Developing Support in an Analysis Essay

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the elements in MEAL (Main point, Evidence, Analysis, and Linking) in a body paragraph in an analysis essay.
  • Use MEAL to create body paragraphs 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..

Main Idea

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.