Introductions AP Essay Introductions O The introduction to your literary analysis essay should try to capture your reader's interest. To bring immediate focus to your subject, you may want to use a quotation, a provocative question, a brief anecdote, a startling statement, or a combination of these. O Look to the information given in the essay prompt to help you devise your commentary. You may also want to include background information relevant to your thesis and/or the text and necessary for the reader to understand the position you are taking. O In addition, you need to include the title of the work of literature and name of the author. O Create an introduction strong enough to earn a grade of 3 all by itself. That means that students should learn ways to answer the entire prompt -- answer the prompt, not simply repeat it -- in the introduction. This indicates to the Reader that the paper could be heading into the upper-half zone. O Introductions should contain five significant sentences including your thesis statement. Insignificant or empty sentences just to use up space should be avoided. O Insignificant statement:: Literature often portrays characters who have conflicts. (Duh!) O Empty Sentences: Toni Morrison is a good author. She writes about former slaves and women of color. Slavery was shameful. Beloved is a good book that details with many issues relevant to literature. (These are all terrible sentences!) Thesis Statement O The thesis statement tells your reader what to expect: it is a restricted, precisely worded declarative sentence that states the purpose of your essay -- the point you are trying to make. Without a carefully conceived thesis, an essay has no chance of success. The following are thesis statements which would work for a 500-750 word literary analysis essay: O Gwendolyn Brooks‟s 1960 poem “The Ballad of Rudolph Reed” demonstrates how the poet uses the conventional poetic form of the ballad to treat the unconventional poetic subject of racial intolerance. The fate of the main characters in Antigone illustrates the danger of excessive pride. The imagery in Dylan Thomas‟s poem “Fern Hill” reveals the ambiguity of humans’ relationship with nature. O O O Typically, the thesis statement falls at the end of your introductory paragraph. O Write in an active voice using action nouns. For O O O O example: Active: Toni Morrison mirrors the fragmentation of her characters’ lives in the structure of the novel itself. Passive: Beloved, written by Toni Morrison, has a fragmented format that mirrors her characters. Try to be specific in the thesis: Toni Morrison mirrors the fragmentation of her characters’ lives through the novel’s non-linear structure, specifically through her use of flashback, stream of consciousness, and shifts in point of view. Additional Notes O Remember your audience. Your audience here is specific: high school teachers and college professors. Your awareness of this should guide your writing. Avoid conversational language, abbreviations, doodles, etc. Keep it academic and professional. O O O O — Avoid Point of View Shifts (don't use you your, we, us, our) — Avoid Logical Absolutes (don't say "everybody knows," etc.) — Do not use a word if you are unsure of its meaning. — Use strong verbs. Instead of "The author shows how..." try "The author demonstrates how..." or "The author illustrates how..." Try this! O Experimental writers often subvert the traditional form of the novel by refusing to use a chronological plot line in favor of one less linear. Toni Morrison’s Beloved is not narrated chronologically from Sethe’s birth to Beloved’s disappearance. Instead, it is told in a series of seemingly unrelated pieces. Morrison mirrors the fragmentation of her characters’ lives through the novel’s nonlinear structure, specifically through the use of flashback, stream of consciousness, and shifts in point of view. Example Introductions O O Standard Example (Paper score=8) In his epic poem, Paradise Lost, John Milton retells the biblical story of Eve's succumbing to the appealing arguments of Satan. As the story is slowly recounted, the speech of both Eve and Satan reveal their underlying characters through a variety of literary techniques. Through diction, imagery, and tense shift, Eve is exposed as a morally weak individual and Satan is exposed as a manipulator "replete with guile." O Creative Example (Paper score=8) O Fidelity. A word one will never hear on the modern-day Jerry Springer show for both its ludicrous definition and polysyllabic nature. Certain less-than-reputable areas of the media will have people believe that faithfullness and monogamy mean nothing, and everyone falls "victim" to cheating on his or her loved "one." John Donne, however, was apparently centuries ahead of his time then, endorsing such practices in "The Indifferent." The narrator rallies for multiple partners for all, while expressing his views on women — that one is no different than any other (with the exception of the naive faithful and the realistic unfaithful) and men should therefore love indiscriminately. Donne develops his arguments using clever wit, a wide range of knowledge and figurative language. O What would one expect to be the personality of a man who has his wife sent away to a convent (or perhaps has had her murdered) because she took too much pleasure in the sunset and in a compliment paid to her by another man? It is just such a man—a Renaissance duke—who Robert Browning portrays in his poem “My Last Duchess.” A character analysis of the Duke reveals that through his internal dialogue, his interpretation of earlier incidents, and his actions, his traits—arrogance, jealousy, and greediness—emerge. O The first paragraph of Alberto Alvaro Rios‟s short story “The Secret Lion” presents a twelve-year-old boy‟s view of growing up—everything changes. As the narrator informs the reader, when the magician pulls a tablecloth out from under a pile of dishes, children are amazed at the “stay-the-same part,” while adults focus only on the tablecloth itself (42). Adults have the benefit of experience and know the trick will work as long as the technique is correct. When people “grow up,” they gain this experience and knowledge but lose their innocence and sense of wonder. In other words, the price paid for growing up is a permanent sense of loss. This tradeoff is central to “The Secret Lion.” The key symbols in the story reinforce its main theme: change is inevitable and always accompanied by a sense of loss. O The setting of John Updike‟s story “A & P” is crucial to the reader’s understanding of Sammy’s decision to quit his job. Even though Sammy knows that his quitting will make life more difficult for him, he instinctively insists upon rejecting what the A & P represents in the story. When he rings up a “No Sale” and “saunter[s]” out of the store, Sammy leaves behind not only a job but the rigid state of mind associated with the A & P. Although Sammy is the central character in the story, Updike seems to invest as much effort in describing the setting as he does Sammy. The title, after all, is not “Youthful Rebellion” or “Sammy Quits” but “A & P.” The setting is the antagonist of the story and plays a role that is as important as Sammy’s.