Discovering the hidden truths in literature... From Reading to Writing In stories like Heinrich Böll’s “The Balek Scales” and Agatha Christie’s “The Witness for the Prosecution,” readers must go beyond the obvious to find the deeper meanings.
Discovering the hidden truths in literature... These stories, like most good literature, contain various levels of meanings beyond their surface appearances. In an interpretive essay, you can explore and explain the underlying meanings of stories or other works of art.
B a s i c s i n a B o x Interpretive Essay at a Glance RUBRIC Standards for Writing A successful interpretive essay should identify the author and title and give a brief summary of the work give a clearly stated interpretation of the author’s message present evidence from the text, including details and quotations, to support the interpretation summarize the interpretation in the conclusion Introduce the literary work and introduces a clear thesis statement that introduces the interpretation Introduction Summarizes the interpretation Conclusion
What I like in a good writer is not what he says, but what he whispers. Logan Pearsall Smith, British writer What I like in a good writer is not what he says, but what he whispers. Logan Pearsall Smith, British writer 1 Prewriting Begin by recalling poems or stories you have read that confused, surprised, or moved you. Writing Your Interpretive Essay
Planning Your Interpretive Essay 1. Reread the work several times. Which passages, ideas, or events confused you? Which became clearer as you read the work for a second or third time? Which parts still do not make sense. 2. Explore your interpretation of the author’s message. Freewrite about your interpretation. Which quotations and details from the work support your interpretation? Which details contradict it? 3. Discuss your interpretation with others who have read the work. How do your interpretations compare? Which interpretation seems to be the strongest and the easiest to support?
Writing Your Interpretive Essay 2 Drafting Try to write your first draft without stopping to make changes. The important thing is to keep writing, even if you contradict yourself or change your mind. Start by writing a thesis statement in which you present your main point—the point the rest of your essay will need to support. If you need help getting started, try filling in the blanks in this sentence: “The main message of (name of work) by (name of author) is _____________.”
Writing Your Interpretive Essay 2 Drafting In the main body of your essay, offer supporting evidence for your interpretation in the form of details and quotations from the work. Explain key passages in your own words. Provide a brief summary of the entire text. Sum up your interpretation in the conclusion.
Writing Your Interpretive Essay 3 Revising TARGET SKILL CREATING SENTENCE VARIETY To hold your readers’ interest, include a variety of sentence types in your interpretation. Consider using questions and look for ways to combine simple sentences into compound or complex sentences.
Writing Your Interpretive Essay 4 Editing and Proofreading TARGET SKILL USING THAT AND WHICH WITH CLAUSES To avoid confusing your readers, introduce dependent clauses correctly. Use that if the clause is needed for the sentence to make sense. Use which if the sentence would make sense without the clause. Remember to use commas to set off a clause beginning with which. If a clause is unnecessary, consider deleting it entirely.