Writing About Literature
Introduction Introduce the author and the title of the text. Examples:
The Crucible by Arthur Miller presents themes that are worth examining still today. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the danger of hysteria is clearly illustrated.
Introduction example The world has always been full of rumor and hysteria that sometimes have caused cataclysmic events to occur. What people say matters even though we tell ourselves, “Actions speak louder than words.” In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the dangers listening to hearsay/rumor and the resulting hysteria are clearly illustrated as the plot of the play unfolds.
Pointers Refer to the author after his introduction by his or her last name only. For example: Miller penned an amazingly illustrious play that clearly points out the dangers of mass hysteria.
Use present tense when referring to plot.
Examples: Abigail threatens the girls with their lives if they speak. Proctor doesn’t want anything to do with Abigail. BUT
Past Tense in the Plot With the guilt that he has had an affair with Abigail prior to the opening of the play, Proctor fears speaking against her.
Format Typically 5 paragraphs
Introduction, 3 body points and conclusion Each body paragraph has a topic sentence supported by textual evidence.
Always REFER to the Text
Examples: In Act I, Line 90, Abigail claims, “it were just sport.” In Act II, the reader discovers… Irony presents itself in Act III as Elizabeth takes the stand to testify.
A list of helpful phrases
The plot reveals The author illustrates Irony is present The author elaborates Readers discover
Organization of your essay
In what ways is John Proctor the tragic hero in this play? Identify how each of the following contributed to the insanity of Salem: greed and revenge, mass hysteria, and superstition. Abigail’s faults are quite obvious, but if you were given the job of her defense attorney, what arguments could you make in her favor? A crucible is a pot which, because it can withstand great heat, is used to melt iron and other metals. The word “crucible” is also used to describe a severe test or a hard trial. Finally, “crucible” is also used as an adjective to describe a very high grade steel. With these possibilities in mind, why do you propose Miller called his play The Crucible?
Example of thinking model
In what ways is John Proctor the tragic hero in this play? Brainstorm 3 ways (which is 3 body paragraphs (YAY)) that Proctor fits the tragic hero. What textual evidence will you use to prove your topic sentences?
Thinking Model Continued
How will you begin your essay? Introduction 1. You could briefly define “tragic hero” 2. You could describe a scene of a tragic hero 3. You could briefly talk about the history of the play itself and lead into the tragic heroism The Last Sentence of your introduction is your THESIS statement
Conclusions Typically restates the thesis
Many people end with complimentary or derogatory (not most) messages toward the author and his piece. Example: In this play, Miller masterfully creates a scenario that illustrates the horrible dangers of rumor and mass hysteria. In consideration of American history, it is definitely educational and every teenager should read it.
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