Need help with my essay: English literature

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username5323730
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#1
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#1
Hello,

I am studying this module for English lit and have to resit this essay as I was told my writing in too descriptive from the feedback I got. I was advised to do a critical analysis in my work, rather than state things. So the question I need to answer is : ‘Whether we fall by ambition, blood or lust, / Like diamonds we are cut with our own dust’ (Ferdinand in The Duchess of Malfi, 5.5.71-2). Examine the ways in which your two chosen texts present the ideas of free will, fate and destiny. To what extent are individuals responsible for their own destinies?.

I would be grateful if someone could guide me on how I should answer this, I have watched some youtube videos and they say I need a thesis first in my introduction. I am really not sure how to start it as the negative feedback has upset my abilities. What advice would you give to me on how to start my introduction and go about writing this essay?

I did a bit of research and have gathered that critical writing is about comparing other texts out their and voicing your own opinions. I am not sure how to do this as every website tells different information. Please could someone guide me?
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Plunker0202
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#2
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#2
The thesis is a summary of your argument. Ignore the idea that you need that first: it is ultimately placed first, in your introduction, but you can figure out what it is at any stage in the essay writing process.

Your initial task is to put together various ideas and insights (this is the critical analysis you have been told to do), and then reconfigure your ideas into an argument, which you can later summarise in thesis-form ('I will argue that XYZ. I do this in the following way. First, I look at X theme in Y play' etc).

Spend your energy coming up with those insights and ideas; ones you actually have and find meaningful yourself. Those are the substantive content of your essay. Description (what you've done too much of previously) is really the preface to your own critical analysis. The point of description is to show that you understand the fundamentals (the texts, the important and relevant commentaries) and to frame or structure your own analysis.

The understanding part is common sense. If you were a professor drafting an essay question, you would expect at minimum that your students understand the primary texts and the general critical landscape. The other side to that coin is that, as the student the description in your essay demonstrates that you do understand these. The description (the plot of X is Y; character Z's arc is V) is, self-evidently, not analytical. You can see how, as a marker, you would give a student a low grade if all they did is describe primary and secondary texts, when told to respond to an essay prompt clearly asking for critical analysis.

The framing part is also common sense. If you were a professor drafting an essay question, you would expect that your students use a set of secondary literature you have recommended (commentaries) to build up their critical understanding of the primary texts. Above I talked about 'your' ideas. Partly, 'your ideas' are constituted by what you select out of, and how you interpret secondary texts (themselves interpreting the primary text). As in, your insight in the essay is made out of the way in which you select and interpret the relevant texts (in this sense you can think of it as you framing the commentaries). Partly, your ideas can also be your own interpretations of primary or secondary texts. If you are an undergraduate, you will not generally be expected to come up with original interpretations: it will suffice (for a first) to intelligently select from and stitch together commentaries into a coherent argument. Your own insights are also welcome, but think of the stitching together as the bulk of the critical aspect.

So, you first ensure that you understand the relevant texts, then put your ideas together, and, if it suits you, your introduction can be the last thing you write.

Lastly, I wouldn't ask anyone else to suggest an answer. It's you who has to write it. You'll produce a better essay if you're writing something that you actually believe is meaningful, i.e., something you put together yourself.

The essay mentions three related themes and a question which relates to the set of themes. Begin by thinking about the elements of the essay prompt. Element one is the three themes. The three themes are related but also differentiable (free will can juxtapose with fate and destiny, and you might consider why both fate and destiny are included; how they are similar and dissimilar, given that at first glance you might consider them interchangeable). Element two is the question, which introduces the idea of responsibility and interacts with all three themes in the first element. Be methodical.

I expect an update when you have a result for this essay, that you received a first.
Last edited by Plunker0202; 1 year ago
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username5323730
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#3
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#3
(Original post by Qwertya123)
The thesis is a summary of your argument. Ignore the idea that you need that first: it is ultimately placed first, in your introduction, but you can figure out what it is at any stage in the essay writing process.

Your initial task is to put together various ideas and insights (this is the critical analysis you have been told to do), and then reconfigure your ideas into a thesis ('I will argue that XYZ. I do this in the following way. First, I look at X theme in Y play' etc).

Spend your energy coming up with those insights and ideas; ones you actually have and find meaningful yourself. Those are the substantive content of your essay. Description (what you've done too much of previously) is really the preface to your own critical analysis. The point of description is to show that you understand the fundamentals (the texts, the important and relevant commentaries) and to frame or structure your own analysis.

The understanding part is common sense. If you were a professor drafting an essay question, you would expect at minimum that your students understand the primary texts and the general critical landscape. The other side to that coin is that, as the student the description in your essay demonstrates that you do understand these. The description (the plot of X is Y; character Z's arc is V) is, self-evidently, not analytical. You can see how, as a marker, you would give a student a low grade if all they did is describe primary and secondary texts, when told to respond to an essay prompt clearly asking for critical analysis.

The framing part is also common sense. If you were a professor drafting an essay question, you would expect that your students use a set of secondary literature you have recommended (commentaries) to build up their critical understanding of the primary texts. Above I talked about 'your' ideas. Partly, 'your ideas' are constituted by what you select out of, and how you interpret secondary texts (themselves interpreting the primary text). As in, your insight in the essay is made out of the way in which you select and interpret the relevant texts (in this sense you can think of it as you framing the commentaries). Partly, your ideas can also be your own interpretations of primary or secondary texts. If you are an undergraduate, you will not generally be expected to come up with original interpretations: it will suffice (for a first) to intelligently select from and stitch together commentaries into a coherent argument. Your own insights are also welcome, but think of the stitching together as the bulk of the critical aspect.

So, you first ensure that you understand the relevant texts, then put your ideas together, and, if it suits you, your introduction can be the last thing you write.

Lastly, I wouldn't ask anyone else to suggest an answer. It's you who has to write it. You'll produce a better essay if you're writing something that you actually believe is meaningful, i.e., something you put together yourself.

The essay mentions three related themes and a question which relates to the set of themes. Begin by thinking about the elements of the essay prompt. Element one is the three themes. The three themes are related but also differentiable (free will can juxtapose with fate and destiny, and you might consider why both fate and destiny are included; how they are similar and dissimilar, given that at first glance you might consider them interchangeable). Element two is the question, which introduces the idea of responsibility and interacts with all three themes in the first element. Be methodical.

I expect an update when you have a result for this essay, that you received a first.
Hi Thank you for the reply, I am not asking for someone to do the work for me, I just need a plan to start it as I have been put down after confidently submitting my essay that's why But thank you for your guidance. The problem with me is that I can gather articles and collect evidence from books on free will, fate and destiny but what I am struggling with is on how to add my own thoughts to it. I am not sure what I would say about the sources I find. I wish someone was able to read my essay and guide me on what exactly I need to do as my teachers are not supportive at all.
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Plunker0202
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#4
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(Original post by rainbowcookie123)
Hi Thank you for the reply, I am not asking for someone to do the work for me, I just need a plan to start it as I have been put down after confidently submitting my essay that's why But thank you for your guidance. The problem with me is that I can gather articles and collect evidence from books on free will, fate and destiny but what I am struggling with is on how to add my own thoughts to it. I am not sure what I would say about the sources I find. I wish someone was able to read my essay and guide me on what exactly I need to do as my teachers are not supportive at all.
I don't mind reading it. I don't know the specific texts you're using. I wrote a lot of essays (at first level) in an undergraduate law degree, and I'm assuming that the basic principles are transferable. That said, even though I don't know your texts, I could probably recognise the manner in which you've over-saturated your essay with description, and the related absence of critique.

As to how to add your own thoughts to it. It was interesting trying to reply to your OP, because it's difficult to explain how originality as essay-author arises out of use of others' work. The originality is the way in which you put together an interpretative argument. It's the difference between 'Smith 1992 writes that Text One is about [whatever Smith says]' (this is purely descriptive; there's no sense of you as the author here) and 'Text One can be seen to [whatever you think, using something Smith 1992 said as evidence for what you think]' (here I'd feel like it's you saying something). Does that help a bit more? And send it over if you want.
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HallieMarie
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#5
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#5
My friend had this issue and my Uni tutor stated (I was at the meeting) that "it's not what's going on in the text, that's not the point". For example, we are studying the handmaids tale and she said as an example "Nick and Offred have sex-but that's not the point. The argument could be that Offred is taking back control over her body" or another example is the females in the text do not have any connection to their bodies. I don't know if this will help in any way? I'm not at all familiar with your topic I'm afraid so I cannot help you there. Do you want to send me your essay and I can look and see if I can offer any advice? it's completely up to you
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username5323730
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#6
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#6
(Original post by HallieMarie)
My friend had this issue and my Uni tutor stated (I was at the meeting) that "it's not what's going on in the text, that's not the point". For example, we are studying the handmaids tale and she said as an example "Nick and Offred have sex-but that's not the point. The argument could be that Offred is taking back control over her body" or another example is the females in the text do not have any connection to their bodies. I don't know if this will help in any way? I'm not at all familiar with your topic I'm afraid so I cannot help you there. Do you want to send me your essay and I can look and see if I can offer any advice? it's completely up to you
Hello, I have attached the essay to the @Qwertya123's comment below. You are welcome to read it and guide me as I have failed and need to resit now . This is the first time I have had to resit and I have just lost hope and feel like a failure.
Last edited by username5323730; 1 year ago
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