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Learning objectives: To write an effective introduction to a formal essay.

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1 Learning objectives: To write an effective introduction to a formal essay

2  You will need to look at two texts  You do not need to compare the texts but you need to look at the same features in each text  You should write a similar amount for each text  Look at one aspect of the question in both texts, then move on to the next aspect  You need an introduction and a conclusion which will comment on what happens next

3  Say the names of both texts and both writers.  Which is better:  In this essay I am going to talk about two stories I have read, called A Blunder by Chekhov and How It Happened by Arthur Conan Doyle.  This essay will explore the ways in which the main characters are presented in A Blunder by Chekhov and How It Happened by Arthur Conan Doyle.

4  Say why you have chosen these two characters – why are they interesting?  Which is better:  I will talk about the narrator in both because they are the only characters in the story.  The two most memorable characters are ….. and ….., because the authors have chosen to present them in unusual and surprising ways.

5  Say what you are going to talk about for the rest of your essay.  Which is better?  I am now going to tell you why these are memorable characters.  Some of the most distinguishing and memorable features of these characters are the way they look and speak, and the description of their behaviour, all of which changes throughout the stories.

6  Our first impressions of Mary Maloney are that she is a very ordinary, slightly boring housewife. She is described as ‘waiting for her husband to come home’ and ‘sewing’, suggesting that she has little else to do. Her physical description makes her seem unthreatening and calm. Adjectives such as ‘wonderful’ and ‘translucent’ create an image of someone very relaxed and peaceful. Roald Dahl describes her mouth as ‘soft’, her eyes ‘placid’, large and dark. These words help the reader to view her as innocent and naïve – incapable of harm. This is effective because we are surprised later on in the story by the brutal and callous way she kills her unfaithful husband, making Mary Maloney a truly memorable character.

7  The narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart is memorable, but for different reasons. His story is presented in the form of a dramatic monologue, so there is no physical description. We do, however, gain some idea of an outsider’s view of him through his own language. ‘You fancy me mad? Madmen know nothing’. This rhetorical question to an unknown – perhaps non- existent – audience means we clearly understand what opinion we are supposed to have of this character. He frequently repeats such comparisons to a ‘madman’ – thus confirming to the reader that he is indeed a deranged and sinister character.

8  When we first meet the character of Billy Weaver, we get the impression of a young, slightly naïve character who is trying hard to make an impression on the world. ‘He was trying to do everything briskly these days. Briskness, he decided was the one common characteristic of all successful businessmen… They were amazing.’ Here Roald Dahl repeats the word ‘brisk’ several times to show Billy’s slightly inaccurate understanding of what makes businessmen impressive. This, combined with the words ‘successful’, ‘fantastically’ and ‘amazing’ emphasise Billy’s admiration for the people who he wants to emulate. The reader gets an understanding of how Billy Weaver wants to be viewed in the world – and so gets an idea of his character.

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