The Inadequacy of PEAL & Other Paragraph Structures (1 Viewer)


Jan 12, 2015
Hi everyone, my name is Anqi. I recently from medical school and will spend a year away from medicine to pursue my passions in high school english education. I have been teaching high school English for almost 7 years now. I've been floating around BOS partly to see what questions students want answered to constantly update class materials and partly to see if there are any questions I can help answer.

Cutting to the chase, I know a lot of students are taught PEAL, PETAL, STEEL etc for their essay structures but often for some reason structure is still something they struggle with. There are some threads which share the structures students have been taught but I personally believe there are inadequacies in a lot of these structures.

PEAL, PETAL, STEEL and other acronyms tend to be paragraph structures. By that I mean they tell you how to structure essay from topic sentence to concluding sentence. What is neglected is how to structure the quote analysis itself.

For example, if I translate PEAL into what they actually represent in the english essay:
Evidence - QUOTE

Ok fine, fair. But how many quotes do I use? Do I use a linking sentence for every quote I use? How do I start using the quote????

It's helpful for the essay beginner but as essays become more conceptually complex, more order is often needed to help with structural clarity.

What is needed is a structure for every quote/sub-point that is to be used. Let me introduce you to a friend of mine:

👨‍🦲PETE 👨‍🦲

👨‍🦲 EXAMPLE (quote)

This is a structure that should be applied for every single quote used. It ensures you don't use quotes that you can't find a technique in. It ensures you have a reason for using each quote and it ensures you unpack each quote without feeling confused about if you need to link every quote back to the entire topic sentence (you don't by the way).

A paragraph would thus look like:
PETE4 (so on and so forth)


Example paragraph:
Shylock’s rounded characterisation and emotional storytelling invites questioning into the Elizabethan’s anti-semitic attitudes. During the 16th century, Jews were not legally allowed to live in England and were seen by Christians to be sly merchants. Shakespeare gives Shylock multiple facets. He is initially portrayed as the stereotyped Christian-hating Jew as he speaks of his “ancient grudge” against Antonio in his aside. The allusion to the deep-seeded religious conflict characterises Shylock to align with the Elizabethan audience’s perception. However, Shylock’s hatred is given justification in his dramatic monologue detailing Antonio’s mistreatment and how he spat “upon my [Shylock’s] Jewish gaberdine”. The symbolic tainting of Shylock’s religious garments presents an alternative view that places Jewish hatred as the consequence of Christian prejudice. Shylock’s deep grief at his daughter, Jessica’s betrayal is expressed in his incredulous exclamation, “My own flesh and blood to rebel!” This is juxtaposed against Salarino’s use of colour symbolism to state that Shylock compared to Jessica is “jet and ivory”. The contrast captures the deeply racist Christian attitude as well as emphasises Shylock’s intensely human pain. Shylock’s justification in his hatred of Christians is furthered as he delivers his famous monologue. Shylock recounts that Antonio “laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine”. The asyndeton emphasises the mistreatment Shylock was forced to endure. The list is juxtaposed with the sudden truncation in, “what's his reason? I am a Jew.” The hypophora emphasises the pain individuals experience when subject to racial discrimination. Through asides and monologues, Shakespeare gives Shylock a voice creates a rounded, human version of what Elizabethan society had caricatured. In modern society minority groups, such as immigrants, are bound by their various ethnic stereotypes. Shakespeare's juxtaposition between Shylock's public image and the emotional pain he experiences invites reflection upon the time defying necessity of empathy for individual experiences.

Let's break down that first PETE
Shylock is initially portrayed as the classic Christian-hating Jew [sub-point: the small chunk of the topic sentence you break off and start chewing at] as he speaks of his “ancient grudge” [example: our quote. Note how it is integrated into the sentence grammatically] against Antonio in his aside. The allusion [Techniques: don't settle for one when the right words will give you 2 or even 3. I have identified 2 here] to the deep-seeded religious conflict characterises Shylock to align with the Elizabethan audience’s perception. [Effect: the ultimate reason why the technique was used in the first place]

As you can see, we have:
1. given a reason for this particular quote to be used
2. not over-extended our quote, i.e. tried to use 2 words to prove the entire topic sentence 😬
3. clearly showed how the technique created the effect that allowed us to come to our sub-point

When each quote is organised in the PETE structure the analysis will automatically be structurally sound.

You don't need to abandon PEAL or PETAL completely! Just remember that they are more about the structure of the entire paragraph. For each specific quote use PETE to help keep you grounded 😄

Please feel free to ask questions about PETE or just high school English. I hope this was helpful!

P.S. the number of quotes you choose to use depend on how many little chunks you take out of your topic sentences. For 1000 word essays with 3 body paragraphs, the wriggle room is around 3-5.

P.P.S. my students have been practising PETE for so long they have developed an irrational fear of anyone named "Peter". 😅😅😅

If you have read this far you're probably serious about English and want to better your results.
Follow us on social media for more tips, lessons and advice!

: @simply_english_tutoring
Youtube: Simply English Tutoring
Our Blog:

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)