Choosing Good Main Points
There are a number of things that you can all do to make sure that the Main Points you are making in your essay are good ones. Follow the guidelines below to help you choose good main points for your plan.
1. Keep it general
A good essay should contain only 5 or 6 main points (although these will be broken down into smaller sub-points). These points should be very high level so that you can then go into much more depth underneath them.
If one of your main points is a reference to the soldiers suffering like old beggars in Dulce et Decorum Est then you are going to run out of things to say pretty quickly. There’s not much more that you write once you have covered how demeaning it is for these brave young mean to be depicted as nothing more than ‘beggars’.
Instead you need a more general main point to start with: something like Owen’s depiction of the powerlessness of the soldiers. Underneath this main point you could then go on to talk about a number of sub-points, for example:
2. Look for links
A good point will link up different points from throughout the poem that are related in some way. However, a link doesn’t just have to join up things that do the same job – you can draw links between ideas are the complete opposite of each other.
3. Variety of evidence
Commenting on how the connotations of words, their sounds, their complexity, their length, etc, all work together to create a certain effect. See the examples on the ‘Making Points’ page.
4. Be interesting
You should attempt to make some interesting, unusual or unexpected points to make the examiner think that you’ve really understood what’s going on. This is hard here because this poem is fairly straightforward but by really going into detail in your explanations you can show that you really understand the effects that Owen was trying to create.
Another good way of making interesting points is by pointing out how two things are superficially different but at a deeper level very similar. Or, alternatively, how things are superficially similar but at a deeper level very different.
One final way of making good points is to understand that some things can be interpreted in a number of ways and to point out the existence of and evidence for both interpretations. A really good candidate will sometimes go on to give a very concise reason for choosing one interpretation over the other.