Electronic Essay Writing Tutorial

This tutorial is intended to help students understand the important components of constructing an essay. This essay, "What I Have Lived For" is an encapsulation of some important elements of an essay. If you are able to follow and/or reproduce the elements of this essay, you will be over a major hurdle most students have in writing papers.


There are 6 sections to this tutorial:

Overall structure

Introduction

Body

Conclusion

Linking sections

Essay matrix

Rationale and Instructions.

If you have any questions after working through this tutorial or if anything is unclear, you should contact your TA or course instructor. The intention of this tutorial is to help you to recognize the overall structure of a paper, and that it is possible construct a paper out of a small number of ideas, structures and processes that are repeated in a specific pattern. Essay writing is not a magical process, but just as with many other human activities, it is a process of constructing an object that represents an organization of ideas in a consistent and orderly manner. Read the following essay, and then have a look at the over-all structure, introduction, body, conclusion, and linking sections tables. Try to get a sense of how the component parts of the essay fit together. Then look at the two essay matrix tables that show how all the parts go together. The Generic Essay Matrix is something you can print out and use.

You should be able to fit your ideas into this structure. Consider constructing a matrix in your mind (or on paper) similar to the last one in the "tutorial" to make sure you have captured all the necessary elements.

Note: Russell's gender exclusive language (his antiquated use of mankind for humans for instance) is no longer considered acceptable in university level writing.


What I Have Lived For, Bertrand Russell

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy--ecstasy so great that I would have often sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness-- that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what--at last--I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, lead upwards toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered to me.

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Overall structure

This essay has 5 paragraphs: Introduction, Body 2-4, Conclusion.

Introduction: Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life...
Topic 1: I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy...
Topic 2: With equal passion I have sought knowledge...
Topic 3: Pain and pity
Conclusion: This has been my life. I have found it worth living...

Introduction

The Introduction states the topic (blue) and 3 subtopics (yellow), and points toward the conclusion (green) of the paper. It is a mini essay in itself, and by reading the introduction, we should be able to understand your opinion.

 Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

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Body

Each paragraph in the body has the same structure as the Introduction: the topic of the paragraph (blue) and 3 examples (yellow), and the conclusion (green) of the paragraph:

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy--ecstasy so great that I would have often sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness-- that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what--at last--I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, lead upwards toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

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Conclusion

This conclusion not only sums up the paper "This has been my life." but expresses an open ended conclusion "I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again". There is nothing new here in terms of argument or content, though it does provide an uplift from the negativity of the fourth paragraph.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered to me.

Linking sections

The beginning of each paragraph links to the previous one with by referring to some element in the previous paragraph. Even at the end of the conclusion, it is almost like a link back to the introduction; one cyclical package.

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy--ecstasy so great that I would have often sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness-- that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what--at last--I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, lead upwards toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered to me.

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Essay matrix for "What I Have Lived For"

Element Topic Examples Conclusion
Thesis Three passions governed my life: - longing for love
- search for knowledge
- pity for suffering
Passions raised me up and dropped me.

Topic 1

Love - brings ecstasy
- relieves loneliness
- prefigures heaven
Success

Topic 2

Knowledge - to understand the heart
- know why stars shine
- apprehend numbers
Some success

Topic 3

Pity - cries of pain
- victims of oppression
- world of loneliness
Failure
Conclusion This is my life and I found it worthwhile.


Generic Essay Matrix

Element Topic Examples Conclusion
Thesis Direct Statement of Intent - Key Point 1
- Key Point 2
- Key Point 3
The impact of 'Statement'

Topic 1

Key Point 1 - Proof 1.1
- Proof 1.2
- Proof 1.3
Justifying importance of Topic 1.

Topic 2

Key Point 2 - Proof 2.1
- Proof 2.2
- Proof 2.3
Justifying importance of Topic 2.

Topic 3

Key Point 3 - Proof 3.1
- Proof 3.2
- Proof 3.3
Justifying importance of Topic 3.
Conclusion Pulling 'Statement' in with the various conclusions of the sections.

From The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell. Copyright The Bertrand Russell House.

This page copyright Jason Nolan.

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