A Sparkler writes:
I am writing an essay about Middle Ages Literature. The problem is: I can't figure out how to address the questions "so what?" and "who cares?" to my essay.
The paper is about how fame defines a character, regardless of heroic deeds (or the lack of), but I can't seem to make my thesis relevant. Also, what audience would I write to for an essay analyzing the hero-archetype? Who would care about whether or not fame defines the hero?
Let me answer your second question first: think of your audience as a brilliant but unpretentious friend. Write with this one person in mind. That's it—easy-peasy.
Now, as for the first question: I think your teacher has given you a pretty fun prompt! If you're having trouble thinking about how fame defines characters from literature of the Middle Ages, start by thinking about how it defines, oh, I don't know, Tiger Woods. For example:
-- Fame forces the character to define himself one way to others, and another way to himself. The pressure of maintaining these two definitions simultaneously ultimately undoes him.
-- Fame defines the character completely; it is what transforms him from a moderately unattractive schlub into a powerful, handsome, and irresistible star.
-- In the character's own mind, fame is an impenetrable shield, a force that protects him against the consequences of his actions. This delusion leads him to behave recklessly [ed: leaving voicemails for your jumpoff???? TEXTING her? Get a clue!].
-- As the character grows increasingly famous, the public claims the right to define him. It wants to think of him as upstanding, faithful, and a bit boring, and is devastated when its own constructed definition proves false.
Of course, you'll need to think about fame as it relates to specific characters you're studying this semester, but do you see what I mean? Use our fame-obsessed culture as a way to come up with a few thesis options.
Good luck, and happy weekend, everyone!
What do you think about the Tiger situation? Are you sad? Angry? Wearing this t-shirt? So sick of hearing about it?