Critical Essay on Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
(From Assignment Guidelines)
This will be a formal, critical essay presenting your unique reading of some particular aspect of Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend. It will elaborate an argument
synthesized from your attentive reading of the novel and the knowledge of Dickens’s works and Victorian society that you have gained throughout the course—as well as
from individual research you will have conducted based on the approach to the novel that you choose.
Your essay should work from a clear thesis statement, usually placed at the end of your introduction paragraph, which should delve directly into your specific topic
and avoid generalization itself. This thesis statement will declare your argument concretely and will include or promise an answer to the question “So what?”—what is
called, from a rhetoric perspective, your thesis statement’s “warrant.” In other words, if my argument is that disease constitutes a social construct in Our Mutual
Friend (I am not aware that it does), “So what?” How does that affect readers’ and scholars’ understanding of the novel and how Dickens constructed it to interact with
the society reading it over the course of many months?
You will not write a five-paragraph essay. The five-paragraph essay form is not sufficient for a literary analysis of this length and complexity. Your paragraph
structure must emerge from the way you choose to subdivide the necessary topics that make up your argument. Each body paragraph should present a clear point of
contention for your thesis statement, evidence from the texts that support this point, AND your analysis or interpretation of that evidence that convinces readers of
your thesis statement’s veracity. You will open up this textual evidence for your readers through your interpretive reading skills and research-based expertise, both
of which we will practice and develop over the semester.
You must cite a minimum of two sources that come from the Peer Teaching-Research Collaboration project, either from your own bibliography, from one of your colleagues’
bibliographies, or from a source found with the aid of one of those two. You will note these in your works cited after the proper MLA entry. You must cite at least
four primary historical or peer-reviewed academic sources other than the novel, in total, and at least one of each type.
The essay must utilize MLA formatting and include appropriate in-text citations of any paraphrased or directly quoted material from primary or secondary sources and a
works cited page. If you have questions regarding this formatting, please contact me and/or consult a reputable resource like the Purdue Online Writing Lab website,
which has a detailed guide
( https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ ). Also, do not forget about the Online Composition Hub that is available to students enrolled through Continuing
Education (see the “Course Home”).