Essay Writing 1, 2, 3 - Essay Structure

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The basic essay structure is: Introduction, Body, Conclusion. Often in high school we assign a 5 paragraph essay with three body paragraphs. The structure of a persuasive essay is: Introduction, Paragraph 1 supporting your thesis, Paragraph 2 refuting opposing arguments, Paragraph 3 more support for your thesis, then the conclusion in which you sum up your arguments in light of the evidence you've given to support them. University, college and other advanced programs assign essays that are up to 20 pages long. The basic structure is always the same.

In a persuasive essay, it's important to address points of view that differ from yours. Normally you do this in the third paragraph, or further, in longer essays. In the body paragraph, you introduce evidence, in the forms of quotes from literary works or experts that support your arguments.

Essay Structure

The Introduction



In the introduction you write one or two paragraphs which introduce the reader to the material you are about to discuss. The introduction may be up to several pages long in a published academic paper.

The Wasteland is a poem by T.S. Eliot which muses on the frailty of human relationships and the decline of manners. In it, the poet mixes fragments of classical mythology and his own biography to create a landscape of images which convey his sense of hopelessness and disappointment.

Then you state the specific ideas you wish to argue for (your thesis).

The thesis does not have to be the first sentence or the last sentence of the introduction paragraph, but it is common in beginning essays.

Images of marriage in the Wasteland are used to convey the author's sense of disappointment with the decline in civilized behavior.

Never write an essay by putting all your facts down in paragraph form and then finishing by tacking a thesis on to the beginning.


In the body of the essay, you gather your evidence and make your arguments. Each bit of evidence has been found somewhere and a footnote is used to indicate the source of that information. When you are criticizing a work of literature, the source may the work of literature itself. In the social sciences, your evidence is gathered from your research, either published papers/books or statistical evidence. Each paragraph discusses one or two points which support your thesis.

When Eliot states "the awful daring of a moment's surrender / which an age of prudence can never retract"(1), through the reference to the sexual act he invokes a sense of the inevitable forward progression of events as a cataclysmic tumbling toward an apocalyptic end of history.


The footnote 1 is listed as "The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot, line xx"; the specific form of your footnote depends on the style which you are using. Using footnotes is MLA style. APA style uses in-text references.


In the conclusion, you sum up by repeating your arguments concisely without repeating the exact wording. It is helpful to end with an example which ties your arguments together.

In conclusion, Eliot's Wasteland mixes biography and mythology to create a work which condemns the decline of western civilization and modern morals. Images of marriage convey a sense of disappointment in the outcome of history because of Eliot's own disappointing marriage. Mythological references contain images of disappointment which inform the poem's gloomy tone and place the biographical elements in an historical context.

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