Lens Essay

Version of text: https://ia800301.us.archive.org/24/items/cu31924105428902/cu31924105428902.pdf

For this paper, be sure to articulate a clear claim as a thesis, suggest what is at stake in your thesis, offer supporting claims in each supporting paragraph and support those claims with specific evidence from the text that you analyze in detail, showing how the evidence bears out your claim and, ultimately, your thesis. You will also be asked to integrate a secondary or additional primary source from our edition of Frankenstein. Please use MLA formatting. This paper should be at least 3 pages long.

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For this assignment, you will be writing a “lens” essay using a primary or secondary source from our edition of Frankenstein. Start by selecting one of the readings from the “Contexts and Criticism” sections that begin on pg. 163. Read your selection with an eye to the idea, fact, concept, or other information that will help us to understand the novel better or in a new light. Then, apply that idea, fact, concept, or information to a reading of a specific passage or two from the novel. How do we see the passage(s) differently or better, thanks to the lens source?

For example, you might remember the passage on pgs. 90-92 of the novel, where the monster describes his reading of Paradise Lost and the effect it had on him. You could then read the selections from Paradise Lost on pgs. 290-295. Having read some of the relevant passages from Paradise Lost, what can you now say about the monster’s reference to it? What can you tell your reader about the passages in the novel that you couldn’t before? How does an understanding of these passages from Paradise Lost affect your understanding of the monster?

Or, you could select one of the critical essays, such as Anne K. Mellor’s “Possessing Nature: The Female in Frankenstein” (pgs. 355-368). In this case, you will want to identify a significant claim made by Mellor; then, use that claim to generate your own observations about Frankenstein. What does that claim help you to see new or differently in the novel? Use the idea you draw from this secondary source to reinterpret or interpret more deeply some aspect of the novel. In doing so, you’ll want to analyze, in detail, a relevant passage or passages from the novel.

You can use either of these ideas as topics, or you can choose one of the other sources in the “Contexts and Criticism” section and generate your own topic. I recommend taking a little time to browse the “Contexts and Criticism” section until you find a source that will interest you; then read that source and start thinking about which passage or passages from the novel it can help you to understand better or differently.

When you write the paper, you should devote one or two of the early supporting paragraphs to giving a concise account of the source you’ve selected as the lens and of the claim, concept, fact, interpretation, or context it provides to your argument. Be sure to quote and cite as necessary, even with this material. Then, use the rest of the paper to apply that claim, concept, etc. to specific passages from the novel, showing how the lens helps us to understand those passages better or differently. Remember to keep the big picture in mind: don’t get lost in reinterpreting a random assortment of passages, but instead be working towards supporting a thesis claim about the ways in which the lens helps us to understand some aspect of the novel, such as the monster’s character, the role of women, ideas about science, etc.

Finally, this webpage provides a helpful overview of what the argument of a lens essay does. You might think of the advice given here as guidance for formulating your thesis, introductory paragraph, and structure of the paper: https://harvardwritingcenter.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/the-four-parts-of-a-lens-essay-argument/

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