Simple examples of MEAL paragraphs

What follows are some simple, stand-alone examples of MEAL paragraphs. Their simplicity should help you see the various parts of the paragraphs more clearly, but remember that in practice paragraphs will often be more complex, requiring more transition work.

Additionally, the evidence and analysis steps are sometimes repeated within a single paragraph (creating a much messier acronym: MEAEAL). For more detailed consideration of some of these complexities, see our article on paragraph structure.

MEAL paragraph in literary analysis

In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the narrator, Ishmael, grapples with the mystery of humankind’s fascination with the sea as a proxy for humankind’s fascination with the spiritual, or the supernatural. For Ishmael, the sea represents, in his words, “the ungraspable phantom of life” (20). We can infer from the supernatural connotations of this conception of the sea that when Ishmael speaks of the sea in other passages, he is at once concerning himself with the spiritual. Hence, although Ishmael is perhaps not a pious man, he feels the pull of spiritual concerns as surely as he feels the pull of the sea.

M – The main idea (for Ishmael, the sea is a metaphor for the spiritual) leads the paragraph here, but it will usually be preceded by a transition phrase or sentence. For examples of more varied paragraphs, see our annotated essay example.

E – The evidence here is simply the quotation given in the second sentence. Notice the authority that distinguishes it as evidence: the quotation itself is indisputable (i.e. it’s indisputable that “the ungraspable phantom of life” is something Ishmael references in Moby Dick).

A – The analysis takes the form of interpretation of the quotation. Notice both that this analysis explains the quotation and relates it to the main idea of the paragraph, and that this statement is far easier to dispute (though it should still be convincing).

L – The last thought wraps up the content of the paragraph, affirming the link between the sea and the spiritual for Ishmael.

MEAL paragraph in sociology essay

One way of measuring equality between genders is assessment of women’s roles in a society’s upper economic echelon, allowing us to see whether the push for equality between the genders has penetrated to the most influential levels of society. In such measurements, we can see that economic parity is a distant prospect and should continue to be an area that receives much consideration. In June of 2014, Caroline Fairchild reported in Fortune Magazine, encouragingly, that women are seeing the highest representation on America’s Fortune 500 since the magazine started keeping track in 1998. She also reported, however, that despite this modest rise, women still make up only 4.8% of the people on that list. Regardless of whether or not the middle and lower classes are seeing more comparable economic success between genders, sites of economic power, it seems, are still largely unavailable to women. Such numbers urge that one of the major of focuses of feminist theory should continue to be establishing economic equity between genders, especially because of the massive, societal power differential between genders that such an economic divide suggests. The continuing wage gap, especially in the upper economic levels, suggests that economic gender inequality continues to be a legitimate concern.

M – Notice that expression of the main idea runs acceptably over two sentences here. The first is required to introduce the method of argument, while the second provides the method’s insights (women are still not in places of economic power, so this is a legitimate continuing concern).

E – Here, again, the facts are taken to be more or less indisputable, and the evidence portion of the paragraph acceptably runs over two sentences.

A – The analysis, once more, presents the significance of the evidence—what we should draw from the facts. Notice, once more, the length.

L – The concluding sentence picks out and ties together the highlights of the paragraph, affirming them and making the paragraph’s main point more easy to digest for the reader.


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