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Drama Paper Assignment: Character Function Analysis

Category: Drama

Drama Paper Assignment:  Character Function Analysis 

Although it could be argued that a character in any work of literature is essential, characters in a play have, practically speaking, even greater importance.  Those characters that serve no apparent purpose in a play will simply be cut by modern directors who want to streamline the production or by producers who are concerned about production costs.  With this theory in mind, compose a persuasive essay which argues why one of the supposedly minor characters from Antigone  or The Piano Lesson (see choices below) is essential to the success of the play as a whole.  Some possible issues to consider in the drafting process:  How does the character you have chosen function in the play as a whole?  Foil?  Stock?  Comic relief?   How is that character different from any of the other characters?  How would the play be different without that character?  How is that character necessary to the main plot or theme?  In relation to other characters?  etc.  As you brainstorm for ideas, you should also keep in mind ancient Greek concepts on the purposes and functions of drama.

Character Choices:   Antigone:  Haemon, Ismene, or Tiresias The Piano Lesson:  Doaker, Lyman, or Wining Boy

The typed final draft of the essay you submit should include:

 An introduction which provides context information on the character, such as a brief description of his or her background and connections to the main characters or to the plot.  The introduction should lead up to a thesis which presents an overview of your major arguments about the character’s key functions in the play. A 3-point thesis/5- paragraph theme approach should be avoided.  (We will do some practice thesis statements in our writing workshops.)  A clearly organized body which thoroughly discusses each of those functions and which is supported by specific evidence in the form of quotes and/or other specific references to the play.  Each major section of the body of the paper should begin with a clearly stated topic sentence about the specific function being discussed.  Quotes from the play should be followed by proper MLA citations.     A wrap-up paragraph.    A Work Cited page.

Grading Criteria:

In addition to the requirements discussed above, the major grading criteria for the paper will include: 1. A well developed introduction which includes a focused thesis providing unity for the entire paper. 2. In-depth analysis of the character in question.  Here, remember the difference between summary and analysis:  summary is merely a report of what a character says or does, while analysis is an interpretation of what those words and actions mean and contribute to the play as a whole.


3. Clearly defined claims which present your arguments on the importance of the chosen character.  Detailed supporting evidence (specific references and quotes) for those claims. 4. Language, tone, and style appropriate for academic writing; watch for precise word choices, varied and mature sentence structures, etc.                                                 5. Sentence-level correctness (hint:  run grammar and spell check!) and proper MLA style