Writing the Basic Analytical Essay: Part Three

By Dr. Rosette Liberman, www.cooperhillstylebook.com

The Body

This copyrighted article is the third of a series that teaches students how to write an effective essay. Parts One and Two are available at http://cooperhillstylebook.com/archive/

How many paragraphs should an essay contain?

There is no absolute answer to this question. It arises because of an arbitrary model called “the 5-paragraph essay.” People who talk about essays that must be 5 paragraphs long assume that every topic must have an introductory paragraph, a concluding paragraph, and exactly 3 body paragraphs.

While it’s true that every essay must have and Introduction and a Conclusion, it doesn’t make sense to limit each of these to a single paragraph — they may be a paragraph long, or they may be longer. It is even more unrealistic to assume that the Body of every topic must be divided into exactly 3 parts and that each of those parts must be limited to a single paragraph.

The length of each essay depends entirely on its topic and on the amount of information and analysis needed for a thorough discussion. It makes much more sense to talk about a 3-part essay containing an Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion, with the length of each section dictated by the topic and the thoroughness of the analysis.

What information should be included in the Body?

The Body develops the ideas prefaced and listed in the Introduction. Specifically, the Body an essay is a discussion of the categories named or suggested in the thesis statement of the Introduction (see Writing the Basic Analytical Essay Part Two at http://cooperhillstylebook.com/archive).

How to organize the information in the 1st category

The basic organization of each category consists of 4 parts: each category is named, explained, supported, and concluded.

  1. To NAME the 1st category — Connect theme statement or topic and the 1st category in a simple statement. It can be 1 or more sentences.

 Theme statement: the value of freedom

1st category: choosing physical values

To some people, the value of freedom is relative to their physical circumstances.

  1. To EXPLAIN the category — How much explaining is needed depends on how complicated the name section
  • Definition
    1. Define the hard-to-understand or abstract words (e., everyone knows

what a pencil is, but each of us has a personal definition of the abstract

term friendship).

Don’t copy dictionary definitions or repeat definitions from the Introduction.

Try using synonyms.

  1. Sometimes “bridges” such as that is, that is to say, in other words are useful. You can choose to delete them in the final draft of your essay.
  • Discussion: discuss any or all of the following.

how the idea in the Name statement works (description)

                        why the idea works that way (explanation)

                        what’s the benefit of this idea (explanation)

                        what’s wrong with the idea (contradiction)

so what if the idea works that way (extrapolation or drawing conclusions)

Definitions in this essay:

value = cost, price, how much it’s worth

freedom = ability to make one’s own choices, being one’s own master, ability to control one’s own life

relative to = depends on, is dictated by

circumstances = situations in which people find themselves,

In other words, the price of being one’s own master can be dictated by the

situations in which people find themselves.

Avoiding danger is a natural human instinct. However, some individuals fear taking risks to such an extent that they are willing to hand control over their lives to someone else in order to earn protection. The advantage of this choice is that the fear of danger appears to be eliminated. However, this choice is not without problems.

  1. To CONNECT the EXPLAIN section above to the SUPPORT section below —

refer to the name of the character and/or to the events in the story that prove that

your discussion is valid.

This section is usually only 1 or 2 sentences long.

The Dog in this story chooses slavery in order to provide himself with the security of a safe and comfortable shelter and a dependable food supply.

  1. To SUPPORT your discussion, use facts and/or relevant quotations from the story and explain the quotations

He explains “cheerfully” to the Wolf that he agrees “to do anything [his master] wants,” and that his master owns him. This apparent cheerfulness, proves deceptive when he has to admit that he is forced to wear the heavy chain and the collar that hurt his neck. He is embarrassed to have traded in his freedom for physical security when he acknowledges: “I don’t have any choice … because my master gives me food and shelter.”

  1. To CONCLUDE the category, connect some of the main ideas or words from the support to some of the main ideas or words in the name section and in the theme statement.

Main ideas to be connected: embarrassment, security of food and shelter, slavery, freedom.

Clearly, slavery is a problematic choice because despite the security of food and shelter, the Dog feels ashamed at having reduced himself to a slave, a creature who has no right to protest and whose preferences are dispensable.

The complete 1st category

To some people, the value of freedom is relative to their physical circumstances.

In other words, the price of being one’s own master can be dictated by the situations in which people find themselves. Avoiding danger is a natural human instinct. However, some individuals fear taking risks to such an extent that they are willing to hand control over their lives to someone else in order to earn protection. The advantage of this choice is that the fear of danger appears to be eliminated. However, this choice is not without problems. The Dog in this story chooses slavery in order to provide himself with the security of a safe and comfortable shelter and a dependable food supply. He explains “cheerfully” to the Wolf that he agrees “to do anything [his master] wants,” and that his master owns him. This apparent cheerfulness, proves deceptive when he has to admit that he is forced to wear the heavy chain and the collar that hurts his neck. He is embarrassed to have traded in his freedom for physical security when he acknowledges: “I don’t have any choice … because my master gives me food and shelter.” Clearly, slavery is a problematic choice because despite the security of food and shelter, the Dog feels ashamed at having reduced himself to a slave, a creature who has no right to protest and whose preferences are dispensable.


How to write the 2nd category

Like the 1st category, the 2nd category must be named, explained, supported, and concluded. However, it (and all the following categories) first must have a TRANSITIONAL STATEMENT.

 

The TRANSITIONAL STATEMENT consists of

  • the transition
  • the name of the category to be discussed
  • a reference to the preceding category

 

Some TRANSITIONS that indicate agreement between the 2 categories:

Also, in addition to, both…and, not only…but also, similarly, likewise.

 

Some TRANSITIONS that indicate contradiction between the 2 categories:

While, although, even though, however, by contrast, as opposed to, unlike.

 

(See complete list in The Cooper Hill Stylebook, available for sale at cooperhillstylebook.com)

 

  1. 2nd category TRANSITIONAL STATEMENT combined with NAME SECTION.

Transition = in contrast

Reference to preceding category = physical comfort

Reference to current category = spiritual comfort

Theme statement = value of freedom

 

In contrast to those who opt for physical comfort at all costs are those whose spiritual values are pre-eminent. These are people for whom freedom is priceless.

 

  1. EXPLAIN SECTION
  2. Definitions

freedom = see definitions in 1st category

spiritual values = psychological, intangible, dignity, honor, self-esteem

pre-eminent = most important, crucial

 

  1. Discussion (Notice that we did not use a “bridge” here.)

People who value their dignity do not allow others to control their lives. Preserving their self-esteem is crucial. They choose to make their own choices in life, and not to allow themselves to become someone else’s creature that exists merely for a superior’s convenience or pleasure.

 

  1. CONNECT explain to support sections

Aesop’s Wolf represents such characters.

 

  1. SUPPORT section

At first the Wolf shows great interest in a secure shelter and food supply, and hopes that he too could receive “such fine gifts.” However, he quickly changes his mind when he learns that he would have to relinquish his freedom in exchange: “ ‘Thanks, Cousin, but no thanks,’ said the Wolf. ‘I think I’d rather remain hungry in the forest.’ ”

 

  1. CONCLUDE section

Like slavery, freedom, too, is a problematic choice because it means accepting physical insecurity in order to retain, indeed to affirm, one’s dignity.

 

 

The complete 2nd category

In contrast to those who opt for physical comfort at all costs are those whose spiritual values are pre-eminent. These are people for whom freedom is priceless.  People who value their dignity do not allow others to control their lives. Preserving their self-esteem is crucial. They choose to make their own choices in life, and not to allow themselves to become someone else’s creature that exists merely for a superior’s convenience or pleasure. Aesop’s Wolf represents such characters. At first the Wolf shows great interest in a secure shelter and food supply, and hopes that he too could receive “such fine gifts.” However, he quickly changes his mind when he learns that he would have to relinquish his freedom in exchange: “ ‘Thanks, Cousin, but no thanks,’ said the Wolf. ‘I think I’d rather remain hungry in the forest.’ ” Like slavery, freedom, too, is a problematic choice because it means accepting physical insecurity in order to retain, indeed to affirm, one’s dignity.

 

*The Basic Essay is copyrighted © by Rosette Liberman, Ed.D. Dr. Liberman is the co-author of the classic The Cooper Hill Stylebook — a digital writing and revision text that can be ordered through www.cooperhillstylebook.com.


Tags: Essay writing, writing the essay, organization of an essay, parts of an essay, Rosette Liberman Ed.D., The Cooper Hill Stylebook, grammar e-book, creative writing, writing instruction, learning creative writing, thinking logically, critical thinking, critical writing,

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