You will be required to write a research-based paper that proves your interpretation of either a short story or a play. For this paper, you will analyze Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. When developing you’re your thesis statement you need to explain the message of the play and whether there is outside evidence that proves how the message is still relevant today. In other words, are there real-world examples and evidence that reinforce the message in the story or play? To help you craft your thesis statement, you can consider the following questions.

Death of a Salesman: are Willy Loman’s struggles as well as his sons an indictment against the American Dream? Can individuals living in the U.S. find alternate dreams and lives outside of success measured by materialism and high income? Why do certain individuals base their self-worth and self-esteem on their careers, and are is our society still that way? Can you find parallels between Willy Loman and his Boss, Howard and the current crisis of income inequality between the top 1% and everyone else?
In order to prove your thesis statement, you must analyze the symbols, subtext, and psychological makeup of the characters in either Death of a Salesman. In addition, you should quote from the beginning, middle, and end of the story or play when you analyze the symbols, subtext, etc. Furthermore, evidence take from outside sources needs to reinforce and support your literary analysis of the symbols, subtext, etc. For example, what does the automobile—whether Willy drives his or the young Biff waxes the car—symbolize, and does this symbolism reinforce the economic struggles of the middle class in America?

Your research paper should be similar to the model paper analyzing Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt” and its correlations to and predictions about today’s society. I will email you a copy of this sample paper via Canvas.

Outside Sources:
Like the other essays, you will be writing an academic essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion, but because this is a research paper, you will need to incorporate several outside sources (research articles from peer-reviewed journals, magazine articles, websites, etc.) into your paper. This means that you need to quote or paraphrase certain passages from your sources and write them into your body paragraphs. Your sources will be your evidence that will defend your argument (thesis statement). As with any paper using outside sources, you will have to cite every source using the MLA (Modern Language Association) format, the 8th edition in particular.

In the case of the research paper, you will be required to cite from at least six outside sources. However, I encourage you to go beyond the minimum because I have found that the better papers go beyond the minimum. All of your sources must be electronic sources. Though you can use Google and Google Scholar, you should also find sources from the online databases from Pierce Library’s website. At least three outside sources must be research articles published in a peer-reviewed journal. Additionally, any outside source that does not come from the Pierce library database, needs to be credible. Therefore, you should only trust websites ending in .gov, .edu, or .org. However, make sure that your .org websites are legitimate. Furthermore, your outside sources must be no older than eight years old. The more recent your outside source is, the stronger your paper will be. You will also be required to make citations when you quote or paraphrase any outside source in your paragraphs as well as attach a “Works Cited” page at the end of your paper. I will need to match your in-text citations in the paragraphs of your paper to the sources listed in your “Works Cited” page. If I am struggling to match these matches or cannot find your sources, I will have to deduct as least 5 points from whatever grade your paper would have initially earned if you had proper citation.

When it comes to in-text citation, I prefer direct quotes because there is no confusion between what is an outside quote and what is your own writing. Paraphrasing is acceptable, but I strongly dislike summarizing outside sources; the delineation between what are outside sources and what are your own words is too hazy and confusing when it comes to summarizing. The rule of thumb regarding in-text citation is use citation when in doubt. In fact, you should cite any information, quotes, and paraphrases taken from outside sources. If you have any questions about MLA citation format, 8th edition, you can always check the rules at the library, which has the latest books on MLA formatting. I will always try to help you if you have any questions regarding MLA citation, but the library has information about all kinds of formatting and citation rules.

I encourage you to research and incorporate various types of evidence and information, and because I may not be familiar with the latest trends in scientific advances or even popular memes, you will have to explain these things to me before you apply them to your literary analysis of “The Lottery” or Death of a Salesman. Therefore, you need to find credible sources that best explain these trends. You should also look for and incorporate more traditional types of evidence, for instance, studies published in peer-review journals. Expert testimony and numerical data such as statistics might also be helpful in your research paper as long as you can apply and contextualize them to your literary analysis to prove your thesis.


The essay must be typed and double-spaced, and the font should be no larger than a 12-point font. Please follow all MLA (8th edition) formatting rules.
The essay must be at least SEVEN full pages plus one “Works Cited” page. This length requirement will be strictly enforced. If you turn in something less than seven full pages of your research paper (not including your “Works Cited” page), at least 8 points will be deducted from your grade.
You must use at least six outside sources for your paper, and I really prefer electronic or online sources. If your sources from the Pierce library databases, then I will not question the credibility of your sources. However, any online source directly taken from the internet will be closely examined, and they must be credible. Please follow MLA citation rules (8th edition). This includes both in-text citation and “Works Cited” page.

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