The texts for this course were written more than a quarter of a millennium apart. A Journal of the Plague Year was written by Daniel Defoe (better known as the author of Robinson Cruso) in 1722. The Children of Men was written by P. D. James (aka Phyllis Dorothy James, better known as the author of popular mystery novels) in 1992. So the first text was written at the beginning of the emergence of the novel as a literary genre and the second novel was written when mystery stories and dystopian fantasies had both come to be accepted as literary forms.
For your final paper, write an essay that addresses one of the following questions:
- Do you find diary entries successful in relating the events described in the novels, or do you think that a different format (such as third-person narration) would be more effective in one or in both novels? Give specific examples from the novels to support your answer.
- Explain how the the social attitudes expressed by the narrators differ with respect to their views of society, human nature and the moral issues raised by the conflicts. To what extent can these differences be seen to reflect general changes that have taken place in society between the 18th and 20th Centuries?
- Compare and contrast the role of character development in the two novels. Are characters defined to the same degree of detail in both novels? If not, can you think of a literary justification for why characters might be more fully developed in one novel than in the other?
The essay should be 1000-1500 words, doubled spaced using 12-point font, and follow the same formatting conventions as the first three essays.