I have to write an essay on 3 short stories, based on scale of value.The three stories are "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Poe,"The Wall" by Sartre, and "In the Penal Colony" by Kafka. "The Pit and...

I have to write an essay on 3 short stories, based on scale of value.

The three stories are "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Poe,"The Wall" by Sartre, and "In the Penal Colony" by Kafka. "The Pit and the Pendulum" is an action (plot) story, "The Wall" is character and in the "Penal Colony" is theme. I just need help getting my introduction started and somehow getting the stories to "flow" together into an essay format.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To write an essay on all three of these works is, indeed, challenging as there is much to analyze.  For a single essay, you will need to narrow your topic to one element that ties all three together.  Perhaps you may wish to analyze the psychological aspect of each character's reaction to his condition.  (You have mentioned plot and theme as well as character, but as you know, character contributes to all other narrative elements.)

Since Kafka and Sartre are existentialists, the existential angle may prove workable.  For instance, you could write about how each man deals with his approaching death, his fear of mortality and change in destiny, his terrible isolation in the midst of this fear.  For, the positive outcome for each man is related to his interpretation of his condition.  There is a passage from Kafka in which he writes,

Man cannot live without a permanent trust in something indestructible in himself, though both the indestructible element and the trust may remain permanently hidden from him.

Maybe this passage could serve as a motivator to lead into your introduction.  Also, you may wish to read some critical essays on the narratives about which you must write as they are insightful and will generate some ideas of your own which you can incorporate into your essay. In planning this essay if you write a comparison/contrast, then you will wish to line up the differences and similarities of the three characters as they deal psychologically with their fates (i.e.their perceptions and reactions, etc.).  At any rate, planning is essential for a task such as yours.

Please check out the sites below for essays and analyses that enotes provides on these works.  You can also go to the /topics/ site for how-to write essays, introductions, etc.