Essay – We explain what an essay is, its types and characteristics. Also, how to write an essay and examples of essays by great authors.
What is an essay?
The essay is a type of text in prose, generally expository-argumentative, in which an author reflects, lectures, evaluates or analyzes a topic of his choice. It is a literary genre, which subjectively addresses a theme and has a free format, in which the author uses rigorous and verified information to formulate its arguments.
Essays can deal with a wide variety of topics, in disciplines such as literature, philosophy, and economics. It is also common for essays to be written in the academic field, academic essays usually adhere to standards of objectivity, methodological rigor and more or less established formats; within the scientific or humanistic field.
The essay as a genre was born in the Renaissance, around the 16th century, a time when the dissemination of ideas and pedagogy were considered central to the work of intellectuals.
Important essayists were Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Pío Baroja (1872-1956), José Enrique Rodó (1871-1917) and José Carlos Mariátegui (1894-1930).
The term “essay” is also common in other artistic fields, such as the cinematographic, in which we speak of “film essay” to refer to a film that, instead of telling a story, develops an idea or concept. The “photo essay”, similarly, is used in photography to refer to a set of images on a subject.
The main characteristics of the test are:
- It is a prose writing that addresses a significant topic chosen by the author.
- Its purpose is to explore a topic and express the author’s ideas, views and opinions about it. It is argumentative and can also be a persuasive piece.
- It must be specific and address a clear and not very broad topic.
- It can be about a large number of topics, within disciplines such as politics, economics, literature or philosophy.
- It is often written for academic purposes or to add knowledge in a specific area of knowledge.
- It is considered a literary genre belonging to didactics, related to the miscellany, the epistle or the dissertation.
- Its structure is flexible, since the author uses a free form to address the topic of interest, although in many cases an essay has an introduction, a middle, and an outcome.
- Its length can be variable, from a few pages to a whole book.
- It is addressed to a wide and varied audience, so it usually uses simple vocabulary and writing.
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Types of Essay
The essay is classified according to the area of knowledge to which it belongs and the methodology used in its writing in:
- Literary essay: It is a type of essay that uses literary resources to address the author’s point of view on a certain topic within the field of letters. It is a subjective and detailed work.
- Scientific essay: It is a type of essay in which the author gives his position or opinion on some topic within the area of science. The essay usually includes objective and verified information and clear and precise arguments.
- Academic essay: It is a type of essay that is carried out within intellectual, school or university communities. It usually uses a formal vocabulary and is expository and rigorously methodological.
- Philosophical essay: It is a type of essay that exposes and reflects on a theme of the philosophical discipline. Includes the author’s observations, opinions, and viewpoints.
- Sociological essay: It is a type of essay that addresses a topic within the field of sociology. The author exposes clear and checked information and offers his reflections and opinions.
- Historical essay: It is a type of essay that addresses a theme within the field of history. In the historical essay the author provides information on the topic of interest and offers his reflections and arguments.
- Expository essay: It is a type of essay in which the author seeks to publicize and explain a topic clearly and in detail, so that it is understood by the reader. This type of essay is not intended to offer the author’s arguments or opinions on the subject.
- Descriptive essay: It is a type of essay in which the author describes in detail a certain element or situation, such as a person, thing or place. It is a subjective essay in which the author gives his point of view or perspective on what he describes.
Parts of an essay
There is no single or universal way to structure an essay, but generally an essay is made up of three main parts:
- Introduction: It is the part of the essay in which the bases, context and minimum concepts are laid so that the reader knows the theme and point of view of the writing. The introduction begins every essay and is usually brief and explanatory.
- Knot or development: It is the part of the essay in which the main ideas of the subject are exposed and in which the author argues or gives his positions or points of view. It is the longest part of the essay.
- Closing or conclusion: It is the part of the essay that provides the reader with the final interpretations of what has been stated, summarizing or reviewing the vital points and the author’s position.
How to do an essay?
- Choosing a theme: It is important that the chosen theme generates interest and motivation in the author, so that he can develop and present his own arguments and points of view. The topic to be addressed must be limited and simple in order to carry out a clear and consistent investigation and essay.
- Research on the subject: Qualified sources should be used to learn about the topic of interest. Knowing about the subject will allow the author to make a judgment or opinions that will be the basis of the essay. Depending on the theme chosen, you should find out which sites it is appropriate to investigate, they can be both virtual sources and physical supports (such as books and magazines). It is also important to collect previous studies or essays on similar topics, which will help to understand the different approaches and ramifications of the chosen topic.
- Develop a point of view: Once the subject is known in its entirety, the author must put together his arguments and points of view, which he will then seek to transmit to the reader. It is essential that these arguments are original and that they generate motivation in the author.
- Make an outline: Once the information has been compiled, and having clear the main ideas of the essay, a synthetic outline can be made to order the most important points.
- Writing the essay: During the writing of the essay, information, hard data and personal opinions must be included briefly and clearly. All the information that supports the arguments and helps in the assembly of the conclusions will be used. To write an essay, factors such as the use of correct punctuation and spelling must be taken into account to achieve a clear and coherent writing.
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Some examples of essays are:
- “Essays” by Michel de Montaigne.
- “Essay on friendship” by Alberto Nin Frías.
- “Procrastinate” by Gabriel Zaid.
- “Of the tragic feeling of life” by Miguel de Unamuno.
- “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf.
- “The double flame” by Octavio Paz.
- “The rebellion of the masses” by José Ortega y Gasset.
- “Black Holes and Small Universes” by Stephen Hawking.
- “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” by Max Weber.
- “The truth of lies” by Mario Vargas Llosa.
Essay Topics, Essay Writing Format, Types of Essay