Topic: Select one of the ten topics/prompts below. Only three (3) students per class period may sign up for each topic

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Literary analysis of

The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

English I Paper

Topic: Select one of the ten topics/prompts below. Only three (3) students per class period may sign up for each topic (first come, first served). This is a summative writing assessment that will involve incorporating both your research skills and your writing skills into a final, polished product. You will write a well-developed literary analysis. You will provide at least two concrete details per paragraph with at least two commentaries per concrete detail.

Topic Choices: The list below provides you literary analysis topic choices that are relevant to Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Make sure to have a top and a second choice in mind before you sign up for your topic. Also, make sure that you are truly interested in the topic you choose as it will be the subject of extensive work for weeks to come.

1. Identify the one character most responsible for the tragedy. Provide several compelling examples to prove your thesis.

2. How does violence directly and indirectly influence the tragic outcome?

3. How does Romeo's and Juliet's immaturity directly and indirectly influence the tragic outcome?

4. What message(s) does Shakespeare communicate to the audience in the play? Be specific in your discussion. You may address the effect of family feuds, the role of fate, or the difference between love and lust (themes).

5. The play, it may be argued, dwells on the effect violence has on culture, community, and individuals. Discuss how this theme may be connected to modern events. What you will argue is, "Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is relevant today because..."; or, "Human nature has not changed since Shakespeare's time as revealed when..."

6. What irresponsibility does Romeo display through the choices he makes in the tragedy? Choose two of his pivotal decisions and discuss how his choices are irresponsible. Offer suggestions for alternate behaviors.

7. Is Juliet/Romeo a realistic character to today's audience? In what ways, if any, can today's audience relate to him/her?

8. Compare and contrast the choices made by Romeo versus those made by Juliet throughout the play. Which one is more realistic and in what ways?

9. How does Shakespeare's use of dramatic structure in the play contribute to its popularity?

10. How does Romeo exemplify the qualities of a tragic hero? Base your analysis using Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero (refer to Antigone).

Once three people have signed up for a topic, the topic is off limits and no one else in the class may choose it.


  • Writing Style and Voice

  • Use formal, academic diction (word choice) in a literary analysis. This means that you may NOT use first person (I, me, our, we, etc.) or second person (you). Instead, use third person (he, she, it, they, proper nouns, etc.)

  • Do NOT write about literature in the past tense. Use the “literary present” instead since literary works exist in the present (we’re still reading them today). Therefore, write “The play is…” and NOT “The play was…”

  • Audience

    • You audience is your teacher and other students in class. Do NOT retell or summarize the play (we’ve already read it). Instead, your purpose is to analyze and interpret the play in relation to your thesis (argument) based on your topic.

  • Organization

    • Your paper must include an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

    • Your argument (thesis) and your voice must carry the weight in a literary analysis paper. Even if as you incorporate research in your paper, be sure that it supports your own argument and does not overtake your voice.

    • Draft a specific thesis statement that conveys a claim that you will prove in your body paragraphs.

        • Introductory Paragraph

          • Thesis statement should be the last sentence of your introductory paragraph and should be underlined. It should be one sentence.

          • Make a clear reference to the play and Shakespeare somewhere in the introductory paragraph.

          • Include any relevant background information that your reader might need to understand your overall purpose.

        • Body Paragraphs

          • Each body paragraph must have a topic sentence that supports the thesis statement. The content of each body paragraph MUST support the thesis statement.

          • A literary analysis explains your ideas and provides evidence from the text (play and source) to support your ideas. Textual evidence consists of specific details, direct quotations, summaries, and/or paraphrases.

        • Conclusion

          • The conclusion should tie together your arguments and ideas. You may: restate the thesis (in different words) and expand on its importance, summarize the essay’s main points and ponder their significance, or comment on the literary work from a different perspective.

  • Thesis Statement

    • A literary analysis paper requires you to pose an argument and provide detailed examples from the text to support that argument. The thesis statement establishes the overall point of view of your paper. It fulfills two main objectives:

      • It states your topic.

      • It must convey what you will prove about your topic.

  • Citation of Direct Quotations

    • Introduce the quote to provide context for the reader.

      • Include the title and author if you are using the source for the first time.

      • Use a “signal phrase” to introduce the quote (author’s name + verb).

    • Direct Quote

      • Use a direct quote to convey powerful language that enhances your paper’s argument.

      • Be precise. If the quote is not well-written, paraphrase or summarize the information. If you do so, you must still cite the source.

    • Your Analysis/Interpretation of the Quote

      • Explain and discuss how the quote is significant. It cannot just hang there with no purpose.

      • The quote must serve to make a point in your argument. Otherwise, do not use it.

MLA Guidelines and Citations: Make sure that headings and page numbers are formatted correctly. Samples will be provided for you to consult.

Typed: It must be typed in 10 – 12 pt. Times New Roman font and must be double-spaced.

Works Cited Page: Make sure that it is formatted according to MLA guidelines. This is the official last page of your rough draft; it should be submitted on as part of the rough draft and final draft.

A minimum of 2 sources: Every source must be used in the paper.

Title your essay: The title should be interesting as it is the first impression you make on the reader.

Proper Formatting: Titles of short stories, poems, and essays (published) should be places in quotation marks. Titles of novels, plays, films, and TV shows should be underlined OR italicized. (Choose one of the two and be consistent).

  • Submit your paper to Your paper will NOT be graded if it is not submitted for verification through and, accordingly, will receive a 0. I will give you two days (2 24hr. periods) grace for late submissions. No submission will be accepted after this grace period. However, for every day it is late, your grade will be docked 10 points. The same policies will be applied to the final draft.

  • Revise, Revise, Revise. Your final draft should not be an exact replica of your rough draft.

  • Submit a final draft to that is nothing less than perfection. The angels should weep. Include everything that you did for your rough draft (see above).

  • AVOID PLAGIARISM! The main purpose of writing a research paper is learning to synthesize information from multiple sources. This requires the writer to give proper credit to his or her sources. Any plagiarism, intentional or accidental, will be met with a 0 and a possible referral.

*Content includes material from BCCC Tutoring Center

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