How to Write Assertions

To Assert: To state or declare
Assertion: A declaration or statement

When making an argument in your writing for this class, you will likely use two types of assertions: (1) a factual or summary statement (2) an analytical assertion.

Factual Assertion/Summary Statement: A declaration that presents the situation or general idea(s) included in the subject. These statements do not lead to analysis and therefore should never be used as thesis statements or topic sentences.

EX: The letter A is a symbol in the novel The Scarlet Letter
EX: This passage is about the punishment Hester endures for her sin.
EX: The Scarlet Letter expresses the theme of revenge.

WHEN do I use a factual/summary statement? You can include these assertions in the body of your paragraphs or as part of your supporting discussion. These assertions are not arguable and therefore cannot be used as statements that will drive or frame your analysis.

Analytical Assertion: A statement that functions as a point of reference for analysis; a statement that indicates what you will prove in the writing that follows.

An analytical assertion frames your analysis. It gives you something to prove. In order to write a strong analytical assertion you must include the following:

(a)   a WHAT – identify an element of the text that you want to discuss
(b)  VOCABULARY OF CRITICISM – an analytical verb that helps you articulate the author’s purpose in including the element of the text you have identified
(c)   a WHY – indicate why the author includes this element; express why it is important.

EX: Miller creates a sparse setting in Act I to emphasize Puritan beliefs – specifically their focus on simplicity.

              WHAT: sparse setting
              WHY: to mirror Puritan beliefs

EX: Arthur Miller’s portrayal of Abigail Williams as a threatening and intimidating figure who elicits fear in the girls suggests she is a driving force behind the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials.

              WHAT: portrayal of Abigail Williams
              WHY: cause of the hysteria

EX: Miller’s characterization of Reverend Parris as selfish indicates greed is one of the causes of the Salem Witch Trials.

              WHAT: characterization of Reverend Parris
              WHY: greed is a motivation for the accusations at the trials

EX: Miller’s characterization of Mrs. Putnam as a grief-stricken woman presents the motivations behind the trials as emotional and not scientific or factual.

              WHAT: characterization of Mrs. Putnam
              WHY: irrationality of trials that focused on emotion and not fact.

BACK to Junior Writing

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