Writing an Introduction

Writing an Introduction
English 12
The Tempest Essay
Purpose of an Introduction:
 1.
To get the reader's attention.
 2. To lead the reader into your paper
and to establish your thesis.
 3. To control your essay by moving
from a general discussion of the
subject to the specific thesis that your
paper will prove.
How do I begin?
 You
could begin with an attention
grabber. This information must be true
and verifiable, and it doesn't need to be
totally new to your readers. It could
simply be a pertinent fact that explicitly
illustrates the point you wish to make. If
you begin with a piece of startling
information, follow it with a sentence or
two of elaboration.
People love magic. Last year, magician David
Copperfield did over 300 shows at the MGM
Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. At over $100 a
ticket, audiences of over 1200 were delighted
by his otherworldly abilities. Prospero,
Shakespeare’s title character in The Tempest,
also dazzles the audience with his command of
magic. His command of the island, his control
over Ariel and Caliban, and his ability to cause
a storm while protecting those within it all point
to a man with tremendous magical gifts. As
with David Copperfield, it is the magic that
makes the show The Tempest worth viewing.
How do I begin?
You could begin with a quotation from the play
that reflects your thesis. Follow this quote with
a sentence or two of elaboration.
“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”
(I, i, 44-45) In Shakespeare’s The Tempest,
evil is pervasive. Prospero has been treated
cruelly by his brother Antonio, but he himself
has gone on to treat Ariel, his fairy and slave,
with contempt.
After the storm, when
Antonio and Sebastian arrive on the island, it
is clear that history is set to repeat itself. It is
only by foiling the plans of the evil doers on
the island that Prospero is able to rid himself
of the evil within, and forgive.
How do I begin?
If you tread carefully, you can begin with an
anecdote. An anecdote is a story that illustrates
a point. Be sure your anecdote is short, to the
point, and relevant to your topic. This can be a
very effective opener for your essay, but use it
cautiously, as it could sound either hokey or
My friend Karen was one of six girls raised by a
single mother in rural Ireland. She went to allgirls schools from kindergarten until her
graduation from high school, and then went to
a women’s college. She had very little
experience of men, and ended up marrying the
first boy she ever dated. Like Miranda in
Shakespeare’s The Tempest, my friend Karen
was not troubled by her limited knowledge of
men. Miranda’s innocence, unaffected and
unadorned beauty, intelligence and forthright
nature caused Ferdinand to fall in love at first
sight. Like my friend Karen, Miranda’s lack of
experience with men worked in her favor.
How do I begin?
Summary Information: A few sentences
explaining your topic in general terms can lead
the reader gently to your thesis. Each sentence
can become gradually more specific, until you
reach your thesis. This is called the “funneled”
form of introduction, and it is quite popular.
Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a study on the
nature of imperialism. At the time that the
play was written, England was creating a
global empire, with holdings in India, Africa,
and North America.
The island in The
Tempest represents the new world. Through
a study of Prospero’s treatment of Caliban
and Ariel, as well as a discussion of the
absurd ambitions of Stephano and Trinculo,
the reader can assess Shakespeare’s views.
It is clear from a reading of The Tempest that
Shakespeare was against imperialism.
How NOT to Begin!
“Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘guilt’ as: ‘a
feeling of responsibility or remorse for some
offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or
imagined.’”…EEK! English teachers see this all
the time, and it HURTS!
“In this essay I will…” Argh! That’s about as
subtle as a train wreck. The passive voice is
appropriate for formal, persuasive essays.
Elements of an Introduction
An introduction should include:
- A brief summary of the action of the play or a
description of the characters being discussed
- A hint as to the topics to be discussed in the
essay – this can be specific, or more general if
there are numerous topics being discussed
- A THESIS – What will you prove to your reader
in this essay?
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