Gender and Mental Stability

For your final exam, instead of a sit-down test, you have several writing assignments to work on independently. I am providing you with all of this information so that you can begin to think and plan. Please pay close attention, since there are several components to the final, each looking to test a different portion of your critical reading, analysis, and writing skills while assessing your knowledge of the five literary works we have studied. The final is worth 19 points; as such, the prompts and their corresponding point value are listed below:

  1. Short Response: (6 points) On page 3, I have given you a series of characters from the various works we have studied this semester. Please select two characters from each group
    and explain how their experiences in their respective works are similar in some way: what do they have in common? This will give you the opportunity to demonstrate how you are making connections between characters from different works. Your answer should be one paragraph for each of the three sets provided; three paragraphs total (worth 2 points each) for this entire section. Textual evidence is recommended.
  2. Short Essay: (5 points) Written in the style of your LRQs this semester, and adhering to the standards of MLA formatting you have been tasked with all semester, this 2-3 page essay will ask you to use at least two works we have studied to put them in conversation with one another. It must have a clear thesis, appropriately cited textual evidence, and a works cited page. On pages 3-4, I have provided several prompts for you to choose from; please select one to answer. This will be evaluated and graded the same way as your LQRs this semester.
  3. Long Essay: (8 points) Written in the style of your LRQs this semester, and adhering to the standards of MLA formatting you have been tasked with all semester, this is a longer 4-5 page essay; this means a minimum of 4 full pages of content. Using at least three of the
    works we have studied, it must have a clear thesis, appropriately cited textual evidence, and a works cited page. It will also be evaluated and graded the same way as your LRQs. The prompt can be found on page 4.
    Note: Please ensure that you discuss all five works we have read this semester between your
    short and long essays. You are welcome to discuss any work more than once, as long as you have written about each work in either the short or long essay, not both. Please plan accordingly. As a reminder, we have read:

The Odyssey, Homer; trans. Emily Wilson Othello, William Shakespeare Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
Fences, August Wilson

  1. Extra Credit Question: (1 point) This question is optional and should take a paragraph to answer. It is entirely based on your own personal experience. Prompt:
    Your Literary Experience: Think back on the five works we have read and discussed this
    semester; what character, theme, or idea has spoken the most to you personally? What will stay with you as you progress forward beyond these literary experiences?
    Please compile all parts of your final exam into one cohesive Word document (not PDF or any other format) and submit it on Blackboard no later than 1:00 PM on Friday, December 15. A few additional reminders as you progress:
    A. You are welcome to consult your notes, the literary texts, and your written work (Discussion Board Posts and LRQs) in compiling your final. However, please do not simply repeat them. Remember that I am only interested in what you have to say about these works. As such, any instances of plagiarism (utilizing the ideas of someone else, be it from the internet, someone from this or another class, or any AI-generated content) on any individual section will result in a zero for the entire final exam. No exceptions.
    B. If I have received documentation about any test-taking allowances, including extra time, please be sure to speak to me privately before Monday, December 11 so that we can set up appropriate accommodations if necessary.
    If you have any questions during the last few weeks, please feel free to contact me at any time before you submit your final exam. Best of luck!

Part One: Short Responses
Please select two characters from each column and briefly explain their similarities in three
separate paragraphs: how do their experiences overlap; what do they have in common; and/or what is their impact on the larger story? Direct textual evidence is recommended.


Roderigo Telemachus
Charlotte Haze Henry Clerval


Emilia Calypso
Justine Moritz Clare Quilty


Dolores Haze Penelope
Cory Maxson Cassio

Part Two: Short Essay

I have given you nine possible essay questions, each under a specific topic, in no particular order. Please select only one to answer, discussing at least two works, formatted appropriately, and using relevant textual evidence with a works cited page.

Fate vs. Free Will- what is the role that individual choices have played in the journeys of the protagonists? By contrast, how have some characters been subjected to events that are out of their control? You may think about what the implications are for a character who makes all of his/her own choices, as opposed to those who have their decisions made for them.

For the Greater Good- one question to consider is about the greater good: which characters have we seen make an effort to better society for others? Does intentionality always/ever pay off, and do the ends justify the means? Do we support a character that does something good, but has to use violence or other dubious means (i.e. lying) to get there?

Honor- reflect on the importance of honor in these works; it will help to begin by defining what it is. Where do we see those who value personal glory and communal respect? How does personal dignity play into the characters’ motivation? At what point does the pursuit of triumph border on arrogance or even insanity? At what point is this mere justification for selfishness?
You may also want to think about a character working to honor someone or something else.

(In)Justice – discuss and define the importance of justice in the world. There are several different ways of approaching this topic: give examples of times we see true justice in these works, based on your readings of them; or discuss moments where we see grave instances of injustice. You

may also choose to make a distinction between justice and revenge, citing moments where we have seen revenge under the pretense of justice.

Isolation- where do we see the isolation of characters in these works? Is it human nature to seek other people, or to push them away? What have been the biggest factors in isolating these
characters from one another? Reflect on the journeys these characters have taken that ultimately lead them to end up alone—physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Masculinity/Gender- think about gender roles and the concept of masculinity we have seen this semester. How have the stereotypical portrayals and expectations evolved, or devolved, over the course of literature? How important is this identity to characters, and how does it alter a
character’s actions and perceptions? Think about instances where the ideas of masculinity are
challenged, upheld, and even distorted in various societies. You might also choose to write about female characters who challenge the societal limitations of their gender.

Mental Instability- think about instances we have seen of possible mental instability this
semester: what makes these characters “crazy”? Be sure to define exactly what this means and
who determines what constitutes mental instability. Is there a difference between those characters that are afflicted with insanity, and those that act erratically because of obsession, lust, etc.?

Proof- many of the characters have been driven to search for the truth in given situations. Think about the times when we see characters successfully arrive at correct assumptions, realize all too late that they have been mistaken, or are ultimately left uncertain about what the truth actually is. What consequences (particularly of the latter two) befall a character in these situations?

Responsibility- think about the various instances we have seen of characters’ obligations to
either: society, superiors/subordinates, or family. Define exactly what these expectations are, as well as what they can reasonably expect from society, superiors/ subordinates, or family in return. Where do we see characters upholding these obligations, or reneging on them?

Part Three: Long Essay
Please answer the following prompt using three literary works, formatted appropriately, and using relevant textual evidence with a works cited page.
Narrative Power- we have seen several literary works where we are either given the narrative from a first-person perspective or witness a character in control of the narrative in front of others. Discuss what type of power the narrator holds over the reader and/or other characters. Where do we see instances of embellishment, discretion, and downright manipulation? How do we
successfully critique narrators without discrediting the entire literary work?

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