Anne Bradstreet's "Prologue"
Even though it less well-known than "Contemplations," Anne Bradstreet's seemingly less ambitious poem "Prologue," is actually a tense and accomplished exploration of the Puritanical impulse to relate spirituality to every day life. The material landscape of the "Prologue" is fiercer, more intimate, and more realistic than the landscapes referenced in of her other poems, because it is more personal. The introduction/thesis acknowledges one commonly held critical perception, and then addresses what this essay will add to the conversation. It is important to start your essay by letting your reader know what you're going to be challenging or agreeing with or proving.
In the "Prologue," Bradstreet reveals her everyday struggles and innermost thoughts, writing:
I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits,
A poet's pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
For such despite they cast on female wits:
If what I do prove well, it won't advance,
They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance.
(Bradstreet 25-30, p.116)
Lines twenty-five and thirty relate the struggle of any poet for expression, but most particularly, to the life of a female poet. The first sentences of the body paragraphs let the reader know what the writer is talking about specifically. Quoting the most significant passage that you're going to be writing about is a way to make sure that even if a reader hasn't read this particular literary work (or maybe read it a long time ago and doesn't remember all of it) that he or she will still be able to learn something from this essay. You always want to be thinking about whether to reader is on the same page as you--you can do that by making sure you're being as clear and specific as possible.