How to Write a Main Body Paragraph for Section A of the VCE English Exam

There is no one way to write a main body paragraph in VCE English but here is a basic structure (known as the TEEL structure) that may focus your response and help to strengthen your interpretation.

Topic sentence:

Outlines the overarching idea or argument of the paragraph


Quotes and language techniques from the text that are used to justify your interpretation. Make sure that you are integrating quotes into your sentences – two to eight word quotes are generally sufficient.


Elaborates on the evidence and ideas provided above, also using textual evidence. 


Concludes the paragraph by returning to the overarching idea or argument raised in the topic sentence and indicating its relevance to the prompt.

Let’s look at some main body paragraph examples.

Both paragraphs pertain to texts listed on the VCE English booklist: Rear Window a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Persepolis a graphic novel written by Marjane Satrapi.


Through the claustrophobic atmosphere of the courtyard setting Hitchcock evokes a sense of latent paranoia and suspense that foreshadows the central role of suspicion in the film. (15) In a world where there is ostensibly “nothing to do but look out into the windows of the neighbours”, the panning shots of the opening sequence indulge in a languorous voyeurism that metamorphoses into Jeff’s sinister speculation of a “neighbourhood murder”. (16) Through using the camera as a “portable keyhole” into the “private lives” of the courtyard neighbours, Hitchcock seemingly rejects “rear window ethics” and actively participates in the covertly intrusive ethos of 1950s America. (17) The simile rendering the courtyard neighbours “like a bug under glass” emphasises the probing role of the camera in portraying glimpses into their variously dysfunctional lives. Hitchcock’s ensemble of disillusioned characters, from the desperate Miss Lonely-Heart to the bickering Newly-Weds, embody a profound cynicism that is magnified in Lars Thorwald’s gruesome murder of his wife. (18) Amid this atmosphere of heightened tension, symbolised at the beginning of the film by the stifling heat wave, Hitchcock justifies suspicion, first as a mode of voyeuristic amusement yet ultimately as a means to purge villainous criminals and restore amity to American society. (19)

Persepolis’ nuanced exploration of Marji’s formative experiences is a significant way in which the graphic novel conforms to the traditional coming of age genre. (20) In the first chapter titled “the veil”, Satrapi visually represents the intrusion of politics into the carefree world of childhood in the panel depicting the playful antics of the young school children who respond to the mandatory wearing of the veil with naivety. (21) Extending the conceit of childhood innocence, Satrapi evokes the optimism of childhood through Marji’s initial belief in her “prophetic destiny” and earnest desire to improve the lives of others which she denotes in her “holy book”. The mirth of Marji’s peers at her six-year-old conviction that she is “the last prophet” represents the first time in the novel that her faith and identity are challenged. In her precocious pursuit of understanding – epitomised by her engagement with a comic book denoting Karl Marx’s “Dialectic Materialism” – Marji begins to cognise the adult world and develop her own political world view. (22) Her rebellious decision to “demonstrate on the street”, against the wishes of her parents, typify the nascent experiences of her coming of age and thus, situate Persepolis within the bildungsroman genre. (23)


14. Note that the “EE” section of TEEL is often repeated several times in each paragraph

15. Topic sentence

16. Evidence comprising of quotes from the text and specific devices (e.g. camera shots)

17.  Explanation develops the idea of the camera and the setting introduced above

18.  Evidence and explanation are repeated to extend the paragraph and the scope of the discussion

19. The final sentence links to the topic sentence and contention of the essay – reasserting a claim in response to the prompt

20. Topic sentence

21. Evidence includes both the text and images (as this is a graphic novel, addressing the images is pertinent)

22. Evidence and explanation are integrated and repeated throughout the paragraph

23. The final sentence links to the topic sentence and contention of the essay – reasserting a claim in response to the prompt

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