Students in English 201 are required to
write a Research Project. The paper must
pages and satisfy all of the specification in the
syllabus to receive credit. On an additional seventh page students are required
to list Works Cited. The purpose
of the assignment is to familiarize students with the conventions and
challenges involved in writing a research paper. These involve critical thinking, presenting
thesis-centered arguments, and citing sources in accordance with the MLA
(Modern Language Association).
The Research Project must focus on
one to three primary texts. Primary texts are those belonging to one of
literary genres: short stories,
plays, poems, or novels. Primary texts for the
Project cannot be a biography, a
personal narrative, a magazine or a newspaper
article. The work must also be
published. Any unpublished work is not
acceptable for this assignment. Students have the option to select a text of
their own choosing as long as it meets with these specifications but are
encouraged to use one of the three assignments done prior to the Project during
the semester as a basis for the final paper.
A further requirement for the Research Project is the use of two to four
sources. Secondary sources are: biographies, literary
criticism, and historical works.
These must be published. Do not
cite online sources such as Wikipedia or Spark Notes. Do not put sources beginning with http. on
your Works Cited page. If you do use
Wikipedia, cite the published sources listed at the end of the document.
Regarding the structure of the
Research Project, students are required to have an introduction and a
conclusion. All arguments must be
thesis-centered, meaning that they will be evaluated on the basis of how well
they support the central idea and refute opposing viewpoints.
I have provided a
sample assignment and outline on the following pages.
essay must be stapled in the upper left-hand corner.
Papers that are not stapled will not be
Each page of each essay must have typed page
numbers in the upper right-hand corner.
Papers without typed page numbers in the
upper right hand corner will not be accepted.
Each essay must be typed. Essays that are not typed will not be
accepted.Font size must be 12. Font style must be Times New Roman.Each paragraph must be indented. There must be no more than one double-space between paragraphs.The name of the student, professor, course,
and date must be flush left with a double-space between each. See example on the following page.
Each essay must be double-spaced.
For citations more than one sentences, use
the following specifications.
See example on page 9.
b. font size 10
c. left indent at
1 right indent at 5.5.
Quotation marks and the appropriate MLA
citation for all quotes must be used.
The absence of quotation marks where needed is PLAGIARISM. See example of internal punctuation on the following page. WARNING: Omission of quotation
marks is grounds for an F for the paper and possibly for the final grade.
All sources used in the essay must be cited
in a “Works Cited” page and be done according to MLA formats. See example on the page after the following
This is an example
of the top of the first page of a paper.
double-spaces. The title must be a
double-space below the date and centered.
See MLA Handbook – Seventh Edition. 4.3.
Heading And Title. 116.
When citing a source in the
text do as follows: “Oedipus in the
play is a free agent” (Fagles 149).
If you provide the name of
the author in the sentence, you do not need to include it in the
Fagles maintains that “Oedipus in the
play is a free agent” (149).
When paraphrasing do as
follows: Fagles maintains that
Oedipus has free will (149).
When quoting without citing a
non-published source, do as follows:
My father always said, “follow your heart.”
This is an example
of how to do a citation longer than one sentence.
“In the very first year of our
century Sigmund Freud in his Interpretation
of Dreams offered a famous and influential interpretation of Oedipus
Rex is what is known as a tragedy of destiny. Its tragic effect is said to lie in the
contrast between supreme will of the gods and the vain attempts of mankind
to escape the evil that threatens them.
The lesson which, it is said, the deeply moved spectator should
learn from the tragedy is submission to the divine will and realization of
his own impotence.
passage is of course a landmark in the history of modern thought, and it is
fascinating to observe that this idea, which, valid or not, has had
enormous influence, stems from an attempt to answer a literary problem –
why does the play have this overpowering effect on modern audiences?”
Bernard. Sophocles – The Three Theban Plays. Translated by Robert Fagles.
Penguin Books. Copyright by Bernhard
Knox, 1982. 132. Print.)
This is an example
of the top of the first page of a works-cited list.
are in alphabetical order with
second lines of each entry indented (hanging
See MLA Handbook
– Seventh Edition. 131.
William. The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince
of Denmark. Edited by Edward Hubler.
Signet Classic. Copyright by Edward Hubler, 1963. Print.
Three Theban Plays – Antigone,
Oedipus the King, Oeidipus at Colonus.
By Robert Fagles. Penguin Books.
Copyright by Robert Fagles, 1982, 1984.
Works Cited page must be on a separate
Guy de Maupassant
A Research Project:
The paper must be 6 pages and satisfy all of the
specifications and the format on pages 14-15 of this handout to receive credit.
The Life and Work of Guy de Maupassant
Write about the life and work of Guy de
Maupassant. Explore the following
question: How is
Maupassant’s life reflected in his work?
You can use the
paper you wrote about one of Maupassant’s stories as part of your Research
Project. If you do this, you will need
to replace your introduction and conclusion with another. You can put the biographical information in
your new introduction and how this information relates to the writing of the
author in the conclusion.
Outline for a Research Project about Guy de
Write about Guy de Maupassant using reliable
Write an interpretation of one or several of
Discuss how the life of the author is reflected in his
Books about de
Maupassant: A Lion in the Path, by Francis Steegmuller – Call Number:
PQ2353 .S8 2007
Maupassant and the American short story : the
influence of form at the turn of the century, by Richard Fusco – Call Number: PS374
.S5 F87 1994
Guy de Maupassant from the Harold Bloom’s Major Short Story Writers series – Call
Number: PQ2356 .G89 2004
Guy de Maupassant, by Albert H. Wallace – Call Number: PQ2353 .W3
Maupassant, a biography by Michael G. Lerner – call number PQ 2353 .L44 is in
Maupassant in the Hall of Mirrors: Ironies of
Repetition in the Work of Guy de Maupassant, by
Trevor A. Le V. Harris, Call Number:
PQ2357 .H37 1990
Maupassant the Short Stories, by Edward Daniel Sullivan, Call Number PQ 2355.S8
René Guy de Maupassant. A Stroll. classicreader.com/book/610/1/.
René Guy de Maupassant. All
Over. Translators: Albert M.C.
McMaster, A.E. Henderson, Mme. Quesada, & others. E-texts.
Maupassant. By Albert H. Wallace. Twayne Publishers. New
York. Copyright 1973.
Guy de Maupassant – A Day in the Country
and Other Stories. Translated with an
Introduction and Notes by David Coward.
Oxford University Press. 1990.
SAMPLE RESEARCH PROJECT
201- (section number)
Misery of Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant is regarded as one
the foremost of French writers. The goal
of this paper is to discuss Maupassant’s vision of life and how it may have
been, at least to some extent, the cause of his suffering and his attempted
suicide. It was on New Year’s Day 1892
that Maupassant made the attempt. He was
“removed to a clinic, suffering from the syphilitic paresis which had driven
him mad. He died on 6 July 1893, at the
age of 42” (A Day in the Country and Other Stories).
Maupassant was not the most joyful
of men. In his book Guy de Maupassant, Albert H. Wallace refers to a letter Maupassant
wrote to his mother in which he speaks of his loneliness. “I fear the arriving winter. I feel alone, and my long, solitary evenings
are sometimes terrible. Often when I’m
alone seated at my desk with my lamp burning sadly before me, I experience such
complete moments of distress that I no longer know where to turn” (IVCXXVii)
(45). Wallace explains that “loneliness
was a major factor in the development of Maupassant’s affliction. Living too much to himself, he formed certain
ideas whose very inalterability was their poison” (Wallace 105). He quotes Maupassant who wrote, “Fixed ideas
have the tenacity of gnawing, incurable maladies. Once entered into the mind, they devour it,
leave it no longer free to think of anything, to be interested in anything or
to have an inclination in the slightest toward anything” (XIV, 277) (105). Wallace explains that in Maupassant’s story Miss Harriot “solitude leads to
suicide,” that “it was loneliness that caused the heroine to cast herself into
a well” (Wallace 106). Wallace goes on
to quote Maupassant who writes, “We are the eternal playthings of ever
renewing, stupid and charming illusions” (XXVI, 231). “The statement,” Wallace explains, “is also
in complete accord with Maupassant’s disillusionment with life that is so
prominent a factor in his work and in his mental difficulties” (Wallace 114).
The key in all of these comments is
disillusionment. In his introduction to A Day in the Country and Other Stories,
David Coward provides a vivid account of Maupassant’s cynical view of the
world. Of the authors world view he
writes, “All the things which commonly pass for the charm of life – love,
friendship, happiness – are so many illusions which nature allows us to
compensate for the iron grip in which we are held” (xvi). Maupassant’s misery and possibly his suicide
attempt were rooted in the loss of illusions.
In one of the most insightful passages in his book, Wallace writes, in
reference to Maupassant’s story Suicide,
“The letter’s words provide a foreboding of what must have been Maupassant’s
thoughts when he contemplated suicide.
The hero has decided to kill himself because of an awareness of the
irremediable brutality of existence in which
he has failed to find a single strain of poetry his youthful naiveté has
assigned to it” (Wallace 114).
Maupassant was not born a cynic. As a young man he had a poetic and possibly
naïve view of life. As time went he was
persuaded by experience to adopt a darker view of things. This change is a loss of faith, a loss of
what, after an apparent awakening has occurred, comes to be viewed as
illusions. Whether love, friendship, and
happiness are illusions is a matter for debate.
It is important to note that such a loss is not necessarily predicated
on a realization of truth. It may often
be the result of a shift in perception.
One day the world seems beautiful and loving, the next it seems ugly and
cruel. One day one may see himself as a
success; the next he may see himself as an utter failure. One perception is not more or less real than
Maupassant’s loss of illusion may
well have been a loss of faith. He may
have lost faith in the things that for him made life worth living. As we get older, we go through certain
experiences that disturb or shock us. It
is our vulnerability in these matters that may lead us to abandon our beliefs, to disavow
our faith, and to lose our confidence and our resolve. This, I believe, is what happened to
Maupassant. It is no thus not
surprising that disillusionment is a recurrent theme in his stories. Two such narratives are All Over and A Stroll.
In All Over, the protagonist, Lormerin, a middle aged bachelor,
undergoes a devastating shift in self-esteem.
The story opens with Lormerin gazing admiringly at himself in the
mirror. “Lormerin is still alive!” he
proclaims. It is evident that Lormerin
is aware that he is no longer young but that he is still attractive. We may also infer that Lormerin’s self-esteem
is dependent in large part upon his appearance.
Various details in the narrative may also lead us to conclude that he is
narcissistic. In preparation for his
rendezvous with Lise, a woman with whom he had
a love affair in his youth and who has now sent him an invitation to
dine with her, he inspects himself “from head to foot” and thinks, “She must
look very old, older than I look.” This
seems to delight him for he feels “gratified at the thought of showing himself
to her still handsome, still fresh, of astonishing her, perhaps of filling her
with emotion, and making her regret those bygone days so far, far distant” (Maupassant
2). He then proceeds to make “his toilet
with feminine coquetry” (Maupassant 2).
Apparently, Lormerin’s motivation for seeing Lise is not so much to
enjoy the pleasure of her company and to give her the pleasure of his so much
as it is to fortify his vanity and to do so at the expense of hers. It is for this reason that we may hesitate to
feel too much sympathy for Lormerin when by the end of the day his confidence
is so painfully compromised. We may
argue that Lise is the one responsible for Lormerin’s loss of self-esteem, that
she has manipulated the situation to bring her quarry down, but this could only
have been accomplished if the quarry had not made himself vulnerable. Lormerin would never have been so easy to
manipulate had he not placed such a high premium on his appearance. An identity predicated on externals is a
flimsy one indeed, and so Lormerin’s self-esteem is an easy target for the
woman who seems to see as clearly through him as she might to the bottom of a
When Lormerin looks at himself in
the mirror at the end of the story, he sees a very different man than he had
earlier that day. At the moment that he
sees this “lamentable image,” and proclaims “All over, Lormerin,” he has in
essence adopted a new identity. Yet, as far as his physical appearance is
concerned it is highly unlikely that any significant physical change if any has
occurred. The only alteration in
Lormerin is in his mind. The cause of
this change is his encounter with Lise and her daughter Renee.
The question is: which of the two images is genuine? From Lormerin’s point of view, the last one
is more objective. Yet, it is the way
Lormerin looks at himself and the way he feels that has altered his
perception. It is reasonable to say that
neither of the two images is more genuine than the other. Each is a manifestation of Lormerin’s state
of mind. It’s true that he may have not
paid attention to some of his wrinkles when he looked at himself in the
morning, but it is his way of focusing on such details at the end and the idea
he has come to embrace about himself that alters his self-esteem. To say that he is disillusioned implies that
his earlier, more cheerful impression of himself is false.
Perhaps, this is what Maupassant
wants us to think. We cannot be sure of
this, but we do have some idea of how he felt about his own life. Based on the citations mentions at the outset
of our discussion, we have good reason to believe that Maupassant was suffering
from feelings of disillusionment, that he had adopted a cynical view of life
and that, like Lormerin, he may have been suffering from a loss of self-esteem. It is in this respect that it is reasonable
to assume a commonality between the author and the protagonist of All Over. Like Lormerin, Maupassant may have come to
the conclusion that his life, or rather his vision of life and of himself, was
Another one of Maupassant’s stories
in which the suffering of the protagonist hinges on disillusionment is A Stroll. Leras, an old man working as a bookkeeper for
Messieurs Labuze and Company, undergoes a realization, if so it can be called,
that has a far more devastating consequence than that of Lormerin’s. Leras commits suicide. We are led to believe that this rash act is
precipitated by an experience he has in the Bois de Boulogne, a park in Paris
frequented by lovers and prostitutes.
During his stroll Leras is approached by prostitutes. It is then that he feels as
though he is “enveloped in darkness by something disagreeable” (Maupassant 2). He thinks of “all this venal or passionate
love, of all these kisses, sold or given, which were passing by in front of
him” (Maupassant 2). Not only is Leras
confronted with the feeling of being an outsider. Now, he sees through the veneer of
romance. The charm of the evening has
transformed into something dark and disagreeable. Whatever may have passed for love he now
realizes is only a masquerade, a façade behind which is something sinister and
ugly. But it is not so much the
tawdriness of the scene that Leras finds disturbing, although that may be a
part of it. The source of his dismay is
that, unlike the people before him, he has “scarcely” known love. Now, he looks back “at the life which he
had led, so different from everybody else, so dreary, so mournful, so empty,”
and has an awakening. “And suddenly, as
though a veil had been torn from his eyes, he perceived the infinite misery,
the monotony of his existence: the past, present and future misery; his last
day similar to his first one, with nothing before him, behind him or
him, nothing in his heart or any place” (Maupassant 2). Leras sees, possibly for the first time, the
emptiness of his life. Everyone else,
the “whole of humanity” seems to be “intoxicated with joy, pleasure and
happiness. He alone is looking on and he
sees that “tomorrow he would again be alone, always alone, more so than anyone
else.” Leras imagines how “pleasant it
must be in old age to return home and find the little children.” But Leras has no wife, no children and is
consigned, as far as he can tell to spend the rest of his life in
What is significant here is that he
sees himself as a being entirely different from everyone else. He doesn’t stop to consider that there may be
others like him. Nor, is he apparently
able to see the beauty of the
evening he had been enjoying. It is the
same evening, the same place. The only
thing that has changed is Leras’ way of seeing it. Even his room, the one he has lived in for so
many years, is no longer the same for him:
feeling of distress filled his soul; and the place
seemed to him more mournful even than his little office” (Maupassant 3). It is not Leras’ room that has changed but
the way he sees it.
In the end, Leras hangs himself on a
tree. The cause of the suicide “could
not be suspected. Perhaps a sudden
access of madness!” The author does not
conclude his tale by offering a definitive explanation of Leras’ decision to
end his life. He has however given us
good reason to believe that the reason his protagonist takes such a drastic
action is because he has had a revelation.
Leras’ vision of himself and his life has been altered by his experience
in the park. It is not, however, the
scene that has altered Leras. Leras has
altered himself. He is the sole agent of
The question remains, has Leras
really had a revelation? Is he really
more awake at the end of the story than he has been his whole life? Has a veil truly been lifted or has another
come along to take its place? Does Leras
see the truth of his life or is he simply blind to the possibilities that
surround him? If he is enveloped in
darkness, is it not because he is doing the enveloping? Perhaps, one veil was lifted only to be
replaced by another. In the end, Leras
may never really have opened his eyes.
He lives in Paris, a city full of beauty, charm, and opportunities but
is unable to participate in all it has to offer. It is not circumstance that destroys Leras
but the way in which he perceives it.
What the protagonists in All Over and A Stroll have in common is disillusionment. They experience a loss faith in the image or
idea they had of themselves and of their lives.
Because he no longer sees himself as a youthful and attractive man, Lormerin
feels that his life is all over. Leras,
who is confronted with the realization that he has been leading a loveless
existence and the feeling that there is no hope of changing this, commits
suicide. One wonders if Maupassant went
through a similar revelation prior to his suicide attempt or if he had been
living with the pain of such a revelation for years before he made it.
It is not difficult to see the
connection between Leras, Lormerin and Maupassant. Maupassant’s writing was in large part a
vehicle through which he expressed his feelings about his own life. His characters, or at least some of them, are
reflections of the dark and cynical view which engulfed the author and which in
the end augmented the pain that led to his attempted suicide. Maupassant’s physical condition due to
syphilitic paresis had much to do with the deterioration of his mind and
spirit, but we cannot discount his cynicism as a participating factor in the
suffering he endured and in his attempt to end his life.
Albert, Henri René Guy de Maupassant. A
Albert, Henri René Guy de
Translators: Albert M.C. McMaster, A.E. Henderson, Mme. Quesada,
& others. E-texts.
Guy de Maupassant. By Albert H. Wallace. Twayne Publishers. New
York. Copyright 1973.
Guy de Maupassant – A Day in the Country and Other
Stories. Translated with an Introduction
and Notes by David Coward. Oxford
University Press. 1990.
Course number and section
Name of your professor
Date of completion
Write about Guy de Maupassant using reliable
Write an interpretation of one or several of
Discuss how the life of the author is reflected in his
The post The Research Project for English 201
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