Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Final paper 2011

English IV & AP

Instructions for final paper

Fall 2011

For your final paper of the semester, go back to the questions I shared with you the first day of class. Develop a paper around one or more of the essential questions for this course. Your papers should be approximately five pages in length and are due Friday, December 9 at 9 AM (AP) or between 9 & 11 AM (English IV).

For English IV, incorporate references and ideas from TWO or THREE of the following: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Frankenstein, and Hamlet. You may add a character from a piece of literature of your choosing (my summer list, for example) as long as you do not repeat the choice you made for your comparison paper earlier. For AP, include two of the above plus John Gardner’s Grendel. For ease of reference, I list the original questions from the course syllabus below, plus a few new ones.

Why do stories contain heroes and monsters?

What purpose do characters with extraordinary powers or abilities serve?

Are there reasons why heroes and monsters “have to” exist?

Are all monsters inherently evil? Are some more sympathetic than others? Why?

What qualities other than exceptional powers make a character heroic? Can a character be heroic based on beliefs, codes of ethics, intelligence, or inner strength?

What qualities make a monster monstrous?

Is it always easy to tell the difference between the heroes and the monsters? Why?

What is honor?

What is integrity?

What is courage?

How do characters hold onto or lose their honor, courage, or integrity?

Is revenge moral or immoral? How do the beliefs of characters we have studied differ?

How important is loyalty? How do loyal characters choose who or what to be loyal to?

For the novel Grendel, consider the significance of Grendel’s idea (as I understand it) that the heroic ideal is a lie invented by poets to give the illusion of meaning and purpose to an otherwise brutish physical existence. Would the authors of the other texts agree or disagree? Why?

Spend some time thinking about an approach you can use to link multiple works from our reading list. Then begin to develop a series of paragraphs interpreting the works you choose in light of the question you are attempting to answer. Use whatever combination of comparison and contrast makes your ideas strongest. Your writing will be judged on the originality of your choice, your use of examples from the various texts, and the depth of your analysis. No research is required, or indeed recommended. Use examples from the readings to advance your position on the topic you choose.

For English IV, this paper replaces a final exam and is weighted 25% of the semester grade. For AP students, the paper is weighted 15% and the sit-down portion of the final 10%.