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Writing Pointers:. Literary Analysis essays: The Crucible. Your goal:. To develop an original, clear, specific ARGUMENT about the work’s meaning Not to merely report facts of the plot—what you are relating should not be evident to anyone who reads the work, but instead

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writing pointers

Writing Pointers:

Literary Analysis essays: The Crucible

your goal
Your goal:
  • To develop an original, clear, specific ARGUMENT about the work’s meaning
    • Not to merely report facts of the plot—what you are relating should not be evident to anyone who reads the work, but instead
    • Your analysis should reflect your development of an original interpretation of the work’s meaning.
challenge 1 original arguable clear thesis
Challenge #1: original, arguable, clear thesis
  • “John Proctor’s, Elizabeth Proctor’s, and Giles Corey’s willingness to sacrifice themselves in order to oppose the Salem witch trials illustrates Miller’s sobering belief that resistance to social wrongs requires great personal sacrifice.”
define your terms and topics in your intro
Define your terms and topics in your intro:
  • “With characters who exemplify selfishness, prejudice, and vengeance, Miller defines integrity, in contrast, as compassion, honesty, and good will. His negative portrayals of the three characters involved in the ruin of Salem imply that a successful society is rooted in the integrity of each individual member. Reverend Parris’s egotism, Deputy Governor Danforth’s bigotry, and Abigail Williams’s jealousy result in a community so corrupt that even the justice system devolves into a court of vengeance, proving Miller’s point that when individuals value personal needs over integrity, societies collapse.”--Michelle Leung
challenge 2 topic sentences
Challenge #2: Topic Sentences
  • Each topic sentence should be a mini-thesis statement, developing the sub-argument of your thesis.
  • Should refer back to prior paragraph’s ideas
  • Should never be a summary of a plot event. Cannot, therefore, be a fact.
exemplar ts
Exemplar TS:
  • “By not bowing down to the fear and hysteria that have invaded other townspeople’s minds, Rebecca Nurse also illustrates that people can only end prejudice by objecting to it.”
    • The “so what?” and the subtopic should be clear.
challenge 2 evidence
Challenge #2: Evidence
  • All claims must be supported by concrete textual evidence
    • Quotes
    • Paraphrase with regard to development of claim
    • MINIMUM 2 – 3 quotes per subtopic/point/paragraph.
challenge 3 analysis
Challenge #3: Analysis
  • Analysis, rather than plot summary
    • Your thesis must be arguable and focused
    • Topic Sentences (TSs) must state mini-arguments
    • TS should NOT be a statement of a plot event
ideas for analysis
Ideas for analysis
  • Speculate as to WHY a character does what he/she does (Motive), and/or how he/she is able to act so, and discuss
  • what the implications for her/him and for humanity are.
  • Cite specific actions, speech, word choice, alternative options for action, other characters’ reactions, notable changes in character, analogies for understanding. CLOSE READ.
  • Bring in details from your reading of the play, from your knowledge of history, from our discussions, and your own mind to enrich and inform your argument.
provide context
  • Not, “In Act III,” or “on successive pages”; as far as the characters are concerned, there are no Acts, no pages.
  • Analyze within the context of eventsas they are significant to the characters and to your message.
context example
Context Example:
  • “When young Betty Parris falls into an inexplicable slumber, the people of Salem immediately let panic overtake them and jump to rash conclusions about her connections with the devil….”
embed your quoted textual evidence into context
Embed your quoted textual evidence into context:
  • “…Rebecca, however, waves away these outlandish claims and says, ‘A child’s spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back’ (28).”
follow a quotes with organic analysis of text not
Follow a quotes with organic analysis of text, NOT
  • “This quote shows that”
  • “This quote proves that”
  • “This demonstrates that”
follow claim with analysis
Follow claim with analysis
  • “Rebecca acts as the voice of reason in Salem, standing in stark contrast to the other desperate, frightened townspeople. Instead of allowing herself to be influenced by their hastily formed conclusions, Rebecca…explains that the best way to let children grow and succeed on their own is to “stand still” and allow them freedom to make their own choices. Her beliefs contradict traditional Puritan values, which seek to oppress individual desires, but she shares her opinions regardless.”
make sure that you bring it all back to your main claim
Make sure that you bring it all back to your main claim:
  • “Through Rebecca, Miller suggests that even small and seemingly unimportant actions against injustice—like Rebecca’s disapproving comment on the overly frightened attitudes of her neighbors—can make a world of difference.”…
draw connections between characters and events
Draw connections between characters and events
  • …”Rebecca’s reassuring words and actions inspire Proctor to go through with his decision not to confess, which stresses how one person’s choice to speak up can lead others to do the same, causing a snowball effect that can eradicate injustice altogether.”
    • -Rachel Hull
other challenges the intro
Other challenges: the intro
  • Grab your reader’s attention with a SPECIFIC, CONCRETE hook that helps her to really envision what you see, feel, imagine
  • CONNECT to your main ideas beyond just this one play (NOT “novel”! Oy vey….)
  • Do NOT use “brainyquotes.com” or other similar random quote searches—these are cheesy and inorganic to your message.
sample focused and attention grabbing hook
Sample focused and attention-grabbing hook
  • “The boulder of social injustice, an enormous body of societal wrongs, rests at the peak of the slippery hill of civilization. Once in motion, the boulder hurtles down the hill, obliterating all moral values and civilizations in its path, and leaving a swath of destruction in its wake….many deplore the seemingly futile sacrifice of yet another life. However, a single person’s efforts to slow the boulder, no matter how miniscule in scope and quixotic in intention, do make a difference. Such courageous individual actions can inspire a new generation of social activists to resist the boulder, and with the joint force of a whole community, the boulder of social injustice can be brought to a halt.”
bridge to text
Bridge to text
  • “In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, injustice rolls over the town of Salem as innocent townspeople are wrongfully accused and hanged for witchcraft. As the trial progresses, the court punishes any person that opposes the trials, and grants protection to those who support the trial. Many choose …however, a select few choose to repudiate [sic] through heroic actions.”
  • “John Proctor’s, Elizabeth Proctor’s, and Giles Corey’s willingness to sacrifice themselves in order to oppose the Salem witch trials illustrates Miller’s sobering belief that resistance to social wrongs requires great personal sacrifice.”—Max Chang
other challenges the conclusion
Other challenges: the conclusion
  • GO BEYOND THE PLAY! Why should we care about/how should we be changed by what we have just read?
  • Draw connections between the messages/themes/ revelations you have just outlined as being conveyed by the text and actual events in the “real” world
    • -historical connections
    • Current events
    • Call to action
    • Give it a sense of finality
sample conclusion
Sample conclusion
  • Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, and Giles Corey teach readers that social justice can only be achieved through great personal sacrifices. Each of the characters has an option to succumb to the pressures of the witch trials and save someone they care deeply about. However, these three characters all choose to make the ultimate sacrifice to fight the social injustice by offering the lives of themselves or their loved ones. The boulder of social injustice cannot be stopped…
  • …until someone courageously takes the first strike to push it back. Almost without a doubt, the first troupe of people who choose to confront the boulder will be physically decimated. But their spirits will live on to inspire future generations. With a succession of people willing to take a stand and push back against the boulder of social injustice, justice will ultimately prevail and humanity will perpetuate [sic] at the great expense of personal sacrifices.” –Max Chang
other challenges
Other challenges
  • Wordiness (Wdy) and lack of active verbs, concrete nouns
  • Inexact, imprecise, or inappropriate word choice (w.c.)
  • Verb tense (VT) needs to be consistently literary present tense.