English Composition 1
In-Class Diagnostic Essay: Analysis of George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" (538-42)
ENG 1001-01 / ENG 1001-04
End of the class period, Friday, January 14
The Diagnostic Essay: Purpose and Expectations
The diagnostic essay allows me to offer you some feedback on your writing at the beginning of the course. The essay will not receive a grade and does not count toward your final course grade, but I will collect and evaluate your essay just as I will evaluate the other essays you submit for the course, giving you suggestions that you can apply to your other essays. The diagnostic essay is also a way for me to see how much you know about writing an essay at the beginning of the semester.
You will have about two weeks to work on each of your graded essays, plenty of time to plan, pre-write, write, revise, and proofread, major aspects of the writing process that are vital to writing a good essay. However, you do not have as much time to write your diagnostic essay. Because you do not have a lot of time to work on this essay, I don't expect any literary masterpieces, but I will be looking for the basics:
- an introduction and conclusion
- a thesis statement
- relevant topic sentences
- body paragraphs focused on one main idea each
- at least three body paragraphs
- a logical progression of ideas
- ideas developed and supported with specific evidence
- a clear presentation of your ideas
- sentences free or almost free from errors
- at least 500 words
Don't worry if these expectations sound intimidating; just do the best job you can in the short time you have to write the essay. You will read a lot of information about strengthening your writing throughout the semester.
George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" (538-42) is an account of one event that occurred when Orwell was a British police officer in Burma. At the time, Burma was a British colony, a country that was under the control of the British. On the day that Orwell describes, he is faced with a rampaging elephant.
In an essay, explain some of the conflicts that Orwell faces in "Shooting an Elephant" (538-42) and explain why Orwell ultimately decides to shoot the elephant.
Important: You should assume that your audience has already read "Shooting an Elephant," so you should not just summarize it. Do not simply tell your readers what happens in Orwell's essay. Instead, try to focus on analyzing and interpreting Orwell's essay. While addressing the assignment as given above, you should focus on explaining what you feel are the most important ideas that readers should get out of Orwell's essay. After readers finish your essay, they should have a better understanding and appreciation of the main ideas that Orwell's essay presents.
One of the first things you should consider when you begin working on a short essay is how you will divide your essay into different body paragraphs. You will need a minimum of three body paragraphs, along with an introduction and a conclusion, and each body paragraph should be focused on a different, but related, idea.
Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that clearly and specifically identifies the main point of the paragraph, and you should remain focused on developing only this main point in the rest of the paragraph. You should use specific examples from Orwell's essay, including quotations, to help you support and develop the idea throughout the rest of the paragraph.
You will also need a one-sentence thesis statement in the introduction of your essay. The easiest way to formulate the thesis statement is by combining all of the main ideas from your topic sentences into just one sentence.
The following web pages should help you think about the organization and the support and development of ideas as you are writing your essay:
The minimum length for this essay is 500 words.
A Few Tips
Success in this course depends much on how well you are able to understand information presented in class and how well you apply this information to your writing. To help give me a sense of how well everyone is understanding and applying the information presented thus far, I will give special attention to the two aspects of your essay explained below:
- The diagnostic essay should be written in a formal writing voice. Among other things, this means that you should avoid first-person references (the use of "I," "me," "my," etc.), so you should not use phrases such as "I think that," "I believe that," or "in my opinion." Readers will know that the ideas you present in your essay are your own because you are the writer of the essay, so, as you write and revise your essay, you should delete any first-person references. The web handout Formal Writing Voice provides additional information about maintaining a formal voice. I will be paying special attention to how well you avoid the use of the first person.
- You will need to use quotations from Orwell's essay to help you support and develop your ideas, and every quotation should be integrated into one of your own sentences. In other words, you should make every quotation a part of one of your own sentences and should not have any quotation standing all by itself in your paper. You could simply put Orwell says (followed by a comma) before some quotations to make the quotations a part of your own sentences. Other ways to integrate quotations into your own sentences, and the correct punctuation to use when punctuation is necessary, are explained on the Integrating Quotations into Sentences web page. I will be paying special attention to how well you integrate quotations into your own sentences.
The diagnostic essay gives me a sense of how well you understand the basics of Standard English usage, so make sure to proofread carefully to avoid and eliminate errors.
Preparing Your Essay
You should prepare your essay in Word and save your file. As you are writing your essay, click "save" frequently.
Your essay should be word processed, double spaced, and in 12-point Times New Roman fonts. Type your name, the instructor's name, your class, and the date in the upper left corner of the first page, and give your essay a title (different from the title of Orwell's essay).
When you are finished, print your essay and turn it in.