writing an essay

The first essay for Engl 205 must be on one of the works dating from the time before WW2, The Radetzky March, The Post-Office Girl, or The Trial. Criticism is welcome, but not required, as it might be a challenge to find about any of these writers but Kafka.

The paper’s minimum length is to be 1500 words, but more important than length is the organization: there needs to be a clear main claim, developed from one of the prompts below, with claims and quotations from the text to support the points. Your work should have a title which is not just the title of the work or assignment (i.e., not “The Post-Office Girl” or “Essay #1”), and it should show evidence of having been carefully edited.

Feel free to talk with me during office hours as you develop your ideas. Prompts for The Post-Office Girl and The Trial will be posted later. For The Radetzky March, choose one of these as a starting-point for your ideas:

  • Is The Radetzky March best seen as tragic or ironic? Define these terms and provide evidence from the novel, then indicate which you think most appropriate and why it matters.
  • To what extent do you believe the characters in the novel are responsible for their own fates, and to what extent are they caught up in events? Give examples of both, and discuss the importance of the issue for us.
  • Certain aspects of the novel strike us now as problematic–for example, the characters’ insistence on class distinction, or the treatment of women in that society. How much allowance do we make for the historical and social context in responding to the novel (the context of the period from, say, 1890 to 1914, or the early 1930s)?