Be sure to give your paper an interesting title. “Wide Sargasso Sea” or
“The Library of Babel” is not a very specific title that leads me to want to read more! But rather, “Not
Quite For Better or For Worse: Marriage as a Financial Transaction in Wide Sargasso Sea” is much more
appealing, thought provoking, and specific.
This is your assignment: write an essay in which you select one passage from Jean Rhys’s Wide
Sargasso Sea or from one of Luis Borges’s short stories and present a close reading that offers a
You should not use any outside sources, but be sure to include a bibliography in MLA
style that lists the novel. Your thesis statement should be active (makes a claim) and significant
(answers the “so what” question).
In other words, your thesis should make a claim about the text that
could be argued and should also tell us the significance of this claim:
So what if X is happening in the
text? What do we stand to learn by thinking about your claim? For example, “Jane’s reading preferences
are for texts with Gothic scenes and images” stops short of going far enough as a thesis statement.
Instead, “Although Jane’s attraction to Gothic texts suggests her unhappiness with her life, ultimately
Brontë proposes that this dark, morbid material actually gives her life and a freedom of expression for her
desires”. The second thesis makes an assertion about Jane’s relationship to the Gothic, but more
specifically says what we stand to learn about the ironically life-giving sources that these afford Jane.
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