A Simple Essay, as the name suggests, is a basic kind of academic composition, usually with a fairly limited word count (of about a page or two) and broad scope.
Often, such essays are initiatory works intended to prime the student for more complex compositions. For instance, basic essays are often a requirement for admission to an undergraduate course, or as a first assignment on that course.
Due to the limited word count, Simple Essays tend to look at one highly focused issue in fair detail, without ranging too far afield. As an example, a Simple Essay might ask you to describe your first day of school/university/college.
You are not expected to do extensive research or break academic ground. Instead, this is an opportunity to get to grips with the fundamentals of essay writing and to do so in a contained and non-taxing manner.
There are many different kinds of essay (a good number of them covered on this website), which have a wide variety of functions. However, it is fair to say that almost every sort of essay is on some level an argument.
Argument, in the technical sense, does not refer to a disagreement or dispute (as in common parlance). It actually denotes a specific kind of reasoning, in which set of specific reasons (premisses) are given to support a particular action or idea (conclusion). So, an argument does not need to be contentious or quarrelsome. In fact, a good argument should be impartial, methodical and, indeed, dispassionate.
An argument, then, is different from a mere opinion. It revolves around processes of justification based upon logical connections between things. Your essay needs to do this too. You need to identify how various aspects of a topic connect together. This will often require for you to deconstruct the item being studied, in order to see how it works.
To analyse is to break down and render more complex. If you were asked to analyse a book, you would want to start by looking for a more complex categorisation.
So, if you were for instance asked to write a Simple Essay on the theme of childhood in Charles Dickens's book Oliver Twist, you would first seek to break down the theme of childhood into component parts.
This might include looking at concepts of innocence, aging, vulnerability, education, parent figures: and any other element which might be placed under the bracket of “childhood”. Having selected a sub-theme within our overall theme, we would look to break that down even further.
Taking the idea of innocence, then, we could underline notions of morality (innocence as goodness) and ignorance (innocence as naivety). Going further, we could examine concepts of moral goodness as being central to Dickens's treatment of the theme of childhood.
As you can see, the process is all about breaking things down, going deeper and deeper. We started with a very broad focus: childhood. We then took this to a more complex level, innocence; digging deeper to moral goodness; progressing thereafter to ethical dimensions of childhood. Moreover, we explained our process as we went, moving in logical and linear fashion.
Your essay should do the same kind of thing. Make logical links between various items. Move in a clear and consistent fashion from one item to the next, starting broad and then becoming increasingly more focus (thus complex).
Writing a Simple Essay, somewhat curiously, nonetheless requires complexity. Complexity in this context simply refers to the process of breaking things down as outlined above. It does not mean being obscure or convoluted.
You do not need to you fancy words to express big ideas. As long as your thinking is sound, you can express yourself in very plain language and the work will be a success.
Without variation, a well thought-out argument written in plain English will score better marks than a poorly conceived work penned in elaborate fashion.
Essays are not the place to show off a fancy prose style. They are a domain in which substance over style is an absolute must.
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