Using Critical Articles: Paragraph Format

Basic paragraph structure for critical article use*:

  1. Topic sentence that makes an assertion (your argument about the primary source)
  2. Point and evidence from the primary source (a quote or paraphrase)**
  3. Analysis of just that evidence
  4. Transition/point and evidence from article**
  5. Analysis of evidence from both sources together
  6. Conclusion sentence

* You can add in a second piece of evidence from either source if you need it.
**Your information from the primary source and information from the critical article can be reversed, meaning that you could put the critical article information first and the primary source information second if you want to.

Example #1

Red highlights analysis of just one source.
Green highlights analysis that links the two sources.
Blue highlights quotes from the two sources.

Two Quotes – Beowulf information first

(TS) Grendel’s portrayal as an outcast stems from the Anglo-Saxon belief that outcasts occupied the worst possible position in society. In Beowulf, both Grendel and his mother are portrayed as living far apart from society, as being the most extreme kinds of outcasts, the kind of creatures who would lash out against society. Grendel attacks the Danes because “It harrowed him / to hear the din of the loud banquet / every day in the hall, the harp being struck / and the clear song of a skilled poet / telling . . . / how the Almighty had made the earth” (Heaney 87-92). Grendel’s anger at the Danes’ happiness motivates him to attack. It is emphasized that Grendel is descended from Cain, the original Biblical outcast, and what angers Grendel most is the happy songs about the beginnings of the Earth according to Christianity. A true pariah, Grendel can participate in neither the celebration nor the religion. Grendel exemplifies the Anglo-Saxon outcast, who would have been viewed as a worthless nonentity. The Anglo-Saxon warrior’s comitatus was central to his identity, and anyone not part of society would feel both excluded and resentful. Howell D. Chickering, Jr. explains, “It follows also that if a man was for some reason exiled from his lord and homeland, his resulting misery was irremediable. Under such a code, in such a world, to be exiled was to be without protection by lord or kindred, without friends, means of livelihood, or the respect and trust of others” (39). Anglo-Saxons who were part of a society could hardly imagine being apart from that society, and viewed those without such a societal group as pariahs, as creatures without a human identity. Grendel, as an exiled monster who feels intense grief and fury about his condition, fits this description perfectly. Grendel is a product of the Anglo-Saxons’ fear of exile, and their belief that man can exist only within the confines of an organized society.  (CS) From the Anglo-Saxons’ perspective, any creature apart from such a society would have to be an evil, inhuman, miserable creature such as Grendel.

Example #2

Red highlights analysis of just one source.
Green highlights analysis that links the two sources.
Blue highlights quotes from the two sources.

Two Quotes – Critical article information first

(TS) Grendel’s portrayal as an outcast stems from the Anglo-Saxon belief that outcasts occupied the worst possible position in society. The Anglo-Saxon warrior’s comitatus was central to his identity, and anyone not part of society would feel both excluded and resentful. Howell D. Chickering, Jr. explains, “It follows also that if a man was for some reason exiled from his lord and homeland, his resulting misery was irremediable. Under such a code, in such a world, to be exiled was to be without protection by lord or kindred, without friends, means of livelihood, or the respect and trust of others” (39). Anglo-Saxons who were part of a society could hardly imagine being apart from that society, and viewed those without such a societal group as pariahs, as creatures without a human identity. In Beowulf, both Grendel and his mother are portrayed as living far apart from society, as being the most extreme kinds of outcasts, the kind of creatures who would lash out against society. Grendel attacks the Danes because “It harrowed him / to hear the din of the loud banquet / every day in the hall, the harp being struck / and the clear song of a skilled poet / telling . . . / how the Almighty had made the earth” (Heaney 87-92). Grendel’s anger at the Danes’ happiness motivates him to attack. It is emphasized that Grendel is descended from Cain, the original Biblical outcast, and what angers Grendel most is the happy songs about the beginnings of the Earth according to Christianity. A true pariah, Grendel can participate in neither the celebration nor the religion. Grendel is a product of the Anglo-Saxons’ fear of exile, and their belief that man can exist only within the confines of an organized society. (CS) Any creature apart from such a society would have to be an evil, inhuman, miserable creature such as Grendel.

Example #3

Yellow highlights analysis of just one source.
Green highlights analysis that links the two sources.
Blue highlights the sections of text that are paraphrased from the quotes in the previous example. Note that paraphrases are still cited.

Two Paraphrases – Critical article information first

(TS) Grendel’s portrayal as an outcast stems from the Anglo-Saxon belief that outcasts occupied the worst possible position in society. The Anglo-Saxon warrior’s comitatus was central to his identity, and anyone not part of society would feel both excluded and resentful. Within society, Anglo-Saxons both felt included and had the very necessary protection of a king and fellow warriors. An Anglo-Saxon outside of this tightly knit, organized social context would be distraught (Chickering 39). Anglo-Saxons who were part of a society could hardly imagine being apart from that society, and viewed those without such a societal group as pariahs, as creatures without a human identity. In Beowulf, both Grendel and his mother are portrayed as living far apart from society, as being the most extreme kinds of outcasts, the kind of creatures who would lash out against society. Grendel attacks when he hears the sound of the Danes celebrating in the mead hall. He is most angry when he hears the scop playing music and singing about the Biblical origins of the world (Heaney 87-92). Grendel’s anger at the Danes’ happiness motivates him to attack. It is emphasized that Grendel is descended from Cain, the original Biblical outcast, and what angers Grendel most is the happy songs about the beginnings of the Earth according to Christianity. A true pariah, Grendel can participate in neither the celebration nor the religion. Grendel is a product of the Anglo-Saxons’ fear of exile, and their belief that man can exist only within the confines of an organized society.  (CS) Any creature apart from such a society would have to be an evil, inhuman, miserable creature such as Grendel.

BACK to Senior Writing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s