The Analytical Paragraph

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					                  The Analytical Paragraph –Seven Basic Components
Analytical paragraphs respond to analytical issues. You would not write an analytical response to a descriptive question
such as What is the plot of the novel Animal Farm?, but you would for an interpretive question such as How does the author
present the pigs' abuse of power in Animal Farm, and how does it affect the meaning of the work? The analytical paragraph
supports your thesis (claim) by providing specific text evidence (quote or paraphrase) and explaining precisely how that text
and its literary features contribute to the impact of the work. A well-developed analytical paragraph will include:

1. Topic Sentence – This tells the reader what aspect of your claim is developed in this
paragraph. It is usually the first sentence. If you are writing a multi-paragraph essay, the topic
sentence will directly connect to the thesis of your essay. Your topic sentence cannot be a factual
statement. It must be something that can be argued for or against.

2. Introduce the Evidence – Introduce the quote/paraphrase by briefly identifying its context,
relative value, and/or the aspect you wish to emphasize. Do not simply restate or summarize the
evidence; use this opportunity to focus your reader's attention on the aspect/s most germane to your

3. Identify the Speaker – Specify the speaker of the quote and/or the source of the evidence
(author, narrator, character, outside source, etc.). Cite using parenthetical documentation (MLA
style) AND include bibliography entries at the end!
   Bart says, “Cool! I love detentions!” (19) or Matt Groening writes, “Bart ran away”(2). Focus
on the author helps establish your stance as analytic rather than just readerly.
A more sophisticated form of the quote introduction blends the text into your own writing In this
form the context and the quote become one.
   On his way to school, Bart does not hesitate to “pull out his slingshot and launch a rock through
the window”(15).

4. The Evidence – This is the text itself. Include ONLY what is absolutely necessary, so your
reader is not distracted by extraneous material and your teacher does not suspect you of "padding"
your word count. Your evidence must specifically support your claim, and in the discussion you will
show the reader exactly how it does so. Quotes must be copied directly, word for word from the
text, inside double quotations. When dialogue is involved, put the entire passage inside double
quotes, but change the original doubles to single quotes. Paraphrases use no quotes and are
sometimes indicated by "that," but still require citation. Fitzgerald tells us that the Gatsby mansion
looked new, especially compared to Nick's very modest lodging (Fitzgerald 9).

5. Citation MLA style requires (Author page), . In an informal paragraph with only one source
you may simply use (page): no p. or pp., just the numeral. Bart complains, “I hate peas” (18) . In
passage commentary, substitute line numbers for page numbers.

6. Analysis / Discussion Discussion explicitly links text evidence with literary features and effect
on meaning, in a logical argument that supports your claim and subclaim. Break the quote down.
Refer to specific words, phrases, or ideas from your evidence. Identify their significant literary
features and show how they do what they do (form + content). It is NOT enough to write a
subclaim, stick in some text evidence, and assume the reader will make the same connections you
do. Analysis ≠ paraphrase! Discussion is where you lead the reader through your line of thinking,
connecting TEXT and FEATURES to EFFECT and SIGNIFICANCE. We want to know not only
what and how, but why this matters.

7. Concluding or Transition Sentence – If you are writing just one analytical paragraph, this
sentence serves as your conclusion. It answers the question “what’s your point?” or "what is
significant?" or "who cares?" It should tie back to the topic sentence and therefore the central claim.
If you are writing a multi-paragraph essay, then this sentence may also help launch a transition from
the idea you have just finished writing about to the idea you will write about in your next body

Adapted from
Analytical Paragraph: Example

1. Topic Sentence

2. Introduce the

3. Identify the

4. The Evidence

5. Citation

6. Analysis /

7. Concluding or
Transition Sentence

Adapted from

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