Topics: Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron, Writing Pages: 8 (1216 words) Published: December 4, 2012


The first time you refer to the author you should use his or her first and last name. Following the first reference, you should use his or her last name only. Never refer to an author by their first name only. This implies a certain personal relationship to the author and is inappropriate in essay writing.


Remember to write your essay using the historical present. This is the tense to use when talking about past events, and the tense to use when analyzing literature.

❖ Incorrect:

Ballard used setting to convey the psychological repercussions of overpopulation.

❖ Revised:

Ballard uses setting to convey the psychological repercussions of overpopulation.


Remember, the narrator is the one telling the story. The author employs the literary techniques and devices.

Example: The narrator describes the city as multi-leveled and never-ending. The author uses this hyperbolic setting to demonstrate the extreme sense of confinement present in the story.


Be sure that your thesis statement includes an idea or theme you will analyze and avoids being too vague by simply using a topic or subject of the text.

❖ Weak:

Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” explores issues of equality.

❖ Revised:

Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” explores the American misunderstanding of what creates inequality.

• Note how the revised version is being specific about issues of equality thereby bringing the focus to this specific story. The idea here is that many works of literature deal with issues of equality and therefore the thesis statement needs to be catered to the text you are writing about.

Avoid summary in thesis statements as summarizing the text does not provide an idea that you will analyze.

❖ Weak:

In Isaac Asimov’s “Robot Dreams” Dr. Calvin is concerned about a robot uprising.

❖ Revised:

In Isaac Asimov’s “Robot Dreams” he uses the threat of a robot uprising to reveal the dehumanizing effects of a reliance on technology.

Note: Avoid words such as “prove” as you are analyzing a text and uncovering what the author suggests or illustrates through literary techniques and devices. These are ideas not concrete equations. Also remember to avoid asking questions in an analytical essay. Oftentimes you can reword a question into a statement providing a more concrete approach to your analysis.


Method statements set out the way in which you are going to analyze the theme you have uncovered in your thesis statement. A method statement should avoid summarizing events of the story and provide context.

❖ Weak:

This idea is illustrated through setting, characterization, and symbol.

❖ Revised:

This idea is illustrated through the setting of the gym, the characterization of Dr. Neill, and the symbolic nature of the chess game.


Remember each body paragraph should be centered on a topic sentence that provides a clear focus for that paragraph. Avoid making vague statements.

❖ Weak:

Through characterization many things are exposed in the story.

❖ Revised:

Through characterization of Dr. Calvin, the author reveals the dehumanizing effects of technology.


Remember that you must have a lead-in sentence for direct quotation that provides context for the quote you are using. Your quote must also make sense grammatically and express a full thought.

❖ Weak:

Harrison Bergeron proclaims, “I am the Emperor… I can become” (Vonnegut 30).

• This use of the ellipsis does not express the full meaning of what Harrison says. Also, no information is given about the nature of what he is saying or who he is saying this to.

❖ Revised:

When Harrison is rebelling against the system imposed by the Handicapper...
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