Compare and contrast the respective views of ambition as presented in Shakespeare and Milton. Is ambition good or evil? Are there distinct kinds of ambition? If so, what are they? Is it always wrong to be ambitious?
1. The thesis must be argumentative. It must be specific.
a. NOT ARGUMENTATIVE: In “Young Goodman Brown,” Brown leaves his
Faith, which signifies his religious faith, and goes into the forest to commune with the devil. He comes back a changed man.
b. NOT SPECIFIC: In “Young Goodman Brown,” Brown
encounters a number of difficulties, through which Nathaniel Hawthorne shows his theology and how this theology affects Puritans such as Brown and Faith.
c. ARGUMENTATIVE AND SPECIFIC: In “Young Goodman Brown,” Brown
encounters a number of difficulties, through which Nathaniel Hawthorne shows that Brown, a symbol of Puritans during the Salem Witch Trials, is not good at all, but self-serving and hypocritical.
2. The introductory paragraph must logically lead up to thesis.
a. THIS PARAGRAPH BEGINS TOO FAR FROM THESIS. THESIS LACKS
SPECIFICITY: Theology can be a difficult thing. There have been lots of disagreements in theology since Jesus Christ. Baptism, the Eucharist, salvation and the Trinity are but a few examples. There were lots of disagreements in Hawthorne’s time, too. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne shows us some of these disagreements. He also shows us his position on evil and good.
b. THIS PARAGRAPH IS MORE EFFECTIVE: The poem “The True-Blue
American” by Delmore Schwartz is not as simple and direct as its title suggests. In fact, the title is extremely ironic. At first, the poem seems patriotic, but the flag-waving strengthens the speaker’s criticism. The poem may seem to support and celebrate America, but it is a bitter critique of negative aspects of American culture.
3. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence (usually at the beginning of the sentence)
and each topic sentence should support your thesis.
a. Your paper should NOT be organized according to the plot of the story, play
or poem but according to the logic of your thesis.
b. Your paper should have ONE idea per paragraph. Each idea should support
4. Each paragraph should be unified, coherent and developed. It is helpful to think of paragraphs as having the following general flow:
a. Topic sentence
b. Proof of topic sentence, which could be:
-elements of story (plot, structure, setting, situation, characterization)
-figurative language (symbols and metaphors)
-narrative statements and dialogue
c. Explanation of how the proof supports your topic sentence.
5. Regarding proof (point b above), you must ALWAYS introduce the proof,
explaining the relevance or the situation or context in which it appears.
6. All sources must be ACADEMIC OR PROFESSIONAL. Wikipedia is neither academic nor professional. Therefore, it does not count as a source. Do not quote it or list it in your Works Cited. Some good resources of peer-reviewed articles:
7. Some stylistic remarks:
a. Please put all commas and periods “inside quotes.”
b. Short stories and poems should be placed in quotation marks: “A Rose for
Emily.” Plays and novels should be underlined or italicized: Hamlet. See MLA for rules concerning works of criticism.
c. When quoting authors and critics, first refer to them using their full name
(i.e., Nathaniel Hawthorne). At each subsequent reference, use last name only (i.e., Hawthorne).
d. You cannot “see” a story. Authors do not “talk.” You read stories and
authors write. Authors also state, argue, suggest, question, speculate, quibble, among numerous other things.
e. Do not refer to “the reader,” or use phrases such as “when reading this story.”
Also, avoid referring to “you.”
i. DO NOT WRITE: When reading this story, the reader sees that
Hawthorne talks about how bad Goodman Brown is.
ii. BUT: In the story, Hawthorne shows how bad Goodman Brown is.
f. Please do not write about your feelings
g. Avoid “I” whenever possible (and it almost always is possible to avoid).
h. Avoid clich?s like the plague.
8. Other remarks:
a. If you have not read key passages at least twice, and, more likely, three or four
times, it is VERY DIFFICULT for you to do well on this paper.
b. If you rely on plot alone for your proof, it is also VERY DIFFICULT for you to
do well on this paper.
c. Always read with a pencil or pen, marking key passages, symbols, and other
literary devices as you read.
d. Some people believe that a story means whatever a reader thinks it means. This
is false. Stories can be ambiguous, which means they can sometimes have two or three equally plausible meanings, but rarely do they have more than this.
e. Use MLA citation correctly. There is no reason that you cannot look items up
in the MLA Style Guide, available in every library in America.
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