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The Funnel

Basic Concept: The funnel is a structure for writing that improves the student’s ability to
understand and incorporate language within an essay to give it sense of
unity and flow. Its overall concept not only helps to improve the flow of a
paper but also improves the diction and connectedness of the ideas to the
thesis.

Schematic:

Topic: Based on Aristotle’s “Poetics,” discuss what made Hamlet a tragic character.

Introductory Paragraph:
General Opening Statement – Takes the main theme or idea from the question and
poses a statement about that topic.

ex. In life, one may experience many tragic events that completely alter or change how one may
view the world.

Second Statement – Either refutes or supports initial assertion but focuses more closely
on thesis. May or may not use a transition word.

ex. However, in literature, it is not just tragic events that may cause a character to be considered
tragic, but rather a set events and characteristics a character must have to fit this description.

Third Statement – Supports second statement and focuses more closely on the thesis.
May or may not use a transition depending on if one was used for the
second sentence.

ex. Aristotle, in his “Poetics” sets out this description for what he considered to be the best way
for a playwright to not lonely construct tragic characters but a tragedy in its entirety.

Thesis Statement – States characters used, text title, and a clear stance and/or
answer/response to the essay topic.

ex. An example of what Aristotle considered the best way to construct a tragic character is seen
in William Shakespeare’s construction of Hamlet, in his play “Hamlet.”

Thesis Support Statement – The use of this statement depends on how the thesis
statement is phrased and how the overall paragraph flows.

ex. As dictated by Aristotle, Hamlet is real to life, neither too good or to evil and betrayed by
people close to him; definitively making him a tragic character within the play.
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Body Paragraphs:
General Topic Statement: Uses ideas from thesis and/or thesis support in order of
appearance, makes a general statement that supports thesis and begins
to expound ideas. (Can never be a quote.)

ex. If characters within a play are unlike the audience in their manners, diction and morals, then
the audience would have a difficult time trying to connect to and believe in the characters on
stage.

Second Statement: More focused statement, which connects to topic statement. May or may
not use a transition. May or may not use an in-context quote.

ex. Aristotle believed that making at least one character what he called “true to life” or rather
having similar manners, diction and morals to the common man in the audience, would cause the
audience to begin to feel for that character and everything he goes through because they could
possibly be going through or go through the same events.

3 step quoting method a: All quotes must be quoted in a three step method to ensure the
quotes are used properly and fit within the context/flow of the essay.
Step 1 – General Statement : This statement uses the name(s) of the person being quoted
as well as a general connection to the topic statement.

ex. Although Hamlet was a prince, he attempted to be seen as and was victimized by other
characters as a common man with the problems associated with being a common man.

Step 2 – Quote: Directly supports topic sentence and ideas listed in the general
statement. (Can not begin or end a paragraph.) Either in context or offset.

Step 3a – Address Statement #1 – This statement directly addresses the quote and either supports
ideas within the quote or uses the quote to incite new ideas.

ex. Thus, by Hamlet not telling the gravedigger who he is, Shakespeare is attempting connect
Hamlet to the common people within the audience by showing how Hamlet can easily converse
and align himself with the common, working class people in the play.
Step 3b – Address Statement #2– This statement continues the ideas of the first address
statement and remains specific towards discussing the quote..

ex. This alignment occurs when Shakespeare uses words such as “commonplace” and brother
when Hamlet refers to the players as they arrive (Act 4, Scene 2, Lines 3-7).

3 step quoting method b: All quotes must be quoted in a three step method to ensure the
quotes are used properly and fit within the context/flow of the essay.
Step 1 – General Statement : This statement uses the name(s) of the person being quoted
as well as a general connection to the topic statement.
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ex. Yet Shakespeare still creates a distinct dichotomy with the attitude of Hamlet towards his
“rich” peers, and his desire to be viewed as nothing more than a common man.

Step 2 – Quote: Directly supports topic sentence and ideas listed in the general
statement. (Can not begin or end a paragraph.) Either in context or offset.

Step 3a – Address Statement #1 – This statement directly addresses the quote and either supports
ideas within the quote or uses the quote to incite new ideas.

ex. With his play on the word “word” Hamlet mocks Polonius and his desire to “prove” his
worthiness and intelligence – a mark, one could argue, held by those of the upper class..

Step 3b – Address Statement #2– This statement directly addresses the quote and either supports
ideas within the quote or uses the quote to incite new ideas.

ex. However, Hamlet does not stop there and he continues to mock Polonius, failing to
fundamentally realize that he is only mocking the very thing that provides him with the
opportunity to make the mockery; his class status.

Clinching Statement: Ties major ideas together within the paragraph and may often
incite a new idea.

ex. With this connection intact, audience members then could imagine themselves playing
Hamlet and therefore making the play a more real and believable experience for the audience
members.
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Concluding Paragraph:
(This paragraph works in basically reverse order of the introduction.)

Thesis Support Statement: Using the main ideas from the thesis support statement this
paragraph is used to support the ideas within the paper.

ex. Hamlet, due to his character being true to life, being neither too good or too evil, and being
betrayed by people close to him, according to Aristotle was a tragic hero.

Focused General Statement: A general statement that relates to thesis support


statement but begins to bring forth a new idea.

ex. It is in these three concepts from Aristotle that one can see how and why setting out rules for
writing a tragedy would be important.

Supporting General Statement: A general statement that is still connected to the thesis
support statement but attempts to offer more support to the
new idea.

ex. There are many points within the play in which Hamlet appears to be too aloof and far too
evil in his quest for vengeance that he begins to lose touch with the people in the audience who
are supposed to feel sorry for him.

Clinching Statement: Ties major ideas together within conclusion and undergirds new
idea. May or may not use a transition.

ex. Therefore, it was with the rules created by Aristotle in his “Poetics” for making a truly tragic
character, that even a wonderful writer such as Shakespeare had to recognize he could not
circumvent if Hamlet was to be the tragic character he envisioned.
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A Visual:

In life, one may experience many tragic events that completely alter or change how one
may view the world. However, in literature, it is not just tragic events that may cause a character
to be considered tragic, but rather a set events and characteristics a character must have to fit this
description. Aristotle, in his “Poetics” sets out this description for what he considered to be the
best way for a playwright to not lonely construct tragic characters but a tragedy in its entirety. An
example of what Aristotle considered the best way to construct a tragic character is seen in
William Shakespeare’s construction of Hamlet, in his play “Hamlet.” As dictated by Aristotle,
Hamlet is real to life, neither too good or to evil and betrayed by people close to him; definitively
making him a tragic character within the play.
If characters within a play are unlike the audience in their manners, diction and morals,
then the audience would have a difficult time trying to connect to and believe in the characters
on stage. Aristotle believed that making at least one character what he called “true to life” or
rather having similar manners, diction and morals to the common man in the audience, would
cause the audience to begin to feel for that character and everything he goes through because
they could possibly be going through or go through the same events. Although Hamlet was a
prince, he attempted to be seen as and was victimized by other characters as a common man with
the problems associated with being a common man. Hamlet states:

(Act 2, Scene 3, Lines 4-26)


Thus, by Hamlet not telling the gravedigger who he is, Shakespeare is attempting connect
Hamlet to the common people within the audience by showing how Hamlet can easily converse
and align himself with the common, working class people in the play. Yet Shakespeare still
creates a distinct dichotomy with the attitude of Hamlet towards his “rich” peers, and his desire
to be viewed as nothing more than a common man. Hamlet states, “Words, words, words” in a
bitter and mocking tone. (Act 2, Scene 4, Line 4). With his play on the word “word” Hamlet
mocks Polonius and his desire to “prove” his worthiness and intelligence – a mark, one could
argue, held by those of the upper class. However, Hamlet does not stop there and he continues to
mock Polonius, failing to fundamentally realize that he is only mocking the very thing that
provides him with the opportunity to make the mockery; his class status. With this connection
intact, audience members then could imagine themselves playing Hamlet and therefore making
the play a more real and believable experience for the audience members.
Hamlet, due to his character being true to life, being neither too good or too evil, and
being betrayed by people close to him, according to Aristotle was a tragic hero. It is in these
three concepts from Aristotle that one can see how and why setting out rules for writing a
tragedy would be important. There are many points within the play in which Hamlet appears to
be too aloof and far too evil in his quest for vengeance that he begins to lose touch with the
people in the audience who are supposed to feel sorry for him. Therefore, it was with the rules
created by Aristotle in his “Poetics” for making a truly tragic character, that even a wonderful
writer such as Shakespeare had to recognize he could not circumvent if Hamlet was to be the
tragic character he envisioned.
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General Opening Statement


Second Statement
Third Statement
Thesis Statement
Thesis Support Statement

General Topic Statement


Second Statement
Step 1 – General Statement
Step 2 - Quote
Step 3a – Support Statement
Step 3a – Support Statement
Step 1 – General Statement
Step 2 - Quote
Step 3a – Support Statement
Step 3a – Support Statement
Clincher

Rewording of Thesis or Thesis Support Statement


Focused General Statement
Supporting General Statement
Clincher