Responding to the Essay Question


One of the most common and effective methods of organization in a persuasive essay is order of importance. One way to use this method is to rank and discuss your evidence from most important to the least important. Then refute any arguments against your evidence by showing how or why these arguments are illogical, impractical, or unsound. Finally, end with a strong ending that your reader will remember.

Thesis Statement Most Important Evidence Next Important Evidence Least Important Evidence Refuting Opposing Arguments Conclusion

As an alternative to stating your own position first, as in order of importance, you might begin your persuasive essay by analyzing and refuting the arguments of the opposing side. This organization pattern is especially effective with highly controversial issues. By debunking the opposition first you make your audience more receptive to your ideas. After you refute opposing arguments, clearly state your own position and support it with evidence.

Refuting Opposing Arguments Thesis Statement Most Important Evidence Next Important Evidence Least Important Evidence



The word interpret in a question asks for you to give the meaning, message, theme, or significance of something. (This is usually a step beyond the analysis of a work, which implies that you will look at the various aspects of a work. For example, in a poem you would analyze the rhyme, rhythm, figurative language, stanza form, historical period, to mention only a few.)


- Provide an interpretation for the symbol of the road in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken."

- Interpret the meaning of Poe's "The Raven."

- Interpret what is meant by this statement: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Step One: Read your literary work to find a "focus" around a dominant or universal theme. (Theme: the central or dominating idea in a literary work. Examples: jealousy, love, pride, courage, hate, values, growing up, freedom, loss, discovery, imagination, humor, satire, generations.)

Step Two: State this universal theme in the form of a thesis statement (for a longer paper) or topic sentence (for a paragraph). (Thesis: An attitude or position on a problem taken by a writer or speaker with the purpose of proving or supporting it.)

Step Three: Show the overall development of the work in light of the thesis statement. Always use quotes and examples which support or prove your thesis statement (your original interpretation).

Step Four: End by asserting the significance of the thesis and the work you have just discussed. (This should be a natural outgrowth of your paper. It should not be something that is just "tacked on" to the end of your paper.)

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List of Works Consulted

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