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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 are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The concept of an “essay” has been extended to other mediums 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. John Locke’s 1690 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. An essay has been defined in a variety of ways.
One definition is a “prose composition with a focused subject of discussion” or a “long, systematic discourse”. It is difficult to define the genre into which essays fall. Aldous Huxley, a leading essayist, gives guidance on the subject. The personal and the autobiographical: The essayists that feel most comfortable in this pole “write fragments of reflective autobiography and look at the world through the keyhole of anecdote and description”. The objective, the factual, and the concrete particular: The essayists that write from this pole “do not speak directly of themselves, but turn their attention outward to some literary or scientific or political theme. Their art consists of setting forth, passing judgment upon, and drawing general conclusions from the relevant data”.