Gothic characteristics and what makes it unsettling or scary

Literary Analysis Essay

Topic: For this essay, you will select one of the eligible short stories or films listed below and explain what justifies its categorization as a work of gothic literature. Your essay should not only explain the work’s gothic characteristics and what makes it unsettling or scary, but it should also explain what the “point” of the text is. What deeper issues or themes does the author/filmmaker prompt us to think about, and why? In other words, what aspects of human nature or social issues does the author/filmmaker ask us to consider?

Eligible texts include the following:

  • “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell
  • “Afterward” by Edith Wharton
  • Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

To aid your argument, you must cite from two secondary, scholarly (Links to an external site.) sources in your essay. You must locate these sources via either the JSTOR or Project Muse databases, which you can access via the WLAC library website using your LACCD login credentials. You may not cite from Wikipedia, SparkNotes, or websites found via general Google searches.

Essay Structure:

Before you begin writing, read this handout on writing a literary analysis (Links to an external site.). Your essay should include an introduction (Links to an external site.) that introduces the topic and ends with a clearly worded, 1-2 sentence thesis statement. (Links to an external site.) Each supporting paragraph (there should be at least 3) should begin with a strong topic sentence (Links to an external site.) and should incorporate evidence, including direct quotations from secondary scholarly sources. Direct quotations should be incorporated using the quotation sandwich method (Links to an external site.) and proper MLA in-text citations (Links to an external site.). The essay should also contain a strong conclusion (Links to an external site.). The final page of the document should consist of a Works Cited (Links to an external site.) page. Specific tips for formatting electronic sources can be found here. (Links to an external site.)


Formatting Tips:

Your document should be 4-6 pages in length, typed and double-spaced, in Times New Roman font, size 12. Your paper should have 1-inch margins and should include a properly formatted heading and a title.

Tips for Success:

  1. As you study your selected story, develop a solid thesis about this topic–some conclusion you have arrived at–and make sure you cite lots of examples and details from the story to support and illustrate your thesis and sub-points. And make sure you discuss and explain your evidence.


  1. Please read “Organizing Your Paper.”  (Links to an external site.)One thing you do NOT want to do is to produce a paper that just answers each of the above questions, one after another. There is no particular reason or purpose in the order of the questions, so you would end up with a very unfocused and disorganized paper. It will also help to read this handout on paragraph development. (Links to an external site.)


  1. Check out some samples! There are several student samples located in the Week 5 Module. Note that these essays have been written in response to slightly different essay prompts than the one you’re answering in this essay. Nonetheless, they offer excellent examples of what I’m expecting in terms of organization, close reading of the works being analyzed, and engagement with scholarly sources.


  1. You must cite scholarly sources in this paper. You must include all sources cited in your essay (both the primary texts, i.e. the short stories, as well as any outside sources) in your Works Cited page. This page, which will be the final page of your document, must be formatted according to MLA requirements. This page should list all works referenced in your paper (including your short story).
    • Use standard in-text citation (author and page), and put the source information on the final page of your document labeled “Works Cited”). Follow MLA directions.



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