The Beauty of Convention: Essays in Literature and Culture

Among his best periodical essays mention must be made of “The City Night Piece”, “The Public Ledger”, “The Citizens of the World”, etc. Oliver Goldsmith should be remembered for his sympathetic humour, magic of his personality, simplicity, chastity and carefulness.

There are many resources about narrative plot and structure, and it’s interesting to note how these can be applied to films and plays as well as novels and short stories. You may see lots of technical terms used – climax, tension, resolution, denouement – but these can be interpreted very loosely. A climax, for example, is not always a shocking revelation, or a dramatic escape. The best way to understand them would be to consider how those labels apply to a film you know well, or that latest box set episode. This may be fiction, or a narrative of a real-life experience.

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The more you progress in higher education, the more you are expected to use and apply knowledge. This is reflected in critical writing, whereby you move from mere description to analysis and evaluation. You should not develop arguments based on what you think is probably true, or ‘common knowledge’, and then look for readings to support your views. After you analyse the essay question, you read (or re-read) texts from your reading list and texts found through your own research.

  • Write a one- or two-sentence statement summarizing the conclusion you have reached about the major trends and developments you see in the research that has been done on your subject.
  • Evidence is always used to support a point that you’re trying to make.
  • Crucially, a good essay doesn’t progress through plot summary—resist shadowing the novel, story, or poem’s chronology in your own essay.

The most classic of literary works are often those which transcend genre and thematic categorisation, and ‘Frankenstein’ epitomises this facet to the greatest degree. The Romantic school of thought encapsulates the paramount notion that even though literature may not directly change society, it’s expressionism changes individual views and ideas, which argued by the Romantics, boast immortality over material monuments of power and glory. Often, students may find themselves listing events that they believe are important, and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the subject. However, they often do not accurately convey their understanding of ‘significance’.

A core idea and argument

Try to avoid abbreviations or acronyms, as they may sometimes be very specific to your working environment and may not necessarily be universally known amongst the people who read your essays. At academic level, essays, reviews and assignments are the end product of a long process that involves thinking, listening, reading, gathering ideas, drafting and redrafting, discussing and editing. Often this process is cyclical regarding its stages, but basically should always include a planning, writing and editing process.

definition of essay in literature

In academic work students are often expected to give definitions of key words and phrases in order to demonstrate to their tutors that they understand these terms clearly. More generally, however, academic writers define terms so that their readers understand exactly what is meant when certain key terms are used. When important words are not clearly understood misinterpretation may result.

Essay vs stand-alone literature review

This is often the most challenging part, at least to begin with. Whilst you may have had your own views beforehand, ideally your conclusion should only become clear to you once you have completed the body of the essay. This is where you can articulate your personal opinion, based on the evidence you have considered. Try to make this a balanced, yet strong closing statement – and avoid just summing up what you have just written.

You won’t need any characters or plot – you will need informational descriptions. All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional. There are example essay extracts available on Do It Write (click here) to help you understand what they’re asking from you.

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If you would like a free chat about your project with one of our UK staff, then please just reach out on one of the methods below. Students at York are required to use either the MLA or Chicago Style of referencing. Please indicate on the front of your essay which style you have chosen (remember you also need to give a word count and your candidate number).

  • If your carnival description will be geared towards promotional material, your description will be a lot different than that of a story.
  • He asks that since opinions on consumption and preparation have changed previously, should they change again?
  • Examining and analyzing literature gives writers the opportunity to think critically about a text.
  • The ‘greatest tragedy ever written’ speaks to the teleology of human suffering, and echoes the profound philosophical exploration of absolute human virtue.

Be aware that these essays are not meant to be a masterpiece of prose. Additionally, your essay should always begin with an introduction, and then end by stating the same phrase.

Essay Writing Guide – Key Phrases for Moving on to the Next Point

They usually include the writer’s personal experiences as well as their commentary on an issue. The primary level of meaning of the word ‘essay’ is not about writing at all.

College application essays, for example, might ask you to write about a memorable experience or a time that challenged you. This could be the typical academic essay, testing your understanding of a particular topic on your course, or it could be on a broader issue. Didion uses a personal story to explore the theme of reality versus illusion in this narrative essay. She uses herself and a friend as definition of essay in literature characters, and their dialogue highlights their personality differences. Christmas lights are temporary, and sparkling white snow will turn to gray slush by the following day in the city. Including details of the young Didion laughing with her friend while focusing on the twinkling lights and falling snow sets up the conflict of the essay by showing the reader that she’s not focused on reality.


Prices shown are in US dollars and US purchasers may pay check or money order. Look at what you have written; focus on analysis, not description. Write a one- or two-sentence statement summarizing the conclusion you have reached about the major trends and developments you see in the research that has been done on your subject.

Throughout her 12-year residency in Denmark, she completed her International baccalaureate and Master’s in Culture, Communication, and Globalization with a specialization in media and market consumption. Through this experience, she has gained advanced competencies in academic writing and a high proficiency level in the English language.

Study Plan

Perhaps because it is a form of writing against which literary scholarship has defined itself, there has been surprisingly little work on the tradition of the essay. The parts of an essay may look different depending on the type of essay the author writes, but every essay has an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. ‘Literary’ does not mean that you have to write like a Booker prize winner. It simply means that an essay is generally concerned with books and literature – primary texts, critical studies, scientific papers – whether it’s about Shakespeare’s plays or sports nutrition. Later on the romantic writers like Lamb, Hazlitt and De Quincey also contributed their essays to the periodicals of their time, but their essays are very much different in spirit of manner from those of the real practitioners of the periodical essay. Steele is the originator of the Tattler, and joins with Addison in creating the Spectator-the two periodicals which, in the short space of less than four years, did more to influence subsequent literature than all other magazines of the century combined. On account of his talent in writing political pamphlets, Steele was awarded the position of official gazetteer.

definition of essay in literature

If you want to write a good essay, you need strong evidence to support your ideas. No matter how good your ideas are, you need to support them with evidence. Strong evidence is vital for achieving high grades in essay-based assessments. In this essay writing guide, we’re going to take a look at how to incorporate evidence into your argument. Literary analysis involves the process of closely examining, interpreting, and critiquing various aspects of a literary work.

Literature reviews do not have to be part of a larger research project. Sometimes you are asked to undertake a stand-alone (sometimes referred to as ‘simple’) literature review as an separate assignment. In such cases, the review should summarise, synthesise and evaluate existing knowledge on a specific topic and come to a conclusion about current understanding. Everything between the introduction and the conclusion in literary analysis is the body. Its main goal is to answer the writer’s questions about the work and the supporting textual evidence. However, the outline for your definition essay will vary in length depending on the term this you are describing. Some terms are logical whereas others are more or less easy to fathom.

They are also relatively simple, and once you start to use them, it will become second nature to include them in. If we’d started this blog like that, you would probably have closed the tab pretty quickly! Or maybe you would have read on because your curiosity was peaked. Technically, it’s a reasonably successful opening to a persuasive piece. We’ve got direct address, rhetorical questions, varied sentence structures, emotive language, and it certainly grabs attention. The exaggeration – “cast out”, “dreams shattered” – makes it completely unrealistic.


This approach devalues the very notion of the essay as a genre and reduces its definition to any short example of prose. But Gross compensates by including some excellent pieces from later twentieth century writers we might not normally think of as essayists – proving that the genre is still alive and in very good health. Direct quotations are text passages that you copied and pasted and you are highlighting the part with quotation marks. Indirect quotations involve changing sentences and wording, summarising key ideas and combining arguments. Usually, the indirect quotations demonstrate more clearly that you have understood what your sources are telling you and are therefore preferred within academia; this is usually referred to as synthesising ideas.

  • An expository essay lead to a strong, yet balanced conclusion.
  • This is not to say you are not making your own argument – it is just that your argument is about what you think the literature shows.
  • You can develop the meaning of the term using that story and the reader will come inter the meaning of that term.A definition essay can also start with an opposing interpretation of the term.
  • Furthermore, literary analysis enables us to bridge the gap between personal interpretation and a broader, shared understanding of literature’s richness and diversity.