Essay: A short literary composition devoted to the presentation of the writers ideas on a specific subject. Often written in prose, an essay can be written to entertain or attempt to accentuate a specific thesis statement. The thesis statement is often supported and elaborated on by the use of specific examples and arguments. In this way, the thesis statement is the nucleus of the essay. The word essay originates from the latin word exagium, meaning “the act of weighing”. Essays have been written long before the specific genre or word was realized in 1580 and has been an extremely important vehicle for literary expression.
Example: Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place provides a vehicle for her controversial views on the apparent inequalities and corruption in her home town of Antigua. A Small Place directly deals with the specific subject of Antigua and attempts to persuade the readers through detailed examples. She exposes the government corruption when “a high government official got millions of dollars in bribes for allowing a particular kind of industrial plant to be built” (Kincaid 66) and articulates the apparent juxtapose between the tourists and the Antiguans. In addition to a myriad other examples she reinforces her statements with historical references to among others, Christopher Columbus and the slave trade. Her work draws from political, geographical, and societal disciplines as well as a hearty dose of her own childhood examples. In this way plethora of information is brought to the table. The variety and number of sources used helps to support and strengthen her argument and shape the overall essay as not a mere story, but an academic argument.
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 6th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College, 1993. 133. Print.
Kindaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 1988. Print.