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Writing an A-Level English Literature Essay

UserMark time18 August,2016

Most of you are acquainted with essay writing. But it is important to realize that the expected quality level at university is very different from what made you excel in high school days. In junior level, you are likely to get an essay topics on which you need to pack your writing with relevant and authentic information or share real life experience with your readers. But in college level, your writing should reflect critical reading and writing skills and the capability to use evidence in writing along with flow of ideas in the content. If you are studying English literature, you would meet English literature essay writing tasks every now and then because it is a constructive method of assessment for students’ learning.  So better you find an escape plan; prepare yourself to write a high-quality English literature essay. This blog takes you through each step for essay writing help, to make you aware of the essentials of writing literature prose.

how to write an english literature essay

How to Make Your Essay A-Quality

Before you gain the basic information on the planning and writing of your essays, let us give a valuable tip. No matter how well you stage the answer in response to the essay prompt, bad structure always takes down on score list. The truth is introduction does not make the first impression on your readers; it is the structure of essay that assures your readers that the writing you presented maintains a flow of ideas and coherent structure. So here we present to you three major parts of essay and how to develop them.

We all are aware that an essay takes shape with three major sections, introduction, body and conclusion. We here expound each part of literature essay writing.

Introduction: (Make your readers acquainted with the plot and characters)

Before you understand what makes an effective introduction of literature essay, make sure you know the following rudiment of essay introduction writing,

• Avoid boring sentences like, ‘In this essay, I am going to project…’ No one is interested to read prognosis of the essay, which can be easily inserted later in the introduction part. But in the first sentence, you need to add a tempting/introductory sentence to let your readers to have a sneak peek of you writing. Adversely, some students use sentences that may have nothing to do with your writing. It mainly raises readers’ interest and keeps them going with writing.

• You need to be brave and bold in this introductory paragraph. Critical essay should follow a formal tone but it should not be overly formal style to impress your professors. To present your ideas correlated to text, you can involve a word or phrase from the prose in your writing.

• Always think of the question that you need to answer. For instance, your essay prompt given by your professor is, ‘McEwan relies on several key narrative techniques to create a sense of tension and excitement. Discuss” You as a writer need to convert this statement into a question so that it becomes feasible for you to make readers understand the purpose of the writing.

These are the essential tricks for creating a good quality essay introduction. Now it comes down to developing a good quality English literature essay introduction. The following section talks about how to compose an introduction for literature prose.

What is the ideal way to open the first paragraph?

Frankly, there is no certain way to write your opening sentence. But it should be interesting, attractive and appealing. In order to meet the mentioned criteria, here are few ideas used by our seasoned writers.

• Stating Others Point of Views:

Mostly, students prefer to initiate their essays with their own vision towards the literature. But in some cases, you can start the opening sentence by stating that despite other perspective, my approach towards analyzing the text would be (your approach). For example, you are writing a critical review on ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams, the opening sentence would be, ‘Many readers might express different perspective towards Blanche Dubious and consider William’s play anything but tragedy, but according to my interpretation the series of events of lead me…’

• Starting with a quotation:

As it looks elegant and relevant, good essayists prefer to involve quotations in writing. But before you think about including a literary quotation from the discussed text, you need to be sure about the purpose of writing it in the first place. You as a writer need to ensure the quotation you present serves the purpose you aim to and make sense as its stands in opening paragraphs. Needles to say, you need to place a connecting sentence to keep the pace of the writing.

• Initiating Your Writing With Dramatic Dialogue:

To create more impact on your readers, you can present dialogues (in case it is a play) for example,

Horatio: Look, my lord, it comes.

Hamlet: Angles and ministers of grace defend us! (I.iv. 20)   

‘Shakespeare’s character Hamlet played a role to prove Sigmund Fraud’s theory of Oedipus Complex, which became a foundation of modern psychology’. 

The readers will understand the essay will analyze Hamlet’s character critically along with the evidences that provided by the author.

• Open With Embedded Quotation:

You need to remember that you have only one chance to impress your examiner that is opening sentence. So you should try different techniques to bring some freshness in your writing. Quoting a word or phrase from the text is one of the impactful ways. It creates authoritative tone and confident approach towards the writing, for example, ‘Blanche Dubois might claim she wants some ‘magic’ rather than ‘realism’, but in his play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, he concentrates on demonstrating realistic aspects of life to his audience.’

• Begin with an Anecdote:

You can involve funny anecdote in the opening paragraph. Placing humorous anecdote does not mean your entire essay has to be funny. Involving a pinch humorous can get you a great start, also seizes readers’ attention from the beginning.

Other Elements of English Literature Essay Introduction

Here are other factors that make a good introduction of literature prose:

• Title:

Your topic should not be your title. Title should reflect your approach towards the writing. You can tweak your title in a such way to demonstrate that your title is persuasive argument directly related to text.

• Background information:

The readers should know the plot, main characters and theme of the discussed text in order to make them acquainted with the story so that they can assume what is coming next.

• Overview of the Topic:

After placing the background of the story, readers want to about the topic. With the help of the backdrop, your readers get a vague idea of the text. This is why providing a clear idea is necessary.

• Thesis Statement:

It should be placed at the end of the paragraph in order to clear your stance in front of your readers. Thesis statement should be one or two sentence long and consist of approach that generated after reading the text.

• The structure of an Introduction:

Title of the essay

1. Opening Sentence

2. Background information

3. Overview of the topic

4. Thesis Statement

• Introduction Example:

After gaining the theoretical knowledge, here is a practical example to make you understand the above aspects more properly.

George Bernard Shaw took the inspiration for his title from the opening line of Virgil’s epic poem the ‘Aeneid’ that goes like, ‘Of arms and the man I sing’. In this epic piece of poetry, Virgil glorified the cruelty of the war and heroic feats of Aeneas on the battlefield. However, Shaw’s purpose is to criticize the romanticism related to the war. In order to do so, he presented realistic picture of war, which declines the idea of death and destruction projects nobility…

Body Paragraphs: (The building blocks for critical analysis)

The common structure of any main body paragraph goes like this; paragraph should start with a topic sentence, and followed by a series of sentences, which are extensions of topic. The sentences should include an argument and show how they support they are saying. Keep in mind that stringing quotes and facts together do not make a good quality critical essay.

The Structure of Body Paragraphs:

Each paragraph in the main body should have the following three paragraphs,

• Topic sentences

• The development

• The supporting quotation or the example from the text

To perfect the above structure, you can try Point – Quotation – Comment strategy. In the place of topic sentence, write the point, to validate the point, you require providing evidence from the text, at the end, you comment how the point make your claim valid related to the essay question or subject. It is mandatory that you place an evidence after each point. It can be quotations, paraphrased text, embedded quotations, ideas from the text. In case you don’t have the text at your reach when at exam hall, it is advisable that you should prepare a small banks of learned quotations.

Main Body Example:

Each body paragraph should follow the above suggestions, to see the theoretical knowledge applied in practical, read these examples of body paragraphs:

First Paragraph:

Shaw projects an ironic contrast between two central characters. In the beginning of the play, readers come across the glorious and brave character of handsome Bulgarian officer Sergius Saranoff. The character seized reader’s attention in a daring cavalry raid, which turned the war in favor of Bulgarian over the Serbs. On the contrary, the character of Captain Bluntschli, is projected as a coward in the story by the author, who climbs up to a balcony in order find a escape…

Second Paragraph:

Raina Petkoff, one of the central characters of the story, started romanticizing Saranoff as her ideal hero because he has several heroic stories to share with her. As the play proceeds, author unfurls more stories about the famous raid. Despite its success, the raid was a suicidal gesture…

Third Paragraph:

As the acts proceeds, the audience comes to know that this romanticism was only a coating, Raina’s views more complicated than this. Moreover, she reveals that she cherishes doubts towards her idealism of Saranoff’s glorious bravery in war. She was concerned that people’s war ideals were nothing more than a fantasy absorbed from poetry and operas. Raina is seen to be the only women in the play, who does not acknowledge the validity of war and be concerned about the cruelty and violence in the war…

Conclusion (Recap and more)

Technically, this is the last thing the examiner will read. Your aim should be to leave an impact on the readers’ minds. So it is your responsibility to be influential. Generally, conclusion should be a summary of your argument, but only summarizing the major points will not let you have a good quality literature essay conclusion. A good critical conclusion provides the readers a sense of closure.

Strategies to Conclude Your Essay

Here we provide you a few concluding strategies with which you can wrap your essay meaningfully:

• Place a connector to the opener:

Similar to introduction, conclusion also should have an interesting opening sentence. This opening sentence should be related to the first paragraph, which gives your readers a sense of fulfillment.

• Restate the thesis in different words:

Restating the thesis in concluding paragraph is necessary because it reminds the readers the purpose of their reading. The idea is to add a layer of depth to it. In the concluding paragraph, the restatement of thesis serves more of a final judgment of what you think about the discussed/assigned text. It is advisable that it should be emphatic.

• Summarize of main points:

This is not about summarizing the main points in other words. The readers should see the big picture to your arguments that is made of all little parts of arguments presented in the body of the essay.

• State the significance of writing the prose:

Interpreting a literary text critically can lead to you in different directions, it is on you to choose certain aspect you think is viable. Eventually, you deny those views that already exist in order to substantiate your outlook. You as writer should make your audience to feel your analysis is meaningful and important.

• Direct your readers wisely:

If you come up with a question or a suggestion, express it in the conclusion section. It provides a direct gate away to talk to your audience and it makes them feel a valuable.

• Consider other perspective as well:

As mentioned above, a literary analysis is subjective. So, different perspectives on the same text co-exist. You may have project other perspective as flawed in order to validate your outlook. But you cannot deny the existence of other perspective. In last paragraph of the essay, you can include a statement about other known opinions and why your part of the arguments has more authenticity. The idea is to show you have done enough background research and have answer to the critics of your own work.

This is about theoretical part, now it is time to apply this knowledge practically. Here is an example of literature essay conclusion:

Conclusion Example:

Shaw composed this play in his early literary life. The play was first performed in 1984 in the same year when Shaw penned down his another creation ‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’. The ending of ‘Arms and the man’ is more traditional compared to other contemporary plays. Two lovers finally meet after getting all confusions cleared up and live happily ever after…

This is how you should develop an English literature essay. These above mentioned suggestions are as valuable as any guide resource you find on the internet. If you really want to learn how to convert your average essay to an excellent one, you may need to consult essay experts who have explicit idea about literature essay writing. Where to find qualified and knowledgeable experts? Here is your answer.

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