Discuss the ways in which one of these elementsthe setting, or an unreliable narratorcreates a sense of horror in one of the following stories.

* Make sure you relate your chosen element in
meaningful ways to other significant elements in the story (character,
plot, symbols, figurative language, etc.), as appropriate. You must cite
from two outside scholarly sources in your essay. You must locate
these sources via either the JSTOR or Project Muse databases, which
you can access via the WLAC library website using your LACCD login
credentials. You may not cite from Wikipedia, Sparknotes, or websites
found via general Google searches.
The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury
A Moonlit Road by Ambrose Bierce
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
*Note: If you have taken English 101 with me before and have written on one of
these stories already, you must select a different story as the focus of your essay.
Setting: In gothic fiction, the element of setting assumes a prominence
beyond its usual role in most stories that is disturbing. Why? What
makes it a “gothic” (horror-inducing) place and/or space? What themes
are implied by the detailed descriptions of Poe’s gothic places/spaces?
Are the places/spaces symbolic? Of what? What language describing the
places/spaces suggests those ideas? To what extent could the gothic places/spaces, perhaps, be considered active
participants in the stories? In what ways? Can the descriptions of the
settings be read as a projection or reflection or revelation of the
character’s psychological state, perhaps of his/her sub-conscious? If so,
what do we learn about the inner world of the character? How does the
language describing the settings contribute to the horror effect in
general? Look closely at language as you answer these questions.
Narrator: See definition of unreliable narrator (online). Discuss
some of the ways the author undermines the “reliability” of the
narrator’s presentation of the story. How and why does that
undermining create a sense of horror? To what degree is the
narrator’s narration unreliable? What is his motive? Is he lying?
mistaken for some reason? unethical? indifferent or lazy?
downright crazy? Or what? Does the narrator think he is
unreliable? If we can’t believe everything the narrator says (and
have good evidence for our skepticism), then how do we know
what “really” happened or what is the “correct” way to interpret
signs or actions or passages? Keep in mind that the author has
to provide us, through the narrator’s narration, with enough
information to determine the possible shortcomings of the
narrator–very tricky technique since the narrator cannot be
aware that he is undermining his own narration. Is the revelation
of the narrator’s shortcomings gradual throughout the story or a
surprise (shocking?) revelation near the end of the story? In looking back over the story, where has the
author inserted some foreshadowing of the unreliability of the narrator–or with-held information that
would make us question the narrator more closely? Why? How does all this contribute to the overall
horror-effect of the story?
Your essay should include an introduction that introduces the topic and ends with a clearly worded, 1-2 sentence thesis
statement. Each supporting paragraph (there should be at least 3) should begin with a strong topic sentence and should
incorporate evidence, including direct quotations from secondary scholarly sources. Direct quotations should be
incorporated using the quotation sandwich method and proper MLA in-text citations. The essay should also contain a
strong conclusion. The final page of the document should consist of a Works Cited page. Tips for formatting electronic
sources can be found here.
Formatting Tips:
Your document should be 5-7 pages in length, typed and double-spaced, in Times New Roman font, size 12. Your
paper should have 1-inch margins and should include a properly formatted heading and a title.
Due Dates:
Saturday, June 30: Draft 1 must be uploaded as a Word document or a PDF via the assignment link in the Week 3
Module by 11:59pm for online peer review. If you do not submit your draft by the deadline, you will not be
able to participate in the peer review process and will therefore earn a failing grade on your draft. Its
therefore critical that you submit a draft.
Saturday, July 7: Peer reviews must be completed (you will be assigned 3 essays to review). Peer review groups will
be automatically assigned at 12:01am on Sunday, June 1. Instructions for peer review are located in the Week 4
Saturday, July 14: Draft 2 must be uploaded as a Word document or a PDF via the assignment link in the Week 5
Module by 11:59pm. I will grade this draft.
***Note that your grade for the draft will reflect the overall completeness of your first draft (50%) as well as the quality
of your peer review feedback (50%). Students who do not devote adequate time and effort to the peer review process
will receive a failing grade for the draft.
Tips for Success:
1. As you study your selected story, develop a solid thesis about this topic–some conclusion you have arrived at–
and make sure you cite lots of examples and details from the story to support and illustrate your thesis and subpoints.
And make sure you discuss and explain your evidence.
2. And please read Organizing your Paper (online). One thing you do NOT want to do is to produce a paper that
just answers each of the above questions, one after another. There is no particular reason or purpose in the order
of the questions, so you would end up with a very unfocused and disorganized paper.
3. Check out some samples! There are two student samples located in the Week 4 Module.
4. You must cite scholarly sources in this paper. You must include all sources cited in your essay (both the primary
texts, i.e. the short stories, as well as any outside sources) in your Works Cited page. This page, which will be the
final page of your document, must be formatted according to MLA requirements. This page should list all works
referenced in your paper (including your short story).
Use standard in-text citation (author and page), and put the source information on the final page of your
document labeled “Works Cited”). Follow MLA directions.
See this short summary of MLA style: MLA Formatting and Style Guide (online), created by the Purdue
University Online Writing Lab. Scroll down the page to find a long list of links for in-text citation and
bibliographies, including how to do electronic sources (online).