In a Tortoiseshell: This excerpt from Sam’s English JP explores the phenomenon of the slacker comedy and investigates its origin in the cultural materialism, economic stagnation and generational apathy of the 1990s. This introduction establishes Sam’s definition of the “slacker” by grounding it in both scholarly literature and the cultural context, and uses this key term as a springboard for the rest of his argument.
In a Tortoiseshell: In this essay, Benjamin tracks the psychological development of the protagonist Tracy from the movie Thirteen, focusing in particular on how her family and school environments influence her later problematic behavior. This excerpt demonstrates Benjamin’s skilled use of orienting to situate the reader in both the storyline of the film and the psychological theories behind Tracy’s actions, allowing the reader to understand both elements simultaneously.
…There is a key difference in the circumstances of Roxie’s status when she is a free woman and when she is a prisoner. While free, Roxie is a definite member of larger society and, consequently, she lives with the perpetual accompaniment of a surrounding community. While she is in prison, Roxie has removed herself from civilized society, creating a formidable void within her person that craves acceptance by the masses. As a result, Roxie’s wish for fame transforms from a want for recognition into a want of the recognition she’s lost by becoming a nameless prisoner.
The transition from insider to outsider is crucial in regards to Roxie’s desire for renown. Friedrich Nietzsche argues that humans possess a “mysterious drive for truth” out of a necessity “to live in societies and herds” (143). While she’s a free woman, Roxie does not entangle herself in a different identity or proclaim any lies. On the contrary, she’s quite gullible, believing the words of Fred Casely, who promises to help her become a performer through a connection at a local nightclub. After murdering Fred, however, Roxie breaks free of the societal chains imposed on the truth. She asks Amos to lie on her behalf and take responsibility for the murder, even lying to him about the nature of the lie she’s asking him to tell.
This paper analyzes the character of Roxie Hart in the 2002 musical film Chicago. I claim that it is easy to dismiss Roxie as a simpleminded woman in search of celebrity status; instead, by understanding how her circumstances change when she’s incarcerated, viewers of the film recognize that Roxie is not motivated by a desire for fame but by a desire to avert loneliness.
Unfortunately, despite the centrality of loneliness in the body and title of my essay, the word “loneliness” itself makes no appearance in the introduction excerpted here, not even in the thesis sentence at the end of the first paragraph, which vaguely and confusedly contrasts the notion of a want of something with a want for something. A better-oriented paper would underscore loneliness as a key concept by strategically inserting it somewhere in the introduction in order to alert readers to its importance. In a revision, I could also further elucidate my meaning about “want for” and “want of,” either by rewriting the sentence outright, rephrasing it in simpler terms, or by providing an example that clarifies the contrast. Additionally, the current draft of this paper does not make adequate use of set-up phrases that properly introduce key figures. I don’t explain who Fred Casely or Amos are when I first introduce them, even though the inclusion of phrases like “her lover, Fred Casely,” or “her husband, Amos” would be simple and effective. Likewise, I could better introduce Nietzsche by listing the name of the essay from which the quote is derived or by hinting at his relevance to the argument. In its current form, this draft inserts Nietzsche without properly explaining why he’s here, producing a rather jarring effect for unprepared readers.
Well-oriented papers employ brief but graceful set-up phrases that properly introduce characters and scholars. Such papers also clarify confusing concepts, often with edifying examples or informatively rephrased sentences. Making use of these strategies would allow me to strengthen my argument and clear up ambiguity in meaning.