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Compare the meaning of two symbols of toxic masculinity encountered in our reading and viewing.

ENG 300P Tales of Toxic Masculinity Fall 2021

PAPER I. A short essay. Four or five pages. Done for intellectual enjoyment, but with

conceptual and grammatical precision, too. Written with the same flair you’ve brought to your

daily questions and observations. To be done on your own, no collaboration. No plagiarism.

Feel free to use any ideas that have arisen in discussions in class.


– – – – – – – – – –

It’s a short essay, so don’t bother summarizing plots (assume that your reader knows the tales

well). So, get right to your subject; be specific; make your points clear. Again, it’s a short paper,

so be as concise as possible.

Do ONE of the following:

Topic 1: Symbols of Toxic Masculinity

Compare the MEANING of two symbols encountered in our reading and viewing (one from

one work, one from another work). By “symbol” we refer to an entity that represents—that

means—much more than itself. For example, Faith’s ribbon is simply decorative, but it means

much more than that. The scissored ear in BV is just that, but clearly it means much more.

Topic 2: Motives for Toxic Masculinity

Choose two specific instances of toxic masculinity (one from one work, one from another) and

compare possible motives for that toxic (i.e., poisonous, destructive) behavior. Address the

question: why does he do that, and why does he do that?

Works to choose from:

  • David Fincher: Fight Club (Film)
  • Stephen Crane: “The Blue Hotel”
  • Edgar Allan Poe: “Murders In The Rue Morgue”
  • David Lynch, Blue Velvet (Film)
  • Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown”
  • Stanley Kubrick: Dr. Strangelove (Film)
  • Arthur Miller: Death Of A Salesman
  • David Mamet: Glengarry Glen Ross

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