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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 846

Sample Analytical Paper Topics

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Topic #1
Near the beginning of The Edible Woman, Marian McAlpin asks: “What. . . could I expect to turn into at Seymour Surveys?” What could Marian turn into? What does she turn into? Has she changed by the end of the novel? If so, how has she changed, and why?

Outline:
I. Thesis Statement: In The Edible Woman, Marian McAlpin escapes the tediousness of her job and the dangers posed by a life with her monopolizing boyfriend, Peter, and discovers her own identity.

II. Ways in which Marian is prevented from finding an identity of her own:
A. Menial job in a male-dominated business.
B. Monopolizing boyfriend/fiancé.
C. Susceptibility to the expectations of others.
D. Compliance/passivity.

III. Ways in which Marian breaks the compliance cycle:
A. The influence of aimless, nontraditional Duncan.
B. Her eating problem: a sign that something is wrong.
C. Visions of her future with Peter.
D. The realization that she has to do something—she’s invented her own little cul-de-sac, must find her way out.
E. Bakes a cake and confronts Peter.

IV. Conclusion: By finally becoming aware of the external forces influencing her life, Marian is able to confront her own “fantasies” and live life on her own terms.

Topic #2
What is Marian’s relationship to the other characters in the novel? How do her relationships with each of the characters influence the choices that she makes?

Outline:
I. Thesis Statement: In The Edible Woman, Marian is surround-ed by a cast of characters who represent a menu of possible futures. Throughout the entire period of her engagement to Peter, Marian struggles to make sense of these unappealing options until finally deciding to invent a new choice of her own.

II. The cast of characters (as seen by Marian):
A. Ainsley: independent, deceptive, anti-marriage, gets married.
B. Clara: at one time, the “ideal of translucent perfume-advertisement femininity,” now trapped and vegetative.
C. Peter: conservative, bound to be successful, controlling, destructive.
D. The three office virgins: interchangeable, waiting to be rescued by a man.
E. Duncan: Peter’s opposite, acts as a guide to Marian, but not the victorious suitor.

III. Signs that Marian wishes to break away from the options that are presented to her:
A. She runs away from Peter (after leaving the bar, hides under Len’s bed, runs away from Len’s apartment).
B. Shift in narrative voice; a sign that all is not right.
C. Seeks comfort from/is drawn to Duncan.
D. Wishes to run through the freshly fallen snow and make new tracks of her own.
E. At the party, where all of these characters are assembled together, Marian decides that she must get away (her flight to Duncan proves disillusioning and ineffective).
F. Creates a substitute for the version of herself Peter wanted her to be/confronts Peter.

IV. Conclusion: By the end of the novel, Marian has realized that the options presented to her are restrictive and destructive to her sense of individual identity. She creates a new beginning for herself by breaking ties with Peter and (quite literally) carving up his image of her.

Topic #3
At the end of the novel, Duncan tells Marian that she is back to “so-called reality”—a “consumer.” This statement might suggest that...

(The entire section contains 846 words.)

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