Formal Essay Assignment 1

Topics: British Empire, George Orwell, Joseph Conrad Pages: 8 (1336 words) Published: March 25, 2015
AP Literature and Composition

Q1 Formal Essay

Topic: Read George Orwell’s “Killing an Elephant.” In a well-organized essay, explain how Orwell’s attitude towards British imperialism into Africa is similar to that of Conrad’s. In answering this prompt, be sure that you analyze both authors’ use of language in explaining not only what they have to say, but how they say it! Be sure to provide plenty of evidence from the text to support your response.


1. MLA Format

* Typed, double-spaced, 12pt font, proper MLA style heading and citation, works-cited page, no cover page

2. 1000-1500 words

3. Must include at least three in-text citations.


1. Do not merely recap the stories. I have read them both. Instead, focus on the analysis.

2. Remember, claims & evidence.

Ie…Both Orwell and Conrad make interesting use of figurative language in establishing their attitude about imperialism. For example, Conrad makes use of powerful imagery in chapter 3 when Marlowe comments that “I assure you that never, never before, did this land…appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought” (Conrad 72). Conrad’s use of “dark” imagery in describing the jungle becomes a motif throughout the text and reinforces the allegorical sense that this story is not only a journey into the heart of the jungle, but also into the hearts of wild men.

*** Notice how I write into and out of the quote. Remember, the sentence leading into the quote should set it up and the sentence after explains its relevance. Do not assume that just because you included a quote, that your reader will make the connection.

3. Make sure that you compose a clear thesis statement. Remember, a thesis may be more than one sentence as well. There are closed and open thesis statements.

Closed: In the writing of their post-colonial works, both George Orwell and Joseph Conrad make use of figurative language (Sec 1), detailed imagery (Sec 2), and complicated syntax (Sec 3) to build tension and establish a tone (Conclusion) of incredulity about British imperialism.

Open: In the writing of their post-colonial works, both George Orwell and Joseph Conrad employ strategic use of language to establish a tone of incredulity about British imperialism.

4. Make sure that your topic sentences tie back to the thesis. This is harder with an open thesis since it does not clearly state the sections of the paper.

5. Your conclusion should be more than merely recapping the main points of your paper. You literally want to come to a conclusion. Ie…After doing this study, it is evident that…

Your Name

Mr. Lamphear

AP Literature and Composition

13 October 2014

Title (something like…)

A Close Analytical Study of the Language and Themes of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”

Here, use your introduction to introduce the vehicle for your analysis which for this essay should be the post-colonial themes. Ie…The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were times of great exploration and expansion by the British Empire. The defeat of the Spanish Armada in the sixteenth century, combined with the presence of a strong British navy allowed for the exploration and colonization of New Zealand, Australia and of course Africa. And while such exploration was viewed by many as heroic, there is also a great deal of literature that reflects a level of disenchantment by the British explorers. Two such examples would include Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant.” A closer analysis of the language of these two texts will help to reveal this disenchantment that is common in post-colonial texts. © Chris Lamphear 2014

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