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Symbols in "The Story of an Hour"

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jiepiji
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Debra Bronstein
English 1B
Short Story Essay Prompt

Essay Due: Monday 10/15 at the beginning of class (100 points)

Please write a 4-5 page essay. All papers should be typed, double-spaced, 12-point font (Times New Roman), with one-inch margins. All papers must analyze how the rhetorical/formal/symbolic/narrative elements of the short story contribute to your understanding of the text. Please review these terms from your literary terms quiz and your class notes to remind yourself how authors deploy them in the stories.

Please choose one of the following topics. Note: I ask a lot of questions within each of the topics because I want to give you many options to consider; however, this does not mean that you have to answer all the sub-questions. Use them as guides to jumpstart your thinking.

1. Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Jewett’s “A
White Heron,” Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” track a particular symbol throughout the short story. Focusing on one of these stories, show how the author uses the development of the symbol in order to reflect the demise or spiritual growth of the main characters. Hint: for “The Things They Carried, you can focus on the word carry rather than on a specific individual symbol.

2. Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” are both narrated by unreliable narrators who go crazy. Focusing on one of these stories, how does the author portray insanity? How does the insanity of the narrator contribute to your understanding (or lack of understanding) of the story? If you write on “The Yellow Wallpaper,” you might also consider how madness is gendered. Can women be both clinically insane and productively mad? What is the role of writing in producing or staving off madness for the woman

3. Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” and “Desirée’s…...

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