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Through the Cracked Mirror: The Insane Narrator in Nineteenth Century Short Fiction---The Assignments


Step #1: You are to read each of the stories in this unit carefully, analytically, and actively. Question what you are being told as you read. Ask yourself, "What does this mean? Why does the narrator say this? What else might be going on here?" Note the literary techniques, especially characterization, foreshadowing, and imagery, used by the author to build the story. Quite simply, think about what you are reading like an investigator!

Step #2: For each short story in this project, you are to write a Literature Analysis Paper (LAP). Answer each question(#3-10) for the LAP in a paragraph that demonstrates your understanding of the literary technique the question asks about, and how the literary technique was used in the short story.
1. Title of short story (the title of a short story is always written in quotation marks)
2. Author's name
3. Identify the most important characters in the story, providing some detail about each one that makes that character unique.
4.Discuss the setting (time and place) where the story occurs.
5. Discuss how the narrator shapes the story and influences the reader's perceptions of what happens in the story.
6. Discuss the conflict in the story, and explain how the conflict builds throughout the story.
7. Discuss the climax of the story.
8. Discuss the resolution to the conflict.
9. Identify and explain the theme of this story.
10. Discuss the use of foreshadowing, symbolism, figurative language or another literary technique employed by the author in this story, using examples from the text.

Step #3: For each short story in the project, you must write two essays of at least one page in length discussing your choice of the following topics:
(a.)What personal association did you make to the story? What or who did this story remind you of, and why?
(b.)What other work of literature or art does this story remind you of, and why? What have the two works of art in common? How are they different?
(c.)What intellectual or emotional connection did you make to this work of literature?
(d.) Identify and discuss one choice the author made that you found especially effective or especially distracting. In other words, discuss one or more elements of the author's style of writing.

Step #4: After you have completed the LAP and two essays for each short story, you must complete a final examination assignment for this project. Your final examination must be at least 350 words in length and must respond to one of the following topics:
choice 1: Compare two of the short stories in this project, discussing how the stories are similar. In your essay, discuss the authors' styles, the narrators, the plots, the use of various literary techniques, and themes.
choice 2: Write an analysis of one of the narrators from this project, focusing on the narrator's mental health and grip on reality. For example, you might choose to discuss the mental health of the narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" and attempt to explain how and why the cures proposed by her husband and doctor made her illness worse.
choice 3: Choose a story from this project and explain how the setting is an important plot element and adds to the tension in the story. Also, discuss how the setting is a reflection of the narrator's state of mind.
choice 4: Find out more about one of the authors in this project and prepare an essay (including bibliography of sources) in which you discuss the author's significance and contributions to literature.

Step #5: If you have any difficulties, questions, or comments regarding the stories, you are expected to email Ms. Bailey at sharonbailey@hotmail.com. Ms. Bailey will respond ASAP to your email, and guide you through this study of literature. You are not alone in this project-- keep in touch with your teacher through email!

Titles in this Project:

My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning
The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
Shadow: A Parable by Edgar Allan Poe
Silence: A Fable by Edgar Allan Poe
Was It A Dream? By Guy de Maupassant
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Affair at Grover Station by Willa Cather
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