An essay is a piece of writing where the author provides its own argument. The definition of 'essay' is vague and usually is confused with the terms paper, article, pamphlet and short story. Essays can have both a formal and informal style. Formal essays have a serious purpose; on the contrary, informal essays are characterised by personal elements.
Essays are commonly used as political manifestos, learned arguments, literary criticism and reflections of the author. Usually, they are written in prose, however, there are a few essays written in verse.
Currently, essays play an important role in education as they represent a major part of formal education.
The concept of the essay has been extended over the time and applied also to the media sector where the terms film essay and photographic essay have been created.
A literary essay can be divided into a personal and autobiographical essay, objective essay and abstract-universal essay. The personal essay is a sort of reflexive autobiography of the essayist. The objective essay focuses on literary, scientific and political themes. The abstract-universal essay concerns abstract topics.
As well as this, essays can have different forms and styles which are cause and effect, classification and division, compare and contrast, descriptive, dialectic, exemplification, familiar, history, narrative, argumentative, economic, and reflective.
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