Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death – Analysis

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Analysis is a somewhat more complicated way to approach a text than just explication. For an analytic paper, you’ll need to come up with an argument of your own about the text. An argument involves you attempting to PERSUADE your reader that you have a valid, interesting, original, and creative idea about a text and its meaning. Also, a thesis has multiple parts—it addresses a question, gives the answer, AND gives a justification for that answer. Therefore, a thesis should be longer than just one sentence. A good example of a thesis might be:

“The vase in van Gogh’s painting represents the insane asylum the artist lived in, and the sunflowers represent the patients and inmates of that asylum. The sunflower that has turned away from all the others represents van Gogh himself. This demonstrates that he felt alienated both from his environment and the people around him, as he had been ‘plucked’ from his natural place in the world and could not conform to the expectations of the people around him. The painting ‘Sunflowers’ is, therefore, actually a self-portrait.”

Remember that you should not wait to present your ideas to your reader. You are not writing a mystery novel. You should not wait until the end to “reveal” who done it. When writing in the humanities, we spill the beans all up front and then spend the rest of the paper explaining how we came to this idea and demonstrating with evidence that the idea itself is valid and should be seen as such.

Therefore, for your second paper, you will once again choose one of the readings from our textbook (Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death) and you will formulate a thesis about it. Write a paper in which you argue your thesis and support it with evidence from the text. In this case, using secondary sources could be a very good idea. For example, I would want information about when van Gogh was in the insane asylum, and why he was there. That isn’t common knowledge, so I’d need to do some research and show that research in my paper (and cite it!). Using secondary sources to learn more about a text is also a great way to generate a thesis. After all, the art history student would not have known van Gogh was even IN an insane asylum if she had not first done some reading about van Gogh himself.

Remember, too, that you will still have to do some explication to make your reader understand what you are writing about, but that this paper must be primarily argumentative.

This paper should be a little more substantial, so plan on it being about 5-6 pages, not including the works cited or reference pages.

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