The following Graduation Writing Proficiency Examination essays were written by HSU students during a regularly scheduled GWPE. Except for the elimination of cross-outs, the essays are reproduced here exactly as written. Insofar as possible, the essays were chosen to represent the entire range of possible scores. The majors represented by the authors of these essays are, in alphabetical order, Art, Biology, Business Administration, Environmental Resources Engineering, Fisheries, Geography, Geology, Industrial Arts, and Resource Planning and Interpretation.
Analytical Essay Prompt
You have 45 minutes to write on the following topic.
Please read and think about the following two quotations:
- "Organized charity is doing good for good-for-nothing people."
- "Charity is a helping hand stretched out to save some from the inferno of their present life."
Write an essay on the above two statements in three parts as follows:
- Compare the statements. Explain what the two statements have in common and how they overlap.
- Contrast the statements. Explain how the two statements differ.
- Take a position with regard to the two statements by choosing one or mediating between them, and support your view with an example from your own observation or experience.
Sample Essay Score: 6
The two statements address an identical topic. That is, they address charity, which might be defined as--the act of giving something of value, without the expectation of something in return. Further, the two statements address the receiver, the person or persons to whom the charity is directed.
That the two statements both give equal weight to the meaning of charity is evidenced by the descriptions "doing good," and "hand stretched out to save." These descriptions both illustrate the benificence of the act of charity, that it is in one act, both a recognition of need, and an attempt to fulfill that need. They both paint a picture of goodness, honor and sharing on the part of the charity giver.
Contrary to these similarities, the two statements are in stark opposition to the beneficiary's status in society. The first, calling the receivers "good for nothing people," depicts vagrants, bums, and worthless flies, fouling the smooth-flowing surface of society. The second, seeing the receivers as involved in an "inferno," brings to mind visions of lost souls, wandering homeless and possesionless in the Dante-esque hell of a society which measures a person's worth by his wealth.
Another contrast between the two statements, more subtle yet intuitively strong, is that the benefactor, the charity-giver, attains an even higher degree of honor when he gives to one in true need, than when his sharing is enforced, by taxes, social pressure or inherited response. The first statement speaks to the latter of these, the second to the former. Thus, the second statement not only attributes a higher character to the beneficiary, but also to the benefactor whose actions are performed from the heart.
Although the truth, as always, lies in the middle ground, between these two extremes, I am more inclined to the second statement. I have felt some degree of sympathy to almost every destitute, penniless or homeless person that I have met. Hobos, bums on trains and the road, are there usually as a result of a fallen thread in the Fates' tapestry or a falling out with society. Some would not accept a handout if offered, demanding to perform work in exchange, while others are every way deserving of a handout, refusing formal governmental welfare.
The poor of the urban slums are, the vast majority of the time, victims of a society which has entrenched them in a lifestyle from which it is virtually to lift themselves out. These are the ones which are most aptly described as falling to an "inferno" in their present life. That society is obligated to providing charity to these victims of its own hand is just.
I have observed examples or persons receiving charity who simply in the act of accepting it, belie a certain "good-for- nothingness." These are usually persons who would be affluent other than for a desire to catch a free ride on societies' back. A part-time employed student, relaxing for the summer at the taxpayers' expense is one example which stands out in my personal experience.
Still those in the category of good for nothing are a minute proportion of those receiving charity. With an optomistic view of the situation of mankind, one cannot deny the value of charity not only to those receiving it, but to the world in general.
Comment: Keeping in mind that this essay was written in 45 minutes, this is a superior response. Although it has some flaws, it is well developed and organized. There are indications ("the Dante-esqe hell of society") of considerable sophistication in language and sentence structure.
Sample Essay Score: 5
Charity has been practiced for thousands of years by human beings. The story of the good Samaritan, found in the bible, is an ancient example of charity that is familiar to many people. The following two quotes are both written about charity: "Organized charity is doing good for good-for- nothing people," and, "Charity is a helping hand stretching out to save some from the inferno of their present life." Both of these two quotes imply that charity involves helping, with acts of kindness, people who are in need or people who are destitute.
However, the two quotes express widely divergent views on the value of employing charity to help destitute people. The first quote suggests that charity is useless. It implies that the people that charity is directed toward are not worthy of such help and that charity does not help them improve their lives. In contrast, the second quote suggests that the recipients of charity are worthy of the assistance afforded. It implies that the lives of the people recieving the charity will be better because of it.
I agree with the latter quote. The first quote shows a lack of belief in the good side of human nature and a disregard to trying to help other people. The second quote supports a belief that all human beings deserve a decent lifestyle. I believe that charity is not a "cure-all", a person must want to work toward helping himself or herself. But sometimes people in need of charity don't have the material means or positive attitudes necessary to help themselves better their lives. Charity can provide both.
One summer my mother and three sisters, and I had to go on welfare. We did not have enough money for the basic necessities of life despite the fact that my mother was working. The food stamps and help from our church that we were awarded were greatly appreciated by us. Unfortunately, there is an attitude held by many in our society that recieving charity is degrading and thus I didn't tell many of my friends about our financial situation. The charity given to us that summer enabled us to eat. It provided us with the means to survive until the fall when my mother worked additional hours teaching. I believe charity is helpful and a necessary act of concern for human beings in need. There are some people who abuse the charity given by others but there are always abusers in society. It is not justified to deny people in need because of the unethical actions of a few.
Comment: This paper handles the question quite well. It is clearly organized and, although it does not explore all of the possibilities of the comparison/contrast, it is strong in its use of supporting example. Its sentence structure, syntax and diction are generally free from major problems.
Sample Essay Score: 4
It is argued that "organized charity provides good for the good-for-nothing" and that charity is a true benefit to those in need. These statements, although quite opposite also have some aspects in common. The difference is largely in the perspective of the individual directly affected.
To say that charity is doing good for the good-for-nothing suggests that whose who accept charity are useless and unproductive. In fact it is likely that the receivers of charity are in fact unproductive, ie out of work. In that they represent a potential for production indicates they are not useless however. By accepting charity one may however feel useless. This is due to the pervasive attitude that people must be productive to be good- for-something.
Because people are often thrust out of the work force without any forewarning and because it is common that new work is difficult to find, the acceptance of charity doesn't always cause distress. Workers know that their aid is only temporary until they are matched with a new job.
In either case, when people are in the position where charity is being offered and is needed, it is likely that they will feel both unproductive and grateful. Because they are in trouble economically their lives can indeed be an inferno.
The difference between the gratitude for needed charity and the feeling of "freeloading" is great when the feeling acts singularly. Being grateful for help often induces people to organize and give more of themselves to others. Those who have been helped often feel motivated to help others.
On the other hand, those who feel unproductive and useless are ashamed and bitter. They are too ridden with guilt and self-consciousness to motivate and help others. They are likely to feel anger toward the society that offers them charity rather than gratitude.
The feeling that is probably pervasive among the disfortunate lies somewhere in between guilt & gratitude. The gratitude side of the scale is likely to be more productive in general and therefore is the prefered state. By gratefully accepting aid, a lot of immediate problems are solved for the unfortunate and they can then attempt to reorganize their lives.
The little bit of guilt from the other side of the scale helps those with aid recognize the needs of disfortunate people. Then, they can both work together to rebuild their lives and get back on their feet. For example, a story found in the S. F. Chronicle recently described two people who were out of work who became friends and started a firewood business. They were both previously on public assistance and now are off. They both indicated that had the aid not been available they would not have made it.
Because of the motivation induced by the acceptance of aid the helping hand view is accepted.
Comment: Although competent, this paper is less successful than the previous two. The large number of short paragraphs indicates some difficulties with development of ideas. The overuse of the passive voice ("It is argued," etc.), some diction problems ("the feeling acts singularly," "disfortunate"), along with the sketchiness of the example, sometimes interfere with the writer's meaning.
Sample Essay Score: 3
The two quotes state that charity does good for a part of society. To some people both statements might indicate that "good-for-nothing people" and people in "the inferno of their present life" are one in the same. To other people, the parts of the two quotes dealing with people who recive charity might mean that the type of people mentioned in quote "A" are not the same as those mentioned in quote "B."
For many people life is a living hell, and they are thus in need of charity. There are people in society however, that believe that these people create their own hell. While they might maintain that charity is good for these people, they still think of them as "good-for-nothing". They probably think that charity cases could climb out of their "inferno" if they tried, but they will not and are therefore a burdun on society.
To many people in society there is a distinction between the "good for nothing people" reciving charity and those for whom life is hell also reciving charity. Furthermore, they think that organized charity might tend to do good for those who do not really desrve it (the "good for nothing people"). Whereas, charity in general tends to help out both the good for nothings and the people who really need it.
Statement "B," is the best because takes a more positive view to people in need. Statement "A" takes a less positive, less cynical view.
I know of a person who receives charity that someone who might make statement "A" would refuse to give charity to. This person is to proud to tell anyone of his affliction.
Sample Essay Score: 2
These two statements contain very strong personal biases toward the economically disadvantaged, and the people involved in their welfare. Both quotations seem to contain an element of sarcasm or negativity. The inevitable plight of the financially unfortunate person appears to be the attitude represented in these quotations. Charity is thought to be an ineffective means to this problem.
Quotation A is making a judgment about the people that charity effects. The "...good-for- nothing people, implies that these people don't deserve the aid of the organization. In contrast quotation "B" is speaking more of the hopelessness of charity, and its minute effect on the masses of disadvantaged.
I feel that even tho organizations concerned in charitable contributions have only a very small impact on the world at large, it is a beginning in raising the concerns of others.
Comment: This paper is very thin in content and inadequate in interpreting the quotations. Part 3 is completely unsupported and there are some serious problems with sentence structure and diction ("Charity is thought to be an ineffective means to this problem").
Sample Essay Score: 1
The only thing statements A and B have in common is charity being supportive.
Statement A uses "organized" where statement B uses charity in general. This means statement B can include all of statement A but A can only be a part of statement B.
Charity is supportive to a lot of people. It is helpful but charity can also be abused. People living for what other people will hand out to them won't be living their own life.
Comment: This paper is far too undeveloped for even a minimal answer.
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You’ve been staring at your blank computer screen for what feels like hours, trying to figure out how to start your analytical essay. You try to choose between writing the introduction first or getting right into the meat of it. But somehow, it seems too difficult to do either.
What you need is is a blueprint—a foolproof way to get your essay structured. Then all you have to do is fill in the blanks.
By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What an Analytical Essay Is—And What It Isn’tBefore we get to the good stuff, you should know exactly what an analytical essay is. Your middle school and high school teachers probably told you something like, “An analytical essay is writing that analyzes a text.”
Helpful, right? Um, not so much.
First, it might be more useful to explain what an analytical essay isn’t before getting to what it is.
An analytical essay isn’t a summary. Though this may seem obvious in theory, it’s more difficult in practice. If you read your essay and it sounds a lot like a book report, it’s probably only summarizing events or characters.
One way to figure out if you’re summarizing instead of analyzing is to look at your support. Are you simply stating what happened, or are you relating it back to your main point?
Okay, so what is an analytical essay, exactly?
Usually, it’s writing that has a more narrowed focus than a summary. Analytical essays usually concentrate on how the book or poem was written—for example, how certain themes present themselves in the story, or how the use of metaphor brings a certain meaning to a poem.
In short, this type of essay requires you to look at the smaller parts of the work to help shed light on the larger picture.
An example of a prompt—and the example I’m going to use for the rest of this post—could be something like: Analyze the theme of sacrifice in the Harry Potter series. (Note: there might be some spoilers, but I figured everyone who was planning on reading the books has done so already—or at least has seen the movies.)
One Way To Form Your Analytical Essay Outline
There are quite a few ways to organize your analytical essay, but no matter how you choose to write it, your essay should always have three main parts:
I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of this soon, but for all you visual learners, here is a nice representation of all the components that make a great analytical essay outline.
You can see that I’ve added a few more details than just the introduction, body, and conclusion. But hold your horses—we’re getting to those parts right now.
Introduction of Your Analytical Essay Outline
The purpose of your introduction is to get the reader interested in your analysis. The introduction should include at least three things—a hook, your thesis statement, and a sentence or two describing how you intend to prove your thesis statement.
1. You gotta hook ‘em from the start. The first part of your introduction should draw the reader in. This is called the hook.
The hook should be interesting or surprising. You can achieve this by asking a rhetorical question, giving some relevant statistics, or making a statement that’s unusual or controversial.
For my Harry Potter example, I might say, “Since the publication of the first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, some Christian groups have attacked the books for promoting witchcraft. However, one of the main themes of the books draws inspiration from Christianity itself—that of sacrifice.”
Okay, so that’s two sentences. But it’s got a little bit of controversy and relates to what the rest of the essay will discuss.
2. Get to the good stuff—write a killer thesis statement. Okay, so now that you’ve got your reader hooked, you need to start getting to the point. This is where the thesis statement comes in.
My thesis might be, “The theme of sacrifice is prevalent throughout the series and is embodied as sacrifice for the greater good, sacrifice for an ultimate gain, and sacrifice to keep a promise.”
3. It’s time to back up your thesis. Let the reader know how you’re going to prove your claim.
For my example, I would let the reader know that I intend to analyze the instances of Harry’s “death,” Voldemort’s sacrifice of his soul in exchange for immortality, and how Snape sacrifices in order to honor a promise made to Lily Potter.
These points will be the building blocks of the body paragraphs.
Body of Your Analytical Essay Outline
The body is where you can start to get really creative and play around with formatting.
In the flowchart, there are three body paragraphs. But that’s because I was trained in the 5-paragraph outline. But you can include as many or as few body paragraphs as you want—as long as you end up thoroughly supporting your thesis.
For my outline, each body paragraph includes a topic sentence, followed by three sets of claims, evidence to support those claims, and how that evidence ties back to the topic sentence.
Again, three is not necessarily a magic number here. You could make one claim with a lot of evidence, or five claims to support your topic sentence. But let’s get into it, shall we?
1. Develop a strong topic sentence. Each topic sentence in each body paragraph of your analytical essay outline should tell the reader exactly what that section is going to be about.
My first body paragraph might start with, “Harry Potter is willing to fulfill prophecy and make the ultimate sacrifice—that of his life—in order to save the rest of the wizarding world.”
2. Make your claim. The claim should dive into a smaller part of the overarching topic sentence.
The topic sentence I gave can be broken down into several smaller claims—that Harry knew that he was fulfilling prophecy, that he was actually willing to die, and that his death would be of profound significance.
3. Provide evidence from the text to back your claim. You can’t just go around making claims without any support. You can use quotes or paraphrase parts of the text to add evidence.
For evidence that Harry knew that he was fulfilling prophecy, you could cite the instance in the hall of prophecies with the quote, “and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.”
4. Tie that evidence to the topic sentence. You have to make it absolutely clear why you included the evidence. If you don’t, your analytical essay runs the risk of being a summary.
For example, with the citing of the prophecy, I would tell the reader that Harry and his friends found said prophecy and figured out that it had to be about him (although there are objections that it could’ve been referring to Neville, but we’ll leave that out of this example). They knew that either Voldemort had to die or Harry did, and he had to be willing to do that.
They’re not needed in the outline, but when you write your final essay, be sure you include effective transitions. This will help your essay flow.
Conclusion of Your Analytical Essay Outline
After you’ve built up all of your body paragraphs, given the appropriate evidence to back your claims, and tied that evidence to your awesome topic sentences, you’re ready to wrap it all up.
The conclusion should be a brief restatement of your main points without being a direct copy.
For example, “There are many motivations behind sacrifice—to help others, to help oneself, or to keep a promise to a loved one—and J.K. Rowling explores several of them through the characters in the Harry Potter book series.”
This, of course, does not suffice as a full conclusion. To fill it out and give the reader a sense of closure, you can relate the theme to the real world or end with a final quote from the text or the author.
Use This Downloadable Analytical Essay Outline as a Guide
Easy, right? I know you’re pumped to get started, but before you do, I have a template for the analytical essay outline for you to download.
Download the Analytical Essay Outline Template PDF
Download the Analytical Essay Outline Template (.doc)
Of course, your instructor’s directions will trump mine, so if they say to do something a specific way, I won’t be offended if you take their advice over mine.
Need more help? Check out these analytical essay examples.
And don’t forget about the Kibin editors. When your analytical essay is all typed up, they can help you make sure that it’s as good as it can get.
Now… get to it!
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