What is an essay?

If you ask yourself what an essay is, you will discover that it is quite common. We all have had to develop an essay at some point. In general, this type of writing is common in school studies. However, the essay is a literary writing that many renowned authors have used to express their ideas. In essence, it is an argumentative text. It exposes the personal points of view on a subject while they are justified with arguments. Unlike other academic works, the essay gives us many freedoms, both stylistic and format. In short, we are facing a work in which the opinion argued on a given issue is expressed.

A bit of history about the essay

It is necessary to make a brief historical review before reviewing the definitions of what an essay is. In the literary tradition the French Michel de Montaigne is considered as the father of this genre. During the year 1580 a collection of writings of apparent disordered structure was published in France. In them the author laid the foundations of what would be a great tradition in universal literature.

Later, in full modernity, thinkers like Montesquieu, Blaise Pascal or John Locke cultivated the essay fruitfully. Already during the twentieth century the current essay was a tradition. In this way, the essay has given the world masterpieces written by Octavio Paz, Jorge Borges, Vargas Llosa, among others. Finally, the essay has become an excellent tool to evaluate students in colleges and universities.

To understand what an essay is

There is no single definition of what an essay is, in fact opinions are multiple and change depending on the author. For Ortega y Gasset, it is about science without explicit proof. On the other hand, Eduardo G√≥mez de Baquero argued that he was on the frontier of didactics and poetry. Even Eugenio d’Ors maintained that it was the poetization of knowledge. But what do these profound sentences mean? Just as we have read, the essay genre is a mix between rigorous academic studies and literature. That is, on the one hand the text is based on verifiable knowledge. On the other hand, it expresses a subjective position and does not intend to become scientific knowledge.

With the intention of making more understandable what an essay is, we will say that it is a free text that expresses a well-founded opinion. From this, we must bear in mind that the most important thing is to argue. You can not consider as an essay that work in which ideas are not demonstrated with arguments. Returning to what we already mentioned, in the essay you can use rhetorical figures, such as metaphors, similes, analogies, etc. In short, in this genre it is valid that the writer manages to develop his reasoning in a convincing and free way. Inevitably, the sensitivity of the author is revealed to a greater or lesser extent.

What are the characteristics of the trial?

Once we understand the basic notions of what a trial is, we will analyze its main characteristics. It is worth mentioning that the features described are only the most important and they are not the totality. Thus, most authors agree that it is an argumentative text, with the intention of convincing, logical, formal, with compositional freedom. Next we make a description:

  • Expository-argumentative: Many authors agree that it is an argumentative-expository text. This is due to the fact that personal points of view are exposed as much as they are argued.
  • Persuasive Purpose: The final objective of an essay is to convince by solid arguments a certain position. For this reason, the text should be understood as a tool to convince.
  • Use of logic: Deductive or inductive logic must be used. Some authors present evidence and then show their position. An essay that does not resort to a correct logic will not be clear despite using arguments.
  • Format and style: It is not necessary to resort to quotations during the whole essay, it is enough to place the corresponding bibliography or references at the end of the work. As for the tone used, this has to be formal. However, the use of rhetorical figures is allowed to embellish and give more strength to ideas.

Final considerations to understand what an essay is

Once all these data are exposed, we can conclude what a trial is. By way of synthesis we have that it is first of all a text of argumentative character. Through the use of pertinent arguments, the reader is convinced. For this to be possible, the work must logically present each of the sections. Regarding the structure, it will be enough to clearly delimit the introduction, the development and the conclusion. Finally, whoever writes is not obliged to make appointments in a specific format. It is usually enough to attach our references at the end. All these elements make the essay a practical and versatile tool to express our opinions on any topic. This makes it the most popular academic work.

Toni Rose

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