PARAGRAPH DEVELOPMENT
(Template Patterns & Required Elements)

Develop each paragraph with a clear, direct topic sentence (TS) followed by a minimum of three pieces of textual evidence (EV), each followed by several sentences of scholarly analysis (AN) that explain how the quote, paraphrase, or detail proves the topic sentence's claim. A well-developed model paragraph conforms to the following template pattern: TS, (EV-AN-AN-AN), (EV-AN-AN-AN), (EV-AN-AN-AN), (EV-AN-AN-AN). Well-developed paragraphs are long and drive their points home with ample evidence and persuasive scholarly arguments.

Paragraphs are adequately developed when they contain the necessary amounts of these required elements and conform to the template patterns listed below:

  • Topic Sentence (TS) - A clear, direct, comprehensive, controlling statement as the first sentence of the paragraph. The topic sentence should make a claim and explicitly state what the paragraph will prove and/or cover.
  • Textual Evidence (EV) - Three pieces of evidence from the primary text (i.e. the literary selection being analyzed). Evidence can be a direct quotation, paraphrase, detail, fact, statistic, example, case study, experiment, expert opinion, anecdote, etc. When analyzing literature, the evidence is taken directly from the primary text(s) and from outside peer-reviewed literary criticism journal articles from the JSTOR database. Note that research Essays require outside source evidence as well.
  • Scholarly analysis (AN) - Several persuasive analytical sentences following each piece of evidence that explain HOW that quote, paraphrase, or detail proves the claim made in the topic sentence, which in turn helps prove the primary claim made in the thesis.
  • Minimum Paragraph Template - A moderately-developed paragraph mirrors the MINIMUM pattern below.
         TS, (EV-AN-AN), (EV-AN-AN), (EV-AN-AN).
  • Model Paragraph Template - A well-developed model paragraph mirrors the PREFERRED pattern below.
         TS, (EV-AN-AN-AN), (EV-AN-AN-AN), (EV-AN-AN-AN), (EV-AN-AN-AN).

 


NOTES
(Format & Mechanics)

Personal Pronouns Prohibited  (e.g. I, me, we, us, you)
**** Even if the prompt asks for your opinion, never use personal pronouns (I, me, we, us, you, me, my, our, etc.) ****

MLA Alignment (Hanging Indent)
In the forums, it is NOT necessary to format your "Works Cited" entries with a reverse indentation (hanging indent).
** Hanging indentation is required for all "Works Cited" entries in formal essays. **

    HTML Code - Hanging Indent - (Optional)

 


Example Paragraphs 1 & 2
(Plain-Text Example - Well-Developed - Literary Analysis)

Jonathan Edwards's Use of Imagery in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"

      Jonathan Edwards masterfully breathes life and motion into commonplace objects and familiar archetypes to create a body of images that play in the minds of his audience, often with horrific emotional impact and devastating rhetorical effectiveness. The stated rhetorical purpose of Edwards' infamous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is to evoke a religious "awakening [of] unconverted persons in [his] congregation" (Edwards 86). Therefore, the sermon is directed at a very small group of church members within his congregation who--despite attending church services and appearing pious--remained unsaved according to the Christian faith. Early in Part V of his exceptionally long sermon, Edwards compares an unsaved person's "healthy constitution," "care and prudence," "best contrivance," and "righteousness" to a spider's web through which he or she would easily fall into hell but for the mercy of the Christian God (87). In so doing, he shows open and perhaps even hostile defiance to the Rationalist philosophy common among the American statesmen of the Enlightenment period, men such as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Paine. The pastor goes on to liken the wickedness of unsaved churchgoers to a variety of concrete images including a piece of lead held in God's hand, lead which "tends downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell" (86). This distressing image provides a visual representation to illustrate the Christian belief regarding the sinful nature and precarious situation of an unsaved human soul, for if only God were only to let go, that soul of lead would fall like lead into the fires of hell. Images like this were undoubtedly terrifying and unquestionably persuasive to the staunchly religious Puritans of Edward's time. One image, however, overshadows all the rest.
      The most effective image Jonathan Edwards wields against his parishioners is an extended metaphor that portrays the wrath of God as a bow with an arrow "made ready on the string" and drawn back by "justice [who] bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow" in order to keep the arrow from becoming "drunk with your blood" and forever damning one's soul to hell (Edwards 87). Here Edwards uses the anthropomorphic symbol of justice straining a symbolic bow--a metaphor for God's wrath--and a personified blood-drunk arrow to portray the precarious condition of an unsaved soul who stands helpless against the might, rage, and ultimate decree of the Christian God. Edwards uses this ominous image not only to illustrate the relationship between God and humans but to persuade the unsaved portion of his audience to factually accept the imminent judgment of God—a god without whose mercy the will be cast into "a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath" (89). This visual and tactile representation of hell evokes the near-universal human fear of fire and burning--the cruel and eternal punishment administered to unsaved souls by the Christian God. This prefatory image sets the stage and ultimately enhances the rhetorical effectiveness of symbolic justice with her straining arm and eager arrow. Edwards exacerbates the power of this complex vision with the ever-presence of a refrain-like mantra declaring that it is only the fickle pleasure of a "provoked and incensed" deity that keeps the arrow from their hearts and keeps their souls from the flames (89). It is with this cruel and terrifying image that Edwards wields the pathos of fear against his parishioners and effectively persuades the unconverted among them to become saved—to convert to Christianity rather than face the arrow of cruel Justice and the flames of the incensed Christian God. (Word Count - 582)

Work Cited

Edwards, Jonathan. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, edited by H. Norman Gardiner, Project Gutenberg, 12 Dec. 2010, sermon V, pp. 78-97. Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/34632/34632-h/34632-h.htm. Accessed 5 June 2020.

 


Illustrated Example - Paragraphs 1 & 2
(Illustrated Example - Well-Developed - Literary Analysis)
(Illustrated Elements -
TS, EV, AN, MLA)

 

Illustrated Elements
  • Topic Sentence (TS) - Bold Underlined Red
  • In-text Citations (MLA) - Bold Purple
  • Analysis (AN) - Italic Text Green
  • Evidence (EV) - Plain Text Blue

 

Jonathan Edwards's Use of Imagery in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"

      Jonathan Edwards masterfully breathes life and motion into commonplace objects and familiar archetypes to create a body of images which play in the minds of his audience, often with horrific emotional impact and devastating rhetorical effectiveness. The stated rhetorical purpose of Edwards' infamous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is to evoke a religious "awakening [of] unconverted persons in [his] congregation" (Edwards 86). Therefore, the sermon is directed at a very small group of church members within his congregation who--despite attending church services and appearing pious--remained unsaved according to the Christian faith.  Early in Part V of his exceptionally long sermon, Edwards compares an unsaved person's "healthy constitution," "care and prudence," "best contrivance," and "righteousness" to a spider's web through which he or she would easily fall into hell but for the mercy of the Christian God (87). In so doing, he shows open and perhaps even hostile defiance to the Rationalist philosophy common among the American statesmen of the Enlightenment period, men such as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Paine. The pastor goes on to liken the wickedness of unsaved churchgoers to a variety of concrete images including a piece of lead held in God's hand, lead which "tends downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell" (86). This distressing image provides a visual representation to illustrate the Christian belief regarding the sinful nature and precarious situation of an unsaved human soul, for if only God were only to let go, that soul of lead would fall like lead into the fires of hell. Images like this were undoubtedly terrifying and unquestionably persuasive to the staunchly religious Puritans of Edward's time. One image, however, overshadows all the rest.
       The most effective image Jonathan Edwards wields against his parishioners is an extended metaphor that portrays the wrath of God as a bow with an arrow "made ready on the string" and drawn back by "justice [who] bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow" in order to keep the arrow from becoming "drunk with your blood" and forever damning one's soul to hell (Edwards 87).   Here Edwards uses the anthropomorphic symbol of justice straining a symbolic bow—a metaphor for God's wrath—and a personified blood-drunk arrow to portray the precarious condition of an unsaved soul who stands helpless against the might, rage, and ultimate decree of the Christian God. Edwards uses this ominous image not only to illustrate the relationship between God and humans but to persuade the unsaved portion of his audience to factually accept the imminent judgment of God—a god without whose mercy the will be cast into "a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath" (89). This visual and tactile representation of hell evokes the near-universal human fear of fire and burning—the cruel and eternal punishment administered to unsaved souls by the Christian God. This prefatory image sets the stage and ultimately enhances the rhetorical effectiveness of symbolic justice with her straining arm and eager arrow. Edwards exacerbates the power of this complex vision with the ever-presence of a refrain-like mantra declaring that it is only the fickle pleasure of a "provoked and incensed" God that keeps the arrow from their hearts and keeps their souls from the flames (89). It is with this cruel and terrifying image that Edwards wields the pathos of fear against his parishioners and effectively persuades the unconverted among them to become saved—to convert to Christianity rather than face the arrow of cruel Justice and the flames of the incensed Christian God. (Word Count - 582)

Work Cited

Edwards, Jonathan. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, edited by H. Norman Gardiner, Project Gutenberg, 12 Dec. 2010, sermon V, pp. 78-97. Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/34632/34632-h/34632-h.htm. Accessed 5 June 2020.



Poorly-Developed Paragraph Example #3
(Plain-Text Example)

Evocative Meter in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 129"

      In “Sonnet 129” William Shakespeare explains the dangers of human desire. Throughout the sonnet, Shakespeare's language seems rushed. This makes readers feel a sense of urgency, a feeling much like the desire or lust he is warning against. Next, the poet explains that extreme desire makes a person “mad” (Shakespeare 8). And because of that madness, even when a person gets what he wants, he cannot enjoy it. He has become like an animal--unable to reason. So instead of enjoying his conquest, he merely finds something else to pursue.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 129.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. edited by Stephen Greenblatt and M. H. Abrams. 9th ed., vol. B, Norton, 2018, pp. 154-69.



Well-Developed Paragraph Example #3
(Plain-Text Example)

Evocative Meter in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 129"

      In “Sonnet 129” William Shakespeare uses forced meter, evocative diction, and the fading distinction between humanity and beasts to illustrate the idea that humans go mad in the pursuit of--and eventually in the possession of--the objects they desire. Shakespeare's sonnet charges into motion with forced meter in its first line: “Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame” (Shakespeare 1). The syllables “th'” and “ex” rush together forming a line of iambic pentameter out of what would otherwise be eleven syllables of thought. Thus, from the poem's very inception, the reader feels a sense of eagerness and begins to anticipate the sonnet's larger theme of barbaric lust and desire. Next, the poet goes on to explain that until one achieves the object of his lust, he is “murderous,” “bloody,” “full of blame,” “rude,” “cruel,” and “savage” (3-4). These highly suggestive words evoke images of Machiavellian-style brutality and reinforce the idea that when one covets, he becomes uncivilized and feral. He is willing to do anything--even beyond the boundaries of his own ethics--to attain the object of his affection. But Shakespeare takes his argument to its ultimate conclusion by explaining that even after an enchanted object has been attained, it is not “bliss” that follows but “woe” (11). Once conquered, that man, woman, material object, or entity which was once so desperately pursued becomes despised and hated. There is much truth to the old axiom that “People always what they cannot have.” This is why the things in our actual possession rarely provide any lasting sense of happiness or relief. Finally, the objects for which we lust, Shakespeare explains, are “Past reason” (6); they exist in an absurd realm of foolishness and insanity. Therefore, lust brings one to madness and thereby destroys the chief distinction between humanity and animals: reason. The ability to reason is vital to the human condition--part of that same human “spirit” Shakespeare venerates in his very first line. So, to desire and covet is to murder one's own vitality, one's own spirit, and one's own humanity. When we lust, we become like animals--beasts who cannot enjoy our conquests, even in victory. We have lost all reason and perspective, and we merely set our sights on a new object of desire and continue our mad, never-ending pursuit for happiness.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 129.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. edited by Stephen Greenblatt and M. H. Abrams. 9th ed., vol. B, Norton, 2018, pp. 154-69.



Well-Developed Paragraph - Example #3
(Illustrated Example)

 

Illustrated Elements
  • Topic Sentence (TS) - Bold Underlined Red
  • In-text Citations (MLA) - Bold Purple
  • Analysis (AN) - Italic Text Green
  • Evidence (EV) - Plain Text Blue

 

Evocative Meter in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 129"

      In “Sonnet 129” William Shakespeare uses forced meter, evocative diction, and the fading distinction between humanity and beasts to illustrate the idea that humans go mad in the pursuit of--and eventually in the possession of--the objects they desire. Shakespeare's sonnet charges into motion with forced meter in its first line, “Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame(1). The syllables “th'” and “ex” rush together forming a line of iambic pentameter out of what would otherwise be eleven syllables of thought. Thus, from the poem's very inception, the reader feels a sense of eagerness and begins to anticipate the sonnet's larger theme of barbaric lust and desire. Next, the poet goes on to explain that until one achieves the object of his lust, he is “murderous,” “bloody,” “full of blame,” “rude,” “cruel,” and “savage” (3-4). These highly suggestive words evoke images of Machiavellian-style brutality and reinforce the idea that when one covets, he becomes uncivilized and feral. He is willing to do anything--even beyond the boundaries of his own ethics--to attain the object of his affection. But Shakespeare takes his argument to its ultimate conclusion by explaining that even after an enchanted object has been attained, it is not “bliss” that follows but “woe” (11). Once conquered, that man, woman, material object, or entity which was once so desperately pursued becomes despised and hated. There is much truth to the old axiom that “People always what they cannot have.” This is why the things in our actual possession rarely provide any lasting sense of happiness or relief. Finally, the objects for which we lust, Shakespeare explains, are “Past reason” (6); they exist in an absurd realm of foolishness and insanity. Therefore, lust brings one to madness and thereby destroys the chief distinction between humanity and animals: reason. The ability to reason is vital to the human condition--part of that same human “spirit” Shakespeare venerates in his very first line. So, to desire and covet is to murder one's own vitality, one's own spirit, and one's own humanity. When we lust, we become like animals--beasts who cannot enjoy our conquests, even in victory. We have lost all reason and perspective, and we merely set our sights on a new object of desire and continue our mad, never-ending pursuit for happiness. (Word Count - 390)

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 129.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. edited by Stephen Greenblatt and M. H. Abrams. 9th ed., vol. B, Norton, 2018, pp. 154-69.



Well-Developed Paragraph Example #4
(Plain-Text Example)

Spiritual Beings & Ever-Decaying Flesh

      In "The Groundhog" Richard Eberhart uses precisely controlled diction to illustrate the importance of recognizing the spiritual essence inherent in all living things. In the first section of the poem, the poet uses highly energetic words such as "waver," "ferocious," "seething," "poked," "Vigour," "trembling," and "angry" to convey his disgust at the sight of a dead and decaying groundhog (3-12). In this initial stage of the poet's evolving response, he is sickened by the brutal physicality of death. The poet seems to detest the pointless transience of the flesh and might judge life meaningless in the face of its ugly end. However, during the next autumn, the poet's diction is softened as he refers to the groundhog's "sap" rather than its "blood" and its "sodden hulk" rather than its "maggots' might" (8, 28). The gradual change of the groundhog has elicited a similar change in the speaker's perspective. As the ugliness of the decaying animal begins to soften, so too does the speaker's view regarding death and the meaning of life. During the next summer, after a year of decay, the poet describes the groundhog as "bones bleaching in the sunlight," and rather than "inspecting" the groundhog as he did one year earlier, the poet "watch[es]" the bones "like a geometer" (9, 39). The connotation of the word "inspect" conveys a sense of empty scientific detachment while the word "watch" implies an enlightened sense of reverence as the speaker has finally come to recognize and embrace the spiritual essence of living beings rather than only the transient facade of their ever-decaying flesh.

Work Cited

Eberhart, Richard. "The Groundhog." Reading the Spirit, edited by Erin Amsley Jameson, 1st ed., Oxford UP, 1937, pp. 28-30. Project Gutenberg, 30 Nov. 2005, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/17192/17192-h/17192-h.htm. Accessed 2 Jan. 2021.



Well-Developed Paragraph - Example #4
(Illustrated Example)

Illustrated Elements
  • Topic Sentence (TS) - Bold Underlined Red
  • Evidence (EV) - Plain Text Blue
  • Analysis (AN) - Italic Text Green
  • In-text Citations (MLA) - Bold Purple

Spiritual Beings & Ever-Decaying Flesh

         In "The Groundhog" Richard Eberhart uses precisely controlled diction to illustrate the importance of recognizing the spiritual essence inherent in all living thingsIn the first section of the poem, the poet uses highly energetic words such as "waver," "ferocious," "seething," "poked," "vigour," "trembling," and "angry" to convey his disgust at the sight of a dead and decaying groundhog (Eberhart 3-12)In this initial stage of the poet's evolving response, he is sickened by the brutal physicality of death. The poet seems to detest the pointless transience of the flesh and might judge life as meaningless in the face of its ugly endHowever, during the next autumn, the poet's diction is softened as he refers to the groundhog's "sap" rather than its "blood" and its "sodden hulk" rather than its "maggots' might" (8, 28)The gradual change of the groundhog has elicited a similar change in the speaker's perspective. As the ugliness of the decaying animal begins to soften, so too does the speaker's view regarding death and the meaning of life. During the next summer, after a year of decay, the poet describes the groundhog as "bones bleaching in the sunlight," and rather than "inspecting" the groundhog as he did one year earlier, the poet "watch[es]" the bones "like a geometer" (9, 39)The connotation of the word "inspect" conveys a sense of empty scientific detachment while the word "watch" implies an enlightened sense of reverence as the speaker has finally come to recognize and embrace the spiritual essence of living beings rather than only the transient facade of their ever-decaying flesh. (Word Count - 390)

Work Cited

Eberhart, Richard. "The Groundhog." Reading the Spirit, edited by Erin Amsley Jameson, 1st ed., Oxford UP, 1937, pp. 28-30. Project Gutenberg, 30 Nov. 2005, Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/17192/17192-h/17192-h.htm. Accessed 2 Jan. 2021.



Example Paragraph #5
(Well-Developed - Literary Analysis)

Thoreau's Self-Reliance Experiment

       Transcendentalism is the belief that one can transcend his/her individual experience and gain knowledge of a mystical world beyond this physical realm. Most famously championed by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, American literary Transcendentalism flourished between 1840-1860. Among its central tenets is the idea that human intuition may be used to obtain mystical truth and the belief that people should shun society’s programming in favor of their own individual morals and ideals (Porter 136). Transcendentalism also places great emphasis on self-reliance and the importance of maintaining close communion with nature (138). In Walden, Henry David Thoreau explores the importance of self-reliance and illustrates the divinity of nature by building his own house in the woods and living there simply for two years.
        In the chapter titled “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” Thoreau details his experiment with simplicity and self-reliance as he narrates the process of building his cabin on Walden Pond. There he separated himself from society and had only nature for company. This experiment was meant to ascertain the condition of real life, apart from the complexity and corrupting influence of society. He went to the woods “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if [he] could not learn what it had to teach” (Thoreau 43). In doing so, Thoreau hoped to discover the true meaning of life and what—if anything—makes life worth living. In the end, he walked away from his self-induced seclusion with the knowledge that humans live “meanly” (46). That is to say humans tend to pick quantity over quality. People tend to cultivate many superficial relationships over a few authentic ones. Thoreau proclaims that “the finest qualities of our nature” are like “the bloom on fruits,” which “can be preserved only by the most delicate handling” (35). But he laments finally, “Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly” (41). Thoreau concludes that people who chose to live complex lives within society inevitably fail to appreciate the little details that make life great.
       Henry David Thoreau reflects the philosophy and ideals of literary Transcendentalism by concluding that people should trust their own abilities, live simply, and turn away from materialistic desires. In Walden, Thoreau proclaims the importance of self-reliance and closeness with nature by personal example as he lives alone on the shore of Walden Pond, in a cabin he builds, reflecting on the godlike qualities of the natural world. (Word Count - 422)

Works Cited

Porter, Lawrence C. “Transcendentalism: A Self-Portrait.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 1, 1962, pp. 127–47. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/363724. Accessed 16 Sep. 2019.

Thoreau, Henry David. “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.” Walden, and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience. Project Gutenberg, 1995, pp. 15-47. Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/205/205-h/205-h.htm#chap03. Accessed 16 Sep. 2019.



Well-Developed Paragraph - Example #5
(Illustrated Example)

 

Illustrated Elements
  • Topic Sentence (TS) - Bold Underlined Red
  • In-text Citations (MLA) - Bold Purple
  • Analysis (AN) - Italic Text Green
  • Evidence (EV) - Plain Text Blue

 

Thoreau's Walden & the Transcendental Over-Soul

       Transcendentalism is the belief that one can transcend his/her individual experience and gain knowledge of a mystical world beyond this physical realm. Most famously championed by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, American literary Transcendentalism flourished between 1840-1860. Among its central tenets is the idea that human intuition may be used to obtain mystical truth and the belief that people should shun society’s programming in favor of their own individual morals and ideals (Porter 136). Transcendentalism also places great emphasis on self-reliance and the importance of maintaining close communion with nature (138). In Walden, Henry David Thoreau explores the importance of self-reliance and illustrates the divinity of nature by building his own house in the woods and living there simply for two years.
       In the chapter titled “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” Thoreau details his experiment with simplicity and self-reliance as he narrates the process of building his cabin on Walden Pond. There he separated himself from society and had only nature for company (Thoreau 40). This experiment was meant to ascertain the condition of real life, apart from the complexity and corrupting influence of society. He went to the woods “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if [he] could not learn what it had to teach” (Thoreau 43). In doing so, Thoreau hoped to discover the true meaning of life and what—if anything—makes life worth living. In the end, he walked away from his self-induced seclusion with the knowledge that humans live “meanly” (46). That is to say that humans tend to pick quantity over quality. People tend to cultivate many superficial relationships over a few authentic ones. Thoreau proclaims that “the finest qualities of our nature” are like “the bloom on fruits,” which “can be preserved only by the most delicate handling” (35). But he laments finally, “Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly” (41). Thoreau concludes that people who chose to live complex lives within society inevitably fail to appreciate the little details that make life great. (Word Count - 390)

Works Cited

Porter, Lawrence C. “Transcendentalism: A Self-Portrait.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 1, 1962, pp. 127–47. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/363724. Accessed 16 Sep. 2019.

Thoreau, Henry David. “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.” Walden, and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience. Project Gutenberg, 1995, pp. 15-47. Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/205/205-h/205-h.htm#chap03. Accessed 16 Sep. 2019.



Example Paragraph #6
(Well-Developed - Plain-Text - Literary Analysis)

Dharma's Path To Happiness & The Rámáyan of Válmíki

       If the universe is a symphony orchestra, then dharma is its structure. It is the order which binds and governs the players and their instruments and creates harmony and music from the disparity of their parts. If a cellist abandons her role to play the violinists’ part, synergy is broken and the orchestra falls both dissonant and flat. If a violist bows her verse on an untuned string, unity is broken and the audience hears only her long discordant screech. If the conductor beats his bone baton to the throb of untrue time, rhythm decays and cadence dwindles and all collapses to chaos as players hack and saw an absurd bramble of dissonant sound, out of time and out of sync. The harmony of music is the synergy of its parts, each with a unique assignment and role. If a single beat, player, or note violates its function, the symphony is fractured and things fall apart. In a like manner, the Hindu concept of Dharma describes a spiritual force that makes music from the untimed movement of life, rocks, and fire (Sarkar 317). The ancient Sanskrit epic Rámáyan of Válmíki uses the psychology of its principal character, his broken harmony with nature, and the deep spiritual concept of Darma to highlight the importance of living in tune with one's own true nature because as inward harmony is achieved so too is outward harmony reached with Dharma--transcendent living energy which binds all things and flows throughout the universe.
      The ancient writers of the Rámáyan of Válmíki epic employ the depressed psychology of a struggling would-be hero named Hanuman to illustrate the desperate need for one to accept his or her true nature, social caste, and given earthly role. To westerners, the concept of Dharma is a mystery at best but very likely unknown to most. To extend the convenient analogy of music, Dharma is not the symphony’s conductor but the energy which binds and moves the baton in his hand (Sarkar 315). Therefore, like an orchestra player, the goal of human life is to fulfill the role one is given, to play the arrangement of her class. The highest Dharma principle is to live in tune with the caste and fate one is given rather than struggle against his station, nature, and path. The highest dharma principle of life is to accept one's given nature and fulfill one's given role in life (Vālmīki 367). Thus, Dharma is foreign to the western mind in that it seems to run counter to the deeply cherished dream of upward mobility, autonomous success, and the individual prosperity of wealth. The rags-to-riches American Dream seems antithetical to the concept of Dharma and runs foreign in the mind of those who have long heard  that common American whisper, "work hard, move up, and follow your dreams." But, however deeply Dharma may seem to be at odds with the western world's unrequited quest for lasting personal happiness, the profound wisdom of Rámáyan of Válmíki proves Dharma not the enemy of individual self-fulfillment but the pathway to achieving it. In “Canto XIII,” Hanuman succumbs to deep anxiety and hopeless depression concerning his failure to find and rescue Sita, his “ravished queen” (476). Hanuman embraces the possibility that Sita may be dead and lost forever. Perhaps she struggled free and dropped into the ocean, or perhaps she died of shock and fear, or perhaps she was crushed by the “pressure of that monstrous hand” (403). In this moment of overwhelming despair, Hanuman has turned away from his dharma. In the darkness of his anxiety and depression, he has fallen out of tune with the hum of the universe and its great vibrating force. Hanuman has violated his dharma because he has forgotten that "Atman is Brahman" (Sarkar 320). According to the Hindu faith, Atman is the human soul and Brahman is the universal soul, the eternal essence of every particle. Brahman is the divine source of all existent things (321-23). Therefore, if Atman is Brahman, then the human soul is made of and wholly indistinguishable from the universal soul itself. Man is divinity and divinity is man. So, to fall prey to anxiety, depression, and doubt is to reject the divine, immutable stuff from which humans are made. To doubt and worry in the grips of despair is to obliterate the supreme power of which one is a part. To fall into despair is to forget the God that is you, just as Hanuman in his failure to find Sita (Vālmīki 470-73).  If the virtue of dharma is to fulfill one’s station, nature, and role, then it is a violation of dharma to reject the divinity of Atman, thereby playing the discordant notes of deception and fear rather than the divine harmony of Dharma.  However, as soon as Hanuman emerges from his depression, he regains the virtue of dharma and begins to play in tune again with the symphony of Brahman (485-87). Therefore, the wisdom of The Rámáyan of Válmíki instructs Eve to trust the divinity within her and Adam to accept the miraculous gift of his caste. The Rámáyan of Válmíki urges mankind to reject false futures, to deny anxiety and doubt, to abandon depression and thoughts of imminent doom, and to forsake armageddon in a final decisive stroke. Only then can he recognize the divine spirit within him and embrace that newer god-like whisper which says, "find the harmony of self and achieve unity with nature and there you will find balance, enrichment, peace, and happiness. There you will conduct the symphony of your life and know the energy of Dharma as its divine current controls the beat of your baton. (Word Count - 952)

Works Cited

Sarkar, Benoy Kumar. “The Theory of Property, Law, and Social Order in Hindu Political Philosophy.” International Journal of Ethics, vol. 30, no. 3, 1920, pp. 311–25. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2377667. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Vālmīki. “Canto XIII.” The Rámáyan of Válmíki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith, Trübner, 1874, pp. 401-87. The Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/24869/24869-h/24869-h.html. Accessed 2 Jan. 2021.

 


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Dharma Principle The Rámáyan of Válmíki

       If the universe is a symphony orchestra, then dharma is its structure. It is the order which binds and governs the players and their instruments and creates harmony and music from the disparity of their parts. If a cellist abandons her role to play the violinists’ part, synergy is broken and the orchestra falls both dissonant and flat. If a violist bows her verse on an untuned string, unity is broken and the audience hears only her long discordant screech. If the conductor beats his bone baton to the throb of untrue time, rhythm decays and cadence dwindles and all collapses to chaos as players hack and saw an absurd bramble of dissonant sound, out of time and out of sync. The harmony of music is the synergy of its parts, each with a unique assignment and role. If a single beat, player, or note violates its function, the symphony is fractured and things fall apart. In a like manner, the Hindu concept of Dharma describes a spiritual force that makes music from the untimed movement of life, rocks, and fire (Sarkar 317). The ancient Sanskrit epic Rámáyan of Válmíki uses the psychology of its principal character, his broken harmony with nature, and the deep spiritual concept of Darma to highlight the importance of living in tune with one's own true nature because as inward harmony is achieved so too is outward harmony reached with Dharma--transcendent living energy which binds all things and flows throughout the universe.
      The ancient writers of the Rámáyan of Válmíki epic employ the depressed psychology of a struggling would-be hero named Hanuman to illustrate the desperate need for one to accept his or her true nature, social caste, and given earthly role. To westerners, the concept of Dharma is a mystery at best but very likely unknown to most. To extend the convenient analogy of music, Dharma is not the symphony’s conductor but the energy which binds and moves the baton in his hand (Sarkar 315). Therefore, like an orchestra player, the goal of human life is to fulfill the role one is given, to play the arrangement of her class. The highest Dharma principle is to live in tune with the caste and fate one is given rather than struggle against his station, nature, and path. The highest dharma principle of life is to accept one's given nature and fulfill one's given role in life (Vālmīki 367). Thus, Dharma is foreign to the western mind in that it seems to run counter to the deeply cherished dream of upward mobility, autonomous success, and the individual prosperity of wealth. The rags-to-riches American Dream seems antithetical to the concept of Dharma and runs foreign in the mind of those who have long heard  that common American whisper, "work hard, move up, and follow your dreams." But, however deeply Dharma may seem to be at odds with the western world's unrequited quest for lasting personal happiness, the profound wisdom of Rámáyan of Válmíki proves Dharma not the enemy of individual self-fulfillment but the pathway to achieving it. In “Canto XIII,” Hanuman succumbs to deep anxiety and hopeless depression concerning his failure to find and rescue Sita, his “ravished queen” (476). Hanuman embraces the possibility that Sita may be dead and lost forever. Perhaps she struggled free and dropped into the ocean, or perhaps she died of shock and fear, or perhaps she was crushed by the “pressure of that monstrous hand” (403). In this moment of overwhelming despair, Hanuman has turned away from his dharma. In the darkness of his anxiety and depression, he has fallen out of tune with the hum of the universe and its great vibrating force. Hanuman has violated his dharma because he has forgotten that "Atman is Brahman" (Sarkar 320). According to the Hindu faith, Atman is the human soul and Brahman is the universal soul, the eternal essence of every particle. Brahman is the divine source of all existent things (321-23). Therefore, if Atman is Brahman, then the human soul is made of and wholly indistinguishable from the universal soul itself. Man is divinity and divinity is man. So, to fall prey to anxiety, depression, and doubt is to reject the divine, immutable stuff from which humans are made. To doubt and worry in the grips of despair is to obliterate the supreme power of which one is a part. To fall into despair is to forget the God that is you, just as Hanuman in his failure to find Sita (Vālmīki 470-73). If the virtue of dharma is to fulfill one’s station, nature, and role, then it is a violation of dharma to reject the divinity of Atman, thereby playing the discordant notes of deception and fear rather than the divine harmony of Dharma. However, as soon as Hanuman emerges from his depression, he regains the virtue of dharma and begins to play in tune again with the symphony of Brahman (485-87). Therefore, the wisdom of The Rámáyan of Válmíki instructs Eve to trust the divinity within her and Adam to accept the miraculous gift of his caste. The Rámáyan of Válmíki urges mankind to reject false futures, to deny anxiety and doubt, to abandon depression and thoughts of imminent doom, and to forsake armageddon in a final decisive stroke. Only then can he recognize the divine spirit within him and embrace that newer god-like whisper which says, "find the harmony of self and achieve unity with nature and there you will find balance, enrichment, peace, and happiness. There you will conduct the symphony of your life and know the energy of Dharma as its divine current controls the beat of your baton. (Word Count - 952)

Works Cited

Sarkar, Benoy Kumar. “The Theory of Property, Law, and Social Order in Hindu Political Philosophy.” International Journal of Ethics, vol. 30, no. 3, 1920, pp. 311–25. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2377667. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Vālmīki. “Canto XIII.” The Rámáyan of Válmíki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith, Trübner, 1874, pp. 401-87. The Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org/files/24869/24869-h/24869-h.html. Accessed 2 Jan. 2021.