Synthesis Essay with primary and secondary sourcesDirections: For this assignment, students will write a documented essay that answers the question below.  To develop the essay, students will identify two primary sources (one from your textbook’s assigned readings) and a contemporary critic (which you should already have from the documented essay assignment) (100 points). Directed Question for essay:  What do you find most interesting or important about the connection between literature and society or culture?  As you develop your answer, you must identify at least one literary work from this course (from Genesis in the Old Testament to Machiavelli’s The Prince).  You must also choose a primary source beyond this class, for example, a textbook chapter or film or article, that will help you illustrate your thesis.  Somewhere in your essay, you must also include the opinion of one contemporary critic (secondary source) who has studied and commented on one of the works you have chosen.    These sources are to be professional and/or academic.  Please do not just Google or troll for internet sources (avoid .com sites, for example, and Wikipedia sources will not be accepted).  Students are expected to use LRC books and database articles.  Your main goal is to establish your thesis and support your view with specific examples.  The secondary source is included to clarify your response.    Evaluation Guidelines for Synthesis Paper: To have a successful synthesis paper, students must

Devise a thesis that addresses an idea found in literature that resonates beyond course content.
Interpret primary sources with attention to critical understanding and awareness of more than one point of view or levels of meaning.
Incorporate evidence from contemporary criticism (literary criticism is readily available in the library both in print sources and through the LRC databases) in a way that will strengthen the student’s analysis.
Develop the essay that reflects the writer’s awareness of literary forms and/or historical background relevant to the thesis.
Avoid logical fallacies so that analysis is coherent and reflects thinking beyond the summary of source material (do not simply provide a plot summary).
Meet Minimum Writing Standards, incl. standards for documentation.
Correctly prepare the paper using MLA documentation, using formal language and avoiding slang/colloquialisms


Sample Answer

Sample Answer


Title: The Interplay Between Literature and Society: A Critical Analysis


The relationship between literature and society is a dynamic and multifaceted one, with each influencing and reflecting the other in intricate ways. This essay delves into exploring the interconnectedness between literature and society, focusing on the impact of literary works on cultural norms and societal values. By examining specific literary works, along with primary and secondary sources, this essay aims to illuminate the profound influence of literature on shaping societal ideologies.

Thesis Statement

Through an analysis of the literary work “The Prince” by Machiavelli, along with insights from a primary source and contemporary critic, this essay will demonstrate how literature serves as a mirror to society, challenging prevailing norms and ideologies, and sparking critical discourse that shapes cultural landscapes.

Literary Work: “The Prince” by Machiavelli

Machiavelli’s “The Prince” stands as a seminal work in political philosophy, offering insights into leadership, power dynamics, and governance. By dissecting Machiavelli’s treatise, we can decipher the intricate relationship between literature and societal structures, as reflected in his pragmatic approach to politics and governance.

Primary Source: Textbook Chapter on Machiavelli’s Influence

Drawing from a textbook chapter that delves into Machiavelli’s influence on political thought and action, we can contextualize the impact of “The Prince” on shaping historical and contemporary political ideologies. This primary source provides a scholarly perspective on how literature can transcend time to influence societal norms.

Contemporary Critic: Analysis of Machiavelli’s Relevance Today

Incorporating the insights of a contemporary critic who has studied Machiavelli’s works can offer a fresh perspective on the enduring relevance of “The Prince” in modern society. By analyzing how Machiavellian principles are applied in contemporary politics and leadership, we can gain a deeper understanding of literature’s role in shaping societal attitudes towards power and governance.


In conclusion, the connection between literature and society is a profound one that transcends time and space. By delving into literary works like “The Prince” by Machiavelli, alongside primary and secondary sources, we can unravel the intricate threads that bind literature and societal structures together. Through critical analysis and scholarly discourse, we can appreciate how literature serves as a catalyst for change, challenging existing paradigms and influencing cultural norms in profound ways.


– Machiavelli, N. (1532). The Prince.
– Secondary Source: [Provide details of the primary source here]
– Contemporary Critic: [Include details of the contemporary critic’s analysis here]

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