Sample Essay Outlines
Sample Analytical Paper Topics
The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the novel by giving you the opportunity to analyze some of the important themes of Song of Solomon. Following each topic is a sample outline to help direct you to the main points of the topic and to encourage your own ideas.
Milkman goes through several stages in the growing-up process to become a humane and morally-responsible adult. Discuss the most significant turning points in his march toward manhood in Song of Solomon. Explain their impact on Milkman’s character.
I. Thesis Statement: Milkman’s progress in becoming a morally-responsible and humane character in Song of Solomon is primarily a result of his becoming educated in his family’s past, in his understanding of nature, and in his new-found respect for women.
II. Learning about his family’s past
A. Pilate’s values as an alternative to Macon’s
B. Milkman’s father did not always have such values
C. His grandfather Jake’s importance to the Shalimar community
D. Finds out Solomon was a flying African
III. Learning from nature
A. Material possessions are useless in nature
B. Man cannot control nature
C. Nature can overpower man
D. Man can communicate with and learn about living from nature
IV. Learning about women
A. Learns Ruth and his sisters are not subservient to men, and do not exist only to nurture men
B. Hagar and other women do not exist solely for his physical pleasure
C. Pilate and Circe (and to a lesser extent, Reba) do not fit in “traditional” gender categories
D. Sweet is Milkman’s first reciprocal relationship
There are essentially three types of women in Song of Solomon. The Macon Dead family women (Ruth, Lena, and Corinthians) live in the domestic realm where they are oppressed by men. Pilate, Circe, and to a lesser extent Reba, live in a mythic world of their own making where they are essentialy self-sufficient. The impressionable Hagar exists in the gap between these two worlds and is ill at ease in both. Compare and contrast these three types of women and the worlds they inhabit.
I. Thesis statement: Compare and contrast the three types of women in Song of Solomon and the worlds they inhabit. Compare the domestic realm of Ruth and her daughters, the mythic realm of Pilate, Circe, and Reba, and the consumer-oriented realm that Hagar inhabits.
II. Domestic realm (Ruth, Lena, Corinthians)
A. Function as domestics in the household
B. Are inferiors to and serve men
C. Have no independent existences throughout most of the novel; dependent on men
D. Cultivate nature to compensate for life-denying existences symbolized by the artificial rose petals
1. Ruth’s flowers and goldfish; Ruth’s garden in Milkman’s dream
2. Lena’s maple tree
III. Mythic realm (Pilate, Circe, Reba)
A. Create own rules and codes of...
(The entire section is 739 words.)