From the following sixteen questions, select eight and answer fully in essay form (i.e., more than one paragraph for each answer), using specific quotes and references from the novels and short stories being discussed. Please note that your eight selected questions must include questions about The Great Gatsby, Washington Square, and various short stories. You cannot focus on only one piece of literature. You must demonstrate engagement with both forms – long and short — that we covered. Note: Each question is worth 12.5 points.
The Great Gatsby is sometimes described as a love story.
However, closer examination reveals that there are also other
complex themes present, such as the nature of friendship or
illusion vs. reality, in addition to romantic or obsessive love.
Select a theme that you feel dominates the story and discuss what
it reveals about at least two of the main characters.
Although Fitzgerald’s novel is entitled The Great Gatsby, the main character does not physically appear in the book until the middle of Chapter Three. Discuss why Fitzgerald as author has elected to delay Gatsby’s physical entrance into the tale. What purpose is served by having people gossip about Gatsby before he actively participates in the story?
As a writer, Fitzgerald is famous for his elegant use of language, creating a solid sense of time and place. Discuss a scene you find particularly vivid and well-described. Tell why, using specific examples.
Washington Square by Henry James is largely a quiet novel driven by characterization. Please select any two of the main characters and discuss ways in which they grow – or remain the same. Be specific with your examples.
What is Dr. Sloper’s view of Morris Townsend? How does it differ from the way Catherine sees Morris? Why does Dr. Sloper feel Catherine should accept his view of her suitor as accurate and ignore her own feelings?
Explore the relationship between Morris Townsend and Lavinia Penniman. What does each expect from the other? Does the way Aunt Lavinia regards Morris help or hurt the relationship between Catherine and Morris?
We have covered three short stories that deal with mental illness – The Tell-Tale Heart by Poe, The Yellow Wallpaper by Perkins Gilman, and Bartleby by Melville. Although they share a common theme, that of madness, it is handled in very different ways. Describe how each author creates a sense of isolation and/or emotional turmoil for the main character in each story.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Bierce and The Story of an Hour by Chopin are innovative tales with surprise endings. Decide which of the two presents its “twist” more effectively and discuss why using specific examples.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story Bernice Bobs Her Hair, is an exploration into how to be popular – or so it would seem. In the tale, Marjorie tutors her unpopular cousin Bernice in ways to be flirtatious and well-liked, but the ultimate outcome is not quite what anyone expects. How does Bernice grow throughout the story? Does Marjorie grow as well? Use specific plot points to help explain your answer.
Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien is a famous allegorical tale about creativity and connection to people. What does the artist Niggle learn about his own creative process as he struggles first to complete his painting — and then to complete himself?
Paul’s Case by Willa Cather is a story of a young man trying to shape his life to fit his desires. Are any of his expectatoins realistic? Is the ending of the story a surprise or a logical outcome? Defend your answer.
Fitzgerald’s Bernice Bobs Her Hair and Willa Cather’s Paul’s Case are stories about the search for adolescent identity. Both Bernice and Paul go through personal transformation in attempts to fit into different social groups. Of the two, which charater is more successful in doing so, even if only for a short while?
O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi is a famous story about a surprising gift exchange between a newlywed couple. How does the twist at the end demonstrate the concept of irony?
Kate Chopin’s A Pair of Silk Stockings is a story about dreams and indulgences . Does Mrs. Sommers make good use of her unexpected windfall of money by treating herself to a day out? Why or why not?
The Real Thing by Henry James is a story of a commercial artist/illustrator who desires to be more connected to the upper classes of society. He sees his work withhis new models — the Monarchs — as a way to elevate his talent and his position in the artistic community. Does he succeed? Why or why not?
Select any one of the short stories we discussed this semester and demonstrate how it follows (or does NOT follow) Poe’s ideas for short story construction set forth in his 1846 essay The Philosophy of Composition.
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