Paper topic #1
Due: the day before Spring Break!
Choose the character in the Oresteia
you think is most justified. You may choose among the following characters only:
Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes. In the course of your essay, you may discuss
Electra and Aegisthus and Cassandra (and even the Furies)
- in fact you will find that a good essay will bring up characters other
than the chosen one.
Present your argument clearly in the
introduction to your paper. I want to know right from the very beginning who is
the most just - in your eyes. Remember - no one character is perfect. There are
levels of guilt and responsibility, just to make your life difficult.
Acknowledge the failings of your character - if you don't, your argument won't
be very persuasive. Do not ignore facts and traits that don't "fit"
into your thesis. This is bad analysis. Find a way to account for them -
sometimes it is enough to acknowledge them - mention in a way that minimizes it
- and use it as an introduction to a major point. For example, "Although
Clytemnestra does use deceit to
accomplish her goal of vengeance, this is only fair because Agamemnon did the
same thing." Then discuss the significance of this in relation to your
argument, depending on what you take
"just" to mean.
If you argue that Character A is just
because s/he does a particular thing, you had better be prepared to discuss why
Character B didn't win the award even though s/he did the same thing for the
same reason. Play defense attorney. Think ahead about comments I might make:
"What about Orestes? Wasn't he answering the call of a god as well? Why
isn't he most just?" Then find a
way to account for that in your discussion.
You have done some good preliminary work
in your first mini essay on the topic, but you CAN change your mind and argue
for someone else. Feel free to use any material you gathered from class
discussion, but please go beyond the level of analysis we presented in class.
I strongly suggest you run an outline by
me, either in person or via email. The number one mistake students make is that
they don't set up a thematic outline. In other words, the reasons your character
is most just provide you with he big categories (chunks) or your paper. Do NOT
organize your paper in terms of characters:
I. Why Agamemnon is most just
II. Why Clytemnenstra isn't
III. Why Orestes isn't
This paper will fail to make a
persuasive argument. Instead, list all the reasons that you find Agamemnon to be
the most just. Then see if you can weave in discussion under each of those
categories - why Orestes isn't just in terms of...oh, I don't know, "the
law". You will have an entire discussion revolving around "the
law" then, and in that discussion you will show how Agamemnon comes out on
top. Always compare the characters to one another. The topic isn't "who is
just" - it is "who is most just".
Have fun. Follow the guidelines
for writing essays. Hand in your best work. Proofread!
page last edited on 06/29/05 13:26
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