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The Difference Between Writing an Obituary and a Research Paper

Updated on February 16, 2015

For our final research paper for our Literature class we had to decided between writing a research paper and an obituary for one of the characters we had read about. I chose to take on the job of writing an obituary for on of the characters. I chose this because I had written many research papers but never an obituary in my time. I decided to write here about how different the experience was for me.

It was a big decision to branch out from the normal research paper and choose something so different as an obituary. However I chose to do the final paper on “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. I chose the assignment of writing an obituary on Jack/Ernest Worthing. Jack was the story’s protagonist and I found him very interesting and entertaining. I chose to do this for my final paper because of the challenge that I thought it would present and the level of creativity that I thought would be appealing. Writing an obituary is something that I have never had to do so that in its self seemed challenging and intriguing but add to the mix that the obituary is about a fictional character and things really get interesting. I found this to be a very a much harder assignment than I had even anticipated or imagined it could be. The hardest part for me was working in the scholarly sources in a way that made sense and fit in with the obituary. While it was a difficult paper to write and hard to get in the mindset and find the right way to work all the pertinent information into the paper it was still a very fun challenge to take on. It was also very thought provoking to do research on this play as I found it very attention-grabbing to begin with but even more so after researching it. This play was very entertaining to read and really held my attention. I loved watching the play unfold and seeing how all the characters fit into the story. The imagery in the play really made the play come to life for me. Most of the time I really found myself immersed in the play as if I was there watching it take place. I took on the challenge of this assignment head on and tried to the best of my ability to write an informative and amusing obituary.

My favorite part of this unique assignment was imagining what Ernest / Jack Worthing would have done the rest of his life that would have been worthy of his obituary but I also felt it pertinent to include important events from the story. This truly was a fun and extremely challenging assignment but I really enjoyed trying my hand obituary writing. I am not really sure how good of a job I did with this assignment but I know for sure I learned one important fact from it, I am not nor will I ever be an obituary writer. I have a whole new respect for the profession of obituary writers. Thanks to this class I have a whole new respect for all writers. I think that my writing style has grown and I have become more confident in my writing ability. Most importantly I now know that there literature is more about how it makes me feel instead of always looking for what I am supposed to feel. I always felt that there were only right and wrong answers in literature. This mindset I had really turned me away from doing many literature classes. This class has given me a whole new look on literature all together.

Preparing for this assignment

For this assignment I did a lot of research about what makes a good obituary. I have listed some of the tips that I found.

An obituary is obviously a way to notify others of the death and funeral arrangments.

The number one thing I found was that an obituary should be a compelling story of a life.

It is good to add family history into your obituary.

An obituary needs to describe the life that person lived. Highlight the achievements and accomplishments of their life.

In an obituary you are celebrating the life that someone lived. You are honoring them and the life that they had.


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