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Writing Body Paragraphs

Body Paragraph One

  1. Begin with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement and expresses the main idea of the paragraph.

    To be sure, Macbeth’s assault on women and children, in an attempt to eliminate all future rivals for the throne, demonstrates some courage.

  2. Second, provide a piece of evidence (usually a quotation) from the reading to support the topic sentence.  Lead into the quotation by indicating who is speaking and what’s happening. Instead of quoting complete sentences, weave quoted words and phrases into your own prose. 

    Reflecting upon the prophecy that Banquo’s sons will become kings, Macbeth calls upon “fate” to enter “into the list” and help him fight “to th’utterance” (3.1.76-7).

  3. Third, explain how the quotation illustrates the topic sentence. 

    Instead of accepting the prediction that Banquo’s children will inherit the crown, Macbeth boldly resolves to enter the combat arena and fight to the death against it.

  4. If you can, repeat (2) and (3) above, in order to provide more evidence for the topic sentence. 

    Similarly, Macbeth speaks of the daring it will take to kill Macduff’s wife and children: rather than “boasting like a fool,” he resolves to perform the murder “before this purpose cool” (4.1.174-5).  Macbeth has to act quickly before he loses his intent, implying that the act does require some bravery.


Body Paragraph Two (and Three, and Four, etc.)

  1. Begin with a transition from the previous paragraph, and then follow with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement and expresses the main idea of the paragraph. 

    [Transition:] Despite the degree of courage Macbeth requires to execute his plans, [Topic Sentence:] he is driven primarily by fear of who will succeed him as king.

  2. Repeat (2) through (4) above.          


DO document all quotations and paraphrases by including in parentheses page numbers (for novels, short stories, essays, and modern plays), line numbers (for poems), or act/scene/line numbers (for Shakespeare).

DO make sure the body of the paper provides evidence for every claim made in the thesis statement and does not introduce any new claim not made in the thesis statement.

DON’T provide plot summary.  Assume your reader has read the texts and needs to be convinced of your argument, not told the plot.

* Special thanks to Dr. Dallett for creating and giving permission to use this information.

  1. Begin a new paragraph with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement and expresses the main idea of the section of support.
    Not only did Hamilton have major success with his military work, but his revolutionary political ideas were also necessary for the survival of the U.S.
    In this section, the author argues one piece of the thesis—that Hamilton’s political ideas were beneficial for America.

  2. Then provide evidence to support the topic sentence.
    According to U.S. historian Broadus Mitchell, Hamilton played a key role in many of Washington’s policies, including his foreign policies and control of federal power. Mitchell also noted the “major part [Hamilton had] in drafting Washington's Farewell Address.” Note that the author incorporates a lead-in by introducing the author of this quotation.

  3. Next, explain how the evidence illustrates the topic sentence.
    With how close the two men were and how trusted their relationship was, Hamilton was able to have considerable influence on Washington’s strategies and the young country at the time.
    The author spells out for the reader how their evidence--Hamilton’s close friendship with George Washington--led to Hamilton helping to shape America. 
  4. Repeat (2) and (3) above, in either the same paragraph or a new one, so that the section of support provides two pieces of evidence for the topic sentence.
  5. Finally, provide a transition into the topic of the next section of support.
    Hamilton’s political work oftentimes goes unnoticed; however, through his constitutional work and political influence, he truly was essential in the survival and growth of the young country.

DO include footnotes for all quotations, paraphrases, and summaries.
DON’T include any information in the paragraph that doesn’t relate to the topic sentence.
DON’T ever use the first person (“I”) or second person (“you“). Remember that this is an academic paper and should include formal writing.

Boldface quotations from Marciano, Nick. “Alexander Hamilton: The True Greatness of a Forgotten American Leader.” United States History Research Paper, 2020.