Tips for writing the in class essay
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Tips for writing the in-class essay. Elevating your style for English 12. First, analyze the prompt/question.

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Tips for writing the in-class essay

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Tips for writing the in class essay

Tips for writing the in-class essay

Elevating your style for English 12


First analyze the prompt question

First, analyze the prompt/question

Heroism and the qualities of the hero are central to the Anglo-Saxon culture and to the Beowulf story. Consider the picture of heroism that is emerging in Beowulf and describe the qualities admired and those derided(looked down upon) in the Anglo-Saxon warrior, as we can determine from having read sections 1-7. And finally, discuss the picture of Beowulf, the character, that emerges in this area of heroism.


What do we need to write about

What do we need to write about?

Generally, as we can see in Beowulf:

  • Positive qualities of the heroic warrior

  • Negative qualities of someone less than heroic

    More specifically:

  • How the character Beowulf measures up

    Do these need to be discussed separately or can we use Beowulf to illustrate the first part of the question?


Step 2 craft a short introduction

Step 2: craft a short introduction

  • That answers the prompt in a single sentence whenever possible.

  • That uses key terms from the prompt.


Answer the prompt in the introduction

Answer the prompt in the introduction

Prompt

Introduction/thesis

Heroism and the qualities of the hero are central to the Anglo-Saxon culture and to the Beowulf story. Consider the picture of heroism that is emerging in Beowulf and describe the qualities admired and those derided(looked down upon) in the Anglo-Saxon warrior, as we can determine from having read sections 1-7. And finally, discuss the picture of Beowulf, the character, that emerges in this area of heroism.

In the Beowulf story, it becomes very clear what the Anglo-Saxon culture valued in their heroes; strength, bravery, and the ability to keep one’s promises were all crucial not only to the building of the individual hero’s reputation, but also to the survival of their tribes. In a society based on hero and ancestral worship, bravery was clearly paramount to one’s success.


Using apt direct quotations

Using “apt” direct quotations

Original text

Quoted text in response

“In his far-off home Beowulf, Higlac’s /Follower and the strongest of the Geats—greater/ And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world—/Heard how Grendel filled nights with horror/And quickly commanded a boat fitted out,/Proclaiming that he’d go to that famous king,/Would sail across the sea to Hrothgar,/Now when help was needed.”

Beowulf epitomizes the key to heroism; first he was identified by the narrator as “the strongest of the Geats;” in fact, he wasn’t only a superior Geat, but he was “greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in the world” (23).


One more example

One more example

Original text

Using the “apt” quote

“So Beowulf/Chose the mightiest men he could find,/The bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen/In all, and led them down to their boat/He knew the sea, and could point the prow/Straightto that distant Danish shore…”

In addition to his strength, he was also a knowledgeable sailor who, “knew the sea” and could “point the prow” in the right direction toward Hrothgar’s kingdom (23).


The value of the apt quotation

The value of the “apt” quotation

  • It keeps the focus on what you’re trying to prove.

  • It shows that you can differentiate between important and less significant information.

  • It allows you to incorporate the cited material into your own prose.

  • Avoids this clunky format:

    My idea. “The long quoted sentence.” My explanation of the quote.


The summary notation

The summary notation

Purpose

Example

  • Not every reference needs to be a direct quote.

  • We want to add variety to our prose.

  • One way to do so is with the quick summarization of a key point.

Beowulf, the hero, was brave; he killed sea monsters in his youth and was now willing to fight the greatest monster of all time, alone and without any weapons (25).


And lastly make sure you ve answered the question

And lastly, make sure you’ve answered the question!

  • Make sure your essay actually develops your thesis.

  • Check your topic sentences to be sure they’re connected to the prompt (and your thesis).


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