What are the essential components for a well-structured English (literature) essay?

There are overarching essential components for an English essay whether you are dealing with poetry or prose. A strong essay will state the intentions of the essay from the introduction, and continue/develop this line of thought throughout. Being excplicit and concise about your argument in the introduction (as opposed to just giving a summary of the work!) allows the examiner to follow your thought process, rather than giving the impression that you've only figured out your main argument during the essay or in the conclusion of the essay. It is also very important to signpost your essay, as this once again enables an examiner to follow the logic of your strucutre. A further note on structure: it is obvioulsy expected that a strong essay will be organised into several paragraphs, all of which link in an intelligent way, however, remember that each paragraph must have a specific focus, a specific purpose and a clear topic sentence. The conclusion should not repeat or echo the introduction, which is a common and natural mistake made by students. I believe that the conclusion should summarise not only the main point of focus of the essay, but also the indivudal strands of exploration should be brought together as a cohesive whole in evaluating the writer's purpose. Being explicit is just as important in the conclusion as it is in the introduction, and that is perhaps my biggest tip: make everything super clear. Finally, you must ask yourself at the end of the essay whether you have addressed key words in the question and made sure that you have not ignored any part of question, as hiding away from the question, however challenging, will demonstrate a lack of confidence in your response. All essays are compeltely different and there is never going to be such thing as the 'perfect essay'. Just always try and make a clear plan before you start writing, and always know what you want your key argument to be! Be confident and good luck! :-)

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