Paragraph-by-Paragraph Guideline for Literature Essay on “The Witness for the Prosecution”
Format: 5-7, typed, double-spaced pages in 12 point New Times Roman font.
MLA format with internal citations and a Works Cited page with 2-3 outside sources
Topic: You will develop an analysis based on the Christie short story we read “The Witness for the Prosecution”. You may choose one of the following topics or develop on of your own.
Potential Topics for the Literary Analysis on “The Witness for the Prosecution” by Agatha Christie
1. Read “The Witness for the Prosecution” by Agatha Christie. The link is http://www.uek12.org/Downloads/Witness_for_the_Prosecution.pdf
2. Watch the Screen play, for” Witness for the Prosecution. The link to the video is
3. Compare and contrast of the short story, “Witness for the Prosecution” to the screenplay of the same name written by Agatha Christie
4. Discuss the use of irony in “The Witness for the Prosecution”. Address how the irony contributes to a theme for the story.
5. Why do you think that this Christie story has such broad appeal? What do readers/audiences find so interesting and entertaining about the story?
6. Discuss how Christie manipulates her readers in this story. How does this contribute to the suspense of the story?
7. Discuss one of the following, relating it to “The Witness for the Prosecution”.
People like mysteries because they are a safe thrill, a safe adventure. You can see the dark side of people, but you know that justice will prevail. Good will overcome evil.
Mysteries help us cope with the psychological and emotional concept of death and our own mortality.
You can actually evade taxes, but you can never evade death. It will come, one way or another. In real life, we’re never prepared for death. It is never rational and never easily accepted, but in a mystery, death makes perfect sense–or at least it does by the time the killer is brought to justice.
8. Discuss how Christie builds suspense in both the written story and in the movie version.
Paragraph 1 of The Witness for the Prosecution Essay: Introduction
Your introductory paragraph should do three things:
1. State the title of the short story in quotation marks, ie. “The Witness for the Prosecution”.
2. State the author, Agatha Christie. After this, you may refer to the author by using her last name only, not the first name only or with a title. For example:
“Christie’s use of symbolism in the short story ….. “ not “Agatha’s use of symbolism….” or “Ms. Christie’s use of symbolism…”.
3. Clearly state your thesis. Your thesis would be one sentence in which you offer your opinion about some aspect of the short story/movie.
Paragraph 2: Summary
In one paragraph, you should summarize what happened in the story; retell the story in your own words.
Paragraph 3: Specific Examples
Give examples, using quotes, from the story/movie to support your thesis.
Paragraph 4: Critical Support
In this paragraph, quote your outside sources. To find these sources, use the internet to search for other people who have analyzed the same work/legend you are analyzing. You may use databases or just Google searches. These sources must be cited at the spot where you use them in your paper AND on a Works Cited page. Refer to the handout and MLA link on our Moodle site.
Paragraphs 5-7: Analysis
In these paragraphs, you will explain to the reader HOW both the examples from the work AND the quotes from other critics support your opinion about what the work means. In other words, you’ve given your readers examples of what you see in the work itself that led you to your opinion about meaning. You’ve also given them examples of what other critics have said that seems to be in agreement with your opinion. Now, you explain to your readers how exactly those examples relate back to your thesis. For example, if you have given them a quote from the novel and your thesis is that Christie’s use of the supernatural reveals the author’s classist prejudices, you might say:
“It is significant that Christie used the belief in the supernatural to make her plot more plausible. By doing so, however, she inadvertently shows her own classist prejudice by implying that only uneducated and simple people would be fooled by the idea of a ghost. As related by the quote from John Jones, literary critic from Princeton University, Christie’s use of superstition and the supernatural “reveals Christie’s own prejudice towards those she considered ignorant and gullible due to their lower socioeconomic class” (49).
Notice the correct MLA citation used here.
Paragraph 8: Conclusion
Your conclusion should do two things: restate your thesis and leave the reader with something to think about, ie. ask a question, give them a quote, encourage them to analyze and think critically about works of art.
Final Page: Works Cited Page
Using current MLA format (refer to the link on our Moodle site), list all the sources used in your essay. You are welcome to use any outside sources.
Essay on The Witness for the Prosecution