Imagine what it would be like if you were to create a human being in a hurry. You¾’d throw in the parts or limbs together and might forget to connect the limbs, or fail to create the human structure so that veins and nerves could travel through the body. Well, the creature would either have ¾“no life¾” or will make a horrifying misfit like Frankenstein¾’s monster!
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Just as how the joints connect the limbs in a human anatomy, coherence connects the ideas in an interpretive essay. An essay needs to have an organized flow of ideas just as how a human body needs to have a systematic flow of blood. The parts of the essay need to go together smoothly, as opposed to the structure of Frankenstein¾’s monster, to be able to live in the world among readers without horrifying them, and make an acceptable human creation or a good essay.
The lesson will guide you with how to go about writing a coherent interpretive essay. We¾’ll take Mary Shelley¾’s Frankenstein and work with this over the lesson. You¾’ll learn how to outline ideas, develop effective paragraphs and create smooth transitions between and within paragraphs for better readability. In other words you¾’ll learn how to write an excellent interpretive essay on Frankenstein with coherence, overall effectiveness, and a likelihood to get really good grade! Screen 2: altrb_ex24_s1s2_02 SS Image ID: 2979463 : 1/3 The Steps to Writing an Effective Interpretive Essay
How do you generally write your essays? Do you do bring out some paper and pencils and start right away? Although that may work for you, take a look at this basic approach or the primary steps you¾’d need to write an effective (or even more effective) interpretive essay:
1. Create an outline of ideas in support of the thesis.
2. Develop the paragraphs out of the outline.
3. Cite evidence from the novel to support the paragraphs.
4. Revise the essay with transitions for coherence and effectiveness.
As easy as that! When these steps are executed well, your essay will allow ideas to flow like oxygen-rich blood flows through the human body. You¾’ll also need to ensure that all parts be shaped and ¾“sewn¾” together so that the reader finds a logical, well-organized, and coherent essay. This effective essay will be easy and interesting to read¾-much easier on the eyes than a random patchwork of ideas thrown together willy-nilly. Section 2 Creating a Topic Outline Screen 3: aim for 1/3 altrb_ex24_s2s1_01: SS Image ID: 15884131 Outline of Ideas
As you just saw, you¾’ll need to start by creating an outline of ideas to support the thesis of the essay. But before you begin, you might want to do a refresher reading of Mary Shelley¾’s Frankenstein. You can also watch the movie based on the book.
Frankenstein has a rich repertoire of themes. We could construct one like this one:
Emotional isolation in Frankenstein is a pervasive theme, saturating all the characters that ultimately creates profound sympathy for the creature Doctor Frankenstein makes.
Topic 1: The novel¾’s theme of isolation echoing the loneliness of the human soul in general.
Topic 2: All the main characters suffer from emotional isolation.
Topic 3: Victor Frankenstein¾’s quest for knowledge, rather an ambition to do something amazingly heroic and historic that would get him the whole world¾’s attention, is what leads to his alienation.
Topic 4: Robert Walton¾’s isolation out of the same pursuit of ambition, who by choice alienates himself on a frozen wasteland and soon regrets the absence of a true companion on his expedition.
Topic 5: The Creature is himself a victim of isolation when he is abandoned by his creator and abhorred by those who see him, and his alienation causes him to go on a destructive rampage.
Topic 6: Conclusion ¾- The novel witnesses a constant theme of isolation leading to loss and tragedy. It is a series of lives touched by isolation – not only from others, but also from their sense of self.
It¾’s important to outline topics for your essay. Not only does it give you direction and thought clarity, it keeps the essay focused and makes it easy to read. Take a look at this useful resource that¾’ll help you with creating essay outlines and this one which will help you make as well as put essay outlines to use. Section 3: Creating Effective Paragraphs (LESSON ACTIVITY Screen 4: (layout 1/3) altrb_ex24_s3s1_01 SS Image ID: 242009 Developing Paragraphs from Topic Outline
Now that the basic outline has been created, you can start writing the paragraphs. Feel free to modify or re-order the outline if needed while creating paragraphs. Keep in mind that the key to writing an effective essay is to develop the topics in a coherent manner into paragraphs that are relevant, logical, and insightful.
Take a look at these basic qualities of paragraphs that you need to keep in mind while writing your essay:
1. The introduction must present the thesis in an interesting and engaging manner.
2. The paragraphs must have appropriate evidence from the novel to support the thesis and the arguments.
3. There must be an effective organization of thoughts and structure to ensure a logical flow.
4. The conclusion must reinforce the central thesis.
5. There must be useful transitions to establish a strong coherence between the paragraphs.
Activity¾- Self Checked
Now that you¾’ve got some guidelines, write an interpretive essay in about 6 paragraphs and 200-250 words using the given thesis and topic outline.
While writing your essay, think about overall coherence when you put your paragraphs together. You want to ensure that one builds on another, and in the process creates a well-balanced flow of ideas. You need not quote from the novel at this stage. Try to focus primarily on better organization of ideas, coherence and transitions. Take a look at this resource for help with establishing coherence in your essay. Screen 5: (layout 1/3) altrb_ex24_s3s1_02 ss Image ID: 44152225 Enhancing a Paragraph with Supporting Evidence
Now let¾’s talk about how to revise and enhance a paragraph with apt supporting evidence. Take a look at these samples below for reference:
The monster is a misfit in the human world and suffers acute bouts of loneliness. His ardent quest for a soul mate is evident. He is aware of his monstrous appearance and the reality that he can have no social companionship, much less a close relationship with a female human being. His genuine plea to the scientist is therefore to create a female entity of the same creed as himself who can match up to him in appearance and thus act as his soul mate.
The monster is a misfit in the human world and suffers acute bouts of loneliness. His ardent quest for a soul mate is evident when he says: ¾“I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me.¾” He is aware of his monstrous appearance and the reality that he can have no social companionship, much less a close relationship with a female human being. His genuine plea to the scientist is therefore to create a companion of ¾“the same species and have the same defects¾”. He seeks someone who will be as ¾“deformed and horrible¾” as himself so that she ¾“would not deny herself¾” to him. Lesson Activity¾- Self Checked
In the essay you just wrote, include such effective evidences from the novel to strengthen your paragraphs. You may provide direct quotes from the novel or paraphrase the original text. Screen 6: (layout 2/3) altrb_ex24_s3s1_03 Shutterstock Image ID:3074981 Reorganizing Sentences in a Paragraph
While you may have relevant ideas, they might need to be reorganized to bring about greater coherence in your paragraphs and the essay on the whole. Take a look at this resource to help you with enhancing an essay¾’s clarity of content and organization of ideas.
Lesson Activity¾- Self Checked
This activity focuses on how to reorganize paragraphs for greater coherence. You¾’ll be given a paragraph which you¾’ll need to reorganize. While you answer need not be exactly the same as the provided sample answer, you¾’ll need to build to a logical conclusion with the transition words and phrases added suitably to the paragraph. Screen 7: (layout 2/3) altrb_ex24_s3s1_04 Shutterstock Image ID: 41447713 Factors to Consider while Organizing Paragraphs
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Now that you¾’ve seen how to organize sentences within a paragraph, consider the factors that you¾’ll need to think about while organizing the order of paragraphs or determining how one paragraph flows into another while following a structured sequence of ideas. By analogy, the paragraphs need to flow in the same manner as how the blood and nerve synapses flow in a human body, so that the reader feels one part connected to and building upon another. The sequence of ideas within a paragraph can be presented according to some factors or patterns, as listed:
order of importance
order of complexity
order of macro to micro (or vice-versa)
general to specific (or vice-versa)
Section 4: Creating effective transitions: Screen 8: (layout 2/3) altrb_ex24_s4s1_01 Shutterstock Image ID: 51758908 Lesson Activity¾- Self Checked
You¾’ll be given an essay with jumbled paragraphs which you¾’ll need to reorganize to make the it more logical and effective. A sample answer will be provided.
Once you¾’ve completed this activity, take a look at your own essay and turn around any paragraphs that might need reorganizing. Screen 9: (layout 1/3) altrb_ex24_s4s1_02 Shutterstock Image ID: 46194202 What are Transitions?
You¾’ve already got a cursory practice on how to add transitions for effectiveness while they were reorganizing the sentences within a paragraph. Now, you¾’ll focus on the importance of transitions in bringing coherence to sentences and paragraphs.
Remember that analogy between the human anatomy and an interpretive essay we spoke about earlier? Think of transitions in essays as that tissues and ligaments that connect one body part to another. Transitions create links or supports to paragraphs and sentences such that they follow one another in a smooth, logical, and seamless manner. In effect, strong transitions make an essay easier to read and comprehend.
Take a look at this example of transition below
“At first a toy, then a mode of transportation for the rich, the automobile was originally designed as man’s mechanical servant. Later, it became part of the pattern of living.”
Think about the sentence you just read. The underlined examples work like sequencing signposts that tell you how these different parts of the sentence stack up in order. If you were to read the sentence without the underlined words, it would still make sense. However, it wouldn¾’t be as easy to follow or comprehend. That being said, transitions cannot substitute for good organization, but they can make the organization clearer and easier to follow.
Take a look at this resource to learn more about transitions. You can also take a look at some examples of transitions in literary analysis. Screen 10: (layout 1/3) altrb_ex24_s4s1_03 Shutterstock Image ID: 46347391 (use just one) Examples of Effective Transitional Words and Phrases
Take a look at the list below. It illustrates some relationships followed by words and phrases that can connect them:
Addition – also, again, as well as, moreover
Consequence – accordingly, as a result, consequently, therefore
Generalizing – as a rule, generally, usually, for the most part
Exemplifying – for instance, namely, such as, for example
Emphasis – above all, chiefly, especially, particularly
Similarity – likewise, identically, similarly, in the same way
Exception – except, excluding, other than, besides
Restatement – in other words, in essence, in short, that is to say
Contrast or Comparison – on the contrary, rather, yet, instead
Sequence – first of all, to begin with, at the same time, next
Summarizing – on the whole, to conclude, in the final analysis
Screen 11: (layout 1/3) altrb_ex24_s4s1_04 Shutterstock Image ID: 21967675 Creating Effective Transitions
To make it easier for you, take a look at this checklist to help you focus on all transitions needed in interpretive essays:
1. Check the links between ideas
2. Check the links between sections
3. Check the links between paragraphs
4. Examine the organization within the paragraphs
5. Check the links between sentences
Lesson Activity¾-Self Checked
Now that you¾’re aware of the steps to create transitions, revisit your own essay and:
Add transitions to link sentences and highlight them in yellow
Add transitions to link paragraphs and highlight them in orange.
Take a look at this resource to understand how to use transitions by clarifying the logic of an argument. You may pick up an example of a transitional phrase to use in your own writing. Section 5: Writing a Coherent Essay Screen 12: (layout 1/3) altrb_ex24_s5s1_01 Shutterstock Image ID: 1889278 Lesson Activity¾-Teacher Graded
Writing a Coherent EssayAlmost there! Revisit the essay that you¾’ve been writing all through the course of this lesson. Review it and unify, organize, clarify, and polish the draft. Make sure that you do each of these activities:
remove sentences that are not focused on the topic/thesis
remove redundancies in ideas and thoughts
clarify statements to support the argument
include effective supporting citations from the novel
ensure that there are effective transitions to strengthen the meaning. You will have to submit this to your teacher for grading. Section 6: Summary Screen 13: (layout 1/3) altrb_ex24_s6s1_01 Shutterstock Image ID: 38460586 Summary
You¾’ve surely picked up some useful techniques for writing effective and coherent interpretive essays on novels like Frankenstein. You¾’ve learned about how to bring about greater coherence by creating focused sentences and paragraphs, with smooth transitions.
Just like in the human anatomy the basic framework is the skeleton, the basic framework in an interpretive essay is the topic outline. You first learned how to build this skeleton and make it functional by inserting a well-evolved brain into it, which is none other than the thesis statement. The skeleton and the brain function in unison to make the limbs of the body function effectively. The paragraphs serve as these limbs in the essay, and this lesson showed how the limbs work in unison with the brain and the skeleton, namely the thesis statement and the topic outline. The limbs need the muscles for strength. So the lesson showed how the paragraphs gain strength with supporting evidence from the novel that supply protein to the muscles.
Finally, all functions within the human system are aided by an effective and well-oxygenated blood flow, which is nothing but the flow of ideas in an essay. The transitions serve as the blood cells that bring about overall coherence and effectiveness in an essay in the same manner as how the oxygen brings about life in a living body.
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