Guide How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay in Shakespeare Studies: To Be or not to Be?

Writing guide
Posted on October 7, 2019

What is a Cause and Effect Essay in Shakespeare Studies?

In the literary world, a cause and effect essay is frequently utilized by writers who want to analyze causes and effects of various phenomena, situations, or actions. This kind of paper requires that the essayist combines his or her writing skill with critical thinking ability in order to make an in-depth analysis of a particular situation or occurrence and determine which changes were brought by these events and what are the effects of them.

A cause and effect essay is one of the most commonly used types of paper in the academic field. As a rule, such kind of writing is entirely devoted to the exploration and discussion of causes and effects, but there are also instances when only a part of an essay consists of these elements. Similarly, in the cases when the word-count is limited to one-two pages, the author might focus his or her discussion on either causes or effects.

In quite the same manner, a cause and effect essay in Shakespeare Studies follows the academic tradition of a cause and effect paper with only one exception – the issue under discussion must concern works of William Shakespeare. Therefore, the situations, actions, and phenomena that are used as a basis for the examination of causes should, in most cases, be extracted from the original works of the playwright; the same applies with the effects, of course.

Nevertheless, the reasons and results for your cause and effect essay in Shakespeare Studies may also come from external events that are connected with the playwright’s oeuvre. Specifically, like any other writer in the past or nowadays, Shakespeare was affected by the period he lived in, including the political situation, social standards, and culture. Many issues that are characteristic to his period are reflected in the plays, either vividly shown or hidden by the metaphors. Thus, when writing a cause and effect essay in Shakespeare Studies, you may also focus on external circumstances around the playwright; particularly, causes and their reflection in Shakespeare’s works, effects.

Choosing a Topic for a Cause and Effect Essay in Shakespeare Studies

There are three effective ways to choose a topic for your cause and effect essay. The first and easiest one is to pick a subject that was proposed by the educator. In this manner, you are sure that the topic is correct and will always be approved. The second method implies researching literature for information and inspiration. Thus, you will not only expand your knowledge regarding Shakespeare Studies but also find useful sources that could later be used for the references. The third way is to select a topic by looking into a wide variety of potential subjects on the Internet and choosing the one that impressed you the most.

  • Othello: The Effect of Rumors and Public Opinion on a Person’s Actions
  • The Influence of Hamlet’s Behavior on the Mental Well-Being of Ophelia
  • Macbeth: The Influence of Lust for Power on a Person’s Life
  • What are the Effects of Social Gender Standards on Shakespeare’s Works?
  • How was Shakespeare Affected by the Historical Period He Lived in?

Pre-Writing Tips

Having identified the topic does not mean that you should immediately start writing an essay. Instead, you have to concretize on specific issues that are going to be analyzed since the mentioned-above topics are too general, so you should narrow them down. Thus, it is essential to do a profound research, find and review credible sources, and of course, you should be closely familiar with Shakespeare’s works that are going to be discussed. In fact, there are cases when an instructor does not demand any external sources, so, in this case, you can do well only by reviewing the original works. However, those are rare instances since higher academic levels require deep research. Besides, it is always better to look out for ideas in other’s works, which will significantly decrease the amount of time spent at pre-writing period.

Besides, perfectionism is the worst enemy of a writer at the pre-writing stage. You can be stuck for hours on a blank page, thinking that the first word or sentence ought to be perfect. In this manner, it is always better to deliberately spoil the white void of the black page with few basic words that indicate the headlines of the essay, such as introduction, main body, conclusion.

However, creating a simple outline is a much better way to avoid being stuck at the pre-writing stage. A short outline will not only help you to overcome perfectionism but will also guide you throughout the whole writing process. Thus, try to compose a sentence or set of words for each part of the essay, including an introduction, thesis statement, body sections and its topic sentences, and a concluding paragraph. In fact, the most critical aspect of the outline is a thesis statement since it already is a sketch of your essay, which includes all primary points. Thus, if you experience problems when conducting the thesis, try to investigate more about the topic in order to choose the causes and effects that you want to analyze.

Structure of a Cause and Effect Essay in Shakespeare Studies

By the most part, a cause and effect essay follows a typical structure of an academic essay since it contains an introduction, main body, and concluding section. However, the order of its body paragraphs may vary depending on the specifics of the selected topic and preferences of the writer. Particularly, such an essay may follow either a block or chain model of the structure. The first model implies that all causes are examined in the first part of the main body, and effects are presented in the second one. In turn, the chain method of structuring is used to present a cause and immediately explain its effect in the same paragraph. When writing a cause and effect essay in Shakespeare Studies, you should choose a model of structure depending on the work you are going to analyze. For instance, if an effect of an action is immediate, then it is better to choose the chain model. However, if effects become vivid only at the end of the literary piece, then you would probably want to choose a block structure in order to analyze all of the causes first, and then consider what the effects are.


The very first section of you cause and effect essay is an introduction, and here you should inform your audience about the general aspects of the selected topic and present the ways in which you are going to analyze the chosen subject. The first sentence of this paragraph should not go beyond general information, but, at the same time, it also ought to grab readers attention. For example, in the event that you are composing a paper on the influence of Hamlet’s actions on Ophelia’s mental well-being, you might start from mentioning how masterfully Shakespeare always managed to describe the interactions between his characters and the effects of these relationships. In this manner, you will present the topic under discussion and make your readers want to learn more about the features and consequences of these interconnections.

Then, in the next part of your introduction, you should concertize which particular work of the playwright is going to be analyzed and present some common facts about it. Keep in mind, however, that you should not incorporate an extensive biography of Shakespeare since, first of all, it is not an essay on his life, and secondly, he is already a recognized author, most people are already familiar with.

The last and the most significant part of an introductory paragraph is a thesis statement. As a rule, it consists of one or two sentences that establish the focus of the paper and provide a brief overview of what is going to be analyzed in an essay point by point. In fact, your thesis statement may focus rather on causes than on effects, and vice versa. However, if you are going to analyze Shakespeare’s Hamlet, you should batter pick an equal amount of causes and effects.

For instance, you might go with the following thesis statement:
‘Hamlet’s negligent attitude towards Ophelia and the fact that he killed her father significantly affected the girl’s mental well-being, which later led to inadequate behavior and her death.’

Keep in mind that too generalized thesis statement will negatively affect the academic success of your paper. Particularly, if you simply write that ‘Hamlet had a significant impact on Ophelia’s mental well-being,’ then the readers are not informed about the specifics of your analysis, and thus the purpose of the thesis statement is not fulfilled.

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of a cause and effect essay in Shakespeare Studies should follow a clear structure. First of all, each body section should start with a topic sentence that introduces the idea of the passage. Note that topic sentences should always be linked to the essay’s thesis statement. In this manner, your first body paragraph might look like the following example:

‘During the play, Hamlet plays with Ophelia’s feelings toward him and neglects her affection.’
This topic sentence vividly presents the point that is going to be discussed in the body section. Furthermore, it is one of the causes that is mentioned in the thesis statement, which makes it linked to the purpose of the essay. In this manner, considering the thesis statement mentioned above, your paper should include four body sections, two of which examines the causes of Ophelia’s transformation, while the other two presents the effects of it. Note that such an essay should better follow a block structure.

After the idea is introduced, you should continue arguing your point and support it with evidence. You may include some extracts from the original work, Hamlet, or find credible sources that explore the same subject. In fact, incorporating citations into the essay will both boost the credibility of the information presented and promote its academic success.

Additionally, it is fundamental to have a smooth transition between the body sections to guarantee the progression of your essay. In this manner, you should remember that each body passage ought to refer to the thesis statement, as well as be connected between one another. This connection can be realized with the help of transitional words and phrases. Besides, the last sentence of a body paragraph should summarize the primary idea of the passage and lead a reader to the next point, which is discussed in the next section.


The concluding paragraph is the last piece of your cause and effect paper that gives a brief outline of the principle exposition claims. In this section, you ought not merely to rehash the thesis statement but rather likewise offer extra bits of information into the topic that you have picked up while composing the essay. However, it does not mean that you should add any information that goes beyond the discussed subject. Similarly, you should not incorporate citations into the concluding sections since it should consist purely of the knowledge that was acquired and analyzed by you. Besides, like any other kind of academic essay, the cause and effect paper should end with a concluding statement indicating the value of your work.

Post-Writing Tips

The most important thing to understand during a post-writing stage is that though you finished writing the paper, it is still just a draft and needs plenty of upgrades. For example, the writing process requires the essayist to be significantly focused on the formulation and expression of ideas. Thus, it is no surprise that sometimes the writer pays little attention to the grammatical quality of the text, or even neglects fundamental rules for the sake of creativity and not to lose a momentous inspiration. Therefore, it is always important to carefully reread and revise the paper, finding and correcting such common mistakes as misplaced modifiers, punctuation errors, or tense verb disagreement.

Additionally, when revising the paper, think about whether your sections and thoughts are sorted out in a cognizant flow. In turn, if you feel like the coherency of the essay should be improved, you can utilize transitional words and phrases that will organize the text and its ideas in a smooth sequence. Then, you should ask yourself whether your arguments are supported enough with evidence and whether it is convincing. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that there is always room for improvement, you should avoid the call of perfectionism and doing unnecessary corrections.

On the last stage of your revision process, you should pay close attention to in-text citations and the reference page. You must be sure that all the direct quotes are in the quotation marks and cited according to formatting style standards, which is often stated in instructions from the educator. In fact, you can check all the recent updates of formatting style on OWL Perdue website. Besides, when rereading the paper see whether the paraphrased information from the external sources is appropriately cited since otherwise it might be considered as plagiarism and your final mark or ever academic success will significantly suffer.
If you follow all of the mentioned-above tips, it is most likely that your cause and effect essay in Shakespeare Studies will succeed and receive a high mark.

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