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I am writing an essay in which I am looking at how the portaryal of women in Disney movies has changed over time. To answer my research question, I am analyzing and then comparing three different Disney movies.

Can I divide the body of my essay into 4-5 paragraphs (each with a title) where I, in each paragraph, focus on a specific aspect of the movies? Like, one paragraph where I write about how the characters personalities differ in each movie, and one about how their dreams/aspirations have changed, etc.

The essay would have the following structure:

  1. Introduction
  2. Aspect A: Movie 1, Movie 2, Movie 3 (one paragraph)
  3. Aspect B: Movie 1, Movie 2, Movie 3 (one paragraph)
  4. Aspect C: Movie 1, Movie 2, Movie 3 (one paragraph)
  5. Aspect D: Movie 1, Movie 2, Movie 3 (one paragraph)
  6. Conclusion
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  • The confusing thing here is that you have 6 bullets—shouldn't it be 6 paragraphs?
    – Laurel
    Nov 2, 2023 at 0:23
  • @Laurel The question asks about "the body of the essay", so I assume they are asking about the part betweeen introduction and conclusion.
    – Ben
    Nov 2, 2023 at 11:50
  • @Ben Yes, I am referring to the main body between the introduction and conclusion.
    – Manar
    Nov 2, 2023 at 11:55

2 Answers 2

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Paragraphs in printed texts serve two functions:

  1. They structure the text visually to better allow the readers to orient themselves on the page.

  2. They structure the text regarding their content. Every paragraph deals with a distinct point or idea, and paragraph breaks happen when that point or idea changes.

Paragraphs are marked in spoken and written language by discourse markers. Discourse markers that indicate the beginning of a paragraph can be reinforcing ("A further example of this phenomenon can be seen in..."), contrasting ("This argument is not, however, accepted by all critics. For instance,..."), concessive ("Although these ideas are interesting and useful, they do not take account of...") and so on. Usually specific words ("further", "however", "although") mark the kind of connection to the previous paragraph. The end of a paragraph is signalled by a discourse marker as well, for example a concluding one ("Therefore ...", "Thus..."). Internally, a paragraph consists of a topic sentence (often a statement, e.g. "In the first movie, the first aspect appears right at the beginning.") and zero to several explaining sentences that elaborate on the statement (i.e. there are paragraphs that consist of only one sentence, like the following paragraph in this answer).

From the second function – to structure text in relation to its content – follows that you should actually break up the body part of your essay into paragraphs, if it contains more than one point or idea.

Much will depend, of course, on how long the discussion of each idea or topic is. If you can cover all four aspects and all movies in a single sentence, then you wouldn't break that sentence up into paragraphs, of course. But I assume that each discussion of each movie under each aspect will be several sentences long. Then each movie under each aspect would get its own paragraph, at the very least. And if the discussion of one movie under one aspect contains several topics or ideas, you'd break this discussion down into more paragraphs, as well.

Your essay would then have something like the following paragraph structure:

1st paragraph: Introduction, topic 1
2nd paragraph: Introduction, topic 2
3rd paragraph: Introduction, idea 1
4th paragraph: aspect A, movie 1, topic 1
5th paragraph: aspect A, movie 1, idea 1
6th paragraph: aspect A, movie 2, topic 1
7th paragraph: aspect A, movie 2, topic 2
8th paragraph: aspect A, movie 2, topic 3
etc.

If the style guide for your school, university, or publication doesn't say otherwise, it is perfectly fine to have headings before each section. For example:

  1. Introdution
  2. Aspect A
  3. Aspect B
  4. ...

Or, if the discussion of each movie under each aspect is several paragraphs:

  1. Introduction
  2. Aspect A
    2.1 Movie 1
    2.2 Movie 2
    2.3 Movie 3
  3. Aspect B
    3.1 ...
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  • So I divide the main body of the essay into five large "sections" for each aspect, and then I can divide the section into smaller paragraphs that each deals with a certain idea related to that aspect? Can I add a title for each section (i.e. aspect)?
    – Manar
    Nov 2, 2023 at 10:59
  • @Manar Yes, to your first question (sections and divisions). For the second question (title for each section): Generally, yes, you can do that. But whoever you write that essay for (school, university) might have specific rules or a style guide for this. Ask your teacher or professor.
    – Ben
    Nov 2, 2023 at 11:49
  • @Manar I have edited my answer to include information about titles.
    – Ben
    Nov 2, 2023 at 11:59
  • There are no specifc guidelines for this assignment so I assume that I am free to follow any structure I want. However, I could not find any information about titles for each "aspect" paragraph online so I wanted to double-check. Thank you for your help!
    – Manar
    Nov 2, 2023 at 12:01
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This seems like an admirable structure. The purpose of paragraphs is to make it easier to read.

It’s much easier to read if you only have one main idea or main concept per paragraph. It’s like organising anything - putting different types of clothes into your closet, for example. When you are looking for an item, you know where you are likely to have put it away, so it’s easier to find.

The reader needs your help in understanding what you are trying to say, and it’s easier for the reader to understand if it’s clear where you’ve put all your related ideas and how they are organised.

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  • Can I add a title to each "aspect" paragraph?
    – Manar
    Nov 2, 2023 at 11:01

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