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ENGL 103W Lecture Notes - Thesis Statement

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Torsten Kehler

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English 104, Lecture #3
September 19,2011
Mini-essay #1 (due Wednesday Sept. 28)
On the three plays in the Oresteia.
Not necessary to cover every detail.
Initially, one's first response is to think that the plot of the Oresteia (title of a work should be italicized or
underlined) will concern the struggles of the House of Atreus - specifically it will involve the clash
between Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. However, this is wrong. In fact, the Oresteia is about a theme:
the replacement of revenge by justice. In my essay (in the essay that follows), I will (intend to) threat
this theme by focusing on...
Thesis statement (an essay should always culminate in a thesis statement). Tells the reader what
the essay is about, and focuses the writer on the topic (no rambling).
1. The essay should be two pages double-spaced, and handed in to the TA in lecture.
2. This is a formal essay. Should have formal structure.
3. It is ok to refer to yourself. A couple of mild references to yourself is ok.
4. FOCUS YOUR WORK ON THE THESIS STATEMENT!!! Helps the reader understand the
essay, helps the writer organize the material.
5. Use MLA.
*The Oresteia shows how Athens came to have a court system as opposed to having series of revenge
for every little thing. Things work better when there's a judicial system.
Aeschylys was born in 525 and died in 456. Wrote close to 80 plays, we only have access to 7, some of
the most famous ones. The Oresteia is the only Greek tragedy we have. Agamemnon is the most
profound one, deals with Gods, family, law, violent emotions (death of children, hatred, revenge.) The
plays are about revenge, particularly the first one. Full of symbols, refers back to Homer, sums back to
Greek cultural phobias (fears) ie: loss of children, arrogance, war, family hatred, betrayal and
backstabbing. It shows that war is not something way over there, it's connected to family tragedies.
Above all, the play pulls apart the myth of having an invulnerable sphere in our minds where nothing
bad happens, or an area that is free from emotion, irrationality, hatred and anger. Agamemnon commits
several moral crimes: killed his daughter, killed many trojans in a heinous way, and is arrogant about
his soldiers and his family. Commits the worst crime of Hubris – arrogance. However, he is not always
the author of all the disasters that befall him, he is in part blameless.
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