Return to Term Three Writing Assignments

Assignment Sheet:

Generic Explanation: To write an analysis, you need to think about how each part of something contributes to the external image arrow-10x10.png of the whole.
To successfully analyze literature, you’ll need to remember that authors make specific choices for particular reasons. Your essay should point out the author’s choices and attempt to explain their significance.

Specific Assignment Overview: Analyze how the author reveals the theme using literary elements and devices. Your commentary should explain how that element connected to the theme.

Tips for a Successful Analysis
· Make sure that you're NOT just summarizing the original article, story, novel, poem, etc. Go beyond simply telling us WHAT you are talking about: describe HOW and WHY its elements function.
· Write in the present tense. The townspeople visit Emily. Not they visited.
· Write in 3rd person…not first

· Cite your quotes using MLA

Assignment Criteria:
· Clear thesis stating theme and elements used to analyze the theme
· Choose two elements: character, setting, irony, foreshadow, figurative language, or plot.
· external image arrow-10x10.png transitions between the paragraphs
· Use at least 3 different sentence pattern types (challenge yourself to use of each type)
· 4 paragraphs: intro, element #1, element #2, conclusion
· Creative Title

Rubric and Checklist

Student Example

Key for the body paragraphs
  • unmarked= topic sentence
  • { } = transition
  • bold and underline = concrete detail
  • highlighted= commentary

“Life…is composed of the most unpredictable, disparate, and contradictory elements,” according to Guy de Maupassant. Through the unfolding of the plot and the exquisite characterization of Mathilde and her husband, Maupassant offers readers a dramatic account of what could happen when a person is not satisfied with her place in life.

Plot plays a vital role in “The Necklace,” particularly the exposition. Approximately one page is devoted entirely to Mathilde’s description, a description of both her physical appearance as well as her mentality, giving the readers a crystal clear picture of the main character and the reasons behind her external image arrow-10x10.png. Mathilde “dressed plainly because she could not dress well, but she was as unhappy as though she had really fallen from her proper station,” undoubtedly a station of wealth and prosperity in her mind. This shows she is completely dissatisfied with her life and cares more for materialism and station than she does for developing and growing as a person. Suffering “from the poverty of her dwelling,” Mathilde often dreamt of “silent antechambers hung with Oriental tapestry, lit by tall bronze candelabra” when her own drab furniture and dreary walls angered her to look at them (Maupassant 524). The exposition paints Mathilde as a woman who feels she’s been dealt a poor hand in life, a woman desiring riches far beyond her grasp, which foreshadows the events to come later in the plot.

Without the characters, the plot would be meaningless because the characters bring the plot to life. There are two types of characters: dynamic or static. A static character does not change throughout the story; he or she just stays the same, while a dynamic character is often described as “round” and often changes throughout the course of the story. The characterization affects the plot. If a character is developed as greedy and self absorbed, the climax of the story will cause the character to make irrational choices in the face of conflict, as Mathilde, the dynamic main character of “The Necklace” illustrates.

{The exposition describes Malthide, but as the story goes on, we get deeper into her characterization} Mathilde’s character is consistently unhappy with her own life and her own possessions, always longing for more than what she has. When her husband brings home the invitation to the ball, hoping his wife will be thrilled at the chance to attend such an exclusive gathering, she instead “threw the invitation on the table with disdain,” because she had nothing to wear. Instead of being happy at being invited to a party of station, she focuses on what she doesn’t have. At her husband’s suggestion of wearing her theater dress, she simply cries with grief. When the dress dilemma is resolved, Mathilde is “sad, uneasy, [and] anxious” (Maupassant 525). Her lack of fine jewelry and gems makes her feel that she “should almost rather not go at all” (Maupassant 526). Clearly, Mathilde’s character is one with an insatiable greed for what she does not have. Later in the story, after the precious necklace has been lost, Mathilde’s character appears to change, taking on the role of a poor woman with “heroism.” As she is forced to scrub dishes, wash laundry, and bargain with their “miserable” money, the reader would assume Mathilde has been humbled by her greed and the price she external image arrow-10x10.png for insisting on wearing the diamond necklace. The reader questions the extent of Mathilde’s transformation when Mathilde sits at her external image arrow-10x10.png and ponders the evening of the ball, remembering her beauty and the attention she received. The theme becomes obvious when, in the exposition, Mathilde’s perspective on her life makes her seem poor and underprivileged; yet, when the Loisels are forced to make drastic changes in their way of life, such as firing their maid and moving to more economical lodging, the reader realizes the poverty Mathilde suffers from is not poverty at all compared to the life they must lead after they are forced to replace the diamond necklace.

{Contrary to Mathilde is her husband, M. Loisel}, a character who remains static throughout the course of “The Necklace.” M. Loisel seems happy with the small things in life, desiring only please his wife. This desire to please his wife emphasizes the shallowness and emptiness of Mathilde’s personality. When he sits down to a supper of soup, he exclaims, “Ah, the good pot-au-feu! I don’t know anything better than that” (Maupassant 524). Meanwhile, Mathilde is picturing food she feels she is worthy of, like “the pink flesh of a trout or the wings of a quail” (Maupassant 524). M. Loisel does look his patience once with his wife, saying to her, “How stupid you are!” (Maupassant 526) when she is upset about her lack of jewelry. Other than that small episode, M. Loisel remains fairly consistent throughout the length of the story.

The construction of the plot, such as the dramatic climax when Mathilde realizes she has lost the necklace, combined with the shaping of the two main characters, Mathilde and her husband, force the reader to realize the unspoken theme of the story. Mathilde’s envy of other people’s possessions leads to the eventual demise of her life, while her husband’s contentment with what he has allows him to remain essentially unchanged, illustrates the theme running throughout the story, which is the importance of being satisfied with who you are and what you have, as well as the importance of not wanting or envying what other’s have.