Tutor profile: Anna B.
My professor told me I shouldn't use the 5-paragraph essay format anymore, but she didn't give me an alternative. What's a good essay structure to use instead?
Though flawed in execution, especially in more advanced academic writing, the idea of the 5-paragraph essay structure is a solid one that you don't have to abandon completely. This structure essentially breaks down every essay into three parts: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. The same three elements can be used for basic essay-planning in college and beyond! While a 5-paragraph format limits these components to a specific number of paragraphs, this better-planned essay will focus on outlining ideas or argument proofs and taking as many paragraphs as necessary to complete them. Though you'll likely still use one paragraph only for the introduction, your first point may take three paragraphs, and your second may take only two. Here is an example outline: I. Introduction/Argument II. Idea one (3 paragraphs, each one corresponding to a sub-idea) III. Idea two (2 paragraphs) IV. Idea three (3 paragraphs) V. Conclusion (1 paragraph) Though the outline is quite similar to the 5-paragraph essay, the end result is a much smoother and more well-developed essay. This structure is flexible (add or subtract "idea" numerals as necessary) and simple, making it perfect as a transition tool for students comfortable with the 5-paragraph.
I noticed that Shakespeare talks about the sun and the moon a lot in Romeo and Juliet. I don't understand why he does that. How do I figure it out?
Well, first and foremost, you should ask what the basic qualities of the sun and the moon are. The sun is bright, warm, blinding to look at, and is visible during the day. The moon is light and cold, as it is only visible during the nighttime. The sun and moon are never seen together, besides in brief moments. Then, you should look at when these images of the sun and the moon appear. Is it when Romeo and Juliet meet? Who mentions them, and why? How do the known qualities of the sun and the moon apply to the characters and the story as a whole? Finally, if you really want to go the extra mile, you can look at what the sun and the moon might have meant specifically to Shakespeare. What was the state of astronomy when Shakespeare was writing? Did the sun and the moon have a special meaning in tarot or astrology? Shakespeare loved Greek mythology—how were the sun and moon represented there? If you take all of these observations, you should be able to string them together into a coherent thesis/cause and effect statement, e.g. "Shakespeare uses the images of the sun and the moon to foreshadow that, despite their brief meetings with each other, Romeo and Juliet can never truly be together and their romantic relationship is doomed." If this was an essay, you could use further paragraphs to prove this point, by drawing from known ideas about the sun and moon from Shakespeare's time or simply citing examples in the text.
How do I get better at reading? I always seem to miss the little details that everyone else picks up on!
Reading is a practice, so the best way to improve is continuously working on it! If the books you're reading in class seem difficult to get through, try reading books or even essays at a lower level. Work your way up to the challenging books, so they don't seem quite so challenging. Also, don't worry about missing details—no one person will ever pick up every detail a book has to offer, especially during the first read-through. That's why we have discussions in English classes; every one comes with a different approach to the text. If you feel like you've missed something after reading through a passage, don't be afraid to reread it, but feel free to look for the opinions of others to help you along the way!
needs and Anna will reply soon.