Compare the life of a writer to his or her fiction. The thesis statement for this paper must be "so and so used parts of his or her life to write the story." This should NOT be a book report or biography on the author. Chopin, Hemingway, Poe, Hawthorne, Updike--most of the stories from these authors can be examined this way. But you might also look into the following stories.
Thurber The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Hammett Bodies Piled Up
Define a term in its complete literary sense. There are dozens of terms to choose from. Show how an author or authors use the concept. For example, you might define irony and show how Poe uses it in The Cask of Amontillado or how Chopin uses it in The Story of an Hour. You could also do a comparison of how they did it.
The Comparison Paper
Hammett Bodies Piled Up/Chandler I'll Be Waiting
American husband and wife comparisons: Hawthorne The Birthmark, and crap what was the other one.
Define feminism or masculinity and show a writer represents such in
their stories. Updike, Hemingway and Chopin focus on these elements, but
try other writers too.
Prove that Poe's characters are crazy by comparing his character or characters with the DSM IV-specific symptoms.
Compare the relationship between the man and woman in Updike's "Pygmalion" and Hawthorne's "The Birthmark."
Prove that the narrator in Poe's Dupin stories or "The Tell-Tale Heart" is actually a woman.
Define "chivalry" or "chivalric romance" and explain how Updike's "A & P", Joyce's "Araby" and/or any other works are actually "chivalric romance."
Explain how the structure of Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" affects the story, specifically concerning when and where we get information that would be different if we read it chronologically.
Sequel to Chopin's "Story of an Hour." What happend to the man after all this?
Poem in the style of Poe's "The Raven," using the same rhyme scheme and meter and it must be horror.
Rewrite Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" fromt the wife's point of view.
What NOT to Do
Don't open your paper with Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" only to introduce your antiabortion stance for the rest of the paper. Don't open your paper with Tolstoy's "The Three Hermits" only to discuss your stance on praying. Don't open your paper with Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour" only to reveal contemporary women's issues. These could be great papers in essay courses, but this is literature. Your paper needs to analyze literature consistently and thematically throughout. That said, there are ways of twisting the above ideas into just that. Ask me how.
Don't write a book report on an author. If you want to write only about Poe's life you're not going to be happy with your grade. That's more like a paper on Poe and not analyzing literature. You're writing a biography and sometimes students misunderstand the concept of a biographical approach, which is NOT a biography. You CAN write about Poe's life, but you MUST relate it to his fiction, like this: a thesis statement would be "Poe drew upon his own experiences when writing his fiction and poetry" or "Poe's work is better understood through his own experiences in life," and then you would describe an event or character in a story and explain an event or person in his life to which it relates.Your paper shouldn't mention when and where the author were born, who their parents were, and what they ate for lunch--unless it's specifically related to something a story of theirs.