In a literary work, a minor character, often known as foil, possesses traits that emphasize, by contrast or comparison, the distinctive characteristics and qualities of the main character. For example, the ideas or behavior of the minor character might be used to highlight the weaknesses or strengths of the main character.
Choose a novel or play in which a minor character serves as a foil to a main character. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the relation between the minor character and the major character illuminates the meaning of the work.
You may choose a work from the list below or another appropriate novel or play of similar literary quality. Do not merely summarize the plot.
(Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)
The Age of Innocence
All the King’s Men
All the Pretty Horses
The Brothers Karamazov
The Color Purple
Henry IV, Part I
The Kite Runner
The Piano Lesson
Pride and Prejudice
The Sound and the Fury
A Streetcar Named Desire
A Tale of Two Cities
Their Eyes Were Watching God
2008 AP English Literature Scoring Guide
Question #3: Function of a Foil
General Directions: This scoring guide will be useful for most of the essays that you read, but in problematic cases, please consult your table leader. The score that you assign should reflect your judgment of the quality of the essay as a whole—its content, its style, its mechanics. Reward the writers for what they do well. The score for an exceptionally well-written essay may be raised by one point above the otherwise appropriate score. In no case may a poorly written essay be scored higher than a three (3).
|9-8 |These essays offer a well-focused and persuasive analysis of how a foil or minor character emphasizes, by contrast or comparison, the distinctive | | |characteristics and qualities of a main character. Using apt and specific textual support, these essays fully explore that relationship and | | |demonstrate what it contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. Although not without flaws, these essays make a strong case for their | | |interpretation and discuss the literary work with significant insight and understanding. Generally, essays scored a nine (9) reveal more sophisticated| | |analysis and more effective control of language than do essays scored an eight (8). | |7-6 |These essays offer a reasonable analysis of how a foil emphasizes, by contrast or comparison, the distinctive characteristics and qualities of a main | | |character. They explore that relationship and demonstrate what it contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. These essays show insight and | | |understanding, but the analysis is less thorough, less perceptive, and/or less specific in supporting detail than that of the 9-8 essays. Generally, | | |essays scored a seven (7) present better developed analysis and ore consistent command of the elements of effective composition than do essays scored a| | |six. (6) | |5 |These essays respond to the assigned task with a plausible reading, but they tend to be superficial or underdeveloped in analysis. They often rely | | |upon plot summary that contains some analysis, implicit or explicit. Although the writers attempt to discuss how the foil illuminates the distinctive | | |characteristics and qualities of a main...
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