How to Write the Body of an Analysis Essay
Whether you're writing about the criminal justice system or the rise in childhood obesity, the body of your analysis essay is the part that does all the work. Inside each body paragraph, the writer incorporates explanation, analysis and specific examples that examine the topic and defend the thesis statement.
If you look at each body paragraph as a mini-essay, then the topic sentence is like the thesis statement. It is generally the first sentence of each body paragraph and tells the reader the main point of the paragraph. Just as with the thesis statement, the topic sentence should be neither too general nor too specific. Purdue University states that students should "look for a topic sentence that is general enough to show the paragraph’s main idea instead of just one of its details." For the writer, it serves as a map to prevent the content from straying off-topic.
The analysis in a body paragraph serves to explain and develop your point. Asking yourself questions as you write can help to successfully develop your statements. For example, why does this matter? Why does this happen? Whom does this affect, and how? What are the long-term effects? The responses to these questions -- not the questions themselves -- can be incorporated into your body paragraphs as analysis. For example, when analyzing a text, a student can include her interpretation and analysis of why the author chose to include a particular character, symbol or event.
Every body paragraph should include support in the form of specific examples. Effective support can include properly cited quotations, hypothetical examples, real world events and personal anecdotes. The function of providing specific examples is to give concrete evidence of the topic sentence. When incorporating concrete evidence, it is crucial to explain specifically how the evidence supports the topic sentence, rather than just sticking in a quotation without any analysis.
Each body paragraph should conclude with a wrap-up sentence that shows readers how the information presented in the paragraph supports the overall point of the essay. An effective final sentence in a body paragraph also helps to transition into the next paragraph by creating a bridge to the next topic sentence. The wrap-up sentence is like the conclusion of the overall essay in that it restates the topic sentence's idea in light of the analysis and evidence provided in the paragraph.
Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.