Shakespeare Question

For your final paper, you will come up with a thesis and defend it through sustained close reading of several passages from your selected text(s).

Your final paper should be approximately 1400-1600 words. You have two options when choosing texts:

Write about either Coriolanus or Pericles, focusing your analysis on one play. This option is similar in structure to your midterm paper.

Write about Coriolanus or Pericles in relation to another play or the Sonnets. This cannot be the same text that you discussed in your midterm paper. If you choose this option, look for continuities between the two works, rather than just contrasting your selected texts.

Regardless of the option that you choose, please cite one scholarly source using MLA formatting. Scholarly sources are peer-reviewed journal articles or books from academic presses (e.g., University of Oxford Press). To leave plenty of room for your unique ideas, please do not write more than one to three sentences about your scholarly source. If you are not sure if a source is acceptable, please feel free to email me.

Remember, your ultimate goal is to come up with an original argument and defend it through your discussion of key words, phrases, rhetorical devices, and their importance in your chosen text(s). Your thesis may change as you write your paper. This is perfectly okay (and even encouraged).

Some Questions to Consider

Why is this character’s use of a particular word, phrase, or rhetorical device important in this context? How does it change the meaning of this passage in ways that a similar word might not? (e.g., how do “bright objects” and “shiny objects” differ, though their meanings are similar?)

How does this character use a particular word, phrase, or rhetorical device to advance their agenda? What are they arguing? (e.g., why might a car salesman say “preowned” instead of “used” when selling cars? How might this help him persuade buyers?)

Who is this character speaking to, and why is it important that they say this word, phrase, or rhetorical device to this person?

Could this word, phrase, or rhetorical device mean more than one thing in this context?


Please use 12-point, Times New Roman or Arial font. Your paper should be double-spaced with one-inch margins. If you’re writing about one of the plays, include a works cited page with the edition information for the text that you are using (and any outside works that you cite) in MLA formatting.

How to Cite the Text

Please use act, scene, and line numbers to cite the text (e.g., 2.1.35-37). Your quote should be embedded with some context, and usually introduced with a verb, as in the two correct examples below.

Correct: Looking at the skull of his former jester, Hamlet cries, “Alas, poor Yorick!” (5.1.166).

Correct: Hamlet commences his soliloquy with an intriguing query, wondering, “To be or not to be – that is the question” (3.1.55).

Incorrect: Hamlet looks at the skull of his former jester. “Alas, poor Yorick!” (5.1.30).

Incorrect: Hamlet commences his soliloquy with an intriguing query, wondering, “To be or not to be – that is the question.” (Hamlet 55).

Block Quotes: For passages longer than four lines, please use a block quote. Block quotes should be indented and single spaced. Please don’t use more than one block quote, since it can be difficult to perform the close reading that you are expected to do if you try to tackle too much text.