Relying on the literature as evidence


For the third essay, develop your own original argument about some theme, relying on the literature as evidence to support the argument. Rather than focusing on one reading as you did in the previous assignment, now you will examine differing viewpoints on a single theme. Note: Two options are provided for this assignment. Select the option which best serves your topic and purpose.

Option I: Articulating a Claim:

In this essay you will be explaining your views in multiple ways: contrasting your belief with others' ideas, offering authoritative opinions, including documented examples, and always using clear logic. The literary works are introduced as needed, not necessarily in the first paragraph. For example, you might wish to discuss the impracticality of the belief that one should "seize the day" in love. After an introduction that engages the readers' interest, in your first body paragraph, you would show why some people think this is a good philosophy. Here you could borrow from Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress," Aphra Behn's "The Willing Mistress," or Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." Then in the remaining body paragraphs, you can draw from any number of other works, including poetry, short stories, or essays that support your theory. Murial Stuart's "In the Orchard" and Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" are good examples of poems that refute the concept of carpe diem. (All of the poems mentioned here are popular and easily found on the internet.) Addressing conflicting views can strengthen your argument since this demonstrates that you have considered other possibilities before arriving at your beliefs. In the conclusion, you will summarize what should have been learned through your analysis.


  • To effectively use ethos to build trust in the audience.
  • To effectively use logos to persuade your audience.
  • To think outside of binary oppositions, which often doom a debate to failure.
  • To learn how to use the rhetorical triangle effectively and see how ethos, logos, and pathos interact.
  • To integrate or synthesize the ideas from selected readings.
  • To learn the value and necessity of compromise when approaching complex issues.
  • To write an essay that is thoroughly developed and logically organized.
  • To incorporate in-text citations and develop a Works Cited page.
  • To achieve a tone that is reliable and academic.


  • MLA format
  • Length: 4-6 pages, typed, double-spaced (not including Works Cited page)
  • 12-point font (New Times Roman or Arial)
  • 3-5 sources
  • At least one source must come from the text; more may be used.
  • At least one source must come from outside the text; more may be used. An outside source may be an article, essay, book, short story, poem, song, play, or film.
  • Include a minimum of three correctly documented direct quotations.

Option I: Articulating a Claim Organization:


  • Introduce the theme.
  • Explain the relevance of this theme to your audience. The appeal to your audience's ethos is important in this type of argument.
  • Offer an original thesis statement which expresses your own beliefs.

Body A

  • Begin with the opposite of what you originally believed about the topic when you first considered it. What do some other people believe about this topic?
  • Remember that there are generally many ways of looking at any topic, so do not oversimplify the opinions which differ from your own.
  • Find literature that exemplifies these attitudes and offer appropriate, documented quotations. Remember to use an author's full name the first time he or she is introduced.
  • Show an understanding and appreciation of these arguments.
  • Do not resort to attacking others' opinions, even if they are very different from your own.
  • This section of the paper should be about 1-2 paragraphs.

Body B

  • Now explain your beliefs about the issue in a clear topic sentence.
  • Focus on several reasons for believing as you do, but limit each paragraph to one solid argument.
  • Be sure to include references to literature and/or other outside sources. If you agree with an author, his or her words can serve as support for your claims.
  • While you obviously support this approach to the topic over the view(s) detailed earlier in the essay, you should always show respect and fairness for anyone affected by this argument. Be aware that not everyone has the same belief system, values, or religion as you.
  • This section of the paper is the bulk of your argument and should be about 3-5 paragraphs. Use clear topic sentences and transitions so that your readers will know you are still explaining your beliefs.


  • Summarize your argument.
  • Give readers advice if appropriate.

Works Cited page

  • On a separate page, give the necessary bibliographic information of the sources used in the essay.
  • Use MLA format.
  • Double-space and use "hanging" indention.
  • Alphabetize the sources by the authors' last names.

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