Unit 3 Essay

Many works of literature reinforce the idea of the Paradoxical Nature of
Human Life. We have explored this idea in Romeo and Juliet and Ethan
Frome. Now you are going to examine this idea using these texts as
evidence. Begin with your Overall Assertion or Thesis and then create an
outline with smaller assertions for each paragraph. Remember that each of
these will require pieces of evidence from the play or the novel and then
adequate commentary to explain your ideas. Refer to your earlier notes on
this method of writing. Make sure that you tie everything together with proper
transitions and then write a meaningful conclusion for the entire essay. Your
final essay should be typed and double spaced with correct MLA citations in
your paper for each piece of evidence.
Many of Shakespeare's works have the paradoxical nature of humanity and
life in general as a motif. Romeo and Juliet is built around this idea-- their
names are even paradoxical-- Cacophonous on the Capulet side (Juliet,
Capulet, Tybalt) and Euphonic on the Montague side (Romeo, Benvolio,
Mercutio, Montague)-- he also fills the entire play with a series of paradoxes
and oxymorons: Old vs. young, love vs. hate , fighting vs. peace, truth / lie,
life/death, destiny/control, earthly/heavenly, light/dark, night/day. These are
communicated through imagery, and figurative language, as well as puns
(especially in the conversations with Mercutio). All of Friar Lawrence's
opening lines deal with a balance of opposites and the paradoxical nature of
life, so do many of the other elements of the story. Tybalt and Benvolio have
opposing personalities, as do Romeo and Juliet-- He is dreamy and
idealistic and refers to Juliet as an object of the heavens, while she is very
grounded and practical, and refers to him in earthly terms. So-- the idea of
Paradox as an undeniable facet of human nature is pervasive throughout the
play both literally and in an abstract sense. Use Acts I -V of Romeo and Juliet
to explain how Shakespeare conveys the idea through both poetic and literary
devices. Examine Shakespeare’s use of characterization, sound devices,
imagery, juxtaposition, and foil, among other terms. Point to specific textual
quotes and details throughout your discussion to substantiate your thesis
Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome also explores this idea of Paradox in that things
are not always as they appear. Look at Wharton’s characterizations of the
older and the younger Ethan, the contrast between Mattie and Zeena, the
assumptions of the people of Starkfield about Ethan and the “smash-up” and
the story we read. Other motifs are juxtaposed such as darkness and light,
silence and sound, wealth and poverty.