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For our first paper, each of you will write a an essay that answers one of the following questions about Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:

  • Hyde can be seen as the monstrous side of human existence. Using strong textual evidence, demonstrate that Hyde embodies something other than the socially accepted version of what it means to be human OR that he is simply the dark reflection of the ugly side of humanity.
  • Stevenson's novel relies on vivid descriptions to achieve a particularly disturbing atmosphere in the text. Using strong textual examples, explain how key descriptions help to shape the reader's reactions and how these reactions support a specific thematic goal of Stevenson. This topic will require you to link the effects of descriptions to a clearly defined theme or issue in the novel selected by you.
  • Hyde is often seen as the "villain" of the text, but to what degree is Dr. Jekyll truly at fault? Make a case that Jekyll is either a victim or the villain in the text.
  • Open topic: offer a specific interpretation of the text that has a clear point and must be proven through intense textual analysis. Potential areas of discussion include addiction, psychology, science, social class, and more.

Expectations of a successful paper:

  • Your introductory paragraph will identify the author, the title of the text, and a clear thesis about the text that informs the reader of the topic your argument specifically addresses and the point you are trying to make about that topic. It should lay out at three-to-five major points you will address in the paper, and it should end with a strong "springboard" statement that offers the reader a clear connection between the paragraphs that are to follow.
  • The opening line of your introduction should not simply state a biographical fact about the novel, but rather hook the reader with an issue that your discussion of the text will address. Most folks include the author and title of the text under discussion in the first sentence of a literary paper.
  • Each of the body paragraphs should have a clear introduction that identifies the specific point being made and the connection to the overall argument of the paper. Each paragraph should also offer at least one quote from the text for analysis, complete with a proper MLA-style parenthetical citation, a signal phrase, and discussion after each quote that uses the quote as evidence to support the paragraph's thesis.
  • At least one block quote should be used from the novel that takes a large chunk of text and presents it for analysis. See A Writer's Reference for a review of how to properly format a block quote.
  • The conclusion should tie together all of the major points of the body paragraphs and synthesize the evidence to expand the thesis statement into a more significant final point.
  • The paper should have a works cited page, properly formatted, with at least one entry for the novel that reflects an MLA citation that includes the republishing information, the introduction, and afterword.
  • The paper should be between 3 to 4.5 pages long. No more, no less.
  • The paper should follow the MLA style guidelines at the end of the MLA section in A Writer's Reference. All margins should be 1" and the font should be 12pt Times New Roman.
  • The paper should be free of plagiarism and should not reflect the contents of Spark Notes or similar sites.

Skills required for this assignment:

  • Ability to follow format.
  • Ability to use a handbook to document sources in a properly formatted works cited page.
  • Constructing a strong introduction.
  • Use of signal phrases for quotes.
  • Proper placement and punctuation of parenthetical citations.
  • Short and long quote mechanics.
  • Textual analysis.
  • Argumentation and analysis.
  • Use of drafts to promote deep revision, effective editing, and a strong final product.
  • Peer review skills.

Special Concerns about the Paper:

  • The full title of the novel is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Note that the title is in italics because it's a longer work (a novel).
  • The first time you mention the writer, use his full name as it appears on the cover of the novel. After that, refer to him by his last name only.
  • When attributing quotes, give credit to the character speaking if the text is from a particular character's point of view.
  • Use the present tense when describing action or dialogue in the novel (Jekyll says, "______")
  • Try to avoid using the word "quote" to describe a quote in your paper. "Passage," "statement," "line," "description," "observation," and other words can provide alternatives.
  • When you create your works cited entry for the novel, you will need to take into account the following factors: the novel is a reprint and it has a foreword and an afterword.
  • Visually confirm that your paper has the same layout and spacing as the sample MLA paper in your handbook.

Additional, but separate, assignment: The MS Word Skills Assessment (see description in Assignments)





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