Writing an Introduction English 12 The Tempest Essay Purpose of an Introduction: 1. To get the reader's attention. 2. To lead the reader into your paper and to establish your thesis. 3. To control your essay by moving from a general discussion of the subject to the specific thesis that your paper will prove. How do I begin? You could begin with an attention grabber. This information must be true and verifiable, and it doesn't need to be totally new to your readers. It could simply be a pertinent fact that explicitly illustrates the point you wish to make. If you begin with a piece of startling information, follow it with a sentence or two of elaboration. Example: People love magic. Last year, magician David Copperfield did over 300 shows at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. At over $100 a ticket, audiences of over 1200 were delighted by his otherworldly abilities. Prospero, Shakespeare’s title character in The Tempest, also dazzles the audience with his command of magic. His command of the island, his control over Ariel and Caliban, and his ability to cause a storm while protecting those within it all point to a man with tremendous magical gifts. As with David Copperfield, it is the magic that makes the show The Tempest worth viewing. How do I begin? You could begin with a quotation from the play that reflects your thesis. Follow this quote with a sentence or two of elaboration. Example: “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” (I, i, 44-45) In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, evil is pervasive. Prospero has been treated cruelly by his brother Antonio, but he himself has gone on to treat Ariel, his fairy and slave, with contempt. After the storm, when Antonio and Sebastian arrive on the island, it is clear that history is set to repeat itself. It is only by foiling the plans of the evil doers on the island that Prospero is able to rid himself of the evil within, and forgive. How do I begin? If you tread carefully, you can begin with an anecdote. An anecdote is a story that illustrates a point. Be sure your anecdote is short, to the point, and relevant to your topic. This can be a very effective opener for your essay, but use it cautiously, as it could sound either hokey or irrelevant. Example: My friend Karen was one of six girls raised by a single mother in rural Ireland. She went to all- girls schools from kindergarten until her graduation from high school, and then went to a women’s college. She had very little experience of men, and ended up marrying the first boy she ever dated. Like Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, my friend Karen was not troubled by her limited knowledge of men. Miranda’s innocence, unaffected and unadorned beauty, intelligence and forthright nature caused Ferdinand to fall in love at first sight. Like my friend Karen, Miranda’s lack of experience with men worked in her favor. How do I begin? Summary Information: A few sentences explaining your topic in general terms can lead the reader gently to your thesis. Each sentence can become gradually more specific, until you reach your thesis. This is called the “funneled” form of introduction, and it is quite popular. Example: Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a study on the nature of imperialism. At the time that the play was written, England was creating a global empire, with holdings in India, Africa, and North America. The island in The Tempest represents the new world. Through a study of Prospero’s treatment of Caliban and Ariel, as well as a discussion of the absurd ambitions of Stephano and Trinculo, the reader can assess Shakespeare’s views. It is clear from a reading of The Tempest that Shakespeare was against imperialism. How NOT to Begin! “Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘guilt’ as: ‘a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.’”…EEK! English teachers see this all the time, and it HURTS! “In this essay I will…” Argh! That’s about as subtle as a train wreck. The passive voice is appropriate for formal, persuasive essays. Elements of an Introduction An introduction should include: - A brief summary of the action of the play or a description of the characters being discussed - A hint as to the topics to be discussed in the essay – this can be specific, or more general if there are numerous topics being discussed - A THESIS – What will you prove to your reader in this essay? DESPITE WHAT WE TOLD YOU IN GRADE 10, THE ORDER DOES NOT MATTER; WRITE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
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