WHAT IS AN ESSAY?
An essay is a rather short piece of writing, a literary composition on a single subject. Usually essays deal with philosophical, social, aesthetic or literary subjects, though you can find essays on linguistics, economics, ethnography, etc. The word "essay" derives from the French "essayer" which means to try or attempt. Thus, essays rather state the problem than solve it. In the essay you define the subject under discussion, prove it is worth arguing about, provide a certain kind of analysis (though without attempting completeness), and express your point of view on the issue. It is the goal that determines the form of your writing, language means, stylistic layer, and vocabulary employed. As writing is a means of communication, the general goals of it will be corresponding; to supply the reader with information, to evaluate or analyse it, to persuade the reader that the expressed point of view is the best, or at least worthy. Essay-writing sets two main goals: 1. to express an opinion on the topic;
2. to make the reader accept that point of view.
But what makes the essay a unique type of writing is the presence of such categories as emotiveness and expressiveness. Consequently, the most characteristic features of the essay are: 1.
Use of the first person singular;
Direct address to the reader;
Elaborate, logical Structure;
Careful choice of argumentation;
Expanded use of connectives (which facilitate the process of grasping the correlation of ideas); 6.
Use of emotive words and other expressive means;
Use of metaphors and other stylistic devices;
Brevity of expression.
According to the primary goal, we can distinguish four types of essays: expository (where you mainly inform the reader, demonstrating your own knowledge on the subject), persuasive (where you present several points of view on the subject, take and dispute one, persuading the reader to accept it), analytical (where you define the subject, analyse it and give your own interpretations), informal or entertaining (the aim of which is to reflect on your own ideas and emotions in a rather informal way or to purely entertain the reader). You should definitely bear in mind that this division is very subtle. As a rule all purposes overlap in the essay. However, to perfect your paper, you would like to choose and stick to one primary goal for your writing.
Exercise 1. Analyse an essay of your choice following the questions: What spheres of human activity dues it deal with? What were the possible goals for writing this essay? To what type would you refer this essay? Find the characteristic features.
CONSIDERING THE TOPIC
The difficulties with writing an essay can occur even before you set yourself to writing - at the prewriting stage, when you think your work over. First of all, you should be conscious of what in particular you are going to consider. And then comes the problem of choosing the subject, determining the topic, and formulating the thesis of your essay. According to Webster's new world dictionary of the American language, ‘subject’ is the general word for whatever is dealt with in discussion, study, writing, art, etc. 'Topic' is a subject of common interest selected for individual treatment, аs in the essay, or for discussion by a group of persons. A topic is the subject of a paragraph, essay, speech, etc.; a heading or an item in an outline. 'Thesis' is a proposition to be maintained or defended in argument. So, as it can be seen, the topic and the subject are the most general notions that define what you are writing about. The topic may serve as the title оf your writing but not necessarily. From a general topic, you would draw and formulate, in the form of a thesis, one or several ideas that are supposed to he discussed in the writing. When you are given the topic of an essay you are supposed to write, half of the work is done for you. But still, before taking a pen, stop and ask yourself:...
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