When the argument is not clear
In the paragraphs which formed the body of the essay
we saw that these paragraphs argued there were a number
of obstacles blocking the unification of the Italian states into one nation.
Each paragraph discussed one of these obstacles. Let's now compare the
structure of this essay's argument to another essay written in response
to the same question. Can you see this essay's weaknesses? The comments
in the right hand side column highlight what is wrong with this example
Essay Question: Italy on the eve of 1860 has often been described
as an unlikely nation. Why?
|Before 1860 Italy was a collection of independent states. The peninsula
of Italy on the eve of 1860 included the Restoration States formed
by Austria and the Congress of Vienna in 1815. These states consisted
of the Papal States, ruled by the Pope, Lombardy-Venetia which was
an Austrian province, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies which included
the island of Sicily and the Italian mainland south of the Papal States
and which was ruled by a Spanish Bourbon. There were the Duchies of
Tuscany, Modena, Parma and Lucca, all ruled by members of the Austrian
Royal House, and the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, the only Independent
state. Despite the independence of the states before the 1860s, on
March 17, 1861, Italy become one nation.
||functions as Introduction
What is the thesis statement?
What is being argued?
Despite an abundance of description, it seems the writer has failed
to take a position on why Italy was seen as an unlikely nation on
the eve of 1860.
Also, the points discussed the essay's body have not been outlined
in this introduction.
|Economically, Duggan (1994) points out that Italy seemed to be stagnating
during the period before 1860 while the economic pace in the rest
of Europe was quickening.....
Relevance of this point to the argument and the topic is not clear.
|Leeds suggests the average Italian around 1860 "was a poor peasant,
illiterate, living on the edge of starvation" (1974:10). The peasant
presumably had little or no thought to any matters other than his
or her own survival .... Peasants spoke the dialect of their own region
and were generally illiterate. In fact, when Italy was unified in
1861, only four per cent of the population had knowledge of the official
Italian language (Duggan, 1994:156).
How does this point relate to the question?
Reliance on an author and a quote rather than establishing a clear
|Mack-Smith (1959) comments that many secret societies emerged after
1815 because of the Restoration States' vigorous censorship. According
to Duggan (1994:103), these secret societies "lacked a clear sense
of what they hoped to achieve on a practical level". They were integral,
however, to a number of unsuccessful uprisings that were occurring
at this time in many of the states.....
The emergence of the societies needs to be explicitly related to the
topic of the essay: Italian unification.
|During the 1840s-1850s, Jucker (1970) says the key figures of "Il
Risorgimento", the Italian independence movement were Count Camillo
di Cavour, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi. Cavour became
Prime Minister..... Mazzini was an idealist ..... Garibaldi did not belong
to the political elite....... It has been suggested that "Cavour and Mazzini
didn't like each other" (Mack-Smith, 1971:26). Cavour was a practical
politician whereas Mazzini was.... Garibaldi felt Cavour was a "coward
and a fomenter of civil war" (Mack-Smith, 1959:16).
Although discussing the independence movement, the writer merely describes
the key figures rather than focussing on its relevance to the question.
A heavy reliance on quotes.
1This essay has been adapted
from material developed by R. Woodward-Kron, E. Thomson & J. Meek (2000) Academic
Writing: a language based guide (CD-ROM), University of Wollongong
The essay above presents an answer to the question 'What was the state
of affairs in the Italian states around 1860?' or 'Describe the events
and people of the Italian states before the 1860s?' instead of answering
the given essay question
. It looks at the economic and social state of
Italy at this time and provides a description of political figures and
events of this period but the student has failed to develop an argument
relating to why the Italy on the eve of 1860 was considered unlikely to
unify. By starting off each paragraph with a quote or a reference to a
theorist, the student fails to establish clear topic sentences, and so
the main point of each paragraph and their relevance to the argument presented
in the essay is not clear. As a result, this student's essay fails to
develop an argument in relation to the set essay question and would probably
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