There is quite a lot of tips and tricks you can find on how to write a good essay, but sometimes you just need an example of refined work to see what all this theory should eventually look like.
Following this link, you can read a literary essay written by the head of our department of humanities Olga Malinovskaya. In this article, you will see a few notes on some of the great features this essay has, which may inspire you to improve your own works.
Comedy draws on our ability to both “laugh with” and “laugh at” a narrative. The former mode exercises our ‘bent toward’ sympathy and identification, the universally human liability, while the latter mode stipulates a certain distance from the subject of the comic, and hence draws on our individual and social responsibility for “laughing at”.
Right at the start, the author defines the terminology, introducing and explaining two approaches that she later uses in the essay and to which she comes back throughout it several times. This can be especially useful when you are building your essay around a not-so-widely known concept or you want to focus on its details, therefore it will be easier for the reader to understand your logic and arguments if he knows what you base them on. Furthermore, adding a definition may even help you as a writer to not get lost in your topic and to make sure your arguments are relevant, and the use of terminology is accurate.
2. Adding questions
What are the formal elements in the narrative that inspire laughter and what do they tell us about the laughing persona? What type of laughter (‘laughter at’ or ‘laughter with’ both content-wise and form-wise) is evoked? How much of this laughter that is inspired by the narrative depend on the suspension of disbelief and our awareness of fictionality or fictional context in the narrative? By applying these questions to Carroll’s, Checkov’s, Saki’s and Twain’s narratives, we may look at the different approaches to reality revealed by the laughter that these narratives entice.
Writing down the questions to set out the overall topic of your further thoughts and arguments can be a good idea. It prepares the reader to what they may expect from your work, and also, in this exact essay, it works as a demonstration of a sort of method the author uses to analyze the chosen objects.
3. Separating examples from the main text by increasing the tab
While this is more of a stylistic remark, having citations, which are rather long here, separated makes it easier for the reader to actually read the essay. The look of it is especially important when it comes to longer essays but even in the regular university ones you should pay attention to the readability of your text – to how long or short your paragraphs are, can the reader see when the start and the end of your citation or example are, etc.
4. Transition between two parts
Moving away from the domain of dream logic and universal liability of humans to dream and not to know the purpose of things, we arrive at different type of the comic that actually aspires to make a concrete point of social commentary.
In the essay, it is showed quite obviously when a new part of an essay starts, but to not just rapidly cut it from the first one, in this case, the author uses the first sentence to make a seamless link, connecting the parts under the main theme of the essay, which is comedy. It is a great example of introducing a new paragraph while keeping the flow of the essay and indicating to the reader that you are now going to talk about a new idea.
5. Questions as an introduction
Then from where does Checkov’s comic sense come? At the heart of the story lies the philosophical dispute between somewhat favored by destiny Andrey Yefimitch…
Asking questions as a way to introduce a new thought into the essay may also work nicely. Logically, it should be followed by an answer to the question, but it does not have to be short and straightforward. It is possible to deliberate on the issue and maybe even demonstrate different perspectives of the matter.
6. Referencing others’ works to add a new look on the issue
Kataev in his analysis of Chechov’s comedy comes to the following realization…
This is possible through the dialogic integration of style (according to Nabokov, Checkov’s “literary style goes to parties clad in its everyday suit”) that creates…
The citation or reference does not have to be long, if it is not the centre of your argument but rather aims to support it. It adds an extra side to make the argument more interesting and diverse. However, it is better to not just leave it there with no further explanation but use it as a material to analyze and deliberate on, to maybe draw a conclusion out of it or define how this reference corresponds with your own opinions. Such additions may both support and contradict your thesis, but it is important to indicate what role this reference is playing and how it is connected to your essay. Besides, referencing someone shows that you did some research and preparation and considered what has already been said on your topic.
Alice in Wonderland humorously reveals our universal anxiety of self-identity and languages inaptitude to adequately explain human experience, while Saki’s “Tobermory” humor is directed at a concrete societal vices and laughs at their powerlessness before the discourse in which this society participates. Chechov’s “Ward No.6” derives its comedy from life itself and its ironic treatment of humans and uncovers a deep longing to understand existence and human role in it, while Twain’s “Journalism in Tennessee” establishes an independence of humorous narrative from the reality through rendering an absurd.
In the conclusion, you may want to briefly repeat your main thoughts, remind the reader how did the overall theme (here, comedy) was shown in the examples you chose to examine, and show the connections between them (in this exact essay, the author uses the “… while …” structure). Your conclusion should not just restate what has been said previously – while it includes major ideas of the essay, it should connect them, show their relevance, emphasize why your thesis is important, and demonstrate your final thoughts on it.