Arguing About Literature
An argumentative essay is designed to make persuasive your interpretation of a work. It requires that you present your interpretation of a work (or portion of it) by supporting your discussion with clearly defined terms, ample evidence, and a detailed analysis of relevant portions of the text.
If possible, write about a topic / text you feel strongly about.
Read the Work Closely (i.e. 2nd or 3rd read):
How does the work make you feel?
How is it put together?
Establish relationships between characters, actions, images or whatever else seems important?
Ask yourself why you respond as you do? – What elements might contribute to this?
Think as you read; notice how the parts of a work contribute to its overall nature
Annotate the Text
Whatever works for you – margin notes, highlighting, underlining, drawing boxes and circles
Developing a Thesis
The thesis is your argument – Should be a debatable position – i.e. another perspective or option is possible. Should pass the “so what?” test
Some useful questions to help find persuasive positions
1. How do the various elements of the work – plot, character, point of view, setting, tone, diction, images, symbol, and so on – reinforce its meanings?
2. How are the elements related to the whole?
3. What is the work’s major organizing principle? How is its structure unified?
4. What issues does the work raise? How does the work’s structure resolve those issues?
5. What do the characters’ emotions and behaviour reveal about their psychological states?
6. Does the author present psychological matters such as repression, dreams, and desire?
7. How does the work reflect the period in which it is written?
8. How are class differences presented in the work? Are characters aware or unaware of the economic and social forces that affect their lives?
9. How are the lives of men and women portrayed in the work? Do...