literary essay quot disgrace by j m coetzee

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Choose a Topic and Approach for your Literary Essay


Choosing your literary essay topic and the approach you will take on Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee is the first step to writing the paper due as the last assignment of this module.

Topics/ approaches (Focus your thesis on only one of the following, though some may overlap):

  1. Analysis of one of these characters: Lucy Lurie, Melanie Isaacs or Petrus.

    Example: Analyze not only the chosen character’s personality, but also what role the character played in advancing the overall theme of the novel. Please state what the overall message/ theme of the novel is.

  2. The protagonist’s understanding of the nature of the conflict to be resolved and the hurdles to be overcome. What does David Lurie get to understand about his misuse of power? How does he arrive at this insight?

    Example: It could be hope for change, both in South Africa (the acknowledgment of past crimes committed and of how the powerful can continue to be oblivious to their own oppression of others) and in David Lurie. OR: the disgrace David Lurie has to suffer through the affair with a student in order for him to understand his own misuse of power, and how this recognition echoes the disgrace and oppression South African citizens of color have suffered through apartheid and its aftermath.

  3. The function of setting to reinforce theme and characterization

    Example: post-apartheid South Africa as a setting is most important in the novel. Your outside sources would be the history of apartheid and the lasting consequences and conditions it has created.

  4. The use of literary devices to communicate theme: imagery, metaphor, symbolism, foreshadowing, irony

    Example: Symbolism — Analyze what the concept of dogs represents in this story. OR: Determine if David Lurie represents the old, white South Africa, while Lucy represents the new white South Africa.

  5. Point of view: The author’s focus on the perspectives of one or more characters.

    Example: The difference between David’s and Lucy’s perspectives on how to respond to the social problems in post-apartheid South Africa and how that fits with the author’s theme or main message.

  6. Careful examination of one or more central scenes and its/their crucial role in plot development, resolution of conflict, and exposition of theme.

    Example: Analyze one or more scenes in which hope that change for the better is possible through a character’s insight of his misuse of power, his remorse and subsequent actions to perhaps achieve redemption or self-awareness.

Later on, after you choose your thesis, you will research information to support your thesis (for the body of the essay). You will need to go to a library database (see “How to Access Miami Dade Databases” under Module 1 Resources) or a valid search site, such as Google Scholar to find articles about Disgrace, post-apartheid South Africa, etc. Please use information from TWO articles in your paper, and plan on using THREE short quotes from the novel to support your opinion and analysis. You may also quote from the articles that you use to develop your paper.

The paper should have 5 paragraphs minimum, about 750 words (that’s about 3 typed, double-spaced pages in Times New Roman 12 pt. font).

Please note: Biographical material is important as it influences the author’s writing; however, it should not be the focus of your paper. If you do make a brief reference to biographical material, remember to cite the source from which you acquired it. Also remember that Wikipedia is not considered an academic source. Though it is useful for background and general information, Wikipedia will not count toward the two articles required.

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