The Critical Essay Structure How will my essay be structured? 1. Introduction 2. Main Body- usually four or five paragraphs. 3. Conclusion We are Learning... How to write an effective introduction. Try to use this method: 1. Give the name of the text, the name of the author and mention words from Part One of the essay question. 2: Briefly summarise what the text is about (adapt according to the essay question). 3: Mention what you will be writing about in your essay and refer to Part Two of the essay question. Try to refer to the theme(s). Example 1 Text: “The Crucible” Essay Question: Choose a play in which a central character is heroic yet vulnerable. Show how the dramatist makes you aware of both qualities and discuss how they affect your response to the character’s fate in the play as a whole. A play in which a central character is heroic yet vulnerable is “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. The play is set during the Salem witch-trials in the late 17th century and centres around John Proctor, a man whose adultery leads him to make decisions on his quest for redemption which illustrate both his heroic and vulnerable qualities as a man. This essay will discuss the dramatic techniques used by Miller, such as character, setting and turning point to depict the heroism and vulnerability of Proctor as he strives to gain redemption and forgiveness for his sins, while also trying to maintain his reputation as a good Christian. I will also explain how Proctor’s fate in the play is a direct result of this duality in his character. Example 2 Text: “The Crucible” Essay Question: Choose a play in which a central character behaves in an obsessive manner. Describe the nature of the character’s obsessive behaviour and discuss the influence this behaviour has on your understanding of the character in the play as a whole. A play in which a central character behaves in an obsessive manner is “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. The play is set in the strictly theocratic society of Salem during the witch-trials in the late 17th century, and centres around John Proctor and his obsession with regaining the self-respect and goodness he lost by betraying his wife and family through adultery. This essay will discuss the dramatic techniques used by Miller to depict Proctor’s obsessive quest for redemption, such as character, setting and turning point and I will show how Proctor’s obsession enables me to understand the decisions he makes that ultimately lead to his death. We are Learning... How to write paragraphs using P.Q.E The main body of your essay is where you develop your essay and go into detail with your Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation. All the paragraphs in the main body of your essay must be written using P.Q.E. This will help to ensure that your paragraphs have a good structure, and your essay is well organised. Point Quote Explain Quote Again Explain Again Point (topic sentence) You write one sentence and you do 3 things: • Make a point about the text which indicates what you will be focusing on in your paragraph. • Refer to the essay question (try to paraphrase). • Refer to the theme of the text (directly or indirectly). Quote Write one sentence: • Provide a quote from the text that supports your Point (remember your inverted commas!) • Put your quote in context (so that it can be clearly understood). (Remember: you usually do this twice in each paragraph) Explain Write 2 or 3 detailed sentences: • Explain what your quote shows. • Analyse and evaluate the techniques that have been used. • Refer to the essay question. • Refer to the theme(s) of the text (directly or indirectly) (Remember: you usually do this twice in each paragraph) Example 1 Text: “The Crucible” Essay Question: Choose a play in which a central character behaves in an obsessive manner. Describe the nature of the character’s obsessive behaviour and discuss the influence this behaviour has on your understanding of the character in the play as a whole. From the opening Act of the play, Miller’s use of characterisation and key scene makes the audience immediately aware of John Proctor’s obsession with redeeming himself for his sins. In the overture, we are told in the stage directions that Proctor “has come to regard himself as a kind of fraud”. Thus, we discover that he cannot forgive himself for committing adultery: he sees himself as a hypocrite and a sinner, and he has lost his selfrespect and his honour as a husband, father and Christian. This self-loathing is clearly what motivates his obsession with redemption. Later in Act One, Proctor rejects Abigail’s advances and he tells her “I’ll cut off my hand before I ever reach for you again...we never touched, Abby”. In this key scene, Proctor shows that he is not willing to jeopardise his marriage or his reputation by resuming his affair with Abigail: he is full of guilt and shame about what he has done and by refusing Abigail he takes a very important step in trying to redeem himself for his indiscretions. Thus, in Act One we can see that Proctor is obsessively trying to redeem himself and restore the honesty and integrity he lost by committing adultery with Abigail Williams. We are learning... How to write an effective conclusion Your concluding paragraph should include the following, in any order: • Use the words in the question to make a statement of conclusion. • Sum up your main arguments. • Refer to the theme(s) and techniques you have discussed. Example Text: “The Crucible Essay question: Choose a play in which a central character is heroic yet vulnerable. Show how the dramatist makes you aware of both qualities and discuss how they affect your response to the character’s fate in the play as a whole. Throughout the course of the play, John Proctor is faced with a number of decisions that allow us to see both the heroic and vulnerable aspects of his personality. By rejecting Abigail Williams, by refusing Danforth’s offer to spare his wife, by confessing to his affair with Abigail, and by ripping up his confession, Proctor displays evidence that he is seeking redemption for his sins, and that he is trying to regain his integrity and self-respect. Miller is able to show us Proctor’s path towards redemption by using techniques such as characterisation, setting, theme and turning point. In doing so, the reader is able to recognise that Proctor’s fate, although tragic and upsetting, is ultimately a necessary step that Proctor must take in order to become a truly good man.