Instructions How to Write

Literary Archetypes: Their Role in "Beowulf"

Once you choose the text to analyze, discern how the text relates to literary archetypes. Listed below are some ways or reasons why literature incorporates archetypes:

To employ an archetype to carry a particular meaning or connotation in the poem
To undermine or subvert established archetypes
To aid character development

Once you have decided on the text to analyze and discerned its relationship with archetypes, compile substantial research for your ideas. Your research is not limited to criticism regarding the text you are analyzing; you can also research some of the following:

The archetype(s) and how it is present in the text’s literary period
The role of an archetype in general
Historical events or climates surrounding the composition of the text (think of publication time and location) and how those can influence or create an archetype

Once you establish the text’s relationship with archetypes, compose an essay to explain the relationship but also argue as to how and why that relationship exists or is necessary. For example, why would the poet need to employ a particular archetype, and why does the use of that archetype matter? How does the use of archetypes affect the text? There are various approaches to this assignment. You may even feel that neither text employs or establishes archetypes. If so, why does the text or poet stay away from using archetypes? Overall, you need to be able to answer the following three questions: How? Why? So what?

Tips: When integrating sources, explain the relevance of the information you integrate to your argument. How do particular quotations strengthen your points? Also, if you cite information that is not about the text under analysis, be sure to apply it to the text. For example, if you cite general criticism about archetypes, you must show how that information relates to the text under analysis. Be sure to exclude first person and second person pronouns. Also, you should have research/textual evidence to reinforce your claims in each body paragraph. In order to avoid explication and to focus on analysis, do not use events from the poem or quotations as topic sentences. Your topic sentences should refer back to your literary argument/thesis statement.

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