Independent Honors English

Spring Break is March 13-17.

Unit 4: Foils

March 20-May 5

In a literary work, a minor character, often known as a foil, possesses traits that emphasize, by contrast or comparison, the distinctive characteristics and qualities of the main character. For example, the ideas or behavior of the minor character might be used to highlight the weaknesses or strengths of the main character.

Below are novels and plays in which a minor character serves as a foil to a main character. Write an essay in which you analyze how the relation between the minor character and the major character in each work illuminates the meaning of the work.

Required reading: Emma by Jane Austen and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Then choose a third work from the following: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Great Gatsby, Pgymalion, Of Mice and Men, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet


Authorship Reviews: before starting each book
Response Essays: Upon completion of book
Rough draft (optional): April 21
Final essay: April 28
Unit test: May 5

About This Class

The academic year is broken into four units, each with a specific focus in mind. You will read a three novels within each unit that share a similar theme, structure, or genre. You will self-pace your work within that time frame, so as long as you meet the deadlines, it doesn’t matter what book you read first or how long it takes you to read it. 

During each unit, you will create and add to Authorship Reviews, write short Response Essays for each novel, write a larger Expository Essay with assigned parameters, and take an online Unit Test.

Share all Google documents with editing capabilities (not “Read Only”) to

  • Authorship Reviews: Before starting each book, do some independent research on who the author is, what motivated him/her to write the novel you’re reading, and share any other interesting information you discover about the author. Each review should be between 300-500 words with cited sources. (Click here to see an example of an Authorship Review)
  • Response Essays: After reading each book, write a response essay on the novel as a whole. What was your primary impression? What did you enjoy or not enjoy? What literary elements or plot points stuck out the most? What do you think is the main idea of the story, and why? Each response essay should be between 500-600 words and written in the first person POV. (Click here to see an example of a Response Essay.)
  • Expository Essays: Each paper will have an assigned focus and should include specific examples from the books/stories. Essays should have a minimum of 1,200 words in MLA format and be written in the third person POV. (I will not require outlines or rough drafts, but I’m happy to help students through that process if they prefer.) Essay topics and book lists are pulled from the last decade of AP English Literature and Composition exams.
  • Unit tests: There will be an online test following each unit that encompasses questions on plot points, literary elements, and character development. Any notes you take while reading may be used on tests.