Essay writing

Essay writing.

English Composition II

The Mid-term Essay: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Oh, how I love thee!  How I dote on thee!”

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The Assignment
  • Option A: Write an analytical essay on the theme of the dark side of romantic love in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by focusing on three of love’s disturbing features as presented in the play.
  • Option B: Write an analytical essay on an element of drama from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, such as character, plot, setting, symbolism, imagery, or theme.
    • Note: Your thesis must be approved in advance.
  • Option C: Write an argumentative essay on a controversial issue that A Midsummer Night’s Dream alludes to.  
  • Note: Your thesis must be approved in advance.

The Requirements

  • The Primary Source: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Secondary Sources (optional): books, library database articles, and/or film adaptations

·         The Style Sheet: Modern Language Association (MLA)

·         The Font: Times New Roman

·         The Print: 12-Point Size/Black Ink


·         The Length: a minimum of 1,300 words, or 5.5/6 pages, exclusive of the “Works Cited” page

  • The Due Date: Friday September,27.

Extra Credit

  • You can earn an extra credit point by having a draft of your essay reviewed by one of the writing instructors at the ACE Center. 


The Basic Structure of a Literary Analysis

The Title

The Introductory Paragraph

  • The Lead
  • The Synopsis
  • The Thesis
  • The Essay Map

The Body Paragraphs

  • The Topic Sentences
  • The Evidence

The Concluding Paragraph

  • The Summary
  • The Closing


Evaluating a Literary Analysis

(The Norton Introduction to Literature, Chapters 29, 30, 31, and 32)

  1. The Content: The content of your essay is the rational argument you present in which you state a topic, offer an opinion on that topic, provide reasons for that opinion, and give evidence for each of those reasons.
  • Unity
  • _____ The Thesis: Your thesis should clearly and concisely state your opinion on

           the topic you are analyzing in your essay.

  • _____ The Focus: Your analysis should stay focused throughout your essay on your


  • Support
  • _____ The Reasoning: Your essay map should clearly and concisely state three

           supportive, separate, and sufficiently broad reasons for your thesis.

  • _____ The Evidence: The evidence you provide for each of your reasons should be

           specific, adequate, and insightful.  You should provide a minimum of three

           relevant citations from the primary source.

  • Organization
  • _____ The Basic Structure: The ordering of the elements of your essay should follow

           the outline presented on page 2 in this handout.

  • _____  The Ordering of the Reasoning and the Evidence:  Your reasons as well as

            the evidence provided for each should be chronologically and/or emphatically

            ordered.  In addition, the ordering of your three reasons in the body of your

            essay should reflect the order as presented in your essay map.

  • Coherence
  • _____  The Topic Sentences: Each of your reasons should be clearly and concisely

            stated in a topic sentence at the beginning of the relevant body paragraphs.

  • _____  The Transitional Words, Phrases, and Paragraphs: You should use a variety

            of transitional words and phrases selected from the supplemental class

            handout entitled “Transition Words” whenever you introduce reasons and

            evidence.  In addition, remember to generally divide paragraphs whenever you

            introduce a new reason or a new piece of evidence.


  • The Rhetoric: Rhetoric is the art of effective or persuasive writing. In your essay, focus on the following various compositional elements and techniques to engage your audience’s interest.
  • _____ The Audience: You are writing for a specific readership, one that is educated and

           has read the literary work you are analyzing.

  • _____ The Level of Language: You should observe correct sentence style, use standard

           English, and adhere to the conventional rules of grammar, punctuation, and


  • _____ The Tone: You should establish a rational, objective tone.
  • _____ The Point of View: You should write from an objective, third-person point of view.
  • _____ The Title: Your title should creatively announce the theme of your essay.
  • _____ The Lead: Your lead should briefly introduce the theme of your essay by employing

           one or more of the rhetorical strategies provided on the supplemental class handout

           entitled “Beginnings and Endings.”

  • _____ The Synopsis: Your synopsis should introduce the author’s full name, the title of the

           work you are analyzing, and a brief overview of the play in one, two, or three


  • _____ The Summary: Your summary should creatively restate your thesis and essay map.
  • _____ The Closing: Your closing should briefly close on the theme of your essay by

           employing one or more of the rhetorical strategies provided on the supplemental

           class handout entitled “Beginnings and Endings.”


  • The ABC’s of Communication

     A) The Literary Conventions

  1. _____ When referencing the author of a text for the first time in your essay, use her or his full name;          

                 afterwards, use her or his last name only.

  • _____ When analyzing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, correctly spell the name of the author, the title

           of the drama, and the names of the characters as well as the places where the action of the play


  • _____ Consistently underline or italicize the titles of plays, films, and books; enclose the titles of essays,

                 articles, short stories, and poems in quotation marks.

  • _____ Use present-tense verbs when discussing works of literature or citing secondary sources; use

           past-tense verbs only when discussing historical or biographical data, or when identifying

           events that occurred prior to the time of a drama’s main action.

  • _____ When referring to specific acts or scenes from a Shakespearean play, use capital letters and

                 Arabic numerals.

  • Example: Act 3, Scene 3
  • _____ Cite the primary as well as secondary sources correctly and make certain the parts of the texts

           cited are smoothly incorporated into your analysis so that they are understandable to your readers.

  • _____ When citing lines of verse from a Shakespearean play, note the correct use of the slash mark and 

           follow the text’s use of capitalization within the citation; when citing lines of prose from a

           Shakespearean play, do not use slash marks and follow the text’s use of capitalization within the

           citation. Refer to example 1 on page 7 in this handout. 


  • _____ When quoting from a Shakespearean play, use the long-quotation format when citing more than

           three lines of verse or prose, or when citing a dialogue.  Refer to examples 2 and 3 on page 7 in

           this handout.

  • _____ When citing from a Shakespearean play, give the act, scene, and line number(s) using Arabic

                 numerals and separating the numerals with periods.

  • Example: (3.3.3-33)    
  1. _____ Since you are writing for a specific readership that has read the Shakespearean play you are

           analyzing, generally avoid summarizing the plot.

  1. _____ Since you are writing for a specific readership that is educated, generally avoid explanations

           of literary terms as well as definitions of familiar words.

  1. _____ Stay focused on objectively analyzing the text by generally avoiding moral judgments, personal

           commentary, sweeping generalizations, or subjective evaluations of either the author or the text.

  1. _____ Generally avoid using expressions such as “in my opinion,” “I think,” “I feel,” “I believe,” and

           so on.  In addition, generally avoid announcing your intentions in the essay with phrases like 

           “I will analyze,” “My interpretation will focus on,” “This paper will show,” and so forth.  


 B) Modern Language Association (MLA) Papers

  • A Writer’s Reference, Table of Contents, page 362          
  • _____ MLA In-text Citations
    • A Writer’s Reference, Directory to MLA In-text Citation Models, page 363;

       Section MLA-4a, MLA In-text Citations, pages 384-392

  • _____ In addition, review the following:
    • _____ Using quotations effectively (Section MLA-3a, pages 374-375)
    • _____ Using the ellipsis mark (Section MLA-3b, page 375)
    • _____ Using brackets (Section MLA-3b, page 376) 
    • _____ Setting off long quotations (Section MLA-3b, page 376)
    • _____ Using signal phrases (Section MLA-3c, pages 376-380)
  • _____ MLA List of Works Cited
    • A Writer’s Reference, Directory to MLA Works Cited Models, pages 363-364;

                         Section MLA-4b, pages 392-423

  • _____ MLA Manuscript Format
    • A Writer’s Reference, Section MLA-5a, pages 423-426; A Sample MLA Research Paper, Section MLA-5b, pages 426-432

 C) Sentence Skills

  • _____ Sentence Style (A Writer’s Reference, Section S, pages 109-138)
  • S1 Parallelism          S2 Needed Words               S3 Modifiers: Misplaced, Dangling          S4 Shifts    

S5 Mixed Constructions               S6 Sentence Emphasis               S7 Sentence Variety

  • _____ Word Choice (A Writer’s Reference, Section W, pages 139-168)
  • W1 Glossary of Usage    W2 Wordy Sentences    W3 Active Verbs    W4 Appropriate Language    W5 Exact Language    
  • _____ Grammatical Sentences (A Writer’s Reference, Section G, pages 169-218)
  • G1 Subject-Verb Agreement    G2 Verb Forms, Tenses, and Moods    G3 Pronouns: Agreement, Case, Reference, Shifts     

G4 Adjectives and Adverbs          G5 Sentence Fragments          G6 Run-on Sentences

  • _____ Punctuation and Mechanics (A Writer’s Reference, Section P, pages 257-326)
  • P1 The Comma, Comma Splices    P2 Unnecessary Commas    P3 The Semicolon and the Colon       P4 The Apostrophe    

P5 Quotation Marks    P6 Other Punctuation Marks: End Punctuation, Dash, Parentheses, Brackets, Ellipsis Mark, Slash  

P7 Spelling, Hyphenation, Proofreading         P8 Capitalization         P9 Abbreviations and numbers         P10 Italics

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