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This section describes the different forms and styles of essay writing.These forms and styles are used by an array of authors, including university students and professional essayists.
Formal essays are characterized by "serious purpose, dignity, logical organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty of theme," etc.
Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author.
Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g., Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man).
While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population are counterexamples.
Inspired in particular by the works of Plutarch, a translation of whose Œuvres Morales (Moral works) into French had just been published by Jacques Amyot, Montaigne began to compose his essays in 1572; the first edition, entitled Essais, was published in two volumes in 1580.
For the rest of his life, he continued revising previously published essays and composing new ones.The defining features of a "cause and effect" essay are causal chains that connect from a cause to an effect, careful language, and chronological or emphatic order.A writer using this rhetorical method must consider the subject, determine the purpose, consider the audience, think critically about different causes or consequences, consider a thesis statement, arrange the parts, consider the language, and decide on a conclusion.An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument — but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story.Essays have traditionally been sub-classified as formal and informal.In English essay first meant "a trial" or "an attempt", and this is still an alternative meaning.The Frenchman Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) was the first author to describe his work as essays; he used the term to characterize these as "attempts" to put his thoughts into writing, and his essays grew out of his commonplacing.The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing.A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea.Furthermore, Huxley argues that "essays belong to a literary species whose extreme variability can be studied most effectively within a three-poled frame of reference".These three poles (or worlds in which the essay may exist) are: Huxley adds that the most satisfying essays "..the best not of one, not of two, but of all the three worlds in which it is possible for the essay to exist." The word essay derives from the French infinitive essayer, "to try" or "to attempt".