Noir Essay

In a 4-6 page paper, discuss a significant noir theme as it appears in The Maltese Falcon and Blade Runner, using a cultural, economic, feminist, or gender-theory lens.  Regardless of which topic you choose, you must support your points with specific examples and quotations from the texts.  The following are suggestions:

Discuss the “hard-boiled” protagonists in both texts. What kind of view do they have of society and the people around them? What kind of moral authority (or lack of it) is embodied by these protagonists?
Noir texts have given rise to various types of female characters (for example, the “femme fatale” – the treacherous beauty whose sexuality is both irresistible and dangerous.) Discuss the portrayal of women in the texts, forming a theory about one or more of these noir female character “types,” supporting your discussion with specific characters from the texts.
Noir texts have established the American city as a dark site of corruption, transgression and danger. Write an essay examining noir visions of the city based on both texts.
Noir texts are typically characterized as having a tone of paranoia, pessimism, alienation, and unease, as is reflected by the name of the genre itself (“noir” literally means “dark,” or “black” in French.) Form a theory about the factors that contribute to this tone in these two texts as well as the effect that the tone has on the reader’s and viewer’s experience of the text.
A topic of your choosing. Be sure to see me in enough time for us to review whether it will work. *Because there is much overlap in themes between Frankenstein and Blade Runner, if you want to compare these two texts please email or talk to me about your ideas.

Helpful Hints:

For whatever theme you choose to discuss, consider exploring not only what these two texts have in common, but also what differentiates them. Although the texts share many of the same noir qualities, they were produced at different times and may therefore reflect different cultural concerns, ideas, and interests. For example, if you are discussing the portrayal of cities in the two texts, you may wish to discuss what is different about noir visions of the city in The Maltese Falcon, published in 1930, and Blade Runner, produced in 1982, drawing conclusions about the cultural climate in which each text was produced.


You may wish to explore more than one of the themes listed above if you see a connection between them. For example, in an essay exploring gender roles in noir texts, you could analyze both the male protagonists and the female characters. Or in an essay exploring the noir tone of paranoia and unease, you might wish to include a discussion of the depiction of the city along with other factors that contribute to this tone.

Criteria for Success

Your essay should include a clear, arguable thesis statement that communicates your stance.
Include well-developed paragraphs containing a clear point (P), supporting information, examples and illustrations (I) and analysis and explanation of these points (E).
Your sentences should be well crafted and clearly stated.
You should proofread your essay carefully checking for grammatical and surface errors.