Hello everyone, thanks to all who responded!
Many of you are making some really interesting connections between texts, with valid comparisons and contrasts. The biggest challenge for most of you in this exercise, I think, is to narrow your topics/questions enough for a manageable paragraph sized response. To do this, you need to make sure that the point of comparison is a relatively small one.
For example, some of you point to the way Bartleby and Saikaku’s narrator react to social pressures, and that’s fine, but then you need to go a step further and decided on a specific kind of social pressure they are both confronted with. Then you could go on to either compare their reactions, or contrast them. One of you suggests that one way to narrow this aspect of this social pressure, is that both of these protagonists choose to simply retreat from society, which is a very interesting way of focusing this topic, and also quite valid. Another suggestion for narrowing this topic is that in both narratives, going against social norms has both positive and negative effects on both Bartleby and Saikaku’s narrator. That’s a compelling notion, but again, too general for a two paragraph response, comparing two different texts. Suggestions on how to narrow this: first decide on positive or negative aspect. If you choose a positive aspect, what specific area could you explore? The freedom to live one’s life without restrictions? If you choose that, then what specific restriction is one free from? Try to narrow the topic as much as possible, then you can go more deeply into that aspect, when you discuss a specific quote from each text. Each paragraph should be an analysis, not a summary or paraphrase.
Remember our paragraph form: (and these items need not be in this order)
1) Concise topic sentence (your assertion, which is actually a sub-topic of your thesis)
2) Short introduction to your support (putting your quote in a context).
3) Support for your topic sentence/assertion (not more than one or two sentences). You are only to use one quote per paragraph, so make sure it is a very rich quote.
4) Explanation of why, very specifically, your quote defends your assertion. This is most of your paragraph, so you need to make sure you are doing an in-depth analysis of your chosen piece of text, and not simply a summary or paraphrase. You will certainly want to go back into the quote and point out specific words that “prove” your assertion.