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Short Essay #2: Long Day’s Journey into Night
The Basics:
Students will be asked to write a paper on a prominent theme of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.
The following elements will be expected of the essay:
  • Students should choose one theme of Long Day’s Journey into Night. This can include themes of escape, home, substance abuse, or another theme the student identifies.
  • Students will make a claim about the work that they will then work to prove. This “claim” is an argument about the interpretation of the piece. Students will argue for an interpretation of the play. Some arguments might include an answer to one of the following questions:
    • How is Mary’s addiction to morphine similar to or different from the men’s addiction to alcohol?
    • In what way is the “present” of the characters’ lives a prison?
    • How does the theme of domesticity affect a specific character in the play?
These are just a few of the many ways students can begin to formulate an argument for their paper.
In the final bullet point, the student is asked to argue for an interpretation.
  • This argument requires that the student develops a theory of what is going on, states that theory clearly at the beginning of the paper, and works logically throughout to prove that theory.
  • This also requires the student to provide evidence from the play to back up their contentions. This does not mean the student directly quotes entire sections in their paper. It means that the student will identify a small portion or passage that helps to prove their point.
  • After choosing adequate evidence from the text and citing it properly in MLA style, the student is responsible for explaining how it proves the thesis.
Technical aspects:
  • The essay should be between 600 and 800 words.
  • The essay will be written in MLA format. If you do not have experience with this, there are MLA handbooks in the library for checkout.
  • The essay requires a “work cited” page, listing O’Neill’s play and the place from which you took it (for a great many of you, that will be the Norton Anthology—see the MLA handbook for proper documentation).
  • The essay will be in Times New Roman font, 12-point, black ink, with one-inch margins. Your name, the class, and the name of your professor and the Teaching Assistant should be in the top left corner of the first page only.
  • The essay is due on the week of March 21st to your Teaching Assistant.