English Composition 2
Essay Assignment 3: Analysis of a Play with Sources
Wednesday, March 7: Draft of at least 700 words due for peer critique.
Friday, March 16: Revised Draft of at least 1000 words due.
Essay Assignment 3 is different from the other essays you have written for the course so far. Like Essays 1 and 2, Essay 3 is an analytical and persuasive essay on a work of literature, but, in Essay 3, you will be using, citing, and documenting material from online secondary sources as part of your analysis of Sophocles' Antigone (722-757). We will be using the MLA style of documentation.
Essay Assignment 3 is an essay of at least 1000 words that analyzes and explains some aspect of Sophocles’ Antigone. For example, you might focus on a character or characters or on a prominent theme in the play. Whatever topic you choose, your paper should help your audience understand the play. You can assume that your audience has read Antigone, so do not simply summarize the play. Instead, give your audience an interpretation of Antigone, some insightful explanation of the play that will help your audience understand its meaning and significance.
To help you develop and support your interpretation, you must use material from at least two credible and scholarly online secondary sources. Your primary source (the play) and your secondary sources (works that comment on the play) must be cited and documented according to MLA standards, and you must include with your paper an additional "Works Cited" page. (Failure to cite and document sources properly may result in plagiarism!) A minimum of two secondary sources (not including the play itself, your primary source) is required for this paper, but using more secondary sources may help you strengthen your paper.
So, for Essay 3, we need
- at least 1000 words, and
- a total of at least three sources, including the play itself.
Please see the important information below concerning the secondary sources to be used for Essay 3.
The Secondary Sources for Essay 3
The term "secondary sources" refers to essays, books, and other resources that provide interpretations of the play. You will use insights about the play from the secondary sources to help you support and develop the ideas that you present in your essay. The secondary sources should comment specifically on the aspect or aspects of the play that you analyze in your essay. For Essay 3, you need to use insights from at least two online secondary sources, and those sources must be credible and scholarly. A credible and scholarly secondary source is one that is written by an expert on the play. In our case, this usually would be a scholar with a Doctor of Philosophy degree (a PhD degree) in English or in Classical Studies who is an expert on the play Antigone.
The Internet provides some good secondary sources on Sophocles' Antigone, but it is often difficult for students to locate secondary sources that would be considered credible and scholarly. In addition, it is sometimes difficult for students to determine whether a particular secondary source is good enough to be a source for their essays. If you look for secondary sources on the Web by typing "Antigone" into a search engine, you probably will find that 95 percent or more of the matches for your search are not the kinds of sources that you should use in your essay.
Therefore, to help ensure that you use credible and scholarly secondary sources in your paper, please use only the secondary sources indicated below.
Make sure to use only the secondary sources indicated below: the specific sources listed directly below or sources from the library databases.
1. Scholarly Secondary Sources on Sophocles' Antigone on the Web
The secondary sources listed below are available on the World Wide Web for anyone to access.
- Paul Epstein's The Recovery of a Comprehensive View of Greek Tragedy
- Brian Arkins' "Sexuality in Fifth-Century Athens" (Although this essay focuses on sexuality, it provides good insights into the role of women in Athens at about the time when Sophocles was writing.)
- Patricia M. Lines' "Antigone's Flaw"
2. Secondary Sources in Online Subscription Databases from Jacobs
IVCC provides you with excellent resources for scholarly sources through Jacobs Library's online subscription databases. You can find the library page that links to the resources by clicking the link below:
For Essay 3, you will find the databases ProQuest Direct, FirstSearch, EBSCOhost, and
especially JSTOR to be the most useful. JSTOR, in particular, provides many
scholarly sources on literature. These are all subscription databases that
provide access to scholarly journals that are not otherwise available on the
Internet. If you use an IVCC computer on campus, you do not need to enter a
login or password to access the databases. If you access the databases from any
other computer, then you need to enter an access code and password.
Your login for ProQuest Direct, FirstSearch, EBSCOhost, and JSTOR is
your 14-digit student ID number (which you can find on your student ID
card): Your 14-digit student ID number
begins with 24611 and probably ends with 01, with the seven digits in between being
your unique IVCC student ID number.
- Your password is your last name.
From the search page for each database, just type your search word or words into the box (it's probably a good idea to begin in a general way by typing in only "Antigone"). If possible, then click that you want to search only for "full-text articles." Then, all of the search results will be the full articles, not just brief summaries of articles with publication information to help you find the sources elsewhere.
Even though the library's databases provide excellent sources for your essay, you still need to be careful about the kind of sources that you use.
- You should use essays published in scholarly journals that go
into depth interpreting and explaining aspects of the play. Scholarly
journals include The Classical Quarterly, College English,
PMLA, and Modern Language Notes. The information you use from
these sources should clearly relate to your specific approach to the play in
- You should not use brief articles concerning the play in a general encyclopedia or in a popular magazines, such as Time and Newsweek. These types of sources generally do not provide in-depth interpretations of the play. You should not use sources that are only translations of the play itself, with no commentaries from scholars. You should be careful about using sources that are only reviews of specific productions of the play. That is, you might find a review of a production of Antigone that was recently staged in Cleveland, Ohio. Such a source is probably much more about the particular production of the play that about the printed version of the play that should be the subject of your paper.
For your Essay 3, please do not use any secondary sources except those indicated above. (Yes, I repeat that information several times here!)
Using, Citing, and Documenting Material from Secondary Sources
In many ways Essay 3 is just like the other essays you have written, but the major difference is the required use of material from at least two secondary sources and the correct citation and documentation of those sources. Make sure to read carefully the information in the textbook and the linked Web pages below concerning the use, citation, and documentation of material from sources.
The following Web page will be the most helpful. It was designed especially for this assignment, so please review the information on this page carefully:
The Web pages linked below also explain how to use, cite, and document material from secondary sources. However, please ask questions about anything that is unclear to you. Citing and documenting online sources correctly is often challenging, and guessing almost guarantees that you will get something wrong. If you have any questions, all that you need to do is ask!
- Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism
- Citing Sources
- Citing and Documenting Online Sources
- Documenting Sources from Online Subscription Databases (such as ProQuest Direct, FirstSearch, EBSCOhost, and JSTOR)
- Using Secondary Sources Effectively
- Paragraph on Antigone with MLA Citations and Documentation
The following sections of the textbook also should be helpful.
- "Integrating Sources" (67-68)
- "Avoiding Plagiarism" (69-70)
- "Explanation of the MLA Documentation Style" (80-88).
The possibility of plagiarism increases when material from several different sources enters an essay. Remember this general rule: you should always distinguish clearly your ideas and words from ideas and words of other writers. If that distinction becomes blurred, the essay most likely contains plagiarism. For most information about plagiarism, see the course Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism page.
Read the Introductory Material for Antigone (721-722)
Make sure to read and understand the brief introductory and background material for Antigone on pages 721-722 of the textbook. The background for Antigone would have been familiar to a Greek audience, and, to understand what is happening in the play, especially at the beginning, you need to be familiar with some of that background information. The mythological background is summarized well in the textbook.
Sophocles' Antigone is not a difficult play to read. Even though the play was written in Greek over 2400 years ago, we have a modern English translation, and the main story line is fairly clear and easy to understand. However, one aspect of the play that will probably be somewhat confusing is the Chorus.
Greek drama has its beginnings in religious performances in which a group would chant hymns. Eventually, one of the performers stood apart from the rest of the Chorus, making dialogue possible between the performer and the Chorus, and playwrights soon began writing parts for other performers as well. This evolution in Greek drama was occurring just before and at the time when Sophocles was writing. In fact, one of Sophocles' innovations was increasing the number of actors on the stage from two to three. Antigone takes us way back to the early days of drama.
Even with the addition of more actors, the Chorus remained. The Chorus often provides the audience with background information, which can be somewhat confusing to modern readers. Most importantly, though, the Chorus usually serves as a group of "ideal" spectators and commentators on the action of a play. You might imagine the Chorus as a group of wise citizens, people who know what they are talking about. The comments of the Chorus therefore provide us with a good way to measure how a classical Greek audience might respond to what happens in a play. For example, if the Chorus expresses shock and disapproval at the actions of a character, you can bet that this is a reflection of how Sophocles' contemporaries would have reacted when watching the play. However, it is worth noting that the Chorus can be influenced by the action of a play and by other characters; consequently, the Chorus might not always react to events appropriately. In Antigone, for instance, Creon's authoritative rule seems to intimidate the Chorus at times, perhaps causing the Chorus to accept some of Creon's decisions too complacently. Nonetheless, the Chorus generally serves as a good guide to help readers understand how we ought to react to characters and events.
One member of the Chorus, the "Leader" in our translation, stands apart from the other Chorus members and often interacts with the characters on stage, whereas the Chorus as a whole usually chants its lines between events of the play.
You Are There!
The production of plays was a major event in Athens. As you read the play, try to imagine yourself as a member of the classical Greek audience first viewing the play. The year is 442 B.C., and you are seated in the Theater of Dionysus at Athens, along with about 17,000 other Athenians, enjoying the festivities of the "Great Dionysia," an annual celebration highlighted by the presentation of plays by some of the best Greek playwrights alive. The playwrights are in competition for prizes, and while you know that Sophocles has a great reputation, you do not yet know that he will go on to win first place at the Great Dionysia an amazing 18 times.
It's a special day: you are wearing your best toga; everyone you know is at the theater; the government and wealthy citizens have generously funded the festivities; prisoners are even released from Athenian jails to join the celebration.
You will already know the plots and mythological backgrounds of the plays you will watch. Your interest will be in how well the playwrights tell the stories you are already familiar with: how they unfold the plot, how they establish and resolve conflict, and how they portray the characters. The plays are presented as a sort of a blend of drama, religious ceremony, and opera.
Notice the Universal Relevance
Even though Antigone is over 2400 years old, from a different time and culture than our own, the issues that arise from the play are just as relevant today as they were when the play was first produced. As you read the play, look for issues or themes that rise above the immediate story and are relevant to all of our lives.
Please just ask if you have any questions!