Prove It!

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

Read the comment “Not a Theme In” first as a reference source to the explanation of this comment.

Many professors are loyal and obedient servants to the canon. They encourage and expect loyalty from their students and will investigate any paper that doesn’t adhere to the canon of thought on a particular author and his or her work.

However, among these professors lie the one who not only will encourage adherence to the canon but also will not debate your deviation from it if you can prove the points you make within your analysis. In other words, if the theme of jealousy is not a typical concept literary critics apply to a particular contemporary work, meaning it is not a part of the canon of literary themes for that work, then you must prove that the theme you want to use may be applicable to the work under exceptional circumstances.

With this in mind, a professor of this type will require you to discuss canonical themes within the body of your paper, but will also allow you to make certain points that are not standard if you can accurately and clearly express the idea(s) with supporting textual evidence from the literary work. You may add the evidence within the body paragraphs. You must also provide additional information within the conclusion/extended discussion section of your paper, because in this section you will need to outline suggestions and recommendations for how to use the non-traditional theme and how it may have larger applicability to other works.

That’s why it is important that you understand the nature of the evidence, because the evidence must be an appropriate match to your new idea. For example, everything has a match, so a theme that is already a part of the canon will fit the type of quote you use from your text. Past literary scholars have tried and tested it for suitability. However, in your quest to be different and innovative, you are proposing another “type” of theme.

Therefore, make the argument in the conclusion/extended discussion section of your paper, but don’t force a quote to match your theme within the body paragraphs. That’s why you have to make certain that your theme, “your” idea, is appropriately matched to the nature of the work. It is important to be innovative, but it is more important to be accurate.

In essence, before you set a goal to be innovative, make sure that what you want to do is actually possible to do. When your new idea and an appropriate quote from the text match, you have successfully proved your point.

See also the comments “An interesting idea, but it doesn’t work in every example.” and “Proof?

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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