After you reviewed the plays and picked one to work on, research the cultural-historical background of the playwright and the play (the time, place, and circumstances of its writing) and read the play carefully. Then analyze it applying methods we practiced in class. Focus on how the world of the play is created and how the plot structure, the background story, the playwright’s treatment of time, place, character and the imagery help convey the main ideas and themes of the play. Also analyze its genre (comedy, tragedy, drama, etc.) and style (realism, expressionism, etc.).
Your analysis should make a minimum 7 pages long typewritten (double-spaced) essay. Keep your focus on the text of the play (including stage directions and dialogue) and be as specific as possible. Any argument you make must be based on evidence from the play. Don’t take up space with the playwright’s biography, only state the basic information (time-period, nationality, etc. of the playwright) in a couple of sentences. You must credit any source you use other than the play’s text. But remember: this is not a research paper and not a collection of others’ views on the play, but a demonstration of the analytical skills you’ve learned in class. Plagiarism in any form or extent (using others’ ideas or language without giving them credit – whether taken form the Internet or printed sources) will result in a failing grade both for the exam and the class. If you do need to use some sources other than the play text, cite your source using the MLA style of citation (parenthetical reference in the text corresponding with a bibliographic entry in “Works Cited” at the end of your paper).
Some helpful tips for specific detail and composition of your analysis:
– Brief introductory information on the background of the play, whatever
you feel relevant for a potential audience to know (author/date/period/country, etc.)
– Information about the world of the play and how that world operates:
• Describe the given circumstances (time, place, social context, situation at the
opening of the play).
• Describe information given through exposition.
• Identify the inciting incident that triggers the plot.
• Describe the characteristics of the plot-structure (climactic, episodic, nonsequitur; subplots, parallel plots, etc.).
• Describe the significance of the background story for the plot.
• Identify the main characters, what are their conflicts, and how they affect or are
affected by the plot. What is their “agenda” (what objectives they want to
achieve, what obstacles they need to overcome)? Do they have any hidden
agendas, wants and desires (subtext)?
• Identify the central themes and most important images, as well as sound effects,
throughout the play. How are themes and images related? What purpose do the
• Determine the beginning-middle-and end (stasis-intrusion-stasis): describe how
the situation in the beginning of the play has changed by the end of the play and
why (reversals, recognitions, etc.).
• Describe the most striking characteristics of the play’s language, style, genre, and
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