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Classic English Literature Research Paper Topics & Ideas

The subject of Classic English literature is more complicated than it seems at first glance. A work of literature must not be read as a separate story, but it should be perceived in the context of time. Hence, reading a book, one should consider when it was written, who the author is, and where it is placed with regard to all the other books of the whole literature. Thus, the subject of classic English literature influences as well as it is influenced by the literature of other countries, other genres of art, different philosophical ideas, popular trends, and historical events.

While choosing the topic for the research in classic English literature, it is necessary to select the focus of the work. Having a focus, one has to choose the idea to work on. This may be a certain author, work, style, or the investigation of the correlations between two or more works.

Topics and Ideas for Classic English Literature Research Paper

Here are examples of topics for the classic English literature research paper:

  1. The Influence of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on The Incredible Hulk
    The topic that concerns the influence of classic literature on popular culture is particularly interesting due to the generally unknown origin of the characters and stories. Stan Lee, one of the makers of the character of Hulk, mentioned that the story about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had inspired him to create the character mentioned above. Thus, this research paper will concern similarities and differences between the stories about Hulk and Mr. Hyde to establish the borrowed and newly created details.
  2. Evolution of the Vampire’s Image from Dracula to The Twilight Saga
    In this research paper, the image of the vampire that was created by Bram Stoker will be compared to the image of the vampire from The Twilight Saga, which was based on the books by Stephenie Meyer. Thus, it will be possible to conclude that the image of the vampire has transformed from the monster into a Byronic hero by softening the rough edges.
  3. Compare and Contrast of The Tragedy of Macbeth and House of Cards
    The lust for power is the central ambition of the character of Macbeth from The Tragedy of Macbeth by Shakespeare and Francis Underwood from House of Cards, the TV series by Netflix. In this paper, the similarities and differences between the two stories will be investigated. The characters of the classic play will be compared to the characters of the Netflix product. For instance, the central character of the play, Macbeth and his wife correspond to Francis and Clair Underwood.
  4. Robinsonade of The Martian
    This topic will critically review The Martian, the movie featuring Matt Damon. The Martian will be evaluated as the story about a castaway, which is the motif originally used by Daniel Defoe in Robinson Crusoe. Thus, The Martian is a particularly interesting story that is created with the use of the motifs of classic English literature rather than remaking the original one, which is a popular trend nowadays.
  5. The Lord of the Rings: The Origins
    The Lord of the Rings trilogy written by J. R. R. Tolkien influenced the genre of fantasy and popular culture because further works in this genre have inherited the features of Tolkien’s mythopoeia. However, Tolkien has created his fictional world and its characters on the basis of English mythology and the stories about King Arthur. In such a way, modern fantasy literature is based on English mythology, which was derived from the works by Tolkien. Thus, the study of the origins of Tolkien’s story is necessary for understanding modern literature.
  6. Postmodern Interpretations of the Classic Stories on the Example of Pride and Prejudice
    Pastiche and mashup are the popular genres of modern literature. Both of them transform the original content of the novel to generate new meaning or to reconsider the original message of the story. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies created by Seth Grahame-Smith is an example of a mashup that parodies Pride and Prejudice, the novel by Jane Austen. This paper will examine the changes, which were made in the original text and their necessity.
  7. Supernatural Elements in Beowulf
    Beowulf is the epic that depicts pagan story from the point of view of the Christian author. In this story, elements of pagan mythology are viewed through the prism of the worldview of another religion, and thus, they are transformed to be discredited. For instance, monsters, such as Grendel, are called to be the descendants of Cain, who is a villain in Biblical mythology. Thus, this work will analyze the negative attitude towards the elements of the pagan mythology in Beowulf.
  8. The Archetype of Noble Outlaw
    This research work will investigate the common traits of the type of character that can be described as a noble outlaw. The sources for this work will include the novel Captain Blood: His Odyssey by Rafael Sabatini and the ballads about Robin Hood.
  9. The Tragic Figure of Lucifer in Paradise Lost
    Paradise Lost by John Milton is an epic poem written in the 17th century. The plot of the poem revises the Biblical stories from the book of Genesis, as well as it adds the point of view of the Biblical villain Lucifer. In such a way, Lucifer expresses his thoughts and feelings and transforms from a villain into a tragic hero. Thus, the topic of this work will be the investigation of the transformation of Lucifer’s character.
  10. The Reasons for Fictional Languages in Literature
    Three of the most popular fictional languages in literature are Quenya, spoken by elves in Tolkien’s works, Nadsat from Burgess’s Clockwork Orange, and Newspeak from Orwell’s 1984. All of them are designed to serve different purposes in the books and are necessary to create an atmosphere of fantasy, demonstrate the independent teenager subculture, or show how language may influence the worldview. In this paper, the reasons for the creation of the three mentioned languages will be researched.
  11. The Issue of Purpose of Life in Frankenstein
    Frankenstein is a novel that tells a story about a man who took the role of God and created life. Life was created is a monster that questions himself and his creator about the purpose of his existence. Thus, this novel raises one of the fundamental philosophical issues, which is the purpose of life. In this paper, the answer by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on the issue of the purpose of life will be investigated.
  12. Compare and Contrast of 1984 and Brave New World
    Both 1984 and Brave New World are dystopian novels, but the societies described in each book are different. In this research paper, the social orders and their influence on the societies from the books will be investigated.
  13. Psychoanalytic Explanation of the Indecisiveness of Hamlet
    Hamlet, the main character of the play by the same name, written by William Shakespeare, reveals that his uncle has taken his father’s life to become the King. The whole play is devoted to the retribution of Hamlet, who delays it until the end of the play and makes it because of being provoked. In this work, a psychoanalytical explanation of Hamlet’s indecisiveness will be investigated.
  14. Satire of Gulliver’s Travels
    Gulliver’s Travels was a novel that criticized popular literary genres, as well as political issues of that time in a satirical manner. Being published several years after Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, the novel mocked the genre of the traveler’s tale. Moreover, the political system of Lilliput hinted at the failures of European politics. In such a way, this paper will investigate the idea behind the imagery made by Jonathan Swift.
  15. Romanticized Image of the Medieval in Ivanhoe
    The picture of the middle ages in Ivanhoe by Walter Scott is far from realistic. Being a Romanticist, Scott flattered the Dark Ages. Thus, this paper will investigate the influence of romanticism on the Medieval on the example of Ivanhoe by Walter Scott.
  16. The Changed Image of Piracy in Treasure Island
    The typical image of a pirate owes its look to the depiction of pirates in popular culture. However, the first author, who misrepresented piracy, was Robert Lewis Stephenson, who wrote Treasure Island. This paper will study the influence of Stephenson on the representation of piracy.
  17. The War of the Worlds as a Reaction to the Fear of a War
    At the end of the 19th century, novels about invasion were a popular trend in literature. The thing is that society of that time felt political tension between the European empires. In this work, The War of the Worlds by Herbert Wells will be studied as a representation of the feeling of insecurity due to the oncoming World War I.
  18. Ideas of Communism in Utopia
    Utopia by Thomas More is a social and political satire that ridicules the ideas of the perfect society where there is no private property. In such a way, the book by More criticizes the ideas of Communism before its emergence. In this research paper, the communists’ ideas in More’s Utopia will be studied.
  19. Robert Burns’ Influence on Romanticism
    Robert Burns was a proto-romantic poet who is famous for spontaneous and sincere lyrics all over the world. His style has influenced William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, and other romanticists. Thus, in this paper, the style of Burns’ poems will be studied.
  20. Camus’ Ideas in Waiting for Godot
    Waiting for Godot is a play crafted by Samuel Beckett, an author who was inspired by Camus’ absurdism. Thus, this research will concern the implementation of the Camus’ philosophy in Waiting for Godot.

Conclusion

To sum up, the topics for the research in classic English literature may as well concern the other fields of humanities, such as philosophy, history, psychology, ethics, and various art genres. Hence, it is necessary to investigate the issues, phenomena, or events the original topic is connected with. Thus, literature may extend and evolve different ideas, and the research in literature is often beyond the scope of a single text.

However, there is a common problem concerning the research in classic English literature, which is a personal opinion of the researcher. While personal opinion has the right to exist, it must be supported by the facts. In other cases, the opinion may distract from the research, and in such a way, the work transforms into personal reflection or flow of consciousness. Thus, as far as the format of the research essay is concerned, even such liberal subject as classic English literature requires a scientific approach and critical thinking skills.