literature essay introduction example

literature essay introduction example

Crafting a Compelling Introduction in Literature Essays

1. I. The Importance of a Strong Introduction in Literature Essays

The most important parts of writing are the beginning and end. Of course, what comes in between is important, but it is the first impression of a paper that either attracts or deters a reader. Essays about literature, commonly referred to as literary essays, are for a very specialized type of reader. They expect more than basic information; they expect deep insights, compelling arguments, and beautiful writing. As a result, these readers have little patience for hackneyed, academically mechanical introductions. They want introductions that act like an elegant opening for a speech, something that catches the ear and promises that the course of the argument will be engaging and satisfying. In short, these readers favor the “literary invitation” over a “Literary Research Tax Return”.

Introduction: Though it’s often said that first impressions are the most important, it is a well-known fact that… well, it’s true. The first idea that comes from a person is usually the strongest. This is why we put so much emphasis on a good introduction in speeches, dances, art, presentations, and academic papers. Today, we are going to be talking about how to write compelling introductions for literature essays.

2. II. Key Elements of an Effective Introduction

The essay introduction is your opportunity to orient your reader what you are going to talk about, and where your analysis will lead them. Warning: you are not going to give away the conclusion just yet. The introduction is mainly made up of a series of questions about the field of analysis derived from the module, followed by a statement of the research question or critique that your essay is constructed to address. The questions you raise in the opening section may never be returned to and some guidance on the point at which you know you have resolved the problem at the heart of your analysis is missing from this binary model. However, those binary models do at least illustrate the central conceptual problem that you face when crafting an introduction. If a fish is introduced to the concept of a tank, the particular one that it is in, and the aquaphobic monster that put it there, you create tension, intrigue, and hysteria all in one go – but there is only so much revelation that you can allow yourself before the reader tires of the plot just walking along.

Crafting an effective introduction is an art of balancing expectations. This opening gambit really is a bit of a dance. You can trip yourself up if you start talking about things that are not stated in the topic sentence without realizing where the invisible guide is leading you next. It is this movement forward, either by posing questions that are then answered, or by laying out a logical sequence of arguments to make the case for the whole essay, that we need to give serious consideration to, and map thoroughly. The basic goals are to establish the ‘field’ of the discussion: what classic concept or set of issues are we addressing? Institution, representation, culture, power — these are the bread and butter of literature essays. How do we relate texts to context?

3. III. Strategies for Engaging Readers from the Start

You can use as openings recommendations or passages, but only with care: never open with a quotation unless you craft an insightful bridge to carry readers over and smooth the transition to the following analysis. A quote can illuminate a detail you will stress or problematize, and if that quotation is complicated or powerful, it can establish a particular arc for your own discussion. Other rapidly deployed structures for beginnings include asking a question or making a comparison that situates the reader in the world of ideas your discussion will engage. Finally, consider using an analogy or anecdote to illustrate what will follow more concretely. No single strategy will be consistently successful, but practicing each will help you become adroit when considering your choices.

While every interaction with a piece of writing starts with the beginning, the opening of a literary discussion has a unique role. First impressions are key, and your aim is to persuade your readers to venture further into your exposition. This means concisely controlling the information with which you start. Take the lesson in opening from Orwell and Dickens: both know to open dialogues by asking a question that they will satisfyingly answer. The opening of an essay is not the place where you engage in your most detailed analysis, but in orienting your readers to the story of the text, the event of reading, and your reading community—all of which will be meaningfully developed in the discussion that follows.

4. IV. Examples and Analysis of Successful Introductions

To assist in the understanding of the literature, four essays with successful introductions are provided. The essay introductions are for the following works: James Joyce’s Dubliners, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Alberto Moravia’s The Conformist. Each of the introductions contains a number of descriptive questions which will assist the student in discovering and confirming both the nature of the emotional language and the work’s contradictions. These questions circumscribe the work’s main fibrolar plexi, which it is the student’s task to explain. The entire essays not only specify the manner in which the questions are answered, but also expand the means by which James Joyce, William Shakespeare, George Orwell, and Alberto Moravia create the feeling and contradictions which elude understanding apart from a close reading of the particular work. After reading the models and suggestions, the successful introduction becomes finally less elusive than before. As the student learns to write the successful introduction, the writing of the entire essay seems a less daunting task.

Although the introduction of essays in literature is an admittedly problematic and oftentimes discouraging task, the completed essay becomes a delightful and straightforward read, offering both subject matter analysis and interpretation. The expert model presented in this paper demonstrates how the novice student can replicate these feats of analysis and interpretation with ease. The shared craft of the successful introductions is that they contain an understanding of the particular work of literature. Close reading is a primary means by which feelings and contradictions of the work are separated out for interpretation.

5. V. Conclusion: Summarizing the Impact of a Well-Crafted Introduction

In defining your concept, in other words, your essay will hinge upon your ability to translate the essay question into the literal register that you can carry anywhere from the literal through literal-symbolic into the entirely symbolic plane of reading. The better your description and guide are, the more compelling other readers will view in engaging and following your journey – style and writing quality, engaging and specific details of these areas which extricate your reader straight onto your guided path or at least to the breaking waves of scientific possibility so they can travel to the destination point – the destination of a greater reading of your text.

Introductions are crucial. Indeed, they are a vital sign, a key to understanding the journey your reader is about to embark upon. It is the gateway of entry to your intentions, significance, and focus on the text’s overall theme. It also provides, in value, the essay’s roadmap, the structure by which the paper is to unfold. In drawing this map, you are also simulating for the external reader the plan and the focus of your close reading. In constructing this bridge, you are pinpointing the basic human theme through literature, generating from a list of insights provided a concise platform for delving into the deeper waters of the substance.

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