Here is the introductory paragraph in a 5-paragraph English paper by Illinois Valley Community College student Jamie Fast:
In the short story “Miss Brill,” penned by Katherine Mansfield in 1922, a Sunday afternoon is spent with an elderly woman during her weekly ritual of visiting a seaside park. The woman, Miss Brill, enjoys her habitual outing to hear the band play and soak in the atmosphere, but most of all she relishes the chance to sit in on the lives of others by listening and watching. Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” illustrates the old woman’s attempt to alleviate loneliness by creating an alternate reality for herself, yet she is ultimately forced to face the self-deception for what it truly is.
THE THREE PARTS OF HER THESIS STATEMENT:
1. Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” illustrates the old woman’s attempt to alleviate loneliness 2. by creating an alternate reality for herself, 3. yet she is ultimately forced to face the self-deception for what it truly is.
- “Miss Brill” is trying to feel less lonely…
- …by creating an alternate reality for herself,
- yet she is ultimately forced to face the self-deception…
The topic sentences used by this student:
- Miss Brill’s ritual of visiting the park every Sunday helps her to cope with loneliness.
- Miss Brill alters her perception of reality to avoid facing unpleasant aspects of her life.
- A series of events leads to Miss Brill’s illusion being shattered and forces her to realize the self-deception.
This student’s paper, along with her instructor’s comments, have been posted here by Randy Rambo, an instructor at Illinois Valley Community College.
This is the most useful exemplar I’ve come across thus far. Wonderful.
Well worth your time to read the story, the paper, and the comments. (To see the comments, click on numbers 1 – 12 inside the text.)
From W.W. Norton & Company’s LitWeb:
Your essay’s beginning, or introduction, should draw readers in and prepare them for what’s to come by:
- articulating the thesis;
- providing whatever basic information—about the text, the author, and/or the topic—readers will need to follow the argument; and
- creating interest in the thesis by demonstrating that there is a problem or question that it resolves or answers.
This final task involves showing readers why your thesis isn’t dull or obvious, establishing a specific motive for the essay and its readers. There are numerous possible motives, but writing expert Gordon Harvey has identified three especially common ones:
- The truth isn’t what one would expect or what it might appear to be on a first reading.
- There’s an interesting wrinkle in the text—a paradox, a contradiction, a tension.
- A seemingly tangential or insignificant matter is actually important or interesting.
Beginning: The Introduction
Richard Nordquist defines the “literary present“:
The use of a verb in the present tense to refer to any aspect of a work of literature.
“Use the present tense when discussing a literary work, since the author of the work is communicating to the reader at the present time.
In ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find,’ the grandmother reaches out to touch her killer just before he pulls the trigger.”
‘the grandmother reaches out to touch her killer just before he pulls the trigger’
‘…the grandmother reached out to touch her killer just before he pulled the trigger’
• How (and Why) Do I Write in Literary Present Tense? (pdf file)