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Essay Guidelines. Exploring what makes an effective essay paper, with student examples. Prepared by John DeLaurentis. Effective Essay Introduction by an Anonymous High School Student – on Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.

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essay guidelines

Essay Guidelines

Exploring what makes an effective essay paper, with student examples.

Prepared by

John DeLaurentis

Effective Essay Introductionby an Anonymous High School Student – on Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms

It is the nature of the beast within that fuels our inclination towards conflict and destruction. During the surreal powers of war, life hangs in the balance setting the stage for an elite group of individuals who triumphantly rise above the rest amidst the chaos. As Ernest Hemingway illustrates in his book, A Farewell to Arms, the character of Frederick Henry, an ambulance driver, is put to the ultimate test during the madness and atrocity of World War I. His experiences at the front pose a challenge only a Hemingway hero can confront successfully. As the epitome of a code hero, Frederick is a man of action, self-discipline, and one who maintains grace under pressure.

(The last sentence (in bold) is the thesis statement detailing the three points in the code the writer will address.)

Another Effective Essay Introductionby Anonymous High School Student - on Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

“I care for myself,” were the words of Jane Eyre as she surrendered her love for her paramour, Mr. Rochester (Bronte 322). In Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, the reader encounters many themes throughout the pages of the novel, but the theme of independence prevails among them all. Jane Eyre’s words of independence were only guidelines for her life, but the basis of her decisions made in the critical points of her life in Gateshead, Thornfield, and Moor House.

(THESIS STATEMENT (in bold)—this one happens to be two sentences, but it can be one sentence. Note the underlining of Gateshead, Thornfield, and Moor House—these are the places where the topic of her independence take place, in the order they will be discussed.)

effective essay body paragraph
Effective Essay Body Paragraph

First of all, Jane Eyre’s longing for independence becomes apparent during her stay at Gateshead. (This is the topic sentence and addresses the first point in the thesis statement.) Mrs. Reed, Jane Eyre’s cruel and sinister aunt, constantly treats her unfairly and regards her as a lowly beggar, along with her son who inherits his mother’s disgust for Jane as well. The torment and constant badgering leaves Jane alone and hopeless. However, Mr. Lloyd soon arrives to check up on Jane’s health, and asks her a forever life changing question of, “Would you like to go to school?” (Bronte 24). From that point, Jane Eyre reveals her ambition to be independent and remove herself from the loathsome Gateshead environment, and agrees to attend school. MrBrocklehurst, Lowood School’s master, arrives at Gateshead to meet Jane Eyre, but again Mrs. Reed interferes and tarnishes Jane’s reputation by regarding her with a “tendency to deceit” (Bronte 33). Later, Jane Eyre confronts her aunt on her false remarks by finally admitting, “I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you, but I declare I do not love you” (Bronte 36). This small victory of leaving her aunt speechless and thought of finally leaving Gateshead’s grasp becomes Jane’s driving force on her quest for independence.

effective essay body paragraph continued
Effective Essay Body Paragraph - continued

Once at Lowood she completes school, teaches for two years, and acquires the abilities to “teach the usual branches of a good English education, together with French, Drawing, and Music” (Bronte 88). The acquired abilities are then transformed to fuel for her independence, as she awaits her future job as a self-reliant governess earning thirty pounds per annum.

(This paragraph relates to the first point of the thesis, and focuses specifically on one place in the character’s life. The writer uses specific examples and quotes from the novel for support. Notice the quotes and citations; also notice the length of the paragraph.)

effective conclusion paragraph
Effective Conclusion Paragraph

In conclusion, Jane Eyre’s theme of independence is engulfed within Jane Eyre where her decisions and choices to achieve freedom are displayed in Gateshead, Thornfield, and Moor House. (This first sentence rephrases the thesis statement.) As Mr. Rochester once desired to take control of Jane Eyre’s independence by keeping her attached to a chain like his watch, he is finally able to relinquish it and give Jane Eyre control, but not of the watch, and instead her independence. (Notice how this ends with a clincher sentence. Notice the length of this paragraph.)

a word on citations
A Word on Citations

When quoting a passage, introduce it with the name of the character or with your thought, and use proper MLA formatting:

-Henry muses, “God knows I had not wanted to fall in love with her” (Hemingway 93).

Use double quotation marks when the passage has a quote in it by a character:

- “‘I can’t wait six months to be operated on. My God, doctor, did you ever stay in bed six months?’” (Hemingway 97).

a word on citations continued
A Word on Citations - continued

Remember, when you quote a passage, you must discuss it critically. You’re not quoting just to quote. It must relate back and give evidence to the point you are discussing.

Utilize the guidelines for answering open ended questions in the R.S.S.E. model to help you focus your essay.

the r s s e model
The R.S.S.E. Model
  • Restate and Answer - Restate the question into a statement and then answer. Use the exact words from the question to start your answer.
  • Support from Text - Pick the best lines of text to support your answer. Students should also use their own ideas on how to best show text support for their answers.

In the story it states, “__________”

On page___ in the story it says, “__________”

As Henry (character name, not the author’s name)

implies, “__________”

Adapted from:

the r s s e model continued
The R.S.S.E. Model - continued
  • Support in Your Own Words - Explain why you selected that line of text and what it means. Don’t quote text that you are not going to discuss.

This means ____________________

This shows/ demonstrates___________________

Adapted from:

the r s s e model continued1
The R.S.S.E. Model - continued
  • E= Extend= Text to Self, Text to Text, Text to World

Self:Just like in the story, I ________________

I can relate to this because ____________

Text:This story reminds me of another story named

“title” because __________

World: Sometimes in life_____________

Just like in this story, throughout the world


Adapted from: