As a starting point for your essay, come up with a question that you want to answer about a play that we have read in this class. You may use one of the following, or craft your own:
—- How do social inequalities drive the plot of Arden of Faversham? To what extent is this drama of love, infidelity, and murder also about the unequal distribution of social power in the community the play depicts? You might think here about inequalities of gender, class, or wealth—or all three.
Once you’ve settled on your driving question, you’ll get to work on your paper, which should contain
(1) a strong claim, supported by (2) evidence from the text, and (3) your analysis of that evidence
A strong claim (aka a thesis) should be above all disputable: that is, someone should be able to argue against it. It should also be non-obvious: something you see in the text that other readers might miss. It should also be specific: a very general claim is both less interesting, and less easy to support with ample evidence in 4-6 pages.
You will support your argument or claim with (a) quoted passages drawn from the text and (b) your analysis of those passages, which both explains how they work/what they mean, and (this part is crucial!) links them back to your main claim. Quoted passages alone are not enough. Except in rare cases, your own analyses alone are not enough. It’s the combination of evidence from the text rigorous analysis a strong claim that makes a great essay.
The steps below will help you in weaving these three elements—claim, evidence, and analysis— together as you draft.