Exploring Innocence & Experience: A Synthesis of Literary Perspectives


The Norton Field Guide explains that “When you synthesize, you group similar bits of information together, looking for patterns or themes or trends and trying to identify key points…such as how two sources agree with each other but not completely and how the information in one source supports or undercuts the argument of another” (Bullock 473-75).

In this assignment, you will synthesize the themes of three or more of the official readings in the course, on the dichotomy of Innocence versus Experience, as described in the unit’s Video Briefing. Your task is to compare, contrast, and combine the viewpoints presented in these three sources to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. The essay should be a minimum of 1,000 words and is worth a possible 133 points.


For this essay, you will:

  • Using the listing below, and the notes you submitted earlier, formally analyze three of the official readings in the course which discuss the themes of Innocence versus Experience from different perspectives.
  • Craft a thesis statement that outlines how the three sources agree and disagree with one another on the topic of Innocence and Experience.
  • Begin the essay with a summary of issues you will consider surrounding Innocence and Experience.
  • Synthesize — compare, contrast, and combine — the three different stances observed in the different readings, highlighting how each of the readings offers insights into the human experience in terms of Innocence versus Experience. Offer specific evidence from each reading to prove your key points. Assume your readers are familiar with each of the readings. (Do not indulge in summarizing entire plots; instead, only discuss the key elements which offer insight into these themes, summarizing them briefly and/or offering brief quotations which illustrate the point and prove your point is accurate.)
  • End the essay with a brief description of your own personal perspective on the three sources, offering your insights and reflections on the topic.


  • Minimum of 1,000 words.
  • Adherence to MLA formatting guidelines (12-point Times New Roman font, double spacing, 1″ margins, indent the first lines of each paragraph, etc.)
  • An underlined thesis statement for your essay.
  • Attach your submission in PDF or Word file format (.doc or .docx)
  • Please keep your paragraphs focused on a single point, with a clear these sentence. Brief paragraphs are best; group longer sections under subheadings, which (in MLA) are bold text, “Capital Case,” on the left margin.
  • Find, cite, and effectively use two or more expert sources to support your approach or specific points in your essay. Include a Works Cited page, using proper MLA formatting and citations throughout.

Basic Concepts for Interpreting Literature in terms of Innocence vs. Experience

When considering the thematic dichotomy of Innocence vs. Experience, including the concept of Caring vs. Destruction, students should take note of the following elements:

  1. Character Relationships: Analyze the dynamics between characters that involve expressions of Innocence, Experience, care, or destructive behaviors.
  2. Motivations: Explore the underlying reasons and emotions that drive characters’ actions and attitudes towards Innocence and Experience.
  3. Conflict: Identify conflicts arising from opposing forces of Innocence and Experience, caring and destruction, and the impact on characters and the overall narrative.
  4. Empathy: Note instances where characters demonstrate compassion and understanding, contrasting with moments of hostility or indifference.
  5. Transformation: Examine how Innocence or Experience can lead to personal growth or destructive consequences for characters.
  6. Romantic Innocence: Explore romantic relationships and the portrayal of Innocence, including themes of passion, devotion, jealousy, or betrayal.
  7. Familial Innocence: Consider the depiction of Innocence within families, exploring themes of loyalty, sacrifice, or estrangement.
  8. Friendship: Analyze the friendships portrayed in the work, noting instances of support, camaraderie, or betrayal.
  9. Prejudice and Discrimination: Examine how Experience and destructive behavior can stem from biases, stereotypes, or discrimination.
  10. Power Dynamics: Consider how power imbalances can influence expressions of Innocence, Experience, care, or destruction within relationships.
  11. Consequences: Analyze the outcomes and repercussions of characters’ actions driven by Innocence or Experience.
  12. Redemption: Note instances where characters have the potential for personal growth, healing, or reconciliation through the power of Innocence and care.
  13. Symbolism: Identify symbolic representations associated with Innocence, Experience, caring, or destruction that deepen the thematic exploration.

These elements provide a framework for analyzing and interpreting the thematic dichotomy of Innocence vs. Experience, encompassing the concept of caring versus destruction. It’s important to adapt and expand based on the specific context, themes, and character relationships in each literary work, considering additional elements such as narrative structure, symbolism, moral dilemmas, and the exploration of human emotions.

Proofreading and Grading Criteria

Ask yourself the following questions to help assess the quality of your essay:

  1. What does the essay do especially well?
  2. What is the title of the essay? Does the title reveal something about the content of the essay?
  3. Does the introduction of the essay establish the context of the issue, providing enough background information?
  4. What’s the thesis statement? Does the thesis focus on the debatable issue and the articles’ viewpoints? Does it allude to the main points? Is it on the first page? Is it 1-3 sentences?
  5. Does each section of the essay rely on the basic concepts, listed above?
  6. Does each section of the essay reference one of the readings — and compare/contrast it with others?
  7. Does the essay summarize and quote relevant points only? Is it padded with unnecessary plot summaries?
  8. Does the conclusion offer a personal perspective on the three sources, including real insights and reflections on the topic? Does the essay show a genuine depth of thinking on the issue?
  9. How is the essay organized? Does the essay flow logically and smoothly? Can you identify a topic sentence early in each body paragraph?
  10. How would you describe the tone of the essay? Is the essay appropriately academic in its tone? Does it rely on a third-person perspective, focusing on the works and topics themselves? Or, does it use unnecessary first- or second-person (I, You, We)? Are there casual sections that could be more professional?
  11. Is the essay free of grammatical and surface errors on the sentence level? Does it appear the author proofread their writing carefully, and checked it in Grammarly/F7 in Word?
  12. What two or three revisions would most strengthen this essay?


Please note that I will also use these questions as a guide when grading this paper, so be sure to compose your writing with these criteria in mind.