Literary analysis essay on raisin in the sun

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Essay Topic #1 Gender Issues in A Raisin in the Sun

Generally speaking, the male characters in A Raisin in the Sun are portrayed as irresponsible (Walter), lacking in direction or authenticity (Joseph and George), or hostile (Mr. Lindner), while the female characters are responsible (Mama), ambitious and disciplined (Beneatha), and supportively nurturing (Ruth). Write an essay in which you identify the gender dynamics in the play, considering whether the gender roles are as rigid or scripted as they appear to be. If you agree that the male characters represent mostly negative qualities while the female characters represent mostly positive characteristics, explain what Hansberry’s reason for employing such gender stereotypes might be. Additionally, indicate whether the stereotypes are open to changing by the play’s end. If so, identify the variables that made change possible.

Essay Topic #2: The Role of Minor Characters in "A Raisin in the Sun"

Often, seemingly minor characters can actually have great significance to either the meaning or the actions of the play. In A Raisin in the Sun there is a handful of minor characters, including George, Joseph & Karl Lindner, who are significant to the play. Choose three of the minor characters in A Raisin in the Sun and write an essay in which you analyze the roles that they play in the development of the thematic content of A Raisin in the Sun. Assess whether the inclusion of these minor characters is necessary to develop the play’s message.

Essay Topic #3: The Lasting Effects of Big Walter

Even though Walter, Sr. is not present in the play, he still affects the characters in their daily lives.  In what ways does he continue to influence the characters’ lives?  You can discuss one of the following:

    • Three different characters he still influences, and how he influences each one

    • Three ways in which he influences the family as a whole

Essay Topic #4: Mama’s Point of View

In this play, Mama is sometimes viewed by other characters as overbearing, domineering, and even a “tyrant.”  In your essay you will prove (or disprove) the idea of Mama as a tyrant.  Does she try to control her family, or is she simply trying to do what she feels is best for them?  Make sure to provide specific examples and explain how these examples prove your thesis.

Essay Topic #5: Character Changes

Many of the characters in this play change from the first scene to the last (and in many different ways).  In your opinion, which character changes the most?  In your essay, choose three characters and discuss the changes these characters experience and the cause/reason for these changes. Do not provide a plot summary of a character from beginning to end.

Essay Topic #6: Raisin and Dream Deferred

The play begins with Langston Hughes’ poem, “A Dream Deferred.”  This poem discusses the possible results when one’s dreams are deferred.  In your essay, you will choose three characters whose dreams are deferred and relate to the poem.  Discuss how they each are symbolized by one of the possibilities presented in the poem.  Make sure to give specific examples from the play and to clearly explain how they relate to the poem. 

Essay Topic #7: For Pride or Money

For the characters in this play, what is most important when they must make a decision—pride or money?  Does money overrule pride, or does pride overrule money?  You will need to give specific examples of decisions made.  Choose three characters and discuss whether their decisions are ruled by pride or money and why. Make sure to clearly prove the motivating factor (either pride or money) in these decisions.

Essay Topic #8: But Why the “Raisin?”

We know Lorraine Hansberry drew inspiration from Langston Hughes’ poem “A Dream Deferred” for the title of her play. The poem is essentially a set of answers to a question; “What happens to a dream deferred?” “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun,” is one of six answers; why does Hansberry choose this as opposed to the other options?


  • Write in THIRD PERSON VOICE – do not use the “I” voice at all!

  • Make sure it is clear which piece of literature you are analyzing, along with who wrote it, when, and in general, why.

  • Embed QUOTES from the piece of literature in your essay – at least TWO per body paragraph!

  • ANALYZE!!! This type of essay is called “Literary Analysis” for a reason! For every quote or point or example that you give in your body paragraphs, you must then analyze/explain its significance! You can’t just list a bunch of information, then not say or explain anything about why you put that information into the essay. Try: “This is important because…” “This shows that…” “This proves…” “If this didn’t happen, then…” “Because ___ happened, ___ occurred and…”

  • Use words, sentence structures, and a tone that is academic, intelligent, and business-like.


  1. Lead in with a hook – question, quote, definition, etc.

  2. Give background information on Raisin in the Sun. You must include: title; author; time of publication; & basic overview of the social, economic, and political issues (of the 1950s) being explored through the literary work.

  3. Wrap up your Intro by writing your THESIS,. Remember: thesis = educated opinion. You will need to prove that your educated opinion is valid and plausible during your body paragraphs. Your thesis should have THREE PARTS (3 characters, 3 events, 3 supporting reasons etc – each of the three points will correspond with one of the three body paragraphs).

TIPS FOR THE BODY PARAGRAPHS (minimum 3 body paragraphs; present a different argument or point along with supporting facts/quotes/scene info in each body p.):

  • Your job in the body paragraphs will be to explain and support and “prove” that your educated opinion about the piece of literature is a good one, with which others should agree.

  • You MUST use at least TWO supporting quotes in EACH body paragraph.

  • Remember the general rules of a paragraph: topic sentence, 3-5 supporting sentences (in which you use specific examples, details, & an embedded quote from the play), & a wrap-up sentence which helps you transition to your next body paragraph.


  1. Connect back in some way to the actual essay question, and your thesis.

  2. Make at least one, or a couple, final and powerful or interesting connections, observations, or points.

  3. Conclude strongly by pointing out how the piece of literature still has meaning in today’s world; or by pointing out an important lesson, warning, or reminder; or by making your reader really think about or do something.

*REMEMBER! Write the entire essay WITHOUT using 1st-person “I” voice!!!
Outline due Wednesday.

Rough Draft Due for Peer Review: Friday

Final Draft due MONDAY

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