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HOW TO WRITE A LITERATURE ESSAY The three-step process.

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Presentation on theme: "HOW TO WRITE A LITERATURE ESSAY The three-step process."— Presentation transcript:

1 HOW TO WRITE A LITERATURE ESSAY The three-step process

2 STEP 1 Analyse the topic Read the question carefully at least three times. Underline the key words. Write an instruction to yourself in your own words, stating clearly what you need to do. Example topic: Hamlet is a weak man, paralysed by thought and incapable of meaningful action. There is nothing noble about him; he is cruel and without honour. Discuss the validity of this statement.

3 Example analysis: Hamlet is a weak man, paralysed by thought and incapable of meaningful action. There is nothing noble about him; he is cruel and without honour. Discuss the validity of this statement. Paraphrasing: I need to write an essay in which I discuss whether it is true that Hamlet is weak. I need to show whether his tendency to think about things means that he cannot act in a meaningful way. I need to discuss whether he is noble or not, and whether he is cruel and without honour.

4 IS HAMLET WEAK? STEP 2 Design and complete a mindmap PARALYSED BY THOUGHT CRUEL Add each keyword from the question as a separate branch. Place the central question in the middle. Use short phrases and single words. Add ideas as you think of them. NOBLE ACTION Goes with ghost Challenges mother Fights Laertes

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6 STEP 3 Write the essay Step 3.1: Decide on the focus for each paragraph The mind map strands seem to suggest that the body of the essay should have three paragraphs. Paragraph 1: Discuss Hamlet’s inability to act as a result of his tendency to think and analyse (“Paralysed by thought” strand). Paragraph 2: Discuss examples of Hamlet’s ability to act (“Action” strand). Paragraph 3: Discuss the extent to which Hamlet can be considered noble or cruel (“Noble”, “Cruel”, “Honour to Ophelia” strands).

7 Step 3.2: Write the introduction The purpose of the introduction is to respond to the topic, and indicate the direction the essay will take. Use the appropriate style and register for formal writing. Compare these opening paragraphs. They are for the same essay on Shakespeare's Hamlet.

8 Content is fair and indicates learner’s response to the question. Writing style is clumsy. I agree with the statement to a degree. This essay will discuss the reasons why Hamlet can be seen as weak, paralysed by thought, incapable of action and inclined to be cruel. It will also discuss the extent to which the statement is not an accurate reflection of his character. Key arguments are not clearly introduced. Example opening paragraph 1

9 Example opening paragraph 2 Hamlet is certainly slow to carry out his revenge. His tendency to analyse prevents him from taking swift action. However, in instances where he is deeply moved, he is very quick to act, and is even capable of extreme cruelty. Hamlet, like every man, has the capacity for both nobility and brutality. Essay will discuss how analytical thought prevents Hamlet from carrying out revenge. Essay will conclude that Hamlet’s defining characteristic is his humanity. Essay will look at Hamlet’s cruelty. Essay will discuss how Hamlet is capable of swift action when he is upset.

10 STEP 3.3: Write the body of the essay Once you have analysed the topic, done a mind map, planned your essay and written the introduction, you can begin writing the body of your essay. Each paragraph should follow the SIR pattern: S = State the topic sentence, i.e. the sentence indicating the key point to be developed in the paragraph I = Illustrate the point by giving detailed examples from the text. Explain the relevance of each example R = Relate the point being made to the essay topic and link to the next paragraph

11 STEP 3.4: Write the conclusion The conclusion must bring together all the different strands in the essay and round off the essay by presenting a final statement. The conclusion makes a final point of ideas or facts developed in previous paragraphs. For example: Hamlet is potentially great. He does not act on a whim; killing does not come easily to him. While he seeks to honour his father’s commands, he finds the possible consequences for his soul an insurmountable obstacle. Hamlet is neither noble nor cruel; he is a man like every man, whose emotion clouds his judgement, and whose judgement sharpens his conscience.


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