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Using these journal prompts about literature, high school students can interact with novels and other works they’re reading. They’ll be asked to consider important literary elements of character, setting, and conflict as they relate to works of their choice.
1. Bad Boys of Literature
Whether it’s the evil dragon Smaug from The Hobbit, Long John Silver from Treasure Island, or Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello, the antagonist in a literary work is the bad guy we love to hate. This is the character who tries to thwart or come against the protagonist, or hero. Think of an antagonist you absolutely despise. Write an essay describing some of the methods the author uses to make you feel this way.
2. The Power of One
The Diary of Anne Frank records the experiences of a young Jewish teen during the days of the Holocaust. People all over the world have come to know Anne’s important story. Write a paragraph explaining why an act as simple as keeping a diary resulted in worldwide acclaim for Anne.
3. A Time and Place
Setting is a literary term used to identify and establish the time, place, and mood of a story’s events. Choose a novel you have read, and explain how the setting complements the story.
4. Characters in Conflict
In literature, conflict is the struggle between two or more opposing forces. Conflict can present itself in one of three ways:
- Man against himself: When a character wrestles with his conscience or struggles to make a decision, an inner conflict results.
- Man against man: This is an external conflict. It can either be a physical or emotional struggle between characters.
- Man against forces greater than himself: This is another form of external conflict. Here, the protagonist is pitted against society or elements of nature.
Choose a piece of literature you have read recently. It can be a short story, novel, or play. Write a paragraph or two giving some examples of conflict within the work.
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If you enjoyed these journal prompts for high school, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays! Once a month, we feature topics especially suited for teens.
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