historical context

Identify a significant interpretive question raised by the play and develop a thesis that responds to it. The problem should pertain to either a particular character’s internal conflict or a creative decision enacted by Baldwin.* Support your thesis by offering a rich textual analysis of passages in the play. Utilize at least one historical, theoretical, and another relevant secondary source to substantiate your interpretation and add depth to your analysis. The sum of your body paragraphs should reflect on how the complicated series of forces impact the character’s motives and/or impact a creative decision, and reflect on the significance of the play’s message. Remember Baldwin’s criticism of protest novels—Your close read should be grounded in the text(s) you draw from and avoid forcing interpretations into sentimental tropes, stereotypes, or categories Baldwin seeks to dismantle.

Interpretive Question Examples: Did Richard want to die (if so why; if not why doesn’t he fight for his life)? Why despite Parnell’s privilege did he consider his life hard to bear? Why did Baldwin situate his play in Plaguetown rather than a real place (and why did he say plague was a race and our concept of Christianity)?


4-6 pages, double spaced, 12 font, 1+ secondary source, MLA format + work cited


a) Project: Compelling interpretive problem/concept in response to prompt

b) Analysis: Ambitious interrogation of textual evidence; justifies interpretations persuasively

c) Depth: Makes connections between distinct ideas and addresses conflicts to reveal a nuanced message

d) Clarity/Mechanics: Thoughtful organization and articulation of ideas meet assignment requirements




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