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What was the best theme paper you wrote in English class? (1 Viewer)


Annie Insight

I had a couple really good English projects in school, but this one I think I'll remember forever. What were yours?
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"The Truth About Richard III"

Mr. Hix was the teacher everyone wanted for English. He also taught the drama classes, too...but his English projects were the ones remembered most by everybody who had him. And I was lucky. Not only did I get Mr. Hix for English my last year at North High School, it just so happened that English was my ultimate favorite subject.

Mr. Hix was full of spunk, pizzaz, and a whole bunch of really cool ideas. The year I had him as my English teacher, he assigned us the task of finding out the truth about Richard the Third. We were like,..."Who?" He explained to us who Richard the Third was, and went into a little detail about the family and lifestyle. And I mean, very little detail. He didn't want to give away what he knew of the circumstances surrounding Richard the Third's trial and death. There were two sides, the Lancasters and the Yorks. The Lancasters were the ones who believed that Richard the Third was not innocent, while the Yorks thought he was. Mr. Hix made it sound so interesting and secretive that the whole class practically exploded with a buzzing determination to find out what really happened. He gave us one whole month to tell us the story as we saw it. That story would be our final term paper for the year. I was jumping up and down with anticipation...I couldn't wait to get started!

During all of this going on at school, my family and I were packing up things and getting ready for our move to Kentucky. So, traveling back and forth from Indiana to Kentucky several times a week, I realized that I access to TWO libraries instead of just the one in the town I currently lived in. And with Mom's help, I used the best of both of them. We searched for snippets of dialogue, real conversations between kings and queens, lots of pictures, and the story of the tragedy caused by Richard the Third himself.

At first, I believed that Richard the Third was innocent. I thought he had been framed or something. I wanted to be one of the class Yorks. But when I unfolded the story of his nephews and how they died and mysteriously disappeared, I slowly became a Lancaster. I learned the meaning of the famous "War of the Roses", which was the battle between the Yorks and the Lancasters after the boys had disappeared.

But I couldn't find any proof! I looked and pried and prodded everywhere. I searched books, old news articles, museum wall art, everything. No luck. It was getting closer and closer to the due date for the assignment and I thought seriously about becoming a York again. I'd have to rewrite my entire story because all I had was opinions. I didn't have hard evidence that proved Richard the Third was guilty. Sigh. And I wanted him to be the bad guy SO bad!

A week before I was supposed to turn in my scene-of-the-crime story, my mother brought me some pictures that nearly made my heart stop. She explained that a new book had come out on Richard the Third the day before and in it was exactly what I'd been looking for.

Mom copied the proof. There in her hands was a painting done in the beginning of the 19th century. It showed a very sneaky looking Richard, smothering two little boys in thier beds. In the background you could see a figure holding a large canvas bag, waiting to escape out the window. On the next page, it showed an image of an urn, with the words..."Here lies the relics of the nephews of Richard the Third, tragically killed and hidden by their uncle underneath the palace steps."

I couldn't speak. This is what I was waiting for! I just knew Richard the Third killed them. I knew it, and now I had the proof! I was a very proud Lancaster at that moment.

I turned in my story a day early. I was so happy with what I had found and I felt excited to see the outcome of my story. I felt like I had really solved a crime! It was hard work, but I really enjoyed it. It was the right mixture of logic and the feeling you get right before you open your big birthday present...

I got an A+ on that paper. "Well displayed, very detailed and honest. True Lancaster approach," Mr. Hix wrote on the front page.

You know how things come together and you notice a lot more when you're really into something? Right after I ended that class, I found out the real ending to my story. It turns out that Richard the Third was killed by King Henry the Seventh, ending the War of the Roses. The red Lancasters and the white Yorks merged...forming a single house, symboled by a pink rose.

Every time I see one in full bloom, I think of the Lancasters and the Yorks...and smile, because I learned on my own just how history can be exciting and horrifying, just like life.


Senior Member
What an exciting adventure for you!

You are going to love this. The best theme I wrote in my English class got me a failing grade. I made a connection between my English teacher and graphic sexual writings by authors of certain magazines. My English teacher was getting his jollies quizzing the girls in my grade 8 class about their .. um .. er .. dating activities (?). I suppose I was a precocious individual so the after class interaction between him and some of the other girls was easily translated for me. He immediately stopped this practice and blamed me for thwarting his creative juices.
I just wrote this :twisted:

It isn't "the best"

English Thematic Essay


Joel Cardwell

What role does fate play for the characters in Oedipus Rex?

Oedipus Rex is a classical tragedy in the Greek tradition; it has proved the model for countless playwrights right up until the modern era, from Seneca to Shakespeare. The prolific Greek playwright, Sophocles, wrote the play in the 4th century BC and it deals with the ancient pre-Homeric myth of Oedipus, King of Thebes. Oedipus is a “great man” to whom the people of Thebes look to in “supplication” to appease the “wrath of the gods” inherent in the newfound plague in their streets. He is apparently pre-ordained by the god Apollo to kill his father and marry his mother; his life is considered forfeit by his parents, Laius and Jocasta, King and Queen of Thebes. Through the kindness of a shepherd, he is given to Polybus and Merope, King and Queen of Corinth, where he grows up a prince. His life can be seen as a continuation of the battle between human free will and the pre-ordained “destiny” set out for us by the gods. Does “chance rule our lives”? Alternatively, are we “ruled by the prophesying birds that scream above us”?

Oedipus does indeed have some fated moments, he hears from a drunk about the prophesy concerning his parents and immediately (and perhaps rashly) flees Corinth, seeking to escape his doom. He comes across a man at “the place where three roads meet” and kills him in a fit of rage. He then arrives in Thebes as the Sphinx is tormenting the populace with its riddle. Upon defeating the Sphinx, he is made King of Thebes and marries the incumbent Queen, who has just been widowed (Laius having been attacked by a robber). He never once stops to think about these events and never questions the prophecy, just assuming in its power over his life. He kills an old man, and marries a woman twice his age, without ever stopping to think of the prophesy which drove him away from home. For the Greeks these were the two most serious crimes it was possible to commit. Oedipus has supplanted and usurped his father, and worse, “begat where he was begotten”. The insult to Greek morality was “unclean” and embodied “all human filthiness” in the case it was “in one crime compounded”

It is possible to come to the conclusion that Oedipus is bound to “his mother’s and father’s curse”, that the gods on Mount Olympus are using Oedipus as an example to those who would have the hubris to think that they could “defeat the prophesy”. Just as Laius and Jocasta are foolish in trying to avert their doom, so is Oedipus presumptuous in thinking that it is he and not Apollo who is the “giver of good”. It is perhaps Oedipus’ hamartia of pride and his self-righteous search for the truth that the Gods are playing with as the witches play Macbeth to their own end, or it could be that he has plummeted to an “inescapable night”. The gods have pre-ordained his fate and there is nothing he can do about it.

Jocasta claims not to believe in the gods, and claims that “chance rules our lives, and the all unknown”, perhaps attempting to comfort her husband/son. She is a seeming agnostic until she is reported to have gone to the temple to appease the gods, clearly believing in their power, and fearing their wrath. Sophocles always assumes the power of the Greek gods over his characters, perhaps being mindful that his play is being performed at the Bacchus, a feast devoted to the god Dionysus. Sophocles portrays those who attempt to defeat the gods as foolish throughout the play. He shows the contrast between the prophet Teiresias who is physically blind but who sees the truth in humility and mindful of the gods and Oedipus who takes the role of judge, jury and executioner in what would become his own trial. Oedipus’ “now clear seeing eyes shall then be darkened”. The “greatest of men” is humbled through his search for truth (previously the gods’ domain) and seems to orchestrate his own downfall, oblivious to all warning.

The supreme irony of the play is shown in the way that the gods present the human characters with their “fate” and then watch, as the humans are “unwittingly self-cursed”. The gods never touch Oedipus, instead he will “pronounce my punishment on his head, no matter who he may be”. After his mother/wife kills herself in shame over what she has done, he takes her brooch and stabs his eyes repeatedly “in drenching cataracts of scarlet rain”. The Chorus echoes our shock, guiding the Greek audience, “Horror beyond all bearing!” Oedipus questions his fate, “what fate has come to me?” but accepts it as necessary, “How could I meet my father beyond the grave, with seeing eyes”. Oedipus honours his fate, or the doing of the gods’ will when he states, in anguished grandiloquence, “I was not snatched from death, that once, unless to be preserved for some more awful destiny”.

Oedipus shows us Solon’s bleak comment to be true, we should indeed call “no one happy until they are dead”. Oedipus is brought “from morning of light to twilight of darkness” in a day, the denouement, like that in the Hebrew book of Job, destroying all that he held dear. Yet this is man’s lot, and Oedipus, like Job, accepts it, appealing to some higher purpose. As Jocasta says, we can only live from day to day.


I also had one of the best English teachers. He was the first one to get me hooked on Ray Bradbury. :) And opened the doors to the different types of genre's out there. He was also a Sci Fi buff. After figuring him out, I chose the Solar Eclipse happening at that time for my theme paper. It was too awesome. I sent out letters to all the different resorts to see how they were going to handle the viewing. Had quotes from news stories, and of couse the scientific jargon/research of a solar eclipse. It was the best paper I ever wrote. I got an A. (of course!)

Don't you miss those days. :)