Senior English McIlvain Name: Introduction Overview The introduction to your literary analysis essay should try to arouse interest in your reader. To bring immediate focus to your subject, you may want to use a quotation, a provocative question, a personal anecdote, a startling statement, or a combination of these. You may also want to include background information relevant to your thesis and necessary for the reader to understand the position you are taking. Include the following in your introduction: 1. Attention Getter/Hook. This may be the context of other writing by the author, social or political influences at the time, and any number of interesting tidbits about your author, novel, topic, or thesis. 2. Brief Context. This is a continuation of the hook. 3. Brief Summary. This should be no more than a sentence or two. 4. Thesis. The following are satisfactory introductory paragraphs which include appropriate thesis statements. Notice how they often go from general information to specific. 1. The properties of water make it an excellent literary device, especially when water imagery is used to define the character of a woman. Water ebbs and flows, sparkles, reflects, and evaporates. It can carry a vessel, or take the shape of any vessel that holds it. Water can form deep pools, impenetrable and mysterious, or puddle into shallowness. It wears many faces—snow, sleet, and ice and can fall from the heavens as a light rain or a cold rain or a fierce, driving storm. Water falls from the eyes as tears; it can mirror the self; it can quench thirst. As a method of defining character, Charlotte Bronte uses many of these characteristics of water to capture the elusive Lucy Snowe in the 1853 novel Villette. 2. The 19th Century was a difficult time for women. This was an era in which women were denied access to the kinds of educating and occupations made available to men. If a woman was not married to a man who could provide for her, and being barred from all well-paid work, men were forced into a very small range of occupations, including domestic service and unskilled factory work. In the novel, Lion Heart, Thomas Hardy shows that a happy marriage in Victorian England was viewed in terms of economic and material gain, and that if a woman was unhappy with her situation there was nothing she could do about it. 3. Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat” is a short novel illustrating the plight of a Southern Christian black woman in an abusive relationship with her husband. At the story’s heart is a masterful depiction of the protagonist, a woman who after many years of abuse finally refuses to subject herself to her philandering husband’s cruelty. Hurston achieves the greater theme of “Sweat,” the triumph of the oppressed, through her use of three basic Southern literary themes: folklore, oppression, and religion. A brief inspection of these three basic themes will reveal how “Sweat” achieves its inspiring effect. 4. The setting of John Updike’s story “A & P” is crucial to our 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 and we learn much about him, 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.” In fact, the setting is the antagonist of the story and plays a role that is as important as Sammy’s. 5. What would you 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 -- that Robert Browning portrays in his poem “My Last Duchess.” Through what he says about himself, through his actions, and through his interpretation of earlier incidents, the Duke reveals the arrogance, jealousy, and materialism that are his most conspicuous traits. 6. 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 tells us, 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 we “grow up” we gain this experience and knowledge, but we lose our innocence and sense of wonder. In other words, the price we pay 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.