write an essay in mla format

Essay 2: Short Fiction Mrs. Leigh Johnson

Compose a formal essay on one of the following prompts listed below.

Option 1: Write a literary analysis in which you compare and contrast the characters Emily Grierson in “A Rose for Emily” and Ellen Weatherall in “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall.”

Option 2: Write a literary analysis focusing on setting and the role it plays in a story, such as creating mood, developing characters, or serving as a symbol ( or a combination of these) in “The Storm” by Katherine Anne Porter and “To Build a Fire” by Jack London.


  • Typed in the basic MLA format
  • Uses in-text citations from the primary source (no research)< At least three quotes from the story is required
  • Includes a Works Cited page, citing Backpack Literature
  • 750-900 words in length


Introduction: You establish a context for the significance of your thesis in regards to the literary work as a whole. How does your argument contribute to understanding the author’s major literary/thematic concerns? What can other readers learn from your analysis?

Thesis: You state in 1-2 sentences your main idea. The thesis is the culmination of your introduction.

Organization: Your essay should follow that of a typical critique:

Since your focus must be on analyzing some literary motif, theme, or a combination of a literary elements (such as symbolism, character, setting, etc.), your essay must contain well-structured supporting paragraphs that contain a topic sentence, quotes from the primary text (secondary sources are not allowed), an explanation/discussion of the significance of the quotes you use in relation to your thesis, and a concluding sentence or two that situates the entire paragraph in relation to the thesis. Your thesis will focus on some kind of critical analysis of the primary text, so your supporting paragraphs should be organized around each of the quotes you use, explaining the significance of the quotes and why (or how) transitions and at least six (or more) sentences.

Conclusion: Regardless of which option you choose, you want a conclusion that avoids summarizing what you’ve just said. You also don’t want to say, “In conclusion…” Your aim in a conclusion is to place the discussion in a larger context. For example, how might your critical analysis of a literary character relate to the other characters in a work? How might your thesis be applied to other aspects of the text, say for example, the setting or symbolism?

Grammar and Mechanics: Your paper avoids basic grammar mistakes, such as comma splices, run-on sentences, fragments, dropped apostrophes in possessives, subject/verb agreement, arbitrary tense switches, etc. The paper demonstrates a commitment to proofreading by avoiding easy-to-catch typos and word mistakes (effect for affect, for example). The paper adheres to the MLA formatting style for the in-text citations.

Presentation: Your paper meets the minimum length criteria of 750 words, is typed with a creative title. The paper is required to be in the MLA format, using only the primary source, citations, and a works cited page.