Significance: Short Story Criticism is designed to serve as an introduction to major authors,works and topics in the short fiction genre. Introductory essays providepertinent biographical information, discuss the context,characters and themes of individual stories, or provide overviews of relatedliterary topics.
The Beinecke Scholarship essay is written by a junior faced with stiff competition from a program that awards $34,000 towards senior year and graduate school. This student takes an interesting theme-based approach and projects forward toward graduate school with confidence. This writer’s sense of self-definition is particularly strong, and her personal story compelling. Having witnessed repeated instances of injustice in her own life, the writer describes in her final paragraphs how these experiences have led to her proposed senior thesis research and her goal of becoming a policy analyst for the government’s Department of Education.
Analyzing a Short Story
Here is an example, using Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard to Find, on how to go about analyzing a short story. Paper Masters also provides guidelines to other short stories such as:
In writing an essay that analyzes how elements of fiction convey theme in a short story, use at least these essential elements of fiction: setting, characters, plot (including conflict and resolution), theme and personal appeal. Other elements that may be useful but may be difficult to handle in a short essay are narration/point of view tone, imagery, , motifs, form or storytelling technique. If you choose to include the more difficult elements, be sure to define the elements for your readers.
In the pursuit of achieving the explicit expression of the plot development and themes, the short story writers can opt to assume some details, ignore some details completely or better still, use styles of literature to express themselves (Ford, Para 1).
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The short essay by a geography student applying to an internship program opens with the writer admitting that she previously had a limited view of geography, then describing how a course changed her way of thinking so that she came to understand geography as a “balance of physical, social, and cultural studies.” Despite her limited experience, she shows that she has aspirations of joining the Peace Corps or obtaining a law degree, and her final paragraph links her interests directly to the internship program to which she is applying.
The student applying for the Teach for America program, which recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in underprivileged urban and rural public schools, knows that she must convince readers of her suitability to such a demanding commitment, and she has just two short essays with which to do so. She successfully achieves this through examples related to service mission work that she completed in Ecuador before entering college.
Each of the nearly 150 volumes in this series profilesapproximately three to six writers of short fiction from all time periods and all partsof the world. Entries provide an introductory biographical essay, a primarybibliography, a selection of full-text or excerpted critical essays reproducedfrom books, magazines, literary reviews, newspapers and scholarly journals, andsources for additional research. A full citation and annotation precede each ofthe approximately 50 essays per volume; many entries include an authorportrait. The series currently covers more than 500 authors with numerous entries focused on individual works and topics. Approximately 95% ofcritical essays from the print series are reproduced in full in this onlineversion, which combines multiple search and browse options with an engaging formatthat matches the look and feel of the print originals.
Summary: Each volume of this reference provides an overview and a selection of criticalessays on three to six major writers of short fiction, individual shortstories, or related topics, reflecting short fiction from all eras and allparts of the world.
Source: Introductory essays are written and entries compiled byprofessional literature researchers and other subject-matter experts. Eachentry includes a set of previously published reviews, essays and other criticalresponses from sources that include scholarly books and journals, literary magazines,interviews, letters and diaries, carefully selected to create a representativehistory and cross-section of critical responses.
Drama is conflict and action, elements best presented in scene. The writer of a literary fictional story is often trained in the craft of beautiful prose for telling a story, a skill that may work against reader involvement in a dramatic presentation of the material. This essay considers the role of drama in fiction.