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Topic: Inter-textual relationships
****Instructions from prof:
Inter-textual relationship—the way that a character from one text reappears as a similar character in another text, or the way that a scene in one book is echoed in another. You will be exploring, in other words, the ways that cultural developments in America at certain points in our history produce similar patterns or characters in various texts. focus on two similar characters or two related scenes, one from one text and one from another. I would like you to try to identify the cultural forces that produced this particular pair of characters or scenes. Discuss the similarities between the characters or scenes and note the differences. Work toward explaining how the two authors employ the characters or scenes to develop their main ideas. Don’t allow yourself to be satisfied by tracing simply the obvious similarities; look also for the ways that the two authors may use a similar character or similar scene for quite distinct purposes. By the end of your essay, you will want to have demonstrated how even a relatively minor character or scene, when viewed in juxtaposition with a related character or scene in another text, is essential for clarifying the main thrust of the text.
Choose your pair of scenes or characters from any two of the texts we have examined so far this semester. Think of a character and his counterpart, and why, and what that relationship tells us about the culture, about the two texts, about the purposes of the two authors. Or think of a scene—the slave auction in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for example—and ask yourself where the analogous scene is in Douglass’s text: how are the scenes different, and to what purposes are they used? Or think about a character from Benito Cereno—Benito himself, or Delano, or Babo, or Atufal–and seek out his counterpart in Stowe’s novel, or in Douglass’s narrative, or, less obviously but still possibly, in Thoreau’s THE Maine Woods Maybe you will want to focus on two scenes of escape, or two slave deaths, or two moments of slave revolt. Think of Edna’s (spoiler alert!) death/liberation and Mary Conant’s death/liberation (may be stretching it a bit there.) How about Parkman as protagonist and Douglass as protagonist?
As you decide on the pair of characters or scenes, think through where your comparison will lead you. Look for the pairing that will yield some surprising and illuminating insights instead of just predictable ones. Go beyond the obvious pairings—what about the women in Benito Cereno, for example? Where are their counterparts in other texts we’ve read? Be courageous: think of even stranger pairings.
****List of texts for the coarse:
• Toqueville and the “Three Races”
• THE OREGON TRAIL
• Thoreau’s “Indians”
• Thoreau and Melville
• “Benito Cereno”
• Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• Frederick Douglass Narrative
****My choice was to compare main characters of Uncle Tom & Frederick Douglass since both speak more about the slaves experiences and feelings. Both characters had strong moral backgrounds, books were written for a different audience than the other books – for whites who didn’t support slavery and for the blacks who were opposed to slavery and could relate to the scenes.I would be open to other suggestions from my assigned writer.
*****I’m and an Undergrad and the essay doesn’t need to be elaborate or wordy as my prior writings have not been, they have been written quickly and to the point.
****Can send copies of previous coarse work if needed.