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English Composition 1

Example of a Persuasive Paragraph

On the left below is a well-developed persuasive paragraph from the essay "The End of an Illusion," which was written by Jamie Fast when she was a student in an English Composition 1 course. The topic of Jamie's essay is the short story "Miss Brill," by Katherine Mansfield. The paragraph is color coded to highlight how the different parts of the paragraph work together to help the writer support and develop her ideas effectively.

Miss Brill's ritual of visiting the park every Sunday helps her to cope with loneliness. It is clear how much enjoyment the old woman derives from the simple activity as the narrator states, "Oh, how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she loved sitting [t]here, watching it all!" The weekly outing provides an opportunity for Miss Brill to place herself in the company of others and to leave behind "the little dark room" in which she lives. Miss Brill employs the tactics of listening and watching to passively include herself in the activities of the park crowd. She is expert at "sitting in other people's lives for just a minute" by eavesdropping. This habit of "listening as though she didn't listen" helps her to feel included. Being an avid people watcher, Miss Brill pays rapt attention to those who surround her. By the same care she takes in noticing others, she hopes that "no doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there" in attendance. This thought allows her to feel a sense of community with the strangers at the park. Miss Brill seizes every opportunity she can to imagine herself as having some connection with the individuals she observes in attempt to garner a sense of belonging. She even likens herself to being a part of the "family" that the band plays to. In effect, the weekly outing provides a means to escape the isolation felt in her solitary existence for a period of time by engaging herself in the happenings at the park. However, as Miss Brill observes and listens, she prefers to view her world through a proverbial set of rose colored glasses to protect herself from confronting the truth of her lonely existence.

Text highlighted in yellow indicates the primary claim of the paragraph, the main idea that the writer attempts to prove in the paragraph.

Text highlighted in light yellow indicates the writer's development of the main idea that begins the paragraph, usually the writer's explanation of how the evidence she presents supports the main idea.

Text highlighted in light green indicates supporting evidence, facts that the writer uses to support the idea that begins the paragraph.

The final sentence is a transitional sentence that takes readers to the main idea in the next body paragraph.

Notice how well the writer stays focused on developing the main idea that begins the paragraph and how well she uses plenty of specific evidence to support and develop her interpretation. The writer has succeeded in her main objective in this paragraph: proving the truth of the claim that appears in the topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph: "Miss Brill's ritual of visiting the park every Sunday helps her to cope with loneliness."  

Paragraph on "Miss Brill" copyright Jamie Fast, 2003.
Page copyright Randy Rambo, 2006.
This page was last updated on July 25, 2006.