(Facts are garbled; get them straight.) Related Issues:


To write a persuasive essay, you must rest your argument upon a solid foundation of evidence. Similar to a trial lawyer, you must be able to prove your thesis beyond reasonable doubt. You must get the details straight.

Sometimes students who have not read the text carefully enough confuse characters or get the sequence of events mixed up. It helps to have a peer proofread your essay so that you can discover and correct this kind of error.

When you confuse or garble the facts, you lose credibility and weaken your argument. Say, for instance, that you are trying to prove that Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, really is guilty of conspiracy with Claudius to murder her husband. You can't make that claim without referring to specific evidence in the text to support your argument, and that evidence must be convincing.

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(Interpretation is suspect; change it or find better support.) Related Issues:
 

Students frequently claim that teachers penalize students if they do not regurgitate the same interpretation of the text as the teacher has presented in class discussions. Most teachers, though, are enlightened sorts who are eager to see their students use their creativity and devise their own thesis statements. No lie.

Great literature stands the test of time because it explores aspects of human experience which are mysterious, ironic and ambiguous. Should Oedipus have forged onward in his pursuit of the truth? Should Antigone have forced the issue with Creon when she buries her slain brother? Why do we secretly applaud Macbeth's immoral quest to achieve absolute freedom of action?  If Hamlet is such a good person, then why does he do such horrible things to the people whom he loves, particularly Ophelia?

There are many different interpretations that can plausibly explore the great human mysteries dramatized in literature. However, there are not an infinite number of interpretations. Saying that Hamlet is a coward or that Macbeth is an automaton simply cannot be supported by the facts of the text.

So when you see the icon inserted into your essay, feel free to take issue with the teacher's comment, but also take care to find convincing evidence to support your argument.

 

 

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