Begin your essay with an evocative hook. Mention the author and title of the work somewhere in your introductory paragraph, AFTER your hook but BEFORE you mention characters. an original title that provides insight into your essay, an engaging hook that makes me want to read your essay FIRST, an arguable thesis, topic sentences that support it, textual evidence, including direct quotations, to support your topic sentences, and analysis rather than a summary. Avoid “if” statements like “If Jonsen had only…, then he…” Instead, discuss and analyze what actually happens. You can focus on motivations and consequences (intended and unintended).
Prompt: Consider Captain Jonsen as the tragic hero of this novel. In many ways, he certainly bears a resemblance to a tragic hero. This is Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero, as put forth in his Poetics: “…the character…of a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty…” Keeping this in mind, consider the “nails” in Captain Jonsen’s “coffin”—i.e., his errors or tragic missteps or frailties. Then trace a path for your reader, identifying the three most damning choices Captain Jonsen makes that lead to his ultimate destiny. Your thesis will be a thoughtful evaluation of Captain Jonsen and the role he plays in his own downfall (it will be more than a simple statement like “Captain Jonsen is responsible for his own fate”). Incorporate direct quotations as evidence and analyze each observation you make as well as each direct quotation you use. Admonition: Remember NOT to retell the story. Instead, use direct quotations from the text as a springboard for your own analysis (refer to your list of analytical terms). Your essay should be AT LEAST 70% your analysis with no more than 30% direct quotations in service to your analysis