Introduction to the Essay
Essay. The word comes from the French essai (an attempt), first applied in 1580 by Montaigne to his short writings. The chief implication in the word being “a tentative study” an essay is often of a few pages but there is no fixed length. (In an examination, however, a word limit is usually given; if not, the time limit governs the length. In a matter of three hours you could be expected to write an essay ranging between 1000 and 1500 words.)
The literary genre allows a great variety of styles: from Bacon’s pithy erudition to Lamb’s chatty and personal ramblings, to the impersonal, formal analysis of Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning the Human Understanding’. Today, the essay is no longer “a loose sally of the mind, an irregular, indigestible piece”, as averred by Dr. Johnson. It is a short literary composition, well-organised, governed by a broad controlling idea on a subject-indeed, any subject, so long as it is something of meaning in the life of human beings.
Before we go on to discuss the general characteristics of an essay and the do’s and don’ts, we may ask what teachers and examiners expect when they assign an essay. Obviously an essay must be literate; it is hard to imagine correct” ideas expressed in “incorrect” language. If the language is not right, how does your reader know what you are talking about?
You are also expected to know what you are talking about. Occasionally you may be asked to write from personal experience; usually, however, you would be using facts, figures, theories and ideas that you have culled from others. Clearly, this is one aspect of academic writing- research. You have to gather the information you may require, and this can be done only through wide-ranging reading, serious thought and discussion. Listening to radio and watching television discussions/development programme also help widen your intellectual grasp. The information you gather should cover several areas of interest, as the subjects for an essay are practically limitless.
However, whatever you know on a subject is expected to be dexterously organised and presented. The point the thesis of the essay should be clear to the reader. An essay is not a chapeless mass of ideas and feelings, facts and figures, incidents and events, but a well-designed piece of penmanship.
To meet these expectations, you will need to develop the skills associated with the different stages of essay writing.
…………Topic Continued…(After this List)
Following is the list of essay (Best Topics):
- Introduction to the Essay
- Paradoxes of Democracy
- Democracy implies tolerance of dissent
- The Role of opposition in a Democracy
- Role of Judiciary in a Democracy
- Judicial Activism
- Elections- Lacunae and Remedies
- Corruption in Public Life
- Politics and Religion
- The Politics of Communal-ism
- The Rights and Wrongs of Conversion
- Should there be reservations?
- Women should have reserved seats in Parliament
- Is India ready for a uniform civil code?
- An Apolitical Defense Force
- India’s Defense Needs in a Technological Scenario
- United Nations- Role and Future
- Human Rights
- Can Human Rights be Universal Rights?
- Status of Human Rights in Independent India
- Human Rights and the Indian Armed Forces
- Torture: The Living Death
- The Changing Face of Terrorism
- Can Terrorism be Justified?
- Economic Liberalization-Challenges before India
- Privatization of the Economy
- Private Sector versus Public Sector
- India’s Population and Its Economic Implications
- Transforming our Huge Population into Human Resource
- Development and Population Control
- The Two-Child Norm for Population Control
- People’s Participation in Development
- Tourism : Potentials and Problems
- The Changing Face of Indian Society
- Changing Idea of Family
- The Problems of Old Age
- Law as an Instrument of Social Change
- Morality and Law
- Education in India-Lacunae and Remedies
- Privatization of Education: Solution to Resource Crunch
- Child Labour
- Problems of Working Women
- Violence against Women
- Women need empowerment
- Ragging should be curbed
- The Rights and Wrongs of Free Expression
- Advertising and Social Responsibility
- Indian Cinema and Social Responsibility
- Challenge Before Television in India
- Television and Teenage Violence
- Foreign Media in India: Any Cause for Concern?
- The Politics of Information
- The Scientific attitude rather than science is the need of the day
- Moral Dilemmas Inherent in Scientific Progress
- Are science and art antithetical to each other?
- Science and Literature
- Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind
- Computers: A Silent Revolution
- Information Revolution
- Sustainable Development and Environment
- Humans are the worst culprits in environmental degradation
- Are human beings able to cope with natural disasters?
- What freedom means to me
- Euthanasia : Can death be a therapy?
- Leisure-Its Use and Abuse
- If the British had not colonised India…
- History repeats itself
- History needs to be rewritten
- On Good and Bad Neighbours
- Sports sans Sportsmanship
- Ethics in Sports
- Why Ban English?
- Men have failed; let women take over
- India Today
- The Indian Republic
- Generation Gap
- The Child is the Father of Man
- Compassion is the basis of all morality
- The road to happiness is always under construction
- Our deeds determine us as much as we !
- determine our deeds
- Truth may be eclipsed but not extinguished
- Crime :New Dimensions
- Capital Punishment
- If human beings can be cloned
- Material Progress and Human Values
- Animals too have rights
- Growing Flexibility in Gender Roles of Men and Women
- Relevance of Gandhi Today
Essays in Brief
- How free are we?
- Democracy in India
- Road Rage and Democratic Values
- Media Freedom and Individual Privacy
- Laughter, Truth, and Universality
- Protection from Internet Abuse
- Terrorism can never lead to democracy
- Politicians Above the Law
- The Problems of a Huge Population
- Gender Bias in Health Concerns
- Goals for child welfare remain on paper
- Is teaching just a job?
- The world needs more tolerance
- Criminalisation of Politics
- Is the nation-state dying out?
- Should there be liquor prohibition?
- No one knows what he can do till he tries!
- The test of democracy is the freedom of criticism
- The great end of life is not knowledge but action
- Should smoking be banned in public places?
- Education is Freedom
- The tragedy of old age is not that one is old but that one is young.io
- Is government going out of fashion?
- Green activism call go too far
- Indians are non-violent by nature
- Indians are not non-violent by nature
- Death penalty solves nothing
- Don’t ban capital punishment
- Violence on the Increase
- Examinations are a necessary evil
- Pleasures of Reading
- Can television affect society?
- Science: Blessing or Curse?
Although there are, indeed, an infinity of subjects, there are only a handful of forms in which problems can be assigned.
Describing The simplest assignment of all is tc describe something. Here you have to concentrate on only element. Descriptive essays are pen-portraits of people, scenes or events. Descriptions can be static or dynamic.
Comparing and Contrasting There are two elements here. Whatever the wording, if you are asked to handle two items, your approach is the same: to find out (a) what links! the items together; (b) what distinguishes them from each other; and (c) to work from there to a conclusion. Some topics of this kind could be: Indian Economy-Before and After Independence; Population Concerns in Developing! and Developed Countries; Democracy and Dictatorship.
Defining Defining means to pin down a concept with great exactness-saying what characteristics it has, and what characteristics it lacks. The number of elements you! introduce here is up to you. Such an approach would be/ called for in the topic “What is meant by Democracy?” or “What is Scientific Temper?” or “What is Religion?”
Causes Here you are requested to probe into the roots of a problem. It takes a given situation and asks how or why it has come about. “Why is there a resurgence of fundamentalism today?” and “Account for the growing violence in society” are examples. You are free to discuss as many elements as you want to or possibly can in a limited time.
Classifying Some subjects treat an oldness array of elements, and all of them (at-least the most important) need to be discussed. Some examples: “Ways of Tackling Terrorists”, “Attitudes of Teenagers towards Authority” Politicians
6. Making a Case
Making a Case You might be asked to argue for or against a certain point of view. Making a case is not simply a matter of stating your opinion, take it or leave it. You will be expected to convince the reader. Weak or illogical arguments will destroy your case. You must consider arguments for the other side, how far they are valid and how far they can be demolished. When you consider your own point of view, it is wise to locate and consider its weaknesses as well before playing them down, showing that they do not destroy the main thrust of your argument. “Should smoking be banned?” “Is space research relevant to a poor country like India?” “Should mothers go out to work?”–these essays demand that you take a stand and argue its validity.
There is no watertight compartmentalization between one form and another: a certain amount of description is bound to intrude in an essay in the form of argumentation; y, a certain amount of comparison and contrast may come into an essay basically in the form of definition. What is to be kept in mind is that the overall form chosen should be one
Whatever the subject and the form it is to take, there are different approaches to it, different frameworks in which you will ‘define’, describe’ or ‘classify’.
You may use the discussion mode-ask what and how. and consider consequences that emerge from the theme of the essay.
In the concentric approach, you will proceed from one al point and move to widening concentric circles; this is what you will do if you are looking at a title from different levels of consciousness, say from the levels of childhod adolescence and maturity.
Some titles can be examined in the chronological order, from the ancient to the modern times or from morning to night.
There can be an empirical framework which, however, requires illustrations or examples in whose context the title can be examined. This framework can relate to countries, geographical regions or communities according to what the title demands.
You may define, classify or describe in a structural context; for instance, the title can be examined under the categories of political, social, economiC, and cultural aspects. Or it can be put in a sociological context-th perspective of rural-urban or the classes (rich, poor, middle class, management. workers, and so on).
The form or framework is the skeleton of the giving support and weight to the ideas that flesh it out. It keeps the flow of ideas in check and sees to it that the essay does not become a haphazard collection of statements. A work of art involves imagination and sensitivity, bu is a disciplined imagination and sensitivity.
Whatever the form of the essay, the subject needs to be presented in an organised manner. Organisation is not a goal in itself:. it is a means to an end. In an essay, organisation serves to make the point or thesis clear to the reader. There is difference of opinion on the writing process: some would say, draw up a formal outline and follow it strictly, others would advise “free writing”. A compromise is best- think out a preliminary plan and try to stick to it, but do not let the plan stifle your creative flow.
An essay, as pointed out earlier, is no longer a loose rambling, but a structured piece with a beginning (introduction), a middle (body) and an end (conclusion). Within this broad structure, the development of the thesis may vary. If you choose to present your thesis as a theorem, you may state it at the very beginning as a hypothesis to be proved. This, however, should be followed by firm logical proof. to be concluded with an affirmation of the thesis. Most topics for essays, however, do not accord well with this kind of treatment, as unarguable proof is rare outside the pure sciences. Usually, you are required to work with more controversial arguments. When this happens, the appropri ate form is an inquiry. An inquiry begins with a problem. It evaluates the available evidence and reaches a conclusion. It raises questions, overt or implied-the what and the how and possible consequences (good or bad) that emerge out of the title of the essay. The ensuing discussion leads to the conclusion which is the statement of the thesis.
The first step in writing the essay is to understand the title know clearly what is being asked. Consider, for instance. , the topics “The Status of Women in India” “Problems of a Working Woman”, “Should a Mother Go Out to Work?” All three are related to women, but each one is different from the other. It is necessary to dovetail your arguments and ideas to the topic as given. Elaborating on the position of women has little relevance in an essay dealing with the specific issue of mothers going out to work. Once the title is clearly understood, decide on the form of the essay. movement You must of have the essay, clear pa outline graph by showing paragraph. the An outline helps to keep you from straying into irrelevancies; it gives you an idea of how each paragraph is to carry forward your thesis, Obviously, outlining is closely linked with paragraphing.
The Beginning of An essay should let the reader know at the outset or early enough what it is about. It is not enough for the title to say it: you must spell out the topic in the essay itself. The introduction should be striking enough to catch the reader’s attention. There are several ways of opening an essay:
- You could give a general statement of the topic from which you could then proceed to the particular aspects. You could start with a quotation. But the quotation should be relevant and naturally lead on to a discussion of the topic.
- The technique of starting with an anecdote could be striking if used cleverly. The anecdote should be short and have some bearing on the subject. Indeed, if it were possible to make a natural transition from anecdote to the subject, it would be all the better. The anecdotal beginning however, suits the lighter form of treatment or a not very formal context.
- A beginning could be in the form of a rhetorical question which does not require an answer but is simply a trick for sweeping the readers off their feet.
- You could begin by giving the conclusion first (the danger here being that the writer is often unable to make a smooth transition to the next paragraph).
Experiment will help you more with openings than will guidelines, however. Just keep the aim of a good beginning in mind: it tries to hook the reader’s interest, to suggest that the essay is worth reading. But the introduction should be brief.
The Body Develop the ideas as jotted down in the outline into major paragraphs.
How to structure paragraphs? There are no rules– but there are certain common sense guidelines. First, the reader should be told fairly early in the paragraph what it is about. (The sentence announcing the topic is traditionally called the topic sentence.) The paragraph usually contains information or argumentation that go well beyond this opening statement. Finally, on completing the paragraph, the reader should know how it fits in with the overall structure of the essay; clarifying the point of a paragraph is called pointing. These three “requirements” can be breached for a good many reasons, but, taken as they stand, they offer a classic three-part paragraph:
- What the paragraph is about-topic sentence.
- What the paragraph has to say all about the subject information or argument.
- How the paragraph fits in-pointing.
The paragraphs in an essay must be crafted to fit a master plan. Without pointing, you may create a string of paragraphs, but it will not be an essay. The structure of a paragraph calls for unity, with the sentences in it contributing towards explaining or supporting the thesis put forward by the topic sentence. And this should be done logically, sequentially.
The length of paragraphs vary indeed must vary to avoid monotony, in an essay. Depending on its purpose a paragraph could run into a single sentence or a multitude of sentences. (A transitional paragraph, for example, need not exceed a sentence or two.)
By contributing to the thesis of the essay, each paragraph is linked to the other by the unity of idea. However, unification among the paragraphs is also to be achieved structurally, through transitional words and phrase These words or phrases help to show the progress of the ay. Some such words and phrases and their purpose are as follows:
- Addition or continuation: next, besides, further, again, moreover, likewise, in addition.
- Comparison: similarly, somewhat similar, in a like manner, likewise.
- Contrast: however, but, on the contrary, after all, nevertheless, still, and yet, notwithstanding, at the same time.
- Concession: although, after all, naturally, it may be admitted, of course.
- Exemplification: for example, for instance, in particular, specifically, in fact, incidentally, in other words.
- Result, consequence: in short, thus, as a result/consequence hence, therefore, accordingly, then.
- Passage of time: of late, since, until, thereafter, soon, meanwhile, shortly, immediately, at length, from this point.
- Summarisation : to conclude, to sum up, on the whole, in a nutshell, in brief.
- Miscellaneous: without doubt, the question which arises, so far, so good, in spite of, paradoxically, at the outset, as a matter of fact.
The paragraphs combine to build up the thesis of the essay. Neither the sentences nor the paragraphs can be thought of as independent units. An essay is an organic whole in which each part is fused into another.
The Conclusion A clever lawyer does not sum up a case simply by repeating the established facts. Instead, the lawyer hammers home the conclusion to be drawn from the facts: the unquestionable guilt (or innocence) of the accused. Try to think of your closing paragraph on similar lines.
The conclusion of an essay should carry the natural climax of the subject. It must grow out of the body of the essay and not be abrupt or seem imposed or forced. It should” either put the point of the essay in a fresh light or embody the thesis that has been developed through the essay. It is best not to be categorical, but the conclusion should give a sense of finality to the composition.
The subject and its organisation may not be enough to make your essay leave an impact on your read. How you present the matter is equally important. Part of the presentation is, of course, the form or framework you adopt. It has to be suitable for the subject at hand. Logical development of ideas is important, too. The tone or perspective humorous, ironic, serious, meditative, argumentative should noise with the subject matter. Besides, attention must be paid to the mechanics of writing- -spelling, punctuation, grammar and usage.
SOME DO’S AND DON’TS FOR GOOD WRITING
- Consider the title carefully-w it means and what its scope is. Is it asking you to generalise. establish a particular view, or take your own stand?
- If you do not agree with what a title states categorically do not attempt the essay, for generally you are not expected to argue against the titles. (Some writers, no doubt, can do it but it requires flair and self-confidence.) In this context, you may compare these two titles . “India is not fit to be a democracy” and “Is India fit to be a democracy?” The first requires you to support the statement, while the second allows you the choice of your own view.
- Select a perspective and a pattern for developing your thesis. Jot down your points and arrange them in the pattern without losing sight of your perspective.
- Use words effectively. This does not mean using difficult words or “flowery language. What it implies is that each word should contribute to the development or explanation of the idea. It is best to avoid archaic and obsolete usage; Some examples–albeit, ere, methinks and trow. Foreign words, unless they have achieved currency in English, had better be left out. Also to be avoided is slang, even what is known as journalese, i.e., words coined by journalists and newspapers for effect. A recent edition of a standard dictionary will help you to identify such slang expressions. Effective use of words also requires you to know which word to use and where. There are several synonymous words, but they are not always interchangeable.
- Stay clear of cliches or time-worn idioms, such as “keeping the wolf from the door”. “from the frying into the fire”. Sayings such as “variety is the spice of life”, “there is no time to stand and stare” pan have been over used and are thus hackneyed.
- If you have a good memory, you may be tempted to strew your essay with quotations to emphasis your point of view. Resist the temptation firmly. Quotations become dangerous props indicating by their presence the writer’s lack of ideas or inability to express what he or she feels. If you have to use quotations, use them rarely and only in context where they give depth to an idea.
Check your writing for unnecessary repetition. Some avoidable repetitions:
- Arun is never late for work; he is always either early or on time.
- Mrs.Gupta kept her house spotless, and it was perfectly clean.
- The butcher was very thin. This thinness was commented on by many of his customers. His customers commented on it because e it seemed so inappropriate in a butcher. What would be more appropriate in a butcher, they felt, was a sort of jovial chubbiness.
In all these cases, the effectiveness of what is being said can be doubled by saying it only once.
The passage below exemplifies the kind of mindless use of words you should avoid. Mistaken for argumentation, it merely epitomizes the art of saying nothing in so many words.
This paper will attempt to document the way in which the Industrial Revolution changed the lives of so many people. The great technological upheaval known to us as the Industrial Revolution altered the way in which almost all levels of the society of the time functioned, Without this extraordinary Revolution, none of the changes that have made our lives what they are today would have occurred. Probably this period left untouched the life of no one who lived through it. What we confronted with here is a staggering volcanic eruption in technology science and manufacturing techniques of every kind that caused the most far-reaching reversals in the life, the existence, the day-to-day habits and the most profound beliefs of almost every soul on this planet. Yes, our society in all its ramifications was destined never to be the same gain.
No life, however high or however humble, passed through the Industrial Revolution unscathed. In the whole previous history of the world nothing had wrought such an unforeseen, such a revolutionary effect. Let’s take some examples. How many cities and villages, how many families large and small saw the familiar old way of life that they loved and knew so well slipping away from them as the new ways took over? No subject has attracted more research or more detailed scholarly comment than this: we know more about this period than perhaps about any period before or since. In conclusion, what this mass of evidence points to is the extent to which the Industrial Revolutior did indeed inexpressibly affect the hard but rewarding lives of so many of our American forebears.
- Check your writing for correctness. There is no place for ungrammatical sentences in an essay. A do not risk using words, phrases, expressions about whose meaning or correctness you are not sure. Avoid long and rambling sentences in which you as well as the reader may get lost.
- An essay is certainly bound to reflect the person- ality and views of the writer. However, it would be pragmatic, from the point of view of an exami- nation, to keep extreme opinions to oneself and not express idiosyncracies.
- Be clear, lucid and simple and you cannot go far wrong.