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The Analytical Essay Handbook

The Analytical Essay Handbook

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The Analytical Essay Handbook

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  1. The Analytical Essay Handbook

  2. Structure Introduction • Here it is! Your first glimpse of the structure of a fabulous analytical essay. • Please note that each shape represents a different paragraph, and each has its own shape because it has a different purpose. • Now let’s take a closer look at each part. Thesis Body Paragraph 1 Body Paragraph 2 Body Paragraph 2 Body Paragraph 3 Conclusion

  3. The Thesis A thesis statement is an opinion about a theme in a text that your paper will center around proving. • A great thesis… • Has an argumentative edge. • Strive for a statement that is not undeniably true. The thesis should be debatable but also provable with evidence from the text. • Is specific and focused. • Even if you have many great arguments about a text, do not try to tackle more than one in your thesis. • Comes at the end of your Introduction. • It should be the final sentence in this paragraph. • *Remember, your thesis is the most important part of your • essay! Your entire paper will center on proving the thesis to • be true. Bad theses lead to bad essays—don’t cut corners, • put some thought into it!

  4. The Thesis Continuum A great thesis finds a happy home between plot summary and speculation, but dwelling at either end of the spectrum will prove disastrous! The Thesis Continuum Zone of Highest Interest “The Sweet Spot” Outrageous, unsupported thesis Plot-driven thesis This is the WORST sort of thesis and only concerns itself with what happens in the text (a book report). It offers no new insights, only reviews the bare plot. This thesis has no evidence from the text to back it up. It wildly makes claims that have no ties to the text. The perfect balance of insightful textual analysis and personal opinion, a GREAT thesis creates an opportunity to use evidence from the text to arrive at a thoughtful, provocative paper.

  5. The Introduction 1. Begin your Intro discussing the general theme of your essay and how it appears in the text. Be sure to state the title and author of the text. 2. Create a few sentences that specifically lead toward your thesis. 3. Focus in on the purpose of your paper. Write an edgy thesis— give it teeth. As you write your Intro, get increasingly specific, ending with a narrow, argumentative thesis.

  6. Body Paragraphs Like a hamburger (or veggie burger), a body paragraph has several, distinct layers. Your topic sentence is the first sentence (or layer) of your paragraph and links the body paragraphs to the thesis. It does not repeat the thesis or start the essay again, but instead shows the reader how you will support your argument. Good topic sentences echo the language of the thesis, borrowing a word or two. Topic Sentence Next on the body paragraph burger are the condiments, where you build up to the textual example you will be using. Topic Sentence Build up to your Example The meat of your body paragraph is your textual evidence which is the proof from the text for your thesis. Usually this is a quotation. Textual Evidence Tag Analysis Quotations must never stand alone! Assume your reader won’t be able to make the connection between your thesis and your evidence—in the tag analysis, make that connection for them. Elaborate and explain how this quotation proves your thesis.

  7. Internal Quotations * Internal Quotations are for quotes up to four lines. If your quote is longer than four lines, see the instructions for Dropped Quotes on the next page. Begin your body paragraph with a topic sentence that links back to your thesis. After a strong start to the paragraph, begin building up to your quotation. Once you are ready for your quotation, and it is no more than four lines, insert it in to the body of your essay. “~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~” (#). Notice the quotation marks around the quote, and the citation telling where you found this information. There is no need to put a “p” or “pg”, the simple number indicates the page to which you are referring. The period ending the quote comes after the citation. Now, continue with your tag analysis and close out your paragraph.

  8. Dropped Quotations * Dropped Quotations are for quotes longer than four lines. If your quote is four lines or less, see the instructions for Internal Quotes on the previous page. For this paragraph, still begin with a great topic sentence. After you have taken a few sentences to lead up to your quote, you will set this larger body of text apart from the main body of your paragraph. Using a colon and no quotation marks, insert your double-spaced quote: This quotation is indented one inch from the left margin. It also appears double-spaced, without quotation marks. Notice that in the dropped quote the period comes before the citation. (#) When you get back into the body of your paragraph for tag analysis, do not indent. Instead, continue on with the same paragraph.

  9. Conclusions The Icing on the Cake Begin your conclusion with a sentence or two that specifically echoes your thesis—but be careful to not simply repeat it. Now ask yourself “What is the bigger picture of my paper?”. Take the time to guide your reader back through your essay, showing them how all the parts fit together. Warning: Do not repeat what you have already said. The reader has already read your essay. Show them the bigger picture. Finish your essay reflecting on the consequences of your thesis. Try to arrive at a new, or bigger idea. Why is your original thesis still important? What greater affect will it have?

  10. Miscellaneous Tips Writing an analytical essay is the written equivalent of dressing up. In order to dress up your writing, abide by the following rules: • Write your essay in third person. This means do not use pronouns like “I”, “We”, “Our”, “Me”, “You”, etc. • Use present tense. Literature lives forever, so when talking about a text, be sure to speak of it in the present tense • Essays need to be properly formatted. This means use a standard 12pt. font, one inch margins, and double spacing. • Create an original title. Do not use the title of the text, that title has been taken already! • Put a cover sheet on your essay. Cover sheets should have the essay title, your name, the date, and the class name all centered in the middle of a blank page. • Avoid using contractions because they are too informal. Write out words like “don’t”, “can’t”, “won’t”, “doesn’t”, and “shouldn’t” in their full forms (“do not”, “can not”, “will not”, “does not” and “should not”.)

  11. Example Essays Here are two example essays to examine. The Finch Family Raising a family well is perhaps the most important, yet difficult, of tasks. The idea of a “good” family is a major theme of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. In this novel, the main character, Atticus, is faced with having to raise his children alone after the loss of his wife. Despite being criticized by the community of Maycomb for being an irresponsible father, Atticus creates one of the most stable and loving families in the novel. Atticus is being criticized by everyone, including his sister. He says, “Sister, I do the best I can with them” (81). Some people believe he does do a great job with his children by letting them go out and do things the way they want. They truly learn something that way when and if they make a mistake.

  12. Example 1 Continued • Atticus is always there for his children. By doing that he creates a very loving family. Here is something that Atticus says to Scout: • First of all, he said, if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—Sir?—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. (30) • He helps Scout and Jem learn lessons a different way. That way is a good way just like any other way. • Atticus Finch is a good father and has one of the most loving and stable families in all of Maycomb, possibly even all of

  13. Alabama. Many people thing that these two quotes show how Atticus has ways of explaining things that are easier to understand than other people’s way of explaining. Example 1 Continued

  14. Example Essay 2 What Being A Family Is All About Every family has daily routines and certain rules. Traditions exist as well, like an elder leading the family and providing for the younger members. Even arguments and disagreements are common. If you compare an average family to H. S. Hinton’s Curtis family, as written about in The Outsiders, many similarities appear. Even though the Curtis boys no longer have a mother and father, they do function as a traditional family, including routines, rules and disagreements. Breakfast is a routine in the Curtis home. Ponyboy Curtis explains this morning ritual when he says, “The first one up has to fix breakfast and the other two have to do the dishes” (141). No matter what happens to the boys, they always have

  15. Example 2 Continued breakfast together. The entire family comes together to help out. This fact shows strong family relationship and a definite order to their lives. Darry is the father figure that sets the expectations for Ponyboy and Sodapop. Most families have rules about going out on school nights and weekends. Ponyboy talks about his family’s rules: “Darry was real good about letting me go places on weekends. On school nights I could hardly leave the house” (16). Without rules and limits, families can fall into chaos. Ponyboy might not understand Darry’s reasoning right now, but he will as he grows older. Disagreements and arguments are present in every family, and the Curtis boys are not an exception. Ponyboy feels

  16. Example 2 Continued • that he is always being lectured by Darry: • Me and Darry just didn’t dig each other. I never could please him. If I brought home B’s, he wanted A’s, and if I got A’s he wanted to make sure they stayed A’s. If I was playing football, I should be studying, and if I was reading, I should be out playing football. He never hollers at Sodapop . . .he just hollers at me. (15) • Conflict between family members in inevitable. Darry wants the best for Ponyboy and this is common for a parental figure. • The lives of the Curtis boys are strongly affected by their circumstances, but this does not prevent them from being a real family. Their habitual routines, specific rules, and heated

  17. Example 2 Continued arguments are not abnormal. Moreover, these three young boys stay together and support each other through the good times and bad. Maybe that is what being a family is all about.