What is an Essay? An essay is a short composition treating of a particular subject in a methodical and orderly manner. Etymologically, it means an attempt to express one’s mind about a given subject-matter. Dr. Johnson, the famous literary essayist, defines it as “a loose sally of mind, an irregular and disorderly composition.” Walker thinks of it as a short, incomplete and unsystematic composition. Bacon defines it as “’dispersed meditations”. An essay may be written on any topic. It may be whimsical or logical, autobiographical or satirical, highly imaginative or playful.
Kinds of Essays
Essays are generally divided into six classes, viz :
This division is useful, so long as it is remembered these are not the only divisions, and that there are essays which include the characteristics of more than one class example, a narrative essay may contain a good deal of description, and a descriptive essay may contain in it much of reflection.
A Narrative Essay consists of the narration of some event, or series of events. Narrative composition may be on subjects as the following.
- Incidents (e.g. a street quarrel, a festival, a marriage).
- All accident or disaster of Nature (e.g. a fire, a river in flood, etc.)
- A journey or voyage
- A Trip or Walk
- Biographies (e.g., life of Quaid-e-Azam or Allama Iqbal)
- A Real or Imaginary Story.
A Descriptive Essay may consist of description of some place or thing. Descriptive composition may treat of such subject as the following:
- Animals, plants, metals, etc. (such as the lion, the cow, iron, gold).
- Towns, buildings etc., of all kinds (such as my city, museums, bridges).
- Aspects and phenomena of Nature (such as the monsoon, a waterfall, a moonlit night)
- Manufactured articles (motor cars, radio, television).
- Character Sketches.
- Description of Favourite Books.
A Reflective Essay consists of reflective upon some topic, which is generally of an abstract nature reflective composition may be on such subjects as the follow-:
- Habits, feelings, and capacities (such as thrift, discipline, patriotism).
- Social, political, and domestic topics (such as riches and poverty, education, democracy, and co-operative system).
- Philosophical subjects (such as morality, righteousness, virtue, the meaning and purpose of life).
- Religious and theological topics (such as the power of prayer, the soul).
An Expository Essay consists of the position or explanation of some subjects. Subjects for Expository essays may be:
- Institution, industries, occupations (e.g. Parliament, press, cottage, industries, the sugar industry, gardening, photography, electroplating, etc).
- Scientific topics (e.g. wireless, the telephone, the radio, astronomy, etc.)
- Literary topics (e.g. the nature of poetry, The appreciation of a novel or play, The appreci-ation of an author, the Romantic movement).
- Quotations or Sayings (e.g., ‘The child is father of the man’. ‘Time is money,’ ‘Honesty is the best policy.’
In an Argumentative Essay the writer is required to give his arguments for and against the proposition. The topics for argumentative essays are:
- Who is more useful to the country—the soldier or the teacher?
- Who is more useful to the country-the soldier or the teacher?
- Is war justifiable?
In an imaginative Essay the writer has full scope for his imagination. In writing such an essay, he has to place himself in a position of which he has had no actual experience. The topics for imaginative composition are:
- If I were the Prime Minister,
- The Autobiography of a Horse
- The Adventures of a Rupee.
How to write an Essay?
The following hints will be found useful in writing an essay:
- Devote at least ten minutes to understanding the subject. Plan out the essay first.
- Think over it, until ideas about it come into your mind. Jot down the various points on a piece of paper.
- Set down the plan. Arrange and group your ideas under different heads. Reject the points that are unsuitable.
- Arrange these heads in bare outline.
- Collect material to fit your ideas and fill out your outline.
- Now begin to write the essay, dividing it into paragraphs. Try to make every paragraph as clear, well-ordered, and complete as possible. Remember that a paragraph is a small essay, and that you cannot write a good essay unless you can write a good paragraph which is in itself a compact whole. Further, all these paragraphs must be linked up in such a way as to make of he essay an organic unity.
- The essay should consist of introduction, body and conclusion. .
- Make the introduction effective.
- Keep the parts of the essay in proper proportion. Do not fill the body of the essay with irrelevant matter.
- Make the conclusion effective and satisfying. A common-place ending is no good.
- Suit your style to the subject. Be simple as well as sincere in what you write. Be clear as well as brief. Be interesting as well as to the point. Do not write what you yourself don’t understand. Make your sentences short. Avoid writing long and involved sentences. Make your essay lively and readable.
- Resist all temptation to wander from the point. There is no room for the introduction of irrelevant matter in a short essay.
Style in Writing
You must try to write the whole essay in a simple, direct and forceful style. To acquire this you must pay attention to the following point: -
- Beware of using a word or phrase the meaning and application of which you do not thoroughly understand. Many writers are fond of using what they ‘call fine words’, whose meaning they do not know. The use of such words gives rise to foolish mistakes.
- Beware of using too many adjectives. Some people have a mistaken notion that the abundant use of superlatives makes their remarks more forceful.
- Rather the use of too many adjectives spoils the total effect of the essay.
- Do not try to air your knowledge by using a long word or phrase where a shorter and simpler one would express the meaning more effectively.
- Avoid the use of unnecessary words. In revising your essay find out useless repetitions and superfluous expressions, and strike them out mercilessly.
- Take pains to select such words and phrases as exactly express the ideas you have in mind. Frame your sentences in such a way that they appear quite clear and forceful.
- Let your words suit the sense, and your style suits the subject matter. In other words, the words and phrases should be so chosen and arranged as to fit in the subject under discussion. A serious subject should not be treated in a light or humorous style nor should a bright and humorous subject be treated in a heavy style.
- Stick to the main point of the essay as far as possible. See that your thoughts do not wander away from the main theme of your essay. Thus, for instance, if you are asked to write an essay on “Country life”, you should avoid unnecessarily dwelling at length upon the various points connected with “town life.”
- Be clear in what you write. Do not leave the other people to guess your meaning. Search for the clearest way of expressing each idea. Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
- Be direct: use short sentences in preference to long and involved ones.
- Be simple: don’t attempt to write in a flowery language. Avoid the use of metaphors. Shun gaudy phrases and bombastic words. Use simple words and constructions.
- Be varied: don’t make every sentence of the same length and of the same construction. Don’t overwork words.
- Be natural: do not try to imitate another’s style. Be yourself. Say things in your own way.