Orphanage Essay PP - Napa Valley College

The Orphanage Analysis
Kim’s summary
In the movie The Orphanage, Laura, her husband Carlos, and their son
Simon are moving into the childhood orphanage that Laura grew up in.
Laura and Carlos have bought the home with the hopes of not only
raising their son there, but to use the extra rooms to care for special
needs children. Although the large Victorian home is beautiful, it is
haunted by ghosts that only seem to communicate with Simon. At the
open house Simon goes missing, forcing Laura on a 9 month quest to
find him. She later discovers that children she grew up with were killed
by an orphanage worker because her own son died playing with them.
Laura finds not only their bodies, but also the body of her son Simon
who was accidentally locked in the basement by Laura and fell off the
banister to his death. Laura decides the only way to see her son again
is to kill herself, which she does, and stays in the house with ghosts of
the children she used to play with.
Jenifer’s summary
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, the film titled El Orfanato
presents a family of three; Laura, Carlos and their son
Simón who return to Laura’s childhood home to re-store
the orphanage with plans to care for children with special
needs. Simón soon makes acquaintance with an
imaginary friend named Tomás and also befriends five
more ghost children, who we later learn are Laura’s
childhood friends from the orphanage she grew up in.
Simón and Laura successfully play a scavenger hunt game
with his friends which involve finding the most precious
treasure that his friends have stolen and making a wish.
Shortly after a brief argument between Laura and her
son, Simón goes missing.
Jenifer’s summary, con’t
A mysterious social worker named Benigna appears and
Laura discovers the old remains of children in her coal
shed. Laura realizes that because Benigna’s son, Tomás
was accidently killed by the young orphans, Benigna
murdered her childhood friends out of revenge. Laura
eventually finds Simón’s dead body, trapped inside her
home basement and recognizes she unintentionally killed
her son. Laura then commits suicide and wishes to be
with her son. We learn that Simón’s wish is for Laura to
take care of him and all of the lost orphans. Carlos then
returns to the house to visit Laura and Simón’s grave, and
discovers the St. Anthony medal that he gave to Laura
and smiles.
Brenda’s paraphrase and thesis
In Stephen King’s essay October 4, 1957,
and an Invitation to Dance, he describes some
horror fiction as cathartic. Cathartic horror
fiction reknits reality around values that allow
readers and/or viewers to find a sense of
comfort and ease. Cathartic horror fiction may
also allow the person to better understand the
plot and be at ease as to why things happened
the way they did. In this sense, The Orphanage
seems to be mostly cathartic.
Jenifer’s paraphrase of Holland-Toll
In Linda Holland-Toll’s, “Two Parts Gore and One
Pinch Walking Dead: What Exactly is Horror
Fiction?” she explains that “disaffirmative
horror” includes elements of a continuous state
of “dis/ease” and a sense of unavoidable
detachment from the comfort of our cultural
assumptions and values which are often caused
by the realization that the monster itself is a
reflection of ourselves, often revealing our
failings as a society (2).
Jenifer’s paraphrase of King
Stephen King’s definition from his essay,
“October 4, 1957, and an Invitation to Dance,”
firmly supports a cathartic experience in El
Orfanato because King’s definition of horror
involves components of a destroyed reality and
tragic losses but suggests that reality is reformed
by the reaffirmation of our cultural values that
we believe in and draw comfort from (27).
Jenifer’s thesis
The horror in El Orfanato fosters aspects of
cathartic expression in that it confirms the
maternal bond between mother and son, eases
the unknown tragedy of the lost orphans by
providing closure and fulfills the wishes of the
main characters, Laura and Simón, leaving a
sense of peace.
Open and Closed Thesis statements
• Open: states the main point of the essay but
does NOT state the major supporting points.
• Closed: states the main point of the essay and
also includes each of the major supporting
points in the order they will be discussed.
• Re-visit the main point/idea without re-stating
it verbatim.
• Answer the question: “So what?”
– explain the significance of the discussion;
– End on a strong final note or with a powerful final
Jenifer’s conclusion
Unquestionably, El Orfanato provides us with an
overall cathartic experience that is more in line
with Stephen King’s version of horror. Laura’s
struggles are ultimately resolved in the
conclusion of the film due to the fact that Simón
forgives her and that, at the end, Carlos is
shown looking up and smiling at the camera,
conveying that he has an understanding of her
sacrifice, and bringing together an overall sense
of peace and fulfillment.
Should reflect your thesis/main idea
Should be concise
Should catch the reader’s attention
Let yourself be creative!
Should NOT
– simply re-state the assignment
– be in quotation marks
– be underlined, italicized or highlighted in any way
MLA formatting
• Online writing lab at Purdue University
– (link from my webpage, right beneath my picture)
• YourCompClass: MLA Document Format Proficiency
MLA Citation
• Online writing lab at Purdue University
• YourCompClass: MLA Document Format Proficiency
Works Cited
El Orfanato. Dir. Juan A. Bayona. Per. Belén Rueda, Fernando Cay, Roger Príncep.
Warner Bros. 2007. DVD.
Holland-Toll, Linda. “Two Parts Gore and One Pinch Walking Dead: What exactly is
Horror Fiction?” As American as Mom, Baseball and Apple Pie: Constructing
Community in Contemporary American Horror Fiction. Bowling Green, OH:
Popular Press, 2001. Print.
King, Stephen. “October 4, 1957, and an Invitation to Dance.” Danse Macabre. New
York, NY: Berkly Books, 1983. Print
In-text citations
You must provide a citation whenever you:
Remember the underlying principle of citation is
that it must always be clear which ideas and
writing have come from outside sources, and
which ideas and writing are the writer’s own.
• Film and book titles are always italicized.
Poems, short stories and series’ titles are
placed inside quotation marks.
• Quotations:
– YourCompClass: Quotation Proficiency
Fragments and Run-ons
Independent Clause:
-subject, verb and complete thought.
Every sentence MUST contain an independent
clause in order to be complete.
1. I love to write essays!
2. Writing essays is awesome!
3. Because I like to write essays.
1. IC. IC: period
2. IC; IC: semi-colon
3. IC, and IC: comma and conjunction
4. DC, IC : change one of the independent
Essays due Wed. 3/21
• Bring a hard copy to class
• Turn in an electronic copy to TurnItIn.com by
Thurs. 3/22 11:59 pm.
• Late Pass essays must be submitted on Wed.
3/28 by 5pm via email. There will be no

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