Sample Essay Outlines

  • Topic #1: Is the narrator a man of action?
    I. Thesis statement: The narrator in Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground claims he is not a man of action. He demonstrates this in many different ways throughout the novel. However, he does follow through on three important actions. Two of these he does as if he is blinded by them. But the third he does in complete consciousness. It is a vile act, one that sends him into complete isolation.

    II. The narrator defines himself as the opposite of a man of action.

    A. The narrator describes a man of action.
    1. Provide the definition of a man of action.
    2. Provide examples of a man of action.

    B. The narrator describes a man of excessive consciousness, the opposite of a man of action.
    1. Provide the definition of a man of excessive consciousness.
    2. Provide examples of a man of excessive consciousness.

    III. The narrator thinks about taking action.
    1. Provide examples of plans the narrator makes.
    2. Provide examples of how the plans fail.
    3. How do these examples demonstrate that he is not a man of action?

    IV. The narrator does take three actions.
    A. Two plans that the narrator does almost blindly
    1. He closes his eyes when he bumps into the officer.
    2. He blacks out after having sex with Liza for the first time.
    B. He then humiliates and perhaps rapes Liza.

    V. Conclusion: Is the narrator a man of action or not?

  • Topic #2: The narrator as a hero or an antihero?
    I. Thesis statement: The term antihero is found in Notes From Underground. There is also a discussion about heroes, what it takes to be a hero, and who might be considered one. Despite the narrator’s awareness of the difference between hero and antihero, he often dreams of being a hero. He even thinks he is a hero when he persuades Liza to leave the house of prostitution. So what is the narrator: a hero or an antihero?

    II. There are two definitions of a hero.
    A. Provide a classic literary definition of hero.
    1. What does it take to be a hero according to the literary definition?
    2. Who are some classic literary heroes?

    B. Provide the narrator’s definition of hero.
    1. What does it take to be a hero in the narrator’s words?
    2. Whom does the narrator consider a hero in this novel?

    III. There are two definitions of an antihero.
    A. Provide a classic literary definition of an antihero.
    1. What does it take to be an antihero according to the literary definition?
    2. Who are some classic literary antiheroes?

    B. Provide the narrator’s definition of an antihero.
    1. What does it take to be an antihero in the narrator’s words?
    2. How does the narrator fit this definition?

    IV. The confusion of the narrator as he sees himself as a hero
    A. The narrator sees himself as a hero in his fantasies.
    B. The narrator sees himself as a hero to Liza.

    V. Conclusion: Is the narrator a hero or an antihero?