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Your Critical Introduction/Literary Analysis Essay will be written using the following requirements.


Paragraph –Introduction

  • Grabber-get your reader’s interest and attention. Describe actions, a deep thought, a question, a vivid description, or dialogue.

  • Orient reader to the author, writings, and their content-Identify the author, titles of his/her writings, and the subjects of the works.

  • Thesis-This is what you think about the writer and his stories and how you will organize all of your evidence. A thesis can’t be purely true; it has to be able to be argued one way or the other.

In a literary analysis essay, it should mention the author. It should specifically identify what(specifically) the author is saying about a general subject (literary naturalism), like relationships, survival, civilization, nature, and elemental conflict. In other words, it should be a rewording of this formula: (Author’s name) is making a point about (general subject); the specific point s/he is making is that ____________. It should suggest that the author is using the characters, setting, plot or voice to make that specific point about a general subject.For example: “O’Neil uses the protagonist Sydney to argue that rich white men actually can find real happiness not in loving relationships, but in material possessions.” (The general subject here is happiness.)

Paragraphs 2-??--Body Paragraphs In EVERY paragraph include:

  • Evidence

    • What happened (context)

    • Quotes

  • Commentary

    • Connect evidence to thesis

These paragraphs contain supporting Example: (concrete detail) and analysis/explanation (commentary) for your topic sentences. Each paragraph in the body includes (1) a topic sentence, (2) textual evidence (a.k.a. quotes from your reading) and commentary (a.k.a. explanation), and (3) a concluding sentence. In its simplest form, each body paragraph is organized as follows:

  • 1. topic sentence

  • 2. lead-in to textual evidence 1

  • 3. textual evidence 1

  • 4. commentary

  • 5. transition and lead-in to textual evidence 2

  • 6. textual evidence 2

  • 7. commentary

  • 8. concluding or clincher sentence

1) Topic Sentence: the first sentence of a body or support paragraph. It identifies one aspect of the major thesis and states a primary reason why the major thesis is true.

Example: When he first appears in the novel, Sidney Carton is a loveless outcast

who sees little worth in himself or in others.


2) Textual Evidence: a specific example from the work used to provide evidence for your topic sentence. Textual evidence can be a combination of paraphrase and direct quotation from the work.

  • Example: When Carlton and Darnay first meet at the tavern, Carlton tells him, “I care for no man on this earth, and no man cares for me” (Dickens 105).


3) Commentary: your explanation and interpretation of the textual evidence. Commentary tells the reader what the author of the text means or how the textual evidence proves the topic sentence. Commentary may include interpretation, analysis, argument, insight, and/or reflection. (Helpful hint: In your body paragraph, you should have twice as much commentary as textual evidence. In other words, for every sentence of textual evidence, you should have at least 2 sentences of commentary.)

  • Example: Carton makes this statement as if he were excusing his rude behavior to Darnay. Carton, however, is only pretending to be polite, perhaps to amuse himself. With this seemingly off-the-cuff remark, Carton reveals a deeper cynicism and his emotional isolation.


4) Transitions: words or phrase that connect or “hook” one idea to the next, both between and within paragraphs. Transition devices include using connecting words as well as repeating key words or using synonyms.

  • Examples: Finally, in the climax…Another example…Later in the story…In contrast to this behavior…Not only…but also…Furthermore…


5) Lead-In: phrase or sentence that prepares the reader for textual evidence by introducing the speaker, setting, and/or situation.

  • Example: Later, however, when the confident Sidney Carton returns alone to his home, his alienation and unhappiness become apparent: “Climbing into a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears” (Dickens 211).

6) Clincher/Concluding Sentence: last sentence of the body paragraph. It concludes the paragraph by tying the textual evidence and commentary back to the thesis.

  • Example: Thus, before Carton experiences love, he is able to convince himself that the world has no meaning.


Conclusion paragraph

  • Reflect on how your essay topic and themes relate to the stories

  • Evaluate how successful the author is in achieving his/her goal or message in the stories

  • Give a personal statement about the topic (literary naturalism)

  • Connect back to your creative opening paragraph

  • Give your opinion of the author’s value and significance to literature

This paragraph should begin by echoing your major thesis without repeating the words exactly. Then, the conclusion should broaden from the thesis statement to answer the “so what?” question your reader may have after reading your essay.



































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