Essay definition: get more details

A writing work, giving the author’s own argument is known as an essay. However, the given essay definition turns to be vague, it overlaps with those of a review, a short story, not to mention a pamphlet. Scholars have traditionally sub-classified essays as informal and formal. Formal essays come with a serious purpose, logical organization and dignity, while informal ones have the so-called personal element, individual tastes, confidential manner, self-revelation as well as experiences. We should also add a graceful style, rambling structure, humor, novelty or unconventionality of the theme.

Essays are commonly utilized as literary criticism, persuasive arguments, reflections, political manifestos, observations of daily life and recollections. Nearly all modern essays are written in exactly prose, though some writing works in verse have been called dubbed essays too.

In some countries, such as Canada and the United States, essays have become a key part of formal education. Apparently, secondary learners are taught exactly structured essay formats for the purpose of improving their writing skills, while admission essays are often utilized by universities to choose applicants. As for the humanities and social sciences, this type of writing work is often employed as a way of assessing the performance of learners during final examinations.

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We can’t give just one universal essay definition. This genre can be defined in many ways. For instance, one definition states that it’s a prose writing work, having a focused subject of discussion or a systematic, long discourse. Obviously, it’s not easy to define the literary genre into which an essay falls. A leading essayist, Aldous Huxley stresses that an essay appears to be a literary device to tell nearly everything about almost anything. Moreover, Huxley adds that essays can be effectively studied within a three-poled frame of reference. When talking about the three poles we mean:

  • The objective, the concrete and the factual: The authors, writing from this pole don’t speak directly of themselves. These guys turn their attention outward to some literary, political or scientific topic. They set forth, pass judgment upon and make general conclusions from the relevant information.
  • The abstract-universal: The given pole suggests finding those essayists who deal with the world of high abstractions. They’re never personal and they rarely mention the particular facts of experience.
  • The personal and the autobiographical: Here, we mean the essayists, writing fragments of reflective autobiography and looking at the world through the keyhole of description and anecdote.

The term “essay” descends from the French word “essayer”, meaning “to try.” In English this word also stands for “an attempt”, and it’s still actual. The prominent Frenchman Michel de Montaigne turned to be the first writer to describe his work exactly as essays. Michel utilized the term with the only purpose of characterizing these as “attempts” to put his ideas to paper, and his essays evolved from his commonplacing. Greatly inspired by the works of Plutarch, he started composing his papers in 1572. Until his death, Montaigne kept revising essays released before. He also wrote new ones. Released in 1612, 1625 and 1597, Francis Bacon’s essays, turned to be the first writing works in English, which described themselves exactly as essays. By the way, in 1609 Ben Jonson first employed the word essayist in the English language, as the Oxford English Dictionary stresses.

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  • Forms and styles

Now it’s time to shift to the different styles and forms of essay writing. They’re employed by an array of writers, including university learners as well as professional essayists. We keep exploring the essay definition.

  • Cause and effect

The distinctive features of this type of essay are causal chains, connecting from a cause to an effect, emphatic or chronological order and careful language. Au author, utilizing this rhetorical method should consider the subject and the audience. He or she should also determine the purpose, ponder critically over different causes or consequences. Moreover, this author is also expected to consider a thesis statement, the language, and finally decide on a conclusion.

  • Classification and division

That’s the categorization of things into a larger entity. As for division, it’s the dividing a larger stuff into smaller parts.

  • Compare and contrast

These essays come with a basis for comparison, analogies and points of comparison. The comparison points out to the similarities between two or more similar things, while contrasting deals with the differences between two or more objects. When writing a compare and contrast essay, authors should determine their purpose. They also consider the audience, the basis and points of comparison, the thesis statement. In addition to this, they need to develop the comparison and make a conclusion.

  • Descriptive

This type of essay writing is characterized by sensory details, appealing to the physical senses of the audience. Determining the purpose, considering the readers, making a dominant impression by means of descriptive language, and finally organizing the description appear to be the rhetorical choices to consider when utilizing a description. A description is normally arranged spatially, though it can also be emphatic and chronological. The scene is the focus of a description. It makes use of tools such as denotative language, figurative language, metaphor, connotative language and simile in order to arrive at a dominant impression.

  • Dialectic

The given type of essay is commonly employed in philosophy. Here, the author makes a thesis as well as argument. After this, he or she objects to their own argument, then counters the counterargument with a final as well as novel argument. This format derives benefits from presenting a broader perspective while countering a probable flaw, which some might present. An alternative name of this essay is an ethics paper.

  • Exemplification

It’s characterized by a generalization and representative, believable and relevant examples including anecdotes. Authors require considering their subject. They should also determine their purpose, take into account the audience, offer specific examples, and also bring all the parts together.

  • History

A thesis essay, also dubbed a history essay, illustrates an argument or claim about one or several historical events and backs that claim with arguments, evidence as well as references. It makes it clear to the audience why this particular claim or argument is used.

  • Narrative

A narrative utilizes tools such as flash-towards, flashbacks as well as transitions, often building to a climax. The plot happens to be the very focus of a narrative. When working on a narrative, writers should determine their purpose. They need to take into consideration their readers. Additionally, they’re expected to present their opinion, utilize dialogue, and finally organize the narrative. Obviously, a narrative is composed in the chronological order.

  • Argumentative

An argumentative essay turns to be a critical paper, presenting objective analysis of a particular subject, in turn narrowed down to one theme. The key idea of all the criticism is to offer a point of view either of negative or positive implication. This paper can’t do without research and analysis, sharp structure, to say nothing of internal logic. Every argument needs to be backed with substantial evidence, quite relevant to the point.