Developing Support in an Analysis Essay
As with any essayA short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. , an analysis essayA written evaluation of a topic, such as an article, piece of art, person’s life, etc. An analysis essay may include a summary of the subject, but is mostly used to evaluate and discuss: Is it good? Is it bad? Is it poorly written? Was the author misguided or very accurate? will have an introductionThe first paragraph of an essay. It must engage the reader, set the tone, provide background information, and present the thesis., body paragraphsThe part of an essay that comes after the introduction and before the conclusion. Body paragraphs lay out the main ideas of an argument and provide the support for the thesis. All body paragraphs should include these elements: a topic sentence, major and minor details, and a concluding statement. Each body paragraph should stand on its own but also fit into the context of the entire essay, as well as support the thesis and work with the other supporting paragraphs. , and a conclusionThe end portion of a writing that contains a summary or synthesis of the idea in the work. This includes a recap of key points and reminders of the author's purpose and thesis statement.. All body paragraphs should include the same elements: a topic sentenceA sentence that contains the controlling idea for an entire paragraph and is typically the first sentence of the paragraph., major supporting detailsStatements within a reading that tie directly to the work's main idea. These can be provided in examples, statistics, anecdotes, definitions, descriptions, or comparisons within the work. and minor supporting detailsSmaller statements within a reading that tie directly to major details., and a concluding statement. However, when you create a paragraphA selection of a writing that is made up of sentences formed around one main point. Paragraphs are set apart by a new line and sometimes indentation. in an essay, you need to make sure that it works not only on its own but also in the context of an entire essay. It needs to both support the thesisAn overall argument, idea, or belief that a writer uses as the basis for a work. and work with the other supporting paragraphs. One method to ensure a cohesiveIn writing, ideas and evidence that work together to create a unified statement. essay is to craft your body paragraphs with the MEAL conceptAn acronym that describes a method of organizing the paragraphs in an essay. Under this plan, each paragraph should have a Main point, Evidence, Analysis, and a Link to the next paragraph.. A paragraph created with MEAL has a main ideaThe most important or central thought of a reading selection. It also includes what the author wants the reader to understand about the topic he or she has chosen to write about., evidenceFacts, statistics, or expert testimony that supports a claim., analysisTo analyze is to make a thoughtful and detailed study of something. An analysis is the end result of analyzing., and a linkTo connect ideas together within a paragraph or to create a transition from one paragraph to the next, as well as back to the thesis..
The topic sentence presents your topic as well as the specific point you wish to express or the claimA statement that something is true, such as the thesis of an essay. A successful writer must present evidence to prove his/her claim. you argue in your essay.
For example, if your general topic is how the characterization in the book The Crucible reveals human nature, your thesis statementA brief statement that identifies a writer's thoughts, opinions, or conclusions about a topic. Thesis statements bring unity to a piece of writing, giving it a focus and a purpose. You can use three questions to help form a thesis statement: What is my topic? What am I trying to say about that topic? Why is this important to me or my reader? might be something like, "The character John Proctor of The Crucible demonstrates that good people are capable of evil behavior." Your topic sentence for your first body paragraph could be something like, "John Proctor is the image of a good man, and yet, in spite of his goodness, even he is not immune to immoral acts." Remember that your topic sentence must support your thesis.
In your topic sentence you made a claim about a topic; now you will present evidence to prove your claim. Providing evidence builds credibility with the reader. If a writer doesn't support claims with enough legitimate evidence, the reader won’t take the writer's claims seriously. Do not present evidence in the topic sentence because that spot is reserved for your claim; instead, evidence should be provided separately to develop and support the claim made by the topic sentence.
For example, if you were writing a paragraph about John Proctor from The Crucible, you might use John Proctor's affair with the character Abigail as evidence of what he did wrong.
When you analyze evidence, you explain to your reader why and how your evidence proves your claims. You have to make a clear connection between your ideas and how the evidence supports your ideas. This is crucial because when people have different perspectivesThe point of view from which an author considers a subject or issue., they may interpret evidence differently.
Using the above example, you could analyze your evidence by explaining that Proctor's affair with Abigail was not just an evil act in itself, but it caused other problems in Proctor's marriage and in the rest of the community. You might describe these consequences. You will want to provide enough analysis so the reader thoroughly understands your reasoning in using this particular evidence to support or prove your claims.
The final step is to create a transitionTying two events, passages, or pieces of information together in a smooth way. In writing, transitions are sometimes called links. from this paragraph to the next body paragraph as well as back to the thesis. This is called a link. You can do this by adding a sentence to the end of the paragraph that mentions the topic of the next paragraph. Another technique is to add a word or two at the beginning of the next paragraph. Regardless of how you create the transition, the important thing to remember is that your writing needs to carry the reader from one paragraph to the next, so you have to show how the ideas in one paragraph are related to the ideas that came before.
Keep in mind that the MEAL concept is flexible. You might include more evidence or analysis so that your paragraph is MEAEAL or MEEEAL. What is most important is that a paragraph contains all of the elements of the MEAL concept: main Idea, evidence, analysis, and link.+ PRACTICAL APPLICATION
Consider how evidence is used in court proceedings. The legal teams do not march into court and just throw all the evidence at the judge and jury. Instead, they make a claim; in a criminal case, they claim that the defendant is either innocent or guilty. Then each lawyer will present one piece of evidence and then analyze the evidence, that is, explain why the evidence is relevant. Lastly, they link that piece of evidence to the overall case. This is exactly what you need to do when you use the MEAL concept to write a paragraph.
The MEAL concept may also be used in a variety of settings beyond the writing of an essay for an assignment. If an employee would like to ask for a raise, the employee’s MEAL concept for a memoA short written message from one person to another or to a group of persons, usually containing business information. to the employee's supervisor might look like the following:
Main idea: I deserve a raise because I am a valuable and experienced employee who contributes to the success of the company.
Evidence: I have been with the company for five years. Every year, I have received a positive performance evaluation.
Evidence: Since I have been with the company, I have taken advantage of various opportunities to learn and gain new skills. I have participated in voluntary training classes.
Evidence: Last year, I developed a new work process that saves the company thousands of dollars each year.
Analysis: My performance evaluations show that I have worked hard to gain valuable experience, and that I am committed to learning and developing new skills. I have proven my ability to use my new skills and knowledge on the job. This ability resulted in substantial savings for the company, and these savings meant greater profit and greater success for the company overall.
Link: Giving me a raise will be a sound investment for the company as I will continue to develop and apply new skills.
Using the thesis below, see how two body paragraphs that utilize the MEAL concept are developed.
It does not matter if the film Supersize Me is a serious attempt to help people or a shocking prank to get attention and boost Spurlock's career, because in either case the film sends an important message that will help prevent obesity.
First Body Paragraph:
Main idea: Spurlock's Supersize Me is an effective attention-getting prank. Spurlock set up an outrageous, unrealistic situation with his rules.
Evidence: For a whole month, Spurlock had to eat three meals a day; all of his meals had to be ordered from the McDonald's menu; he had to eat every item on the menu at least once; and if he was asked if he wanted to "supersize" his order, he had to say "yes." Spurlock also cut back on exercise, restricting his walking to 5,000 steps a day, in order to more closely copy the lifestyle of many Americans.
Analysis: Few people, if any, eat 100 percent of their meals at restaurants, as Spurlock did. However, Spurlock's reduced rate of exercise is still higher than average; according to the Center for Disease Control, 80 percent of American adults do not get any daily exercise. Not surprisingly, Spurlock gained a whopping 24.5 pounds in one month. His liver became so fatty that he was at risk for cirrhosis and other diseases.
Link: The high drama of sudden health risk paid off: Supersize Me was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival and made Spurlock famous.
Second Body Paragraph:
Main idea: Spurlock made the film to boost his career.
Evidence: Spurlock's face, voice, words, and experience are front and center throughout the film. The changes he undergoes are shocking (he gained 24.5 pounds, his cholesterol levels increased by 65 points and his liver held so much fat that Spurlock was at risk for a host of diseases, including cirrhosis of the liver), and make him even more central to the film.
Analysis: Spurlock's dramatic experience of putting his health at risk creates the tension and drama of the film. As the face of the film, Spurlock is the main focus of every film review. Spurlock must have known that his choice to make himself the star would boost his career more than if he were simply the filmmaker whose name appeared only in the credits.
Analysis/Link: The attention-getting, career-boosting prank was a success; without Supersize Me, Spurlock never would have been given his own show on the HBO cable network.
An analysis essay might discuss a work of art, literature, or music. Here are some possible topics for an analysis essay.
Using one of the topics above, develop a thesis and one supporting paragraph using the MEAL concept.
First, choose your topic and write a thesis statement.
I choose to evaluate the quality of the popular movie Titanic.
Thesis: From beginning to end, the movie Titanic promises much and delivers nothing.
Now, write a supporting paragraph for your thesis using the MEAL concept.
Main Idea: The movie Titanic ended poorly.
Evidence: In the movie, the protagonists, Jack and Rose, escape the sinking ship and find themselves floating on a large piece of wood. Eventually Jack moves off the wood and into the water, presumably because the wood could only support one person. He chooses to die in the icy sea and let Rose float until she is rescued.
Analysis: However, this is a false choice. While the event was real, these two characters were created for the movie. The writers could have created a scenario where they both live because it is fictional.
Evidence: Additionally, an episode of the TV series Mythbusters determined that a piece of similarly sized wood has the capacity to support two bodies just as well.
Analysis: Had the director wanted us to go along with the ending, he should have made sure that the details matched up with the story.
Link: However, the ending is just one of many areas that failed to deliver.
Why should the writer provide analysis? Can't the readers analyze the evidence on their own?
The writer needs to provide an analysis of the evidence because every person has his or her own perspective. Two people might look at the same evidence and draw completely different conclusions. Writers need to lead the reader through their reasoning and explain the connection between their claim and the evidence they use to support the claim.
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