paper in APA style throughout, including a title page, running head, headings between sections, in-text citations, and a references page.20
Punctual Essays
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