Homework Help

I need help with making a topic sentence for this essay prompt."There are characters in...

user profile pic

palm | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 28, 2010 at 3:21 PM via web

dislike 0 like
I need help with making a topic sentence for this essay prompt.

"There are characters in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare with many different personalities. Choose 3 characters and discuss a single character trait for each one. Be sure to choose characters and traits that contrast each other in some way. In your essay, show with specific evidence how Shakespeare illustrates these traits, and what lesson or meaning he achieves through their interactions in the play."

I need ideas in what parts of the prompt I should include in the topic sentence and how.

6 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 28, 2010 at 5:57 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

You know that you are discussing characters and their traits, so you definitely want to include that in your thesis. You would include the title of the piece, the author, the names of your three chosen characters, and the traits that you will be examining. Additionally, the prompt has indicated that you should find traits that serve as contrasts to one another. So, you will want to include the word contrast in your thesis.

I would actually begin by listing several characters on paper and listing their traits. Once you have done this, find three traits that you can easily contrast. Once you have chosen the traits, you have the characters. This can be a bit easier than starting by deciding on the characters and then looking for traits that compare to each other.

No matter how you look at this assignment, you are going to have to do a bit of pre-writing and determine what you are specifically going to write about before you can draft your working thesis. That way, you will have a structure for your paper and a general idea of content. You can build your thesis based on that so that it leads the reader in the direction that your paper will take. Just be sure to include the specific characters, the specific traits (or at least a mention of the fact that you will be examining traits if you do not state which traits specifically) and the fact that you will be contrasting them.

user profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 28, 2010 at 6:33 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

One character trait you can study is impetuosity.  The play has a number of characters who are impetuous:  Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Mercutio at times, etc.  Then you can contrast one of them with someone who is not impetuous, which, by the way, will be more difficult to find. 

user profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 28, 2010 at 7:21 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

One that might not be so traditional as impulsiveness is anger.  Tybalt, of course, has the choleric personality, that flares at every turn.  Mercutio, like his name is mercurial.  He is humorous, even silly at times, but he certainly becomes incensed with Tybalt in Act III as well as angry with Romeo.  And, Romeo himself has his moments of cholera, especially when he feels fate is working against him. (I defy you stars," etc.)

So, while these three characters have fiery tempers, what precipitates their anger differs and their reactions after being angry vary.  Thus you can compare and contrast these three and should be able to compose an interesting essay.

Good luck! 

user profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 29, 2010 at 9:34 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

Here's a topic sentence for you:

"Mercutio, Nurse, and Friar Lawrence are all guiding figures who aid Romeo and Juliet in their romantic quest, but only Mercutio tries to stop him from making tragic mistakes."

user profile pic

copelmat | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:33 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

In your topic sentence, you certainly want to identify the three characters upon whom you will focus your attention and also the character trait which all three share. Additionally, you might also want to mention any relevant specific events from the play you intent to use as your evidence, particularly if several of the characters are involved.

For example, if you are suggesting that Mercutio, Romeo, and Tybalt are all prone to rash behavior when provoked you might say something along the lines of: Within the climax of the play's plot in Act III, Romeo, Mercutio, and Tybalt all exhibit a proclivity to rash and violent behavior when provoked.

user profile pic

linalarocca | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 6, 2010 at 3:11 AM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

Your topic sentence serves as a type of mini thesis statement. Therefore, this sentence should contain your subject matter, the name of the play, and the judgement you are making (the slant) of the paragraph. Once you have decided on the three characters you want to write about, you need to gather evidence from the play to prove what you are suggesting. For instance, if you chose Lady Capulet, the Nurse, and Juliet, you might gather evidence from the play in Act I, Scene 3, since  all three characters appear in this scene. You would strategically choose your quotations that show a foil between these characters.

Once you are creating a rough draft of the paragraph, it is good practice to first make a point, introduce a quotation from the play, and then explain the quotation. After you have completed this process, you would move on to your next point, and so forth.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes