How could the following essay be improved? Our teacher asked us to have a look at this essay. Thanks to whoever answers. It's about David Almond's Skellig, and the themes of magic and realism.

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I would like to see greater analysis of specific quotations, linking this analysis back to the points you are trying to make. This is of course vital for any essay in terms of proving your point and making your argument. I have to remind my students so often that it is not enough just to pick a quote and include it in your essay. After giving a quote you should carefully analyse it, relating it back to the point you are trying to prove.

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I agree with the others here; the writer needs to choose one theme and spend more time on it, rather than scattering effort across three ideas. I would also suggest that "wings" is not a theme so much as a symbol.

This essay uses rather sophisticated vocabulary. This is not usually considered a detractor, but in this particular essay one gets the sense that the writer is using overly florid words in an attempt to impress the reader; unfortunately the vocabulary gets in the way. Additionally, the text seems to alternate poorly constructed sentences with the fancy ones. Cutting some of the fleshy words would improve the clarity and readability of the essay, as would reading it aloud and listening for the clumsy phrases.

Additionally, a good spell/grammar check is needed to repair errors like "affix's" "Mina, the neighbour of Michael that assists him to"   and "This faith also applies to Mina, where with Michael, believes and hopes..."  Also, quotations from the book should be in quotes but not italicized.

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The essay needs to be tightened up a little.  I suggest choosing one theme, and describing how the author explores it.  That will be your thesis.  Support each example with a quotation from the novel, and carefully explain how the quotation proves your thesis.

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The first step in improving the essay would be to eliminate the first sentence, which is so vague as to be meaningless.

next, you need to have a thesis. Everything in the essay must be developed as support for a central thesis, but as it stands, the essay just does a vague riff on the term magical realism and then goes into the 3 standard examples for the 5 paragraph format.

Aristotle claims, correctly, that argument concerns those matter that are in doubt. To say that Skellig is written in the genre of magical realism is not a point with which most readers would disagree, and thus not a matter in doubt.

What sort of claim could be made about the work that is not universally accepted? Is there a way the three themes could be brought together as support for a single unified claim?

For a high school student, this is a fairly sophisticated essay -- but as you move towards university, you will find that simply listing three themes rather than having a coherent argument supported by examples and analysis becomes less acceptable, and so it might be a good idea to start thinking about more sophisticated structural approaches to writing.


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