Many works of literature not readily identified with the mystery or detective story genre nonetheless involve the investigation of a mystery. In these works, the solution to the mystery may be less important than the knowledge gained in the process of its investigation. Choose a novel or play in which one or more of the characters confront a mystery. Then write an essay in which you identify the mystery and explain how the investigation illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.
According to critic Northrop Frye, "Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divisive lightning." Select a novel or play in which a tragic figure functions as an instrument of the suffering of others. Then write an essay in which you explain how the suffering brought upon others by that figure contributes to the tragic vision of the work as a whole.
Many writers use a country setting to establish values within a work of literature. For example, the country may be a place of virtue and peace or one of primitivism and ignorance. Choose a novel or play in which such a setting plays a significant role. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the country setting functions in the work as a whole. Setting is crucial in any given novel or play. However, in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the country setting is crucial in understanding the emotions, characters, and events to come featured in the novel. As a romantic herself, Shelley utilizes the images of several scenes of nature to emphasize particular themes and ideas. From the changing seasons, violent storms, and the mountain and lakes, the country shows a multitude of aspects that relate to the story of Viktor Frankenstein. The transition of summer to winter not only highlights Frankenstein's character, but is a useful tool for foreshadowing. Much like summer's bright and energetic characteristics, Frankenstein proves to be bright and energetic as well. As a child, Frankenstein had the love and affections from a happy family and a growing thirst for knowledge. This thirst for knowledge eventually thrusts Frankenstein into the University of Ingolstadt. It is here that Frankenstein's ambitions to surpass his colleagues and professors are highlighted. He soon becomes enveloped in his studies, which to him, is complete pleasure. He soon discovers the secret of animating a corpse and sets to construct a breathing organism. Frankenstein however, begins to describe the qualities of summer, where the days are long, and the nights are short. The long days serve to emphasize Frankenstein's happiness. Right now in the novel, Frankenstein believes to be doing great work in the field of science. However, when the creation of the monster becomes close, summer comes to an end. Frankenstein loses his previous optimistic character and his dreams become dark. The light begins to fade as darkness empowers it, much like Frankenstein's realization about his creation. Tortured by images of his creation, Frankenstein falls ill. But as both time and his illness pass, spring begins to emerge. Frankenstein's recovery and the emergence of springtime correlate to one another as it is a time of new beginnings. It is here that Frankenstein leaves the University of Ingolstadt and starts a new journey with his friend Clerval. A noteworthy characteristic found in the country is their violent storms. Shelley masterfully uses storms to emphasize ominous events and the emotions of characters. In several instances, the lightning of a storm represents the godlike power of creation. This is emphasized in the passage when Frankenstein witnesses a tree wiped out by lightning. The lightning gives Frankenstein inspiration to uncover the spark of...
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