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Free Essay Samples & Examples - English Literature

Free English Literature quality essay samples and examples. These illustrate good writing techniques, and provide ideas for your own essay topic assignments. These reports are primarily homework from English classes and typically are argumentative essays. Sample essays include Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream; Hamlet and Much Ado about Nothing; Stephen Crane; Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and more. Sample high school essays include a special analysis section that examines the quality of the paper.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby - Sample literary analysis paper

Jay Gatsby represents the American dream - he's gone from "rags to riches." But is he happy? This sample high school AP English essay argues that F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby illustrates what is wrong with America's attitude towards wealth. This example literary analysis paper uses forceful commentary to make its point and backs up its arguments with short but significant textual references. It would be a good resource for a student who wants to examine a literary classic in the context of a society's ideals.
1,037 words / 4 pages
 

Daisy Buchanan and the lust for wealth in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby - Sample literary classic analysis

Daisy Buchanan is the ultimate material girl. The author of this sample AP English Composition essay argues Daisy uses the men in her life solely to advance her social status. This sample high school paper tracks the wreckage Daisy causes throughout Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and the tragic results that follow. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to analyze how relationships drive a literary work.
1,072 words, 5 pages
 

Homer's Odyssey - Sample Literature Paper

This example persuasive essay on Homer's Odyssey looks at Telemachus, the son of the great hero Odysseus. The essay describes how Telemachus is at first burdened by his heritage, but eventually embraces his destiny as a hero's son. This sample college paper was a diagnostic essay written for a course in Greek Thought. It would be a good reference for students who want to learn the basics of a persuasive style.
621 words / 3 pages
 

Shakespeare Essay: A Midsummers Night's Dream - Sample Literary Analysis

This example Shakespearean analysis essay was written for a college junior English course. The paper examines the fairy characters in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and determines that their actions largely influence the events of the play. Using body paragraphs that display an impressive command of quotations, this easy to read assignment proves that Puck, the trickster fairy, helps to give the play character, while the fiery relationship between Oberon and Titania tells the audience what is at stake. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to write an advanced Shakespearean paper.
1,226 words / 4 pages
 

Shakespeare Essay: Hamlet - Sample Argumentative Style Report

The following is a free sample literary analysis essay about King Claudius, the villain in Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet. This argumentative style paper says that Claudius can be considered a tragic, but not necessarily a sympathetic character. This example Shakespeare essay uses Claudius' soliloquy in Act III of the play to argue that he shows regret for his actions, but is too concerned about his worldly treasures to repent. Students can use this essay to learn more about Claudius' character and get ideas for English papers that center on literary villains.
1,497 words / 5 pages
 

John Steinbeck: Cannery Row - Sample Literary Analysis Paper

This sample high school English essay examines John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. It argues that while the town appears to be full of drunks and outcasts, its inhabitants are actually saintly people. While this example freshman high school paper is short, it displays good organization, an acceptable thesis and a well-written conclusion. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to write a basic, grammatically correct essay.
525 words / 2 pages
 

Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray - Example English literature assignment

"All art is quite useless," writes Oscar Wilde. Yet his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray is quite useful to the author of this sample high school AP English essay. This example literary analysis paper argues that Wilde's preface, which contains several aphorisms about art, is not just a manifesto of the Aesthetic movement - which believed in art for art's sake - but a warning for those who lack morals. This example high school criticism paper would be a good reference for a student who wants to compare the author's language in an introduction or preface to the rest of the novel.
1,227 words / 4 pages
 

Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing - Sample Persuasive Style Essay

This sample Shakespearean analysis paper was written for a college junior English class. The essay looks at Hero, a minor character in the play, and the object of a comical love trap, and how her role is actually more significant than it appears. The unique topic suggests that Hero's small speaking parts are quite significant, as they present a hint of independence not present in most women at the time. The essay uses a persuasive style to argue that Hero is not a "puppet character" and can command respect. It would be a useful reference for a student who wants to write an essay about a minor character's role.
1,331 words / 4 pages
 

Gothic Fiction Essay: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - Sample Literary Analysis

This sample college English literature paper focuses on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It argues that Frankenstein's monster is a kind-hearted, even sympathetic creature because it is continually isolated and has a gentle nature. While this sample paper acknowledges the monster's crimes, it uses textual evidence to build a compelling case in the creature's favor. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to write a gothic fiction paper or examine how an antagonist can be seen in a positive light.
1,412 words / 6 pages
 

Tree imagery in Toni Morrison's Beloved - Example English literature paper

Toni Morrison's Beloved is filled with imagery that evokes trees. The author of this sample AP English Composition paper explores that imagery and how it relates to the development of Morrison's primary characters. The trees can symbolize new hope, despair, and the desire for escape. This well-written example high school English essay would be a good reference for a student who wants to explore how an author uses a particular rhetorical strategy like imagery.
1,471 words, 6 pages
 

Shakespeare essay: Romeo and Juliet - Sample literary analysis report

This example high school English assignment discusses the role of fate and luck in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The paper argues that while certain chance occurrences built up to the tragedy of the story, Romeo and Juliet - the star-crossed lovers - decide their own fate. This sample Shakespeare essay employs a counter-argument paragraph and an acceptable conclusion. It would be a good reference for a student who is new to Shakespeare.
470 words / 2 pages
 

John Steinbeck: The Winter of Our Discontent - Example literary analysis essay

What happens when moral values are replaced by a fixation on wealth? This sample high school AP English paper on John Steinbeck's The Winter of Discontent argues that disillusionment and unhappiness take root. This example literary analysis essay examines the actions of Ethan Allen Hawley - an upright man who stands against an increasingly amoral society. The paper tracks Allen's conflicts with his town, family and himself. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to examine the internal conflict of a fictional character.
1,044 words / 5 pages
 

Light and Dark imagery in Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent - Literary analysis example paper

Ethan Allen Hawley, a model citizen in Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent, is tempted by the darkness. As his morality decays, images of darkness begin to predominate. This sample high school AP English essay artfully explains how Steinbeck trades light imagery for dark as Hawley's character changes. The first paragraph about the gray cat is particularly impressive. This example literary analysis paper would be a good reference for a student who wants to study how changing images reflect a character's personality change.
1,134 words / 5 pages
 

Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn - Free Sample Essay

This free example literary criticism paper was written for a college sophomore English class. It uses a critical theory about Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn to analyze Twain's controversial ending. This sample paper provides a good introduction to writing a critical essay on a well-known novel like Huck Finn. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to learn the building blocks of writing a critical essay.
1,465 words / 6 pages
 

Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn - Example literary critique essay

Being "sivilized" to quote Huck Finn, is overrated. This sample AP English essay argues that Southern definitions of civility in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are actually barbaric and cruel. In this example literary analysis paper, the author points out that Huck Finn can understand the harsh realities of slavery and thus reject the ideals of the American South. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to see how society's viewpoint is far different from a protagonist's.
1,028 words / 5 pages
 

Using books to shape a worldview : The role of literature in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Example literary critique paper

The author of this sample high school English essay argues that characters in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn perceive the world based on how much they have been exposed to literature. This clever sample literature analysis is at its strongest when it discusses the two conmen who try to fool others with their knowledge of Shakespeare. Although at times a bit wordy - the first sentence could probably use a little simplifying - this example AP English essay would be a good reference for a student who wants to analyze what shapes a character's worldview.
1,240 words / 5 pages
 

Stephen Crane Essay: Bride Comes to Yellow Sky - Example Literary Analysis Paper

This sample essay was written for a college freshman literary analysis class. This example English essay analyzes Stephen Crane's short story, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. The essay, which is a good reference for someone who wants to write a short story paper, uses a compare and contrast method to look at the two main characters. Using an argumentative style, the paper suggests that the hero and the villain are different from typical Wild West characters, and that the story as a whole is a different twist on a familiar tale.
857 words / 5 pages
 

Kurt Vonnegut: Cat's Cradle - Example literary criticism essay

This example literature essay was written for a high school Honors English class. It examines how Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle depicts science as the "new human religion." This sample high school essay expertly weaves in quotes from the text to strengthen its argument. Its effective premise makes this essay worth reading. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to see the quote-weaving technique in action.
1,028 words, 4 pages
 

Settings and Gothic Villains: Contrasting Radcliffe, Stoker, and Emily Bronte: Sample Literary Analysis and Comparative Essay

This example comparative essay was written for an English literature course on gothic fiction. This sample paper examines how the setting of gothic novels reflects the personality of their villains. Written for a college English course, it looks at Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. The paper not only compares how the novels use setting, it examines how this technique became more sophisticated as gothic fiction evolved. It would be an excellent reference for a student comparing multiple authors and analyzing how a genre has changed over time.
2,842 words / 10 pages
 

Richard Cory - Persuasive Sample Essay

This award-winning sample essay was written for a literary analysis class. The poetry analysis paper looks at Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem, Richard Cory, and uses a persuasive writing style to argue that the man's admirers are responsible for his suicide. This essay, which uses exceptional organizational and quotation examples, was featured in a college literary magazine. It is a good reference for those who have trouble writing poetry essays and want a template for integrating quotations.
949 words / 5 pages
 

Captain Ahab and the depths of suffering in Herman Melville's Moby Dick - sample AP English essay

Dark have been Ahab's dreams of late. The captain, who relentlessly pursues the White Whale in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, is driven by an obsession to destroy the whale. But the author of this example English paper chronicles how this obsession slowly eats away at Ahab and ultimately destroys him. While the author probably could have left out the references to Shakespeare, the essay's intro could potentially be an inspiration for a comparative style paper.
1,052 words / 5 pages
 

Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness - Example English literature paper

This example literary analysis essay discusses Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. It examines how Kurtz, who was once described as a visionary, ultimately wasted away in the jungles of the Congo and was buried like a "savage." Written for a high school AP Literature course, this sample English essay has excellent organization, effectively uses quotations and expands upon its topic in interesting directions. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to conduct an in-depth character analysis.
1,700 words / 6 pages
 

W.H. Auden's The Unknown Citizen - Example Poetry Analysis Essay

This well-written poetry analysis essay looks at W.H. Auden's poem, The Unknown Citizen. Using an argumentative writing style, the paper argues that the poem's dramatic structure and formal tone reflect the banal existence of the citizen. Written for a college freshman literary analysis course, this persuasive essay features strong body paragraphs that present evidence in an interesting, succinct manner. It would be a good reference for students who are interested in analyzing poetry on a detailed level.
1,169 words / 5 pages
 

The weeds of evil - Roger Chillingworth as an agent of the devil in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Roger Chillingworth seems to corrupt the earth around him. The author of this sample high school English essay argues that Chillingworth's foul purposes are represented by toxic plants in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Indeed, this example AP English essay reveals that Chillingworth's use of plants, and his relationship to dark places such as the forest are clear signs that he is an agent of evil. This sample essay's nice use of illustration in its introduction is particular highlight.
1,035 words / 5 pages
 

Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter - Sample English literature essay

This example high school English essay analyzes Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. It argues that each character in the novel undergoes a particular form of suffering and that the reader can learn more about these characters by examining how they deal with their individual issues. This sample literary analysis paper weaves in numerous quotes to support its argument. It would be a useful reference for a student who wants to examine how a character's problems contribute to their development in the story.
1,084 words / 5 pages
 

Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John - Sample Literary Criticism Essay

This detailed sample literary criticism paper was written for a college sophomore criticism course. It applies a post-colonial theory of literature to Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John, where a girl comes of age on the Caribbean island of Antigua. This free example writing assignment takes a complicated topic and addresses it in a easy-to-understand writing style. This sample college paper would be a good reference for someone who wants to write a critical literary essay on a topic involving multiple authors.
1,363 words / 6 pages
 

John Knowles: A Separate Peace - Sample literature criticism paper

This sample high school literary analysis paper looks at the dueling forces of order and chaos in John Knowles' A Separate Peace. It suggests that the author wants to convey a message: it is impossible to live in a world ruled by order. This sample English essay's intriguing premise is backed up by relevant quotations and has decent organization. Written for a sophomore honors English class, it would be a useful reference for a student who wants to analyze a single character in a work of fiction.
809 words / 3 pages
 

Memoir analysis: Lynn Freed's Reading,Writing, and Leaving Home - Sample Book Review Assignment

This example book review assignment was written for a creative writing class. It examines Lynne Freed's Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home, a memoir that also serves as an instruction manual for fiction writers. The sample literary review concludes that Freed's witty commentary on the art of writing make her work worth reading. It would be a good reference for a student who wants their opinion of the book to set the tone for the review.
1,233 words / 4 pages
 

Art Spiegelman's graphic novel Maus - Example Critical Literary Essay

This unique free sample literary criticism essay analyzes Art Spiegelman's graphic novel, Maus. It suggests that while Spiegelman's comic book style work is a biography of his father Vladek, it can actually be interpreted as the author's autobiography. This example English assignment takes a detailed definition of autobiography and applies it to the graphic novel. The essay would be a good reference for someone who wants to analyze an unusual topic and apply it to modern critical theory.
1,506 words / 6 pages
 

Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises - Example English essay homework

This sample high school AP English essay concerns Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. It argues that Jake's impotence - the result of an injury from World War I - serves as a metaphor for the other disillusioned characters. This example literary analysis essay examines how the "Lost Generation" finds itself unable to act in the wake of so much destruction and contrasts them with the ambitious bullfighter Pedro Romero. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to analyze the multiple characters by examining the main character's plight.
1,344 words / 5 pages
 

Jo Ann Beard's Boys of My Youth - Creative Writing Craft Essay

This free essay was written for a college creative writing class. This sample craft analysis essay examines the writing of Jo Ann Beard in The Boys of My Youth, specifically the story titled "The Fourth State of Matter." The essay shows how Beard's unique sentence structure conveys complicated emotions in a succinct, creative way. Written for a college sophomore English class, this essay would be a good reference for a student who wants to do an in-depth analysis of an author's craft.
1,066 words / 5 pages
 

Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities - Sample literature paper

This example high school English paper argues that the antagonists in Charles Dickens'A Tale of Two Cities are actually agents of Fate. In this essay, Fate is a puppet master who controls Madame Defarge and those who have orchestrated the gruesome French Revolution. The battles in the streets of Paris are compared to a cosmic battle between free will and destiny. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to examine over-arching themes in works of fiction.
1,071 words / 4 pages
 

Nonfiction literary analysis: Jane Vandenburgh's A Pocket History of Sex in the 20th Century - Sample Book Review Assignment

This sample books review on Jane Vandenburgh's A Pocket History of Sex in the 20th Century was written for a creative writing class. Vandenburgh's memoir, which ranges from funny to profound, examines how she dealt with her father's suicide and her mother's mental illness. This example English book review looks at how Vandenburgh uses language and humor to discuss such a serious topic. It would be a useful reference for a student who wants to evaluate how an author uses diction and anecdotes.
1,450 words / 5 pages
 

Shakespeare essay: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar - Sample literary analysis paper

Conspiracy lies at the heart of Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, and it too lies at the heart of this sample high school English essay. This example literary analysis paper argues that the men who assassinated Julius Caesar only brought ruin to the Roman Republic - a cruel irony because these men claimed Caesar's death was the only way to save Rome. The essay explains how the Brutus' patriotism and Cassius' jealousy are turned against them and bring about a new dictatorship instead. This sample Shakespeare paper would be a good reference for a student who wants to examine the tragic consequences of a character's actions.
1,124 words / 4 pages
 

Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar: Brutus, a man possessed - Example literary persuasive essay

One does not simply kill a man like Julius Caesar and escape unscathed. Brutus, one of the traitorous assassins in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar finds himself seemingly possessed by Caesar's spirit. This sample English literary analysis assignment chronicles this "possession" and how it warps Brutus to the point of self-destruction. It would be a good reference for a student who is new to Shakespeare and would like to analyze one of the Bard's characters.
826 words / 3 pages
 

Memoir literary review: Jack Marshall's From Baghdad to Brooklyn - Sample Book Review Assignment

This example book review looks at Jack Marshall's memoir, From Baghdad to Brooklyn. Marshall's work focuses on his bleak childhood in the Jewish-Syrian neighborhoods of New York, and brings these memories to life with his vivid imagery. This sample literary review examines how Marshall uses language to illustrate his family troubles and his battle with religion. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to integrate the author's words into their book review.
792 words / 3 pages
 

Shakespeare, Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet - Film Analysis Essay Example

This example Shakespearean film analysis paper was the final project for a college junior Shakespeare course. This sample final project examines critical writing about Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1997), a four hour long epic. The essay examines how various critics have analyzed the film, from Freudians who think Branagh's film fails to repress the play's sexual tension, to Shakespeareans who like how the political elements have been kept in the movie. It uses extensive quotations to suggest why Branagh's film is among the greatest Shakespearean films ever made. This would be an excellent reference for someone who wants to write a critical summary of an acclaimed film.
2,129 words / 8 pages
 

Virgil's Aeneid - Sample Literary Analysis Essay

This example argumentative paper on Virgil's Aeneid proposes that Aeneas actually is in love with the Trojan queen, Dido. While many suggest that Aeneas is simply using Dido, this sample essay uses strong body paragraphs and a thought-provoking conclusion to argue he genuinely cares for her. Written as a diagnostic essay for a seminar on Roman Thought, it would be a good reference for a beginning college writer.
709 words / 3 pages
 

Nonfiction book review: Rachel Howard's The Lost Night - Sample Book Review Assignment

This sample book review analyzes Rachel Howard's The Lost Night. The memoir focuses on Howard's search for the truth about her father's murder and her emotional struggles. This example literary analysis paper studies how Howard's use of technique, specifically her constant awareness of memory, adds to the realism of the memoir. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to evaluate the quality of a nonfiction work by studying rhetorical strategies.
802 words / 3 pages
 

Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis - Example Persuasive Analysis Paper

This persuasive sample essay examines the effects of Gregor Samsa's transformation in Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. While Samsa himself is permanently harmed by what occurs, this sample paper goes a step further and argues that Gregor's family actually benefits from his insectoid change. Using strong organization and an interesting thesis, this modern literature essay successfully proves how one man's tragedy is another's boon. It would be a good reference for a student who wants to write a strong, thorough paper on family relationships in literature.
1,362 words / 6 pages
 

Sophocles' Oedipus the King - Sample Mythology Analysis Essay

This sample argumentative mythology essay analyzes Sophocles' tragedy, Oedipus the King. While some may argue that the Greek hero is responsible for his misfortunes, the paper suggests that fate is responsible for what transpires in the play. Using a persuasive style, this example paper strategically uses quotations to hammer home its point. It would be a good reference for students who want a basic template for analyzing a tragic figure.
1,258 words / 5 pages
 

 
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