Sample English Paper on non-fiction essays

Write an essay in which you use a concept from one of the non-fiction essays we have read (Twain, Machiavelli, Ericsson, or Orwell) as a “lens,” or frame, to analyze a work of narrative art that interests you. It could be a movie, TV show, short story, novel, podcast, etc. Whatever you want to write about.

The idea is to use the critical “lens” to examine your subject. Attempt to engage/converse with said author and their theory in a way that provides deeper insight into the subject matter of your choice.

The simplest way to write this kind of essay is to pick a single quote or concept from the “lens”–such as Machiavelli’s claim that it is better for a ruler to be feared than loved or Twain’s idea of “the lie of silent assertion”–and then your paper would explain whether your subject demonstrates this idea or contradicts it.

Example 1: As an example, a lens essay might look at the popular TV show Game of Thrones though the lens of Machiavelli’s claim that it is better for rulers to be feared than loved. The thesis statement might be: “In the acclaimed television show Game of Thrones, the rulers of Westeros who follow Machiavelli’s principle that is better to be feared than loved are the most successful.”

Example 2: Another essay might discuss Twain’s idea of “the lie of silent assertion” through the lens of The Hunger Games, and argue that the dystopian society in that novel (and/or movie) functions because the people in the capital silently assert to the titular hunger games.

These are merely examples. I want you to pick whatever novel, TV show, or other work of art interests you.

I will go over the lens essay format more in class, and you can find information on this type of essay online. This is a good quick guide (Links to an external site.). I’ve uploaded another guide on Canvas.


Pick a concept from one of the non-fiction essays we read as your lens. Either Twain, Plato, Machiavelli, Ericsson, or Orwell.
Your subject may be one of the short stories we have read in class but you are free to pick a movie, TV show, documentary, or any other work of your choosing.
Remember to use APA formatting, including a title page and reference page.
Double space your work, use 12 point font, and indent paragraphs.
Run a spell and grammar check and then proofread your work before submitting. You can also use the free “Smarthinking Online Tutoring” system which is available through Canvas.