Analysis on The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

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Essay 4: Analyzing StoriesAn essay that analyzes a story gives readers an interesting argument to think about that enriches their appreciation and understanding of the story. This assignment starts with one of the general themes below. You use the questions in the theme to get you thinking about whats happening in the book, and slowly, as you continue to think and write, the thinking starts to turn into a thoughtful analysis.But thats all a little vague. It might help more if we consider the thesis of your essay.First, the thesis in the final draft of your essay must not be a simple statement of fact like this: In The Private Memoirs and Confessions Robert Wringhim falls under the influence of Gil-Martin. Thats a boring thesis, and you wont get very far with it. All you can do with a thesis like this is list all the places where Robert is influenced by Gil-Martin, and maybe tell us how he falls under his influence step by step. Anyone who reads the story can do as much. This is the thesis for a book report, and it will get a bad grade.Neither can the thesis engage in an interpretive free for all like this: The Private Memoirs and Confessions is a how-to book for getting rich and enjoying life. Thats an insane thesis, and you wont get very far with that either. There is no concrete evidence in the book that this is even true. It is the thesis for a bad BS essay, and it will also get a bad grade.Here is a good sample working thesis that will help you develop an argument: Because none of the characters in The Private Memoirs and Confessions can be completely trusted, the book offers an interesting commentary about how people deal with incomplete information and the problems that this might lead us to. This works because you can now develop an analysis thats original to you and thats based on evidence thats right there in the book: theres Arabella Calvert arguing with the suitor in her room over what they saw on the street below (58), the two judges who hear George Colwans assault trial (40), Rev. Wringhims confidence in his own salvation, Roberts confidence in (and doubts about) his own, the Editors interpretation of the narrative and his later question about the diary, What can this work be? … I cannot tell (178), etc… Other writers may have different interpretations or points of view about what the book says, and those might be more or less thoughtful or developed, but all should be based on what actually happens in the book or what sorts of inferences one can reasonably make about it.We will talk more in class about what were looking for.But we need to get you started. On the other side of the page are the possible broad topics that you can write on. Choose one. Then start pondering, taking notes, and writing.
The Private Memoirs and Confessions is built on reported events and incomplete information: Roberts diary, the editors narrative, Mrs. Calverts story, testimony before judges, etc. In fact, in the novel, there is nothing that we get from a reliable, unprejudiced narrator. Even the characters themselves deal with that problem, sometimes even to the point of doubting the evidence of their own eyes. How do the characters handle the contradictory, biased, incomplete, or mysterious elements of the story, and how should that affect our understanding of the book?The relationship between Gil-Martin and Robert is complicated. Is Gil-Martin a figment of Roberts deranged imagination, or Satan? Is Robert a truly violent religious fanatic, or just an armchair fanatic who wouldnt have done anything if Gil-Martin hadnt pushed him against his will? Was Robert pushed against his will? Whats the nature of their relationshipand Roberts relationship with othersand how does that affect our understanding of the story?Regardless of which topic you decide on, your essay should:Present background information that will give the reader a context in which to follow your argument. A brief bit of description about whats going on might help, as long as it is not just plot summary. Extended plot summary of the book is the single most common and effective way to kill your essays grade. If you have to discuss plot, it should only be in the essay because it helps you prove a point that you are trying to make, just as if you were citing any other source.Make a specific argument about the book that can be distilled into a few sentences.Provide appropriate, thoughtful, and engaging support that backs up your analysis. This may include research, but close detailed analysis of the book itself will give you the most material.Note: A thoughtful analysis requires a fairly thorough knowledge of your subject. You cant just read the book once and then three days before the final draft, decide that its time to write a quality essay on it. You actually have to live with the book and your essay for a couple of weeks, mull things over, write some, hunt for a passage, mull things over some more. Maybe the next morning you get a spark of an idea that you pursue for a bit, and then you go back and mull some more . . . Thats how you get a good thoughtful analytic essay. (Or at least thats what I had to do for every essay that I got a good grade on.)Requirements:Your final draft must be in MLA format, 6-8 pages long, typed, double spaced, in a Times 12 point font, with 1 inch margins. When you turn in your final draft, you must also staple your rough draft and peer review sheets beneath it. Your essay will be considered incomplete without them

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