essay on symbolic and thematic analysis

Essay #2: Symbolic and Thematic Analysis

Purpose: Our last stop to furthering our study of literature is drama and film. Drama quite literally comes from a Greek word meaning “action”. In plays, this action is meant to be demonstrated in front of a live audience and in film, the action progresses on a screen. Both follow the same types of rules as any story (plot, character, conflict, climax, resolution), except film can cinematically push more boundaries. We often get lost in the action and don’t notice the nuances of this type of literature, and that is why our next essay will be an analysis of drama or film; it will be a specific exploration of a select theme or significant symbolism associated with a particular theme.

Texts: For this unit, you have 4 text/film options: Trifles by Susan Glaspell (a murder mystery that is solved by housewives through their observation of what appears to be frivolous things), Sure Thing by David Ives (a variety of dialogue between a man and woman who seek to find a connection), A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen (a view of 19thcentury marriage, especially a woman’s place in it), and Reality Bites created by Helen Childress (a group of friends’ struggle to find their path after college graduation).

Assignment: Choose one of the following topics for your essay.

  1. Analyze how the symbolism in Trifles or A Doll’s House develops a particular theme in the play. Make a connection between the two but just choose one to focus on.
  2. Analyze the irony in Trifles and how it leads to a deeper understanding of a particular character or theme. Make a connection to another story, poem, or play.
  3. Analyze Sure Thing’s depiction of modern relationships. Be sure to evaluate whether or not the play gives a strong/accurate representation of romantic relationships. Make a connection to another story, poem or play.
  4. Evaluate Nora’s character in A Doll’s House. Make sure to take a position on whether or not you find her to be a sympathetic character. Make a connection to another story, poem or play.
  5. Analyze the irony in Reality Bites in terms of how it depicts a particular theme.
  6. Analyze the way Reality Bites depicts the Gen-X. Do you agree/disagree with the film’s portrayal?
  7. Analyze the depiction of reality TV in the film Reality Bites and whether or not it can be trusted to accurately portray the truth.
  8. Reality Bites gives us a depiction of the struggles college students face after graduation when they encounter a difficult transitional period in their lives. Choose 2-3 conflicts the film addresses and analyze the role these conflicts play in the lives of post-graduates, both in the film and in real-life. You might want to address whether or not you find these conflicts realistic and how such conflicts have changed or stayed the same over time.


* Essays must be in MLA format – typed, double-spaced, 12-point font and with a Works Cited page. If you need more information on how to write the Works Cited page, then visit the link I uploaded on Canvas. Essays without a Works Cited will be penalized one full grade.

* Essays must be between 4-6 pages (4 is the minimum and 6 is the maximum).

* You must use 4 sources in this essay: the first is your primary source (the story you are focusing on), the second is your secondary source (another story, poem or play from our previous units to which you’re making a connection), the thirdis a web article (a credible newspaper or magazine article), and the fourth is a scholarly source from a scholarly journal.