Paper #1 focuses on textual analysis, synthesis of ideas from two sources, argument, and evidence. This assignment aims to assure that you can conduct a careful, thoughtful analysis of a literary work, including the integration of conceptual material from a second source. Specifically, you will analyze selected aspects of Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea in conjunction with at least one passage from her version of Lao Tzu’s Tao te Ching. Le Guin has acknowledged the profound influence of Taoism on her work, and you will explore aspects of this influence in your analysis.


1. Read Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, noting the themes, ideas, or passages that resonate most with you.
2. Next, reread Le Guin’s version of Lao Tzu’s Tao te Ching, and identify one or more numbered passages that best relate to the aspects of Wizard that you previously noted. Try to specify a Taoist theme or concept that will help you illuminate Wizard.
3. Develop a thesis bearing of the relation of Taoism to A Wizard of Earthsea.
4. Compose a 3–4 page paper that explores this relation, defends your thesis, and includes supporting textual analysis for all of your main interpretive points. You should discuss at least one numbered passage from Lao Tzu, in addition to whatever aspects of Wizard you choose to explore.
5. Make sure you support your analysis and central claims with properly documented quotations, paraphrases, or textual references.
6. Carefully edit and proofread your essay prior to submission.

Lao-Tzu. Tao te Ching (version by Ursula K. Le Guin; ISBN-13: 978-1570623950)
Le Guin, Ursula K. A Wizard of Earthsea (ISBN-13: 978-0547773742)

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A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin, is a straightforward but interesting and enchanting story full of supernatural events, of a growing boy Duny and adventures on his path to mastery. Tao Te Ching is on the contrary, ancient Chinese text from 6BC, written by sage Lao Tzu about different lessons and paths in life that every human being encounters in one way or the other. The ability to learn this kind of knowledge offered to us on our life path and skill to apply it in critical, and everyday situations, alike is the key topic of both masterpieces.

For example, during his early life in a mountain village, Duny learns the skill of True Speech and commands of animals as a particular kind of knowledge, inaccessible to ordinary people. However, possession of supernatural powers does not lead to the improvement of life circumstance for others. In one of his noble attempts to save the village from invaders, he casts a fog-weaving spell upon the world, but as things go awry, he falls into a permanent loss of consciousness, kind of a coma. Ogion the magician saves and heals Duny boy afterwards, who in spite of his inability to control his pride and hard headedness, grows up and becomes a skilful wizard....
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