A Moment in a Novel: Literary
Analysis (Close Reading)
Using Madame Bovary, you will examine one moment
in the novel, providing a close reading of it and explaining
how it resonates with meaning that would not be apparent to a
Consider these points as you think about the assignment
and prepare your proposal.
1. Formulate an Argument: Your thesis, as always, must
be arguable. Make certain that you are specific in your language
and that you have answered the always important SO WHAT? That
solidifies an idea. A casual reading of this would not automatically
demonstrate its importance.
2. Limit the Moment: You must use only a very short
piece of the text-four to five lines should be more than enough.
In some cases one paragraph is too much for an analysis of this
length. Be as selective as you can in framing your moment.
3. Originality: Choose an unusual moment from the text,
one that stood out as you read and kept your journal. You may
not choose a moment that we have discussed at any length in class.
Look for small, seemingly irrelevant scenes. Read them closely,
looking for diction, figurative language-anything that helps
to connect it to the larger themes of the novel. No two of you
will be allowed to work with the same moment.
In your proposal, you must include the following:
a. Your complete moment typed out. No ellipses, please.
b. Explanation of how this moment looks to the casual reader.
c. Your exact thesis statement in its most refined form.
d. Any questions you have for me about the clarity of your thinking,
the originality or arguability of your idea, etc.
Your final paper will be no more than two pages in
length. Our goal is one proposal and two drafts.
(Courtesy of C.