Essay Comments

Essay Tips
Always include a works cited (bibliography) page with your essays. This page is not
numbered and should follow proper MLA format.
Use the present tense to discuss literature.
Don’t use phrases like “the author writes…” Simply say either what the character
does or explain what the NARRATOR describes.
Remember that all punctuation except semicolons and colons go INSIDE of quotation
marks when you are not citing after the quote. Example: In James Joyce’s story
“Eveline,” a young woman…
Make sure that the subject corresponds with the verb.
In your thesis, you must be specific and demonstrate the significance of your topic
(i.e. explain WHY Eveline returned to her father—don’t just tell me that she did or
that she had to make a choice)
Topic sentences must be arguments, not plot.
Example of a weak topic sentence: Frank wants Eveline to move away with him.
Another weak topic sentence: Throughout the story, Eveline is conflicted about
whether she should leave her family to marry Frank.
Stronger topic sentence: Even in the relationship that she seeks with Frank, Eveline
depends upon a man to save her.
In your body paragraphs, don’t just tell me the plot (what happened), tell me why
things happened the way that they did and what that shows. Follow plot details with
analysis (i.e. Eveline feels threatened by her father’s drunken hostility, but concludes
that “sometimes he could be nice” and that “he would miss her.”) To analyze,
explain why she comes to this conclusion and what that shows about her character.
Don’t just list quotes or use quotes only for plot. Explain what the quote shows about
the character or why specific words from the quote are important. Look at the
following quote: “Her father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss
her. Sometimes he could be very nice.” What is the significance of this quote? Why
does Eveline think this about her father? What does this show about Eveline’s
Don’t just drop your quotes. Integrate the following quote into a sentence: Eveline
also felt a personal responsibility to keep a promise that she made to her mother:
“Strange that it should come that very night to remind her of her promise to her
mother, her promise to keep the family together as long as she could” (6).
Quote integration has to make sense grammatically. Fix the following attempted
quote integrations:
1. Eveline was in charge of her household “She had hard work to keep the house.”
2. Eveline describes her feelings that once she is around Frank “…she always felt
pleasantly confused.”
Quote only the words you need. Revise how this sentence incorporates the quote:
She thinks that Frank is a good man, but there are some actions that “Of course, her
father had found out” about “and had forbidden her to have anything to say to him.”