Literary Analysis of Drama

Literary Analysis of Drama/Play


What is a research essay as opposed to the kind of essay we've been writing already?

In a research paper we look outside ourselves and the author and instead of just reading the text we find other works and sources that help in interpreting the original work. The sources may be literary criticism, biographical information, historical materials, other poems/plays/novels etc. by the author or related authors that aid in understanding and analyzing the text. It is the next step - going further. Now we can read and respond to the text and by looking outside of ourselves for even more knowledge we deepen our own. 


Play Analysis: Examination of a play to (1) identify its component parts, (2) explain their arrangement, and deduce the meaning that arises from them and their relation to the whole.


Assignment: Evaluate/Analyze a significant issue, theme and the literary aspect(s) (symbolism, character, plot structure, style  -see full list below-) within the play. Write an essay that sheds light on any of the following play (s) and argue whether it can be defined as (or not) a great work of literature. 


  • Tennesse Williams.  A Street Car Names Desire
  • William Shakespeare, A Mid-Summer Night's Dream 


Context: Assume that the reader is familiar with the events and characters of the play, but that he/she has neither analyzed it nor formed conclusions as to its meaning. Cite evidence or examples to support your claims. Using the following elements of a play analysis support your claim(s) and convince your argument that your evaluation is supreme. 


Essential Elements of Play analysis: 

  1. PLOT: analyze the plot.
  2. CHARACTERS: using the Character Analysis outline, analyze the characters.<--This was posted earlier in Module 3. :)
  3. THOUGHT: Explain the nature of the world created by the playwright. What forces operate in this situation? What does it mean to be a human being in this world? What threatens the characters? What solutions are available? How are problems resolved, if they are resolved at all? What sort of feelings are aroused by these characters, these events?
  4. DICTION (LANGUAGE): Describe the play's language and any rhetorical plays on language associated with it. Prose or poetry? Poetry: rhymed or un-rhymed? metrical or free? imitative of daily speech or highly manipulated? Prose: rhythm imitative of daily speech or highly manipulated? Both: dialect and vocabulary of daily life or elevated/manipulated? Relationship of character and diction?
  5. MUSIC: Describe the playwright's choices regarding rhythm, time, and sound. Include examples of rhythmic repetitions of sounds, words, lines, or scenes; hurried or leisurely speech or movement; music or sound effects.
  6. SPECTACLE: Describe important elements of the settings and explain how each should appear to create appropriate mood and atmosphere and assist the communication of idea. Explain whether the setting is necessary or significant to the events or ideas of the play or is merely appropriate background. Describe other important elements of spectacle.


Lastly, Your Analysis: What does all this add up to? On the basis of the evidence you have described above, explain as fully as you can the meaning (particular point, general truth, argument, or proposition) embodied by the playwright in the selection and arrangement of the materials of this play.



I want you to continue to be the smart, reflective, and analytical writers you have grown into this semester.  The small, but essential differences between this essay and the previous ones are that now you are going to write a longer paper and include references to outside sources.


Although this assignment asks you to do outside reading, your main task remains the same: to produce an argument of your own drawing upon a literary text.  The outside sources are meant to help your develop and deepen your own interpretation of the Drama piece you have chosen, not to substitute for it.  This essay is not a traditional research report where you regurgitate all the facts you can find about your topic; indeed, report-style papers will not pass.  Instead, you are using the sources to help you understand your chosen focus, the rhetorical devises used, self-understanding, presentation to the world, etc.


Suggested sources:

  • reviews
  • essays
  • articles
  • television sources
  • literary critiques
  • biographical materials
  • historical materials

Be inventive - find other sources too.

Find your sources before you start to write your essay.

  • Students with wiki pages you must keep a research journal and link all sources or copy all articles to the page.
  • Students with out a wiki must print out all sources and turn them in with their paper.
  • Online students will submit their sources with their paper via Canvas. 



FORMAT Details

  •  Length: 7 1/2 -8 pages, correct margins, heading….SHOW ME your MLA!
  •   The Works Cited Page it must be in correct MLA style. (This is separate from the annotated bib)
  •   5 total sources plus the play itself. (more external sources is permissible).
  •   MLA Documentation: Correct or your essay grade will be lowered by a full letter grade (for example, an A- will become a B-)
  •   Writing Style: Do not write in report-style, but use the intelligent, thoughtful, and reflective style you have been cultivating. 
  •   Sources: The paper must refer to either A Street Car Named Desire or Midsummer Night's Dream and 4 5 outside sources.  When you refer to these sources, make sure to properly acknowledge other writers’ ideas and not use them out of context.


Annotated Bibliography

You must have Three annotated bibliographies for the five sources you  use in this paper. It should be the last item in this assignment. So you will have your paper, your works cited page, and then YOUR annotated bibs.  



  • Your annotated bib document and entries must follow either MLA conventions.
  • You must include a minimum of 5 entries.
  • A minimum of 5 of your sources must be either from books or accessed the DMC databases to get access to peer reviewed articles, scholarly journals literary reviews.  (print sources).
  • All other sources must be rigorously analyzed for credibility. If you locate newspaper or magazine articles via the the White Library databases, you can be relatively assured that your source is credible. If you conduct "google based" searches for web sites, you must PROVE that the website is credible and necessary within your annotation. I strongly encourage you to limit your sources to only those you access via the White Library databases or card catalog.
  •  The annotations for this bib should be brief. In  five to seven sentences, please describe the following:
    • Establish Ethos of Author/Organization. 
    • The main points of the article or chapter. How do you plan on using this source in your paper?
    • Identify whose perspective is being represented in the article or chapter. (Is the author "for" or "against" the issue? Is the author primarily focusing on one way of examining the issue...for example, does the author represent a psychologist's take on the issue vs. someone from the law enforcement community?
    • How did you locate the source? If you did not use Library to locate this source, you must write an additional sentence explaining how you determined that the web site or source is credible.  keywords.



Comments (1)

Felicia Dz Stovall said

at 8:01 am on Apr 26, 2023

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