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Revenge Tragedy

Second short essay – The Revenge Tragedy
– Essays should be 7 typed, double-spaced 12-point font pages long
– All citations, including primary syllabus works, must be correctly referenced
using MLA or Chicago formats. Essays must be accompanied by a Works Cited
page.
– Essays are due on Thursday, October 15th at 11:59pm via Dropbox, in .doc or
.docx format.
– Please remember to focus closely on the text you are analyzing and provide
evidence from the text to clarify and support your argumentative claims.
– You are not required to consult secondary sources for your paper, but you must do
so where appropriate. If you choose to develop your topic in a way that requires historical evidence or critical perspectives, it is your responsibility to locate and discuss those materials in a way that integrates them into your essay.
– These topics are intended as prompts for your thinking about a particular question. You should feel free to refine and specify these to suit your own interests.
Please select one of the following topics:
1. As Carol J. Clover has argued, popular film can function as a litmus test indicating pervasive cultural attitudes about sex and gender. However, it remains to be determined whether our engagement with popular films such as slashers, Westerns, and action movies, reinforce conventional norms or challenge them. Discuss the portrayal of gender and/or sex in one or two (but not more) of the revenge tragedies from our syllabus, considering carefully whether that portrayal suggests at a conventional or subversive set of attitudes.
2. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Laura Mulvey has argued that one of the primary functions of modern cinema is scopophilic; that is to say, it fulfills a basic psychological drive that derives erotic pleasure from looking. There is a case to be made that slasher films are as driven by a similar scopophilic impulse as pornography, particularly in the way they ‘look at’ beautiful naked women. Discuss how one revenge tragedy film from our syllabus is centrally motivated by a scopophilic impulse. How can a view of the film as centrally motivated by a desire to objectify a visual object help clarify its meaning?
3. The revenge tragedy often features a remarkably resistant protagonist, one whose survival over the course of the action is a defining feature of his/her ethos or character. Discuss the quality of endurance in one or more of the revenge tragedies featured on our syllabus. How is that quality itself defined or characterized through one or more of the characters featured onstage or onscreen? What type of person is the most enduring man or woman?
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4. In Gunfighter Nation, Richard Slotkin argues that violence and zero-sum “savage wars” serve a vital function in the myth of the American frontier, a myth that is still alive and well in American culture. With reference to one American action film not on our current syllabus, discuss how Slotkin’s concept of a “savage war” can help make sense of its construction of violence.

Films in Syllabus
* Carrie, dir. Brian de Palma, 1976.
* Halloween, dir. John Carpenter, 1978.
* Scream, dir. Wes Craven, 1996.
* First Blood, dir. Ted Kotcheff, 1982.
* Unforgiven, dir. Clint Eastwood, 1992.
* Django Unchained, dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2012.

You may pick the topic you are most comfortable writing about. Which ever one you can write the best essay over.

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