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How to write a Literary Essay Introduction and Thesis

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Adapted Power Point for English 11 relating to essay writing for the short story Mirror Image by Lena Coakley
Credit to http://www.slideshare.net/Jennabates/how-to-write-a-literary-analysis-essay

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How to write a Literary Essay Introduction and Thesis

  1. 1. Writing a literaryanalysis essay English 11/12
  2. 2. Begin with the basics Read the book or books assigned Ask relevant questions like:  Why did the author write this?  What is the theme?  What are some symbols?  How are the characters developed?  How is the style relevant to the content?  What do the characters learn?  What literary terms are addressed and why?
  3. 3. Look for connectionsand patterns Ask some more questions:  How are the characters connected to the themes?  How are the themes, characters, and symbols connected?  What does the format and style suggest about the story?  What are my connections to the story?
  4. 4. (Do some research.) Maybe. Not all the time.  Find out about the author.  What do other critics say about the book?  Has the author published anything about the book?  What do other authors say about the book?  What is the historical context?
  5. 5. Develop a thesis statement. Thesis statements are not questions. Thesis statements are not mere observations. Thesis statements function in two ways:  They introduce the main idea that will be developed in the text of the essay.  They analyze or illuminate the text, often in terms of literary elements.
  6. 6. Observation: Lena Cockley’s short story, “Mirror Image”, uses a non- linear structure with frequent flashbacks.
  7. 7.  That is merely an observation on the part of the essay writer. It’s a good observation, but it’s one most readers could recognize without your help. Think of your essay as a teaching tool that will help to analyze or illuminate the text.
  8. 8. Helpful hints fordeveloping thesis statements: Use action verbs:  Lena Coakley mirrors the fragmentation of her characters’ lives in the structure of the novel itself.  Not: “Mirror Image”, written by Lena Coakley, has a fragmented format that mirrors her characters.
  9. 9.  When applicable, use three examples to support your main idea:  Lena Coakley mirrors the fragmentation of protagonist Alice’s life through the story’s non- linear structure, specifically through her use of flashback, stream of consciousness, and use of the third person point of view.
  10. 10. Main idea:  Lena Coakley mirrors the fragmentation of protagonist Alice’s life through her story’s non- linear structure, specifically through her use of flashback, stream of consciousness, and third person point of view.
  11. 11. Three ideas that support thatidea:  Lena Coakley mirrors the fragmentation of protagonist Alice’s life through her story’s non- linear structure, specifically through her use of flashback, stream of consciousness, and the third person point of view.
  12. 12. Locate quotations that supportyour thesis statement.• As a rule of thumb, try to find at least three direct quotations to support each element contained in the thesis statement. • 2-3 examples of flashback • 2-3 examples of stream of consciousness • 2-3 examples of the impact of the third person point of view
  13. 13. Determine the order you willuse this information. You canuse: Note cards. Traditional outline. Notes that only you can decipher. Macaroni art.Get your ideas out to start, but ultimately you need to produce an outline.
  14. 14. Add your research to your“outline.” If you’ve done any research, think about where it makes sense to insert it. If you have a difficult time determining this, maybe you shouldn’t add it at all.
  15. 15. Begin to write the paper. It may be helpful to begin with your introduction (though not always).
  16. 16. Writing an introduction. An introduction may be more than one paragraph, though in a short essay, it is typically only one. The thesis statement usually is placed at the very end of the introduction, or right after your hook statement at the start. NOT IN THE MIDDLE
  17. 17. More on introductions … A guideline to follow is that your introduction should contain at least five significant sentences, including your thesis statement.
  18. 18. An insignificant sentence: Literature often portrays characters who have many conflicts.
  19. 19. Duh!
  20. 20. All sentences should haveweight and meaning. They may introduce background. They may introduce new concepts and/or definitions. They may provide transitions. They may introduce quotations. They may provide facts and support.
  21. 21. Empty sentences have no otherpurpose than to take up space.Don’t pander to your audience. Lena Coakley is a good author. She writes about teenagers and people who have had transplants. In this powerful short story.... “Mirror Image” is a good story that deals with many issues relevant to literature.
  22. 22. YUCK!
  23. 23. Using our thesis statementfrom earlier, let’s write anintroduction. Let’s start with a general statement about writing (a hook statement), one that begins to deal with our topic directly yet hasn’t addressed the specific novel or the thesis statement.
  24. 24. Hook statements saysomething general to drawreaders in. Experimental writers cansubvert the traditional form of thestory by refusing to use achronological plot line.
  25. 25. Now let’s get morespecific. It’s time tomention our novel and theauthor.
  26. 26. Experimental writers cansubvert the traditional form of theshort story by refusing to use achronological plot line. LenaCoakley’s“Mirror Image” is notnarrated chronologically fromAlice’s brain transplant to hereventual self-acceptance.Instead it is told in a series offlashbacks interspersed withthe turmoil of Alice’s present.
  27. 27. Now, let’s add our thesis statement.
  28. 28. Experimental writers can subvertthe traditional form of the short story byrefusing to use a chronological plot line.Lena Coakley’s “Mirror Image” is notnarrated chronologically from Alice’sbrain transplant to her eventual self-acceptance. Instead,it is told in a seriesof flashbacks interspersed with theturmoil of Alice’s present. Coakleymirrors the fragmentation of herprotagonist’s life through the novel’snon-linear structure, specifically throughher use of flashback, stream ofconsciousness, and the third personpoint of view.
  29. 29. An effectively-written and well-organized introductoryparagraph should act as asignpost for the rest of thepaper.
  30. 30. A good introduction essentially writes the rest of the essay for you.
  31. 31. The outline for the rest of thisessay might look something likethis:I. IntroductionII. Body I. “Mirror Image” uses flashback to demonstrate that the past is always a part of the present. I. Example of flashback. II. Example of flashback. III. Example of flashback. IV. Analysis of how flashback relates to your thesis statement.
  32. 32. III. In addition to flashback, Coakley uses stream of consciousness to illustrate the fragmented state of Alice’s mind. 1. Example of stream of consciousness. 2. Example of stream of consciousness. 3. Example of stream of consciousness. 4. Analysis sentence of how these examples tie into your thesis statement.* Don’t forget to add transitions between ideas or to introduce your quotations properly!
  33. 33. IV. Coakley also employs the person point of view as a method of shrouding the narrative in secrecy, but also to illustrate Alice’s own confusion about her identity. 1. Example of point of view. 2. Example of point of view. 3. Example of point of view. 4. Analysis sentence explaining how all of these examples relate back to your thesis statement.* Note: Some of these sections may actually be several paragraphs long.
  34. 34. V. Conclusion It is sometimes helpful to think of the conclusion as a reversal of your introduction. You may want to begin by rephrasing your thesis statement.
  35. 35. Original: Morrison mirrors the fragmentationof her characters’ lives through the novel’snon-linear structure, specifically through heruse of flashback, stream of consciousness,and shifts in point of view.Rephrasing: Because of Morrison’s innovative use of basic literary elements like flashback, stream of consciousness, and point of view, she is able to produce a powerful effect that reflects the sometimes chaotic and often broken lives of her characters.
  36. 36. Now we work backwards tosomething a little more general.Original: Lena Coakley mirrors the fragmentation of protagonist Alice’s life through the story’s non-linear structure, specifically through her use of flashback, stream of consciousness, and use of the third person point of viewConclusion: By constructing the short story in what at first appears to be unrelated pieces unanchored in chronology or point of view, Coakley actually achieves a kind of unity that supports the development of the story and her characters.
  37. 37. We finally add the “clincher.” In doing so, Coakley reflects the disjointed perspective of her character and creates a reality where the reader understands what it is like to open their eyes in a new body.
  38. 38. The final conclusion looks something like this: Because of Coakley’s use of basic literary elements like flashback, stream of consciousness, and third person point of view, she is able to produce a powerful effect that reflects the sometimes chaotic and often broken life of her protagonist. By constructing the short story in what at first appears to be unrelated pieces unanchored in chronology or point of view, Coakley actually achieves a kind of unity that supports the development of the story and of Alice. In doing so, Coakley reflects the disjointed perspective of her protagonist.
  39. 39. And voila!Your essay is complete!

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