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General Writing and Grammar Help/Writing a Literary Analysis


Basically, I'm in the process of finishing an analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne for my English class, but I'm stuck on one thing. I have to use The Scarlet Letter as a primary source, and two of his short stories as secondary sources to back up whatever it is I want to prove; but I don't know if I have to relate the short stories back to my central idea of the paper or back to the support I'm using from the novel. For instance, I'm discussing how Hawthorne uses certain elements of his writing style to explore the theme of morality, and I'm using Dimmesdale as my base character from The Scarlet Letter (I'm also using Mr. Hooper from The Minister's Black Veil and Goodman Brown from Young Goodman Brown). If I'm using an example of how Dimmesdale is characterized as proof of Hawthorne using characterization to convey his ideas of morality, when I use an example of how he characterizes Goodman Brown to add support to my argument, would I relate that example to Dimmesdale (by maybe saying that it's a recurring thing between the two stories) or simply relate it back to my central idea of that paragraph (that Hawthorne uses characterization), or even both? To be more specific, I'm using how Hawthorne discusses Dimmesdale's physical deterioration to show that guilt can result in personal suffering; but then I use how Hawthorne described Goodman Brown as painfully shouting out his wife's name and subsequently going against his initial moral ideals as an illustration of how human emotion can distort decision making. Since they're two separate ideas in themselves, should I just relate them both to Hawthorne's use of characterization, or also relate the latter to Dimmesdale by saying that his emotions also got in the way of making important decisions? Sorry this question is so long, I just wanted to make everything clear (if anything wasn't).


I think you have all of the elements you need, but in my opinion, you need some help organizing the paper.  Do you have a strong thesis statement for your opening paragraph?  Such as:  

Many of Hawthorne's works are representative of the theme of Puritan morality.  Three works are  representative of this Puritan theme specifically as it relates to aspects of sin, guilt, and punishment.  

[I'm sure you could do better since it has been a while since I read Hawthorne.]

You could organize your paper by discussing each of the themes (sin, guilt, etc.) in a separate paragraph and bring in the examples from each of his works.

If you want to explore other themes such as "how human emotion can distort decision making," you would have to include this in your introductory paragraph otherwise, the thought is not connected to the thesis statement.  You can certainly broader your thesis statement to incorporate both, but you are going to have to find a common thread to relate the topics.

Try outlining or mind mapping what you want to cover in this paper so you can make the connections.

Hope this helps,

Dr. D  

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Deborah Burgess


Essays--I can assist students with questions concerning the process of writing an essay including preparation of an outline, development of a topic, development of the thesis statement and topic sentences, and paragraph development. I can assist students in helping them determine the proper rhetorical modes for their essay (narration, illustration, description, process analysis, comparison and contrast, and argumentation. I am able to answer questions concerning rules of style for a research paper including referencing sources. I am able to address questions regarding punctuation and grammar.


I teach a writing workshop for the University of Phoenix (Richmond Campus) and two college courses: Essentials of College Writing and Elements of Composition.

Doctor of Management--University of Phoenix Masters in Human Resources--George Washington University B.A.--French and Linguistics, Oakland University

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