The purpose of an essay is not simply to display brilliance, intelligence, and knowledge. The purpose of an essay is to get your ideas across, usually in a persuasive manner. Essays are usually written for many different reasons: to get a degree, to win a prize, to publish or to earn a grade. Whatever the reason for your essay, the purpose is the same-to persuade the reader that you have something important to offer them.
The purpose of an essay, like most other written communication, is to convince the reader that you have made the best argument possible. In other words, your goal is to “sell” the reader on your idea, your point of view, or your subject matter. While there are many different kinds of essay, the three most common types are argument, comparative essays, and contrast essay. Argument essay, as the name indicates, is designed to support a particular viewpoint or point of view. With this style of essay, you will generally be attempting to convince the reader that your idea is correct, or that the other view is false. Most commonly, an argument essay will discuss one topic and then discuss similarities or differences between that topic and various other topics.
Comparative essay, on the other hand, attempts to express differences or similarities between two or more subjects. An example of a comparative essay might compare, for example, the strengths and weaknesses of President George W. Bush’s economic policies with those of his Democratic opponents. While most essay examples will use mostly one type of contrast, some will combine both styles; for example, an essay that analyzes the strengths of the New York Giants’ defensive line against the Detroit Lions’ offensive line will use a combination of these techniques to compare and contrast the two teams.
Finally, compare essay addresses the general public by asking the reader to express a degree or opinion about a topic. You will generally ask the reader to list their opinion about a range of topics, rather than expressing a view on a single issue. An example of a compare essay might ask the reader to compare the job performance of General Douglas MacArthur with that of Martin Luther King, Jr. King, however the main aim of such an essay would be to express a generalized viewpoint on a number of topics. You could also combine a discussion about the topic with generalizing statements such as “It seems that…” or “The financial crisis has left Americans in… (or similar) states of despair.”
Compare essays have two main purposes
- The first main purpose of a compare essay is to answer the question, ‘What are the similarities/ Differences between X and Y?’ And to discuss the similarities and differences between the ideas raised in your essay.
- The second main purpose of such an essay is to express a generalized view, often summarizing what has been discussed in your essay. Both these aims can be achieved through a careful consideration of the similarities and differences between the ideas or facts you want to discuss, and the way in which they impact upon the reader.
As you will have noticed by now, all good essays aim to answer a question or persuade the reader to take a certain view or action. The purpose of this is often in the form of an argument, and often the essayists will use strong language to try to argue their point. Essays differ in purpose because some are written for a class or a private tutor, and as such require more independent style. Other essays, such as those which are used for university or college examinations, may require stronger language and greater reasoning capabilities, in order to answer the questions they contain.
When discussing generalizations, you need to make sure that you’re not generalizing too much! If you take two examples of dogs, one with hair longer than the other, and which has been left to walk around without being walked, the first dog will probably appear to be the better of the two. However, if you were to discuss general behavioral traits of both dogs, you might find that the first dog had shorter hair, was more aggressive, or was smarter than the second dog. So the purpose of an essay isn’t so much to express a particular view, but to make a general statement about something, and then discuss the characteristics of that particular feature.
The last thing I want to talk about when discussing the purpose of an essay is how you can encourage students to think carefully about what they’re writing. A very good essay starts with an interesting fact and continues to make the reader think. The best essays encourage students to look outside of themselves, to question existing assumptions, and to develop new and different views. The essay should encourage students to look at the world from different perspectives. You can learn more about essay writing and essay editing by following the links below.