Write an essay of two to three pages (approximately 600 to 900 words). For this essay, choose one character and one theme from the lists below. Use your knowledge of the works we have studied thus far as well as your understanding of the key elements of tragic literature. Borrow ideas from your recent blog entries if they are relevant to the topic you choose. Be sure to support your interpretation with specific passages from the appropriate text. Essays are due, both hard copy and turnitin.com, next Thursday, October 4 (Turnitin: 2007—Sophocles & Ilyich). PLEASE REMEMBER TO INCLUDE RECEIPT NUMBER AND WORD COUNT IN YOUR HEADING.
Characters: Oedipus, Antigone, Creon (in the play Antigone), Ivan Ilyich
1. Self-knowledge: Does the tragic character’s downfall result from a lack of understanding of his or her own fundamental nature? What are the sources of this ignorance? (Is there something deeper than ignorance of parentage at work for Oedipus?) How much responsibility does the character bear for this lack of understanding of self?
2. Choice: According to Aristotle, tragic downfalls are the result of choices made by the character, although the downfall may be hastened by external forces such as fate, chance, villainy, or accident. Discuss the relationship between free will and external force in the character’s downfall. How much does each contribute?
3. Recognition: What form of enlightenment or new understanding does the tragic character achieve? What is the effect of this enlightenment, once it is achieved, on the character’s mind, heart, or soul?
4. Spiritual reassessment: To what extent does the character, through moral or physical suffering, undergo a transformation to a more profound level of humanity? To what extent does this moral development provide a degree of hope or optimism which partly offsets the destructive nature of the downfall?
For your first essays I looked primarily at your ability to write clear sentences, use specific language, and observe the conventions of English mechanics and usage. Those things are still important, but this time I will look a little more closely at your ability to identify an interpretation and explain it. Toward this end I offer these suggestions:
• Write a brief opening paragraph which ends with a succinct statement of your thesis. Think of it as a funnel, pouring in the idea your essay will develop, the more specifically worded the better (see sections 4.2 & 4.3 in Style).
• Use specific references from the text to support the main ideas of your paragraphs, and try to explain the significance of these examples as clearly and specifically as you can (see 3.7 & 3.8 in Style).
• Big ideas, simple words.