Topic: Researched Essay
- Format: You are required to use MLA style for all writing assignments. These assignments include the Summary Writing Assignment, the Focused Annotated Bibliography and the Final Researched Essay. Your instructor may also require MLA style for other essay assignments, including the midterm and final exams, and for discussion posts. Therefore, it is important that you understand how to use MLA style correctly. Please refer to the Purdue Online Writing Lab for MLA formatting and style guide
- Length Requirement: minimum of 1000 – 1500 words
- All sources must be cited
You are researching and writing an essay on Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman (1949).
There are a few different ways you could approach the writing of this essay:
- The thematic approach: You will choose a theme or idea that you see in the play and then make an assertion about how and/or why that theme is being used. Consider the themes discussed in Unit 2:
- The American Dream/Nightmare
- The Quest for Identity/Coming of Age
- Perform a character study. Discuss what motivates this character to do what he or she does or perhaps discuss how and why the character deals with the conflicts within the play. You could also choose to compare and contrast two characters.
- Compare and contrast the play—or some element of the play—with another literary work. Please contact your instructor if you are planning to use a literary work for comparison that has not been covered in this class.
In addition to or in place of the approaches described above, you might want to employ a formalist’s approach to analyze and interpret the literary work you have chosen. You might consider the following questions and considerations:
- How do paradox, irony, ambiguity, and tension work in the play?
- Is there a central or focal passage that can be said to sum up the entirety of the work?
- What are the key symbols in the play?
Once you decide on an approach and a topic:
- If you have any questions or need guidance, discuss your choices with your instructor.
- Make sure you have a strong thesis statement. This should not be a question or something “obvious” and undebatable like a synopsis of what happens in the play. Instead, it should be your own fresh idea that takes a firm stance on your chosen aspect of the play.
- Set forth to prove your assertion about the text. To do so, you need to:
- Analyze your primary source (Death of a Salesman) and find quotations that support your assertion.
- Find secondary sources (scholarly articles) to back up your assertion. (Include these sources in your working bibliography.) This is your scholarly research. By finding scholars to support your ideas or even counter them, you are backing up your own thoughts using evidence from experts in the field.
- Follow MLA Format:
- Use MLA format for the paper: Purdue Owl: MLA info
- Length: minimum of 1000 – 1500 words
- Include a Works Cited Page, not to be counted in the 1000-1500 word minimum
- Appropriate Scholarly Secondary Sources Included: minimum of 3 scholarly sources. You are required to use at least one direct quote or paraphrase in the body of your essay from each of your three required secondary sources in order to meet the minimum requirements of this research essay. Be sure to have an appropriate title for your essay (See Titling Your Essay)
- Write with an analytical purpose: Do not spend too much space summarizing the text. Assume that your reader has already read or seen the play. Aim for an organized paper that offers your reader some new insight into the play.
- You make an assertion.
- You prove it with textual examples.
- You back it up with other scholarly support from your research.