INTRODUCTION PARAGRAPHS The introduction should fill readers in on the important information they need to know before reading your essay. You are literally introducing readers to the play: “Reader, this is Macbeth. Macbeth, this is the reader.” (Well, not really the second part) You may provide a BRIEF overview of the plot, but don’t retell the entire story. Introduction paragraphs should be more than one sentence of background + a thesis. Aim for approximately SIX strong sentences.
WHAT NOT TO DO IN THE INTRODUCTION Do not gush excessively about how wonderful the text is. After all, who are you to judge Shakespeare’s work? He’s a heck of a lot more famous than you! Avoid judging the work as “excellent,” “brilliant,” “exceptional,” “magnificent,” (In short, you do not need to convince me it is a brilliant piece of literature)
STRONG INTRODUCTION EXAMPLES “Set during the middle ages, Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is a story about political intrigue and regicide. Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth embark on a murderous path in search of power….” “Shakespeare’s tragic play Macbeth, traces the rise and fall of an ambitious Scottish lord. At the beginning, Macbeth is a well honored general and thane of the King of Scotland; however, after a peculiar run in with a trio of prophetic witches, Macbeth begins to question his subservient nature and begins also to wonder whether he should be king….”
THESIS STATEMENTS Your thesis must be ONE sentence! It must also be clear, concise, & defendable, not simply a fact. In English 11 Honors, the thesis statement appears LAST in the intro paragraph.
MORE ABOUT THESIS STATEMENTS A truly insightful thesis should not simply regurgitate the prompt. “In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship changes.” This is only a level one thesis: it doesn’t provide any insight into how or why the relationship changes. A Level Two thesis provides an extension: “In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the initially unnatural balance of power between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth ultimately shifts when Macbeth no longer feels remorse for his murderous actions and Lady Macbeth experiences the tangible effects of her sins in the form of hallucinations and sleepwalking.”
TRANSITIONS BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS Do NOT rely on contrived transitions to link two paragraphs. Furthermore, Additionally, Secondly, In conclusion, etc. Use TOPICAL transitions between body paragraphs. To transition between paragraphs, refer to a word, phrase, or idea from the LAST sentence of the previous paragraph in the FIRST sentence of the next paragraph.
STRONG TRANSITION EXAMPLE #1 He is so frightened about feeling even guiltier that he invokes darkness to hide his conscience from guilt. Although Macbeth and his wife call upon darkness to conceal their actions, it is common knowledge amongst characters in Macbeth that unnatural events and murderous actions occur when night falls.
STRONG TRANSITION EXAMPLE #2 With the night assisting them, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel much better about killing their great king. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth call on darkness once more, this time to help cover up their murder.
STRONG TRANSITION EXAMPLE #3 By undermining his masculinity and bribing him with her affection, Lady Macbeth gains complete control over Macbeth’s decision. This controlling element of their relationship continues throughout the play, but Lady Macbeth’s role switches to the subservient one.
CONCLUSION PARAGRAPHS A strong conclusion must start with the restated thesis. Do not repeat your thesis word for word; simply rephrase the idea Your conclusion should NOT simply repeat all your previous points, but should: EXTEND—take your analysis one step further EXPAND—connect to a larger them or idea It should NOT jump to an entirely new topic.
CONCLUSION PARAGRAPHS End your essay by somehow relating the topic you are writing about to life, to the world at large, or to a message or moral the author is trying to impart to readers. You are NOT introducing a new topic, simply extending the one you have already presented. This will be the profound thought that sets your essay apart from the average analysis.
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