Compose an analytical research paper on what you believe are two major themes or core ideas in Twelfth Night.
The research paper must be a minimum of 1700 words. The essay’s final word count should be given under your name on the first page.
The essay and work cited page must follow the MLA guidelines for style. The work cited page is always the last page of the essay. It should not be submitted as a separate document.
The essay must contain quotations from at least three secondary sources as well as quotations from Twelfth Night. These secondary sources should predominantly be critical analysis and interpretations of elements of Twelfth Night. They should be published scholarly opinions about meaning in the play that you find from books or the library databases. Study guides, like Spark Notes or Cliff Notes do not count as a scholarly secondary source. Topic two and three will also allow you to use published reviews of different productions of Twelfth Night.
Along with your three scholarly secondary sources, I would like you to use some information or a quote from one of the presentation projects within your essay. You must give credit to this source–even if it is your own group’s presentation–within the paragraphs of your essay. You will also need to include that presentation on your work cited page.
Remember that these topics should get you thinking about the material. Focus on your own ideas. You may write about ideas we have discussed in class, but, in the end, the essay should go beyond those ideas. As always, quote to provide evidence for your ideas. Pick your topic and try to narrow it down. Write a rough thesis, and know the main ideas you wish to discuss before starting the focused research. I want you to be sure of your own opinion before you start reading others’ opinions. You probably will not find critical articles or books on these exact topics, but you should find secondary sources that touch on these subjects. You should be writing each individual sentence with care, and each sentence should elaborate on and refine the main idea of the essay.
Compose an analytical research paper on what you believe are two major themes or core ideas in Twelfth Night. Examine how those theme/ideas work together or how they create a conflict in the play. For example, how do love and disguise/illusion complement each other in the play? Is there a difference between love and madness in the play, or are they two sides of the same experience? What is the nature of identity in the play and does gender help to define identity or is it incidental? How are comedy and chaos or comedy and cruelty related to each other in the play? This research paper is a chance to examine what you believe Twelfth Night is really about and to argue that interpretation to your reader. However, I am intentionally making this topic very broad so that you may have freedom to write about what interests you in Twelfth Night. This means the topic must be narrowed down considerably in order for it to become a focused, specific and insightful research paper.
This is a creative topic with two options, but both options do require literary analysis. a. Pretend you are an actor preparing to play one of the major roles in Twelfth Night. Write an essay discussing how you would play the part. For example, you could decide to play Malvolio as not just a social climber, but as a man who has fallen in love with Olivia. Choose specific scenes in the play and explain what your character’s motivation is and what your character might be thinking. You may not rewrite the play nor change any of the dialogue, and your interpretation must be grounded in the text of the play, but attempt to come up with an original and interesting take on the character. b. Pretend you are a director preparing to direct the play in a theatre or as a movie. Write an essay discussing what themes of Twelfth Night you would specifically like to highlight for your audience and how you would go about doing this. For example, if you are interested in the fluidity of gender roles in the play, you might want to set the play in an era when people began to question the idea that there are set roles for each sex. Or, if themes of disguise, illusion, and acting in the play seem important to you, perhaps setting the play in the theatre or on a movie set would help to highlight those themes. You may not rewrite Twelfth Night nor change any of the dialogue. You must emphasize the themes you are interested in based on the text as it is. In addition to scholarly analysis, you are also welcome to use film and theater reviews and interviews with Shakespearean actors as your secondary sources for both of these options.
You may write your research paper on this topic only if you view two different film versions of Twelfth Night. One of those versions must be the Trevor Nunn, 1996 version we watched in class. I am not requiring a specific production for the other Twelfth Night movie, but it should be a version that uses the original text. Compose an essay that discusses the differences in the two versions and analyzes what themes are stressed over others. This is not a film review, though you may use critics’ reviews of the two versions as two of your required secondary sources. Instead, you should be discussing how each version is able to take the play and interpret it in different ways. You may add an evaluation of how well their interpretations work, but you are not reviewing the performances.
Compose an argument for which relationship in the play you believe to be the strongest and most healthy. Which of the relationships do you think will last the longest? The relationship you choose to argue for can be a romantic relationship, but it does not have to be. Analyze what qualities each partner must have in order to create a strong relationship. What is the importance of honesty or deception in this relationship? How important is love? Is the sex and/or gender of the pair important? Argue for a specific relationship as the most healthy for both individuals involved in the relationship. Which couple has the best chance of surviving? Within this argument, you will need to define and maybe argue your terms.
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