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Literary Essay Review Introduction Focus
Tips for Literary Essays • STEP 1 • Be 100% sure you understand the topic • Use the dictionary to help you break down the topic question • Remember to think of context when determining which definition best suits the topic question. Many times, essay topics deal with the human condition and/or experience. • Before you ask me for help, I need to see evidence that you have attempted to understand the question ON YOUR OWN
Tips for Literary Essays • STEP 2 • Develop your thesis and blueprint • Remember that the thesis MUST answer the question specifically & explicitly • Consider double checking your thesis with me BEFORE you plan the rest of your essay
Tips for Literary Essays • STEP 3 • Plan the body paragraphs • Think of points/examples to prove your thesis • Look for quotations to support your claims • Think about the possible implications you can address or make regarding the reasons WHY characters act a certain way • Think about possible symbols/literary devices that the author uses to help supplement or emphasize certain aspects
Tips for Literary Essays • STEP 4 • Write your introduction
Introduction Focus • The introduction of a literary essay has three sections to it. This paragraph is responsible for introducing the topic of the essay, the specific details the essay will develop and the thesis, or central idea the essay will focus on.
SECTION A • The responsibility of section A of the introduction is to present the general, overall topic of the essay and to grab the reader's attention.
SECTION A • There are many effective ways a writer can begin an essay: a) a famous quotation b) a series of strong, general statements c) effective imagery used to tell a story/anecdote/joke d) a dictionary definition of a key term with clarification e) an effective, thought provoking question with elaboration • The most important thing to remember when writing this opening section to an essay is that whatever you write MUST connect to the purpose of your essay. As well, this particular section should NOT be literature specific, but should simply introduce the topic to be explored within the literature.
SECTION A • If your essay's purpose is to show how a character's choices can lead to overcoming challenges, then you will have to begin your essay making sure that you include details about choices and what they lead to.
A series of strong, general statements • All actions, from those great feats of bravery to those small everyday kindnesses, are made greater by the challenges that they overcome. The victory of the Allies in World War II was made more heroic by the brutality of the conditions and the atrocities committed by the Nazis. History may only have given the French Revolution a passing glance if it had not challenged every aspect of the political structure in Europe. Respect and admiration are often gained from standing on principle in the face of widespread adversity and unfavourable conditions.
Effective imagery that tells a story • A youngman sits at his high school talking to his guidance counsellor. School has never beenhisstrong point, but he is determined not to let it defeat him. He wants to go to university and he does not care how much work it will take for him to accomplish his goal of becoming a social worker.
Dictionary definition and clarification • In Oxford's Dictionary of Current English, a choice can be defined as the act or power of choosing. This act or power of choice can lead to someone's personal success or personal failure.
Effective thought provoking question with elaboration • Have you ever wondered how some of the little choices we make every day can influence our lives in positive ways? Most people think that it is only the major decisions that impact a person, but it could be the more subtle choices, made everyday, that change a person's life for the better.
Notice... • Notice that all the examples of each technique given focuses on the central purpose of the essay, which is to illustrate that choices can lead to personal success. Remember you must also CATCH the reader's attention, so your choices for this opening must be creative as well as functional. • When you write your essays you will have to make sure that your opening ties in to the topic given, and the focus of your paper. As well, you have to make sure that this section FLOWS smoothly into the next section, which deals specifically with the literature you are going to be analyzing.
SECTION B • In this section you are responsible to do two things. One, you must introduce the genre, title and author of the literature you will be analyzing. Two, you must hint at the content of the body of the essay, which is essentially the details you will be using to prove your thesis. And three, this section must begin with some type of transition from the opening section. • Obviously, you are going to have to be STRONGLY aware of the details you wish to use in the body paragraphs before you write this section.
Ways to introduce the genre, title and author of the literature are as follows: • In the novel, The Breadwinner, by Deborah Ellis • The novel, The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis, ... • The Breadwinner, a novel by Deborah Elli,...
SECTION C • Section C is the simplest and the most complicated section at the same time. You are only required to write ONE complete sentence, but it is the most important sentence, as it will communicate to the reader your focus for the ENTIRE paper. This focused statement is called the THESIS statement. • All you need to do is answer the essay question you have been provided, being careful to not simply restate the question or just present the obvious.
SECTION C • Sample Essay Assignment Select a character from the novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, and in an essay, illustrate that character's central character trait.
SECTION C • What NOT to do • Ruth is a nice woman. • Big George has a central trait.
SECTION C • What TO do: • The author, Fannie Flagg, illustrates that Idgie is a strong woman, who passes on simple values and morals to her family and friends. As a result, she is a model for human behaviour, she is generous with knowledge and wisdom, and she is an inspiration to other people.
Example: Putting it all together • The mind is as miraculous as it is fragile. Tiny electric impulses message thought and action through a bundle of frail nerves and fibre. Unprecedented mental strength results from the ability of the mind to grasp hold of a firm belief and use that as a guiding light through times of strife. Such tales of fortitude exist through wars and genocides throughout history. However, once that shining belief is extinguished, the mind crumbles and degeneration sets in. The mind seems to lose its strength once conviction in a belief is compromised. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia’s decent into insanity is spurred by the destruction of her faith in the purity, justice, and nobility of life. In the beginning, Ophelia believes not only that Hamlet is incorruptible, but also that heaven has the power to restore him. When Hamlet confronts her, her values begin to crack and she unquestioningly accepts Hamlet’s and her father’s statements as fact, not suspecting the possibility of deception or misconception. Finally, Hamlet’s supposed madness infects Ophelia’s mind until she mirrors his facade.