Thematic Essay

Performance Indicators:  

P.S ELA-5 Writing Craft:   Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

A. Create an effective introduction.
B. Use showing details v. telling details.
C. Maintain a focus on the main idea throughout the body paragraphs.
D. Write an effective conclusion.

P.S. ELA-6 Research- based Writing: Compose research- based writing to examine a topic through the selection, organization, analysis, and synthesis of relevant content.

A.  Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources
B.  Assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience
C.  Integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source
D.  Follow a standard format for citation.
E.  Select and limit an appropriate topic.
F. Take notes using a minimum of three sources.
G. Prepare an outline and multiple drafts
H. Write a works’ cited page.
I. Write a strong introduction and conclusion.
J. Include precise, effective quotations that directly correspond to the main idea.


Directions:Write a well-organized research paper that includes an introduction, several paragraphs addressing the task, and a conclusion.  The paper will require you to select one of the quotes from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo to use as the theme of your paper.  The research paper should be at least five double-spaced pages, but should not exceed ten pages.

Once you select a quote you will organize your discussion according to the following guidelines:
1. interpret the quote
2. provide references from the novel that support your essential theme OR determine a focus of your discussion that addresses the issue revealed by the passage.  Your ability to evaluate, synthesize and analyze is deliberately on display here.  The direction that you determine your paper to go will likely be inspired by a legitimate interest in the novel, Victor Hugo and/or societal history.
3.  consider other literary works and/or developments past or present that can be incorporated into your discussion.
4.  Remember that a research paper is driven by the recognition that you are not attempting to prove a point or observation as with other popular expository writing assignments.  A research paper attempts to enlighten the reader about the legitimacy of the identified theme/topic supported by the findings of considered experts.

On DAY 12 of the class syllabus you will submit your thesis statement for your research paper to turnitin.  Along with the thesis you will submit a copy of your selected quote and an explanation as to why you selected the quote as the centerpiece of your research paper. 

Essentially your composition is to be driven by a meaningful focus inspired by a similar societal concern expressed about in the prologue of Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Miserable as well as in his other works that we have examined.

In developing your response according to the stated task be sure to keep these general definitions in mind:

(a)    discuss means “to make observations about something using facts, reasoning, and argument; to present in some detail”
(b)    describe means “to illustrate something in words or tell about it”
(c)    evaluate means “to examine and judge the significance, worth, or condition of; to determine the value of”


“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in.   Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Promise to give me a kiss on my brow when I am dead. –I shall feel it.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Not being heard is no reason for silence.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often came back with two.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“If I speak, I am condemned.
If I stay silent, I am damned!”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Those who do not weep, do not see.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“You ask me what forces me to speak? a strange thing; my conscience.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Before him he saw two roads, both equally straight; but he did see two; and that terrified him–he who had never in his life known anything but one straight line. And, bitter anguish, these two roads were contradictory.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Life’s great happiness is to be convinced we are loved.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Diamonds are found only in the dark bowels of the earth; truths are found only in the depths of thought. It seemed to him that after descending into those depths after long groping in the blackest of this darkness, he had at last found one of these diamonds, one of these truths, and that he held it in his hand; and it blinded him to look at it. (pg. 231)”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Let us study things that are no more. It is necessary to understand them, if only to avoid them.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“What is said about men often has as much influence upon their lives, and especially upon their destinies, as what they do.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Diamonds are to be found only in the darkness of the earth, and truth in the darkness of the mind. ”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


1.  The paper is to be 5-7 double space pages composed according to MLA guidlines
2.  You are required to use at least five different reference sources, two of which are to be off-line (non-internet) sources.
3.  You are required to use at least fifteen cited parcels of evidence from your selected sources of information.  The information does not have to be equally selected from your sources.   You will also be required to submit at least fifteen note cards with the cited source along with the evidence that you will use in the research paper.  In recent years the notecards have been modified so that you can present your acquired cited information on one document.
4.  A bibliography of the MLA parenthetical citations is mandatory along with a title page.  The bibliography and title page do not count as pages in your research paper.

5.  The research paper is due on DAY 19 of the syllabus.

The links below will be helpful if you require further support with organizing and writing your composition according to MLA standards.

Citation rules
MLA Sample Research Paper