The word Essay is defined in “The Concise Oxford Dictionary" as “a literary composition (usually prose and short) on any subject." Properly speaking, it is a written composition giving expression to one's own personal ideas or opinions on some topic; but the term usually covers also any written composition, whether it expresses personal opinions, or gives information on any given subject, or details of a narrative or description.
In fact the word “Essay" is somewhat loosely applied to variety of compositions, from Bacon's compressed “Essays" on the hand, to those so called “Essays" of Macaulay, some of which are lengthy articles, almost as big as small books, on the other.
Characteristics of a Good School Essay:
1.Unity: An essay must be a unity, developing one theme with a definite purpose. The subject must be clearly defined in mind and kept in view throughout. Nothing that is not relevant to it should be admitted to the essay.
2.Order: The essay should follow a certain ordered line of thought and come to a definite conclusion. It should not consist of haphazard reflections put down anyhow. There should not only be unity of subject but also unity of treatment.
3.Brevity: School essays should not be long. The limit should be about three hundred words; though, of course, there can be no strict rule as to length, which will depend a good deal on the nature of subject. But an essay should be a brief exercise, concisely expressed.
4.Style: Style of an essay should be dignified and literary Slang, colloquial terms and free and easy constructions are not proper in essay. The language and sentence construction should be simple, direct and natural. The secret of clear writing is clear thinking.
5.The Personal Touch: An essay should reveal the personal feelings and opinions of the writer. It should have its individuality in it. Strictly speaking, an essay is a written composition giving expressions to one's personal ideas or opinions on a subject; and this personal touch should not be lost, or the essay will be colourless and devoid of individuality.
Writing the Essay
1.Paragraphs: Every essay should be divided into paragraphs, and each heading should have at least one paragraph to itself. An essay not thus paragraphed looks unattractive and is not easy to read.
2.Structure of an Essay: We may divide an essay into three parts--- the Introduction, the Body of an Essay, and the Conclusion.
(a)The Introduction: This, in a short essay, must be very brief. It would be absurd to have the porch bigger than the building itself. It may be simply a sentence, or a very short paragraph. But it should always be arresting and pertinent to the subject. The introduction may consist of a definition or a quotation, proverb, very brief story, or general remark, leading up to the subject.
(b)The Body of the Essay: This is really the essay itself------the house to which the introduction is the front door, and the conclusion the back door or exit. In arranging the body of the essay observe proportion; that is let each part have due weight given to it. Closely follow your full outline throughout. The paragraphs should be well constructed and should be related to one another according to the direction of your outline; and as far as possible, the connection between one and other should be shown. Avoid the use of unnecessary words.
(c)The Conclusion: As the introduction should arouse interest, the conclusion should satisfy it. An effective and satisfying end to an essay is as important as an arresting beginning. An abrupt or feeble ending may spoil the whole effect of the essay. A good conclusion may consist of:- summing up of the arguments of the essay, final conclusion drawn from the subject matter, suitable quotation, sentence that strikingly expresses the main point you want to drive home.
A House on Fire
I had never seen a house on fire before. So, one evening when I heard fire engines with loud alarm bells rushing past my house. I quickly ran out and, a few streets away, joined a large crowd of people; but we could see the fire only from a distance because the police would not allow any one near the building on fire.
What a terrible scene I saw that day! Huge flames of fire were coming out of each floor, and black and thick smoke spread all around. Every now and then tongues of fire would shoot up almost sky-high, sending huge sparks of fire round-about.
Three fire engines were busily engaged and the firemen in their dark uniform were playing the hose on various parts of the building. The rushing water from several hoses soaked the building but I did not seem to have any effect on the flames. Then the tall red ladders of the fire engine stretched upwards and I could see some firemen climbing up with the hoses in their hands. On reaching almost the top of the ladder, they began to pour floods of water on the topmost part of the building. This continuous flooding brought the fire under control but the building was completely destroyed.
While fire is blessing in many ways, it can also be a great danger to human life and property.