A recap of the differences between Hogs not Maidens and the typical five-paragraph essay


Steven Wandler’s literary essay Hogs not Maidens stands a world apart from the typical 5 paragraph high-school essay. Unlike the typical high-school essay, Wandler begins his essay by approaching a counterpoint. Usually high-school essays begin with a hook, followed by three topic sentences and then a thesis. Wandler uses his introductory paragraph to explain the concepts contrary to his argument, to build a scaffolding for his thesis. However, the paper never states the thesis itself within the first paragraph. Wandler is giving the critical context surrounding his essay as well as explaining his central research question: is it possible to reconcile the advancements Hank brings to the 6th century with the mass murder and titanic rule he oversaw?

In the paragraph to follow Wandler gives a frame to his argument. In a five-paragraph essay this would be a body paragraph starting with the first topic from the introduction. Rather than this, Wandler continues explaining possible objections and current theories on the text, saying it would be easy to view the novel as relativist as well as novel. It is in the third paragraph that he finally laying out much of his argument, saying the critics he alluded to earlier missed Twains express point of the novel. Twain objects to slavery as never being okay, disproving the cultural relativism hypothesis.

The fourth paragraph of Wandler’s paper continues to discuss Twains attitude toward American and European imperialism giving evidence for his previous claims. This is the first similarity between Wandler’s essay and a five-paragraph essay; in both types the fourth paragraph is a body paragraph giving evidence to support the papers claim. While both paragraphs are body paragraphs they are structured entirely different. In a five-paragraph essay the typical body paragraph starts with a topic sentence, an introduction to evidence, a quotation, some analysis and then a concluding sentence. The paragraph begins with a topic sentence that is a continuation of the previous paragraph’s arguments, not an individualized topic sentence. After this Wandler carries on in a similar manner, giving context to the support for his claim. One key difference between a five-paragraph essay and Wandler’s is the presentation of evidence. While a five-paragraph essay almost assuredly will have a blocked quote awkwardly jammed into a sentence, Wandler works his quotes in naturally avoiding awkward text breaks.

Wandler concludes his paper in a manner unlike a five-paragraph essay, with several paragraphs. As the paper winds down Wandler continues to go to the text and Twain’s personal writings for support, using quotes until the concluding paragraph. A five-paragraph essay’s conclusion on the other hand is a restating of the thesis and three topic sentences but in the opposite order to which they initially occurred. Wandler uses another critic to support his point and brings the paper back to the thesis.

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