Fiction Analysis Essay
Topic: Ernest Hemingway employed what he called “the iceberg theory” when he wrote “Hills Like
White Elephants.” What is the iceberg theory and how is it employed here? (Think about
setting in particular).
1. Base off the TOPIC above. This is the work or works of literature you will examine.
2. Write your QUESTION. This is what you want to know about the work of literature. See
our class announcements for information on how to develop a successful question, and
see the samples included below in this document.
3. Examine your chosen topic and compile EVIDENCE related to your question.
4. Write your THESIS STATEMENT. This is your argument that should answer your question.
5. Outline your essay.
The essay will be evaluated based in part upon your use of a
good thesis statement, the support of the thesis through textual evidence, and your ability to
offer thoughtful analysis rather than plot summary. As always, your paper should be written in
standard academic English, be substantially free of grammatical and mechanical errors, and
should conform to the standards set out below.
1. The paper should not have a separate cover pager. Write your name and date of the
assignment in the upper left corner. Center the title of the essay, without underlining or
using quotation marks.
2. Your first paragraph will engage the reader’s interest as it narrows to a thesis. If, for
example, you write on the topic of initiation, you might begin the essay by stating
something about the popularity of initiation stories, what initiation means, and then narrow
to the point (thesis) of your essay. (Ex.: “In this short story, initiation serves to ____”).
3. The thesis should clearly state the topic of the essay and the point you will develop. Do not
make announcements, such as “This paper will be about . . .” Instead, boldly state your
point, such as, “Through the use of the speaker’s home as a symbolic prison, Frost indicates
that the lost child is not the only one who has been buried.” Or “Browning uses dramatic
monologue to reveal the Duke as a murderer.” These are statements which offer an
interpretation of one part of the poem or story, an interpretation which will need evidence
from the poem or story to support it.
4. Each paragraph will develop a single point that develops your thesis. Make references to
the text, but do not simply re-tell the story/poem/play. Remember, your reader has also
read the story/poem/play. If you quote from the literary work, be judicious and make sure
that the quote develops the support you are developing for your thesis. At times a
paraphrase may also be effective. If you are incorporating lines of poetry into your paper,
write the poetry as a standard sentence with a (/) used at the end of a line or stanza to let
the reader understand the structure of the poem. At the end of the quotation, use the line
number as indicated in your text. For example, “He had enough of life/to know that he
wanted no more” (1-2) indicates the line break of the poem and which lines are quoted.
Please refer to the sample essays in your text for further clarification on how to incorporate
references from literary works in your own essay.
5. Always write in the present tense unless there is a clear reason to use past tense. Literature
is a living text.
6. Do not refer to any writer by his or her first name. Unless you and William Shakespeare are
close, personal friends, refer to him as Shakespeare.
7. The conclusion will restate the idea of the essay and may make some general comments or
conclusions. If, for example, you were writing a paper about the image of death in two
poems, you would remind the reader about the comparison or contrast your found in this
image in the two poems, and then you might write something about the value of
understanding imagery in order to gain insight into a poem’s meaning.
8. If you are using sources, you must properly document the sources both within the paper as
parenthetical citations as well as provide the necessary information about the sources on an
accurately formatted works cited page. Use MLA format.
9. Unless they appear in something you are quoting, do not use “I, me, my, mine” or “we, our,
us, let’s,” as these are meant to be formal, academic essays. Instead, use only third person,
for example: “one, they, them, the critic, the reader,” and so on. Many students use the
first person in sentences like, “I believe this poem is about…” You can eliminate the first
person in instances like these by being more declarative: “This poem is about…”
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