The purpose of this assignment is to compare an important essay by JRR Tolkien with one of his short stories and describe how the latter is an expression of the former. How does Tolkien in his short story, “Smith of Wootton Major,” illustrate the argument and major ideas of his essay, “On Fairy-Stories”?
You should begin your work by reading the essay, in its entirety (including and especially the epilogue), at least two times, making careful notes as you go along. It would be helpful, for your own purposes and as an exercise towards understanding, to write a short summary of Tolkien’s essay, identifying his thesis, his tone, his posture, and his major ideas/arguments. This is not an easy essay, so it will take time to grapple with its contents in a discerning way.
Once you have gained a competent understanding of Tolkien’s essay, you should then read “Smith of Wootton Major”. As you read the short story, you should keep a pencil in hand, underlining any material that reflects the concerns of Tolkien’s essay. As you read—and again, you should read the fairy tale at least two times through—ask yourself how the short story functions as the essay in fictional form: how is Tolkien arguing the same thing in both pieces? The body of your short paper is the place where you will answer this question.
Your short paper should begin with a brief introduction which introduces the texts and states the purpose of the assignment. A short conclusion at the end of the paper should summarize your findings. In total, the comparison paper should be 750 words. Please do not exceed 800 words or go under 700.
You should not cite any secondary sources, and you should avoid using them altogether for this assignment. You should also not offer any critical appraisal of the author: whether he is right or wrong, clear or unclear, helpful or unhelpful. This assignment does not involve criticism, but only a basic level of scholarly interpretation, in which your task is to understand what the author is thinking and doing.
Please double space your work, which should be written in Times New Roman (12 point font) and submitted to Canvas as a Word Document.
The title of your assignment should be: A Comparison of JRR Tolkien’s, “On Fairy Stories” with His Short Story, “Smith of Wootton Major”. Please make sure to include your full name, course, and section number.
All work should be formatted according to MLA style. For general instructions in MLA style, please visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab here:
https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_general_format.html (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)
Since the word count is small and space is limited, quotations in this assignment should be kept to a minimum. You should aim to write in a thrifty or economical manner: write short, clear sentences that serve a definite purpose. Where direct quotes are necessary, follow MLA guidelines for citations.
However, because this assignment precedes any detailed instruction in documentation, you will not be penalized for documentation or formatting errors.
A works cited page is not necessary.
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