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Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks

Published on February 9, 2015 by Shane Bryson . Revised on December 6, 2021 by Shona McCombes.

This example guides you through the structure of an essay. It shows how to build an effective introduction , focused paragraphs , clear transitions between ideas, and a strong conclusion .

Each paragraph addresses a single central point, introduced by a topic sentence , and each point is directly related to the thesis statement .

As you read, hover over the highlighted parts to learn what they do and why they work.

An Appeal to the Senses: The Development of the Braille System in Nineteenth-Century France

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.

In France, debates about how to deal with disability led to the adoption of different strategies over time. While people with temporary difficulties were able to access public welfare, the most common response to people with long-term disabilities, such as hearing or vision loss, was to group them together in institutions (Tombs, 1996). At first, a joint institute for the blind and deaf was created, and although the partnership was motivated more by financial considerations than by the well-being of the residents, the institute aimed to help people develop skills valuable to society (Weygand, 2009). Eventually blind institutions were separated from deaf institutions, and the focus shifted towards education of the blind, as was the case for the Royal Institute for Blind Youth, which Louis Braille attended (Jimenez et al, 2009). The growing acknowledgement of the uniqueness of different disabilities led to more targeted education strategies, fostering an environment in which the benefits of a specifically blind education could be more widely recognized.

Several different systems of tactile reading can be seen as forerunners to the method Louis Braille developed, but these systems were all developed based on the sighted system. The Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris taught the students to read embossed roman letters, a method created by the school’s founder, Valentin Hauy (Jimenez et al., 2009). Reading this way proved to be a rather arduous task, as the letters were difficult to distinguish by touch. The embossed letter method was based on the reading system of sighted people, with minimal adaptation for those with vision loss. As a result, this method did not gain significant success among blind students.

Louis Braille was bound to be influenced by his school’s founder, but the most influential pre-Braille tactile reading system was Charles Barbier’s night writing. A soldier in Napoleon’s army, Barbier developed a system in 1819 that used 12 dots with a five line musical staff (Kersten, 1997). His intention was to develop a system that would allow the military to communicate at night without the need for light (Herron, 2009). The code developed by Barbier was phonetic (Jimenez et al., 2009); in other words, the code was designed for sighted people and was based on the sounds of words, not on an actual alphabet. Barbier discovered that variants of raised dots within a square were the easiest method of reading by touch (Jimenez et al., 2009). This system proved effective for the transmission of short messages between military personnel, but the symbols were too large for the fingertip, greatly reducing the speed at which a message could be read (Herron, 2009). For this reason, it was unsuitable for daily use and was not widely adopted in the blind community.

Nevertheless, Barbier’s military dot system was more efficient than Hauy’s embossed letters, and it provided the framework within which Louis Braille developed his method. Barbier’s system, with its dashes and dots, could form over 4000 combinations (Jimenez et al., 2009). Compared to the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, this was an absurdly high number. Braille kept the raised dot form, but developed a more manageable system that would reflect the sighted alphabet. He replaced Barbier’s dashes and dots with just six dots in a rectangular configuration (Jimenez et al., 2009). The result was that the blind population in France had a tactile reading system using dots (like Barbier’s) that was based on the structure of the sighted alphabet (like Hauy’s); crucially, this system was the first developed specifically for the purposes of the blind.

While the Braille system gained immediate popularity with the blind students at the Institute in Paris, it had to gain acceptance among the sighted before its adoption throughout France. This support was necessary because sighted teachers and leaders had ultimate control over the propagation of Braille resources. Many of the teachers at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth resisted learning Braille’s system because they found the tactile method of reading difficult to learn (Bullock & Galst, 2009). This resistance was symptomatic of the prevalent attitude that the blind population had to adapt to the sighted world rather than develop their own tools and methods. Over time, however, with the increasing impetus to make social contribution possible for all, teachers began to appreciate the usefulness of Braille’s system (Bullock & Galst, 2009), realizing that access to reading could help improve the productivity and integration of people with vision loss. It took approximately 30 years, but the French government eventually approved the Braille system, and it was established throughout the country (Bullock & Galst, 2009).

Although Blind people remained marginalized throughout the nineteenth century, the Braille system granted them growing opportunities for social participation. Most obviously, Braille allowed people with vision loss to read the same alphabet used by sighted people (Bullock & Galst, 2009), allowing them to participate in certain cultural experiences previously unavailable to them. Written works, such as books and poetry, had previously been inaccessible to the blind population without the aid of a reader, limiting their autonomy. As books began to be distributed in Braille, this barrier was reduced, enabling people with vision loss to access information autonomously. The closing of the gap between the abilities of blind and the sighted contributed to a gradual shift in blind people’s status, lessening the cultural perception of the blind as essentially different and facilitating greater social integration.

The Braille system also had important cultural effects beyond the sphere of written culture. Its invention later led to the development of a music notation system for the blind, although Louis Braille did not develop this system himself (Jimenez, et al., 2009). This development helped remove a cultural obstacle that had been introduced by the popularization of written musical notation in the early 1500s. While music had previously been an arena in which the blind could participate on equal footing, the transition from memory-based performance to notation-based performance meant that blind musicians were no longer able to compete with sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997). As a result, a tactile musical notation system became necessary for professional equality between blind and sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997).

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

Bullock, J. D., & Galst, J. M. (2009). The Story of Louis Braille. Archives of Ophthalmology , 127(11), 1532. https://​doi.org/10.1001/​archophthalmol.2009.286.

Herron, M. (2009, May 6). Blind visionary. Retrieved from https://​eandt.theiet.org/​content/​articles/2009/05/​blind-visionary/.

Jiménez, J., Olea, J., Torres, J., Alonso, I., Harder, D., & Fischer, K. (2009). Biography of Louis Braille and Invention of the Braille Alphabet. Survey of Ophthalmology , 54(1), 142–149. https://​doi.org/10.1016/​j.survophthal.2008.10.006.

Kersten, F.G. (1997). The history and development of Braille music methodology. The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education , 18(2). Retrieved from https://​www.jstor.org/​stable/40214926.

Mellor, C.M. (2006). Louis Braille: A touch of genius . Boston: National Braille Press.

Tombs, R. (1996). France: 1814-1914 . London: Pearson Education Ltd.

Weygand, Z. (2009). The blind in French society from the Middle Ages to the century of Louis Braille . Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Frequently asked questions about writing an essay

An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

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English Literature Example Essays


The Canterbury Tales is an undoubtedly a richly textured work that draws in and combines many different elements of many genres. As a collection of tales it forms a rich tapestry woven from a selection of threads that neatly cover the spectrum of Chaucer's society, and utilises a range of styles which are appropriately diverse and which suit the personality of each individual storyteller. But the casually adopted view that Chaucer utilised a separate genre for each of his tales is an over-simplification of a far more subtle overall generic scheme. For a start, Caroline D. Eckhardt explains that up to the twelfth century, Medieval statements about genre, such as those of Isidore of Seville, Bernard of Utrecht, Honorius of Autun and Matthew of Vendome, usually accounted for no more than four identifiable poetic genres. In the thirteenth century, Geoffrey of Vinsauf and John of Garland extended these lists, though not by much. At this time, the concepts of tragedy and comedy had little to do with humour or pathos, but were instead measures of the movement of fortunes of the characters involved, as well as their social status; Geoffrey of Vinsauf describes comedy as "a rustic song dealing with humble persons, beginning in sadness and ending in joy"(CTC 181) and tragedy as a work "showing the misfortunes of grave persons, beginning in joy and ending in grief"(CTC 181). By today's standards, these interpretations of genre seem rather constrictive. In all likelihood Chaucer was of the same opinion - his manipulation of the generic guidelines that he had inherited through […]

"The fact that animation operates primarily within the realm of fantasy and for a child audience, does not mean it is innocent of cultural politics". Discuss.

"There is nothing in the least childlike about fairy tales" - Marina Warner Walt Disney was born in 1901 and started his animation career in the 1920's. His films have had a profound impact the world over, being immensely popular with children and ambiguous with critics. Bell states, "It would not be an exaggeration to assert that Disney was a radical film-maker who changed our way of viewing fairy tales, and that his revolutionary technical means capitalised on American innocence and utopianism to reinforce the social and political status quo" . Disney worked to promote American idealism, to provide a source of entertainment, to educate children, and ultimately to make money in the process. Disney stated that, "I think of a child's mind as a blank book. During the first years of his life, much will be written on the pages. The quality of that writing will affect his life profoundly" . Disney thus realised that his films exercised considerable influence on the child's viewing of the world, their hopes, dreams, thoughts and expectations. For this, and public expectation that he will educate children about good morals and the realities of life, Disney has been debated and criticised over and over again.[…]

"Social novels have their purpose written clearly on them like a motto, and they hold to it perseveringly". Discuss whether you think this is an adequate account of nineteenth-century novels you have studied.

Dicken's Bleak House and Eliot's Middlemarch (1871) are two Victorian novels very different in tone, in structure (noting in particular Dicken's introductory use of a double-narrative) and, ultimately, in purpose. Both these novels however, despite these differences, incorporate very prominent aspects of reality for a reader living in the nineteenth century, whether it addresses a particular historical event, as is the case of Eliot, writing in 1869 - 40 years after the First Reform Bill of 1829, or in the present day misery of the London slums and brutally powerful world of the Chancery system, themes that Dickens ardently explores and vividly encapsulates through his work. Each novelist makes a poignant comment on the socio-political order of living, and the realities for the individual and interdependent communities existing within the social infrastructure. Yet how far does each novelist go to maintaining their individual purposes, the personal goals they set out to achieve through the writing of two such successful novels? In order to answer this question it is necessary to first analyse the purposes that are perceivable from the novels themselves. […]

"The search for something outside the self, some goal or new truth, so often in the fin-de-siècle period becomes a search within the self - with potentially devastating results." Consider in the light of two works.

"There is no morality, no knowledge, and no hope" - Joseph Conrad The term Fin-de-Siècle is generally used to describe a period of European history between 1890-1910. Literally meaning "the end of a Century", the period was one of much turmoil, anxiety and pessimism about the receding present and the approach of a new era. With Darwin's Origin of Species (1859) causing revolutionary scientific thinking, religion was in serious decline; as Nietzsche radically claimed, "God is dead...we have killed him - you and I". Darwin's theory of evolution involved a scientific account of the process of Natural Selection, which included the idea that all species will reform and will eventually become extinct. His biological ideas had a huge impact on the writers, thinkers and the general public of the day. Philosophical ideas about a nihilistic world and its effect on mankind were rife, and at the forefront of these fields were German philosophers Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Whilst they differ somewhat in their views, these great minds share the same pessimism that was quickly widespread across Europe, to the extent that this era has been questioned as being one of early existentialism.[…]

Is biology destiny? Discuss with reference to the development of a gender identity

"It is fatal to be a man or a woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly" - Virginia Woolf For many decades, the nature - nurture debate has continued to appear in scientific, religious and educational studies. The controversial topic has raised many questions about how a child's gender identity is formed. Most theorists do not see biological nature and the rearing environment as independent of each other; rather, the interaction between these components in order to create a gender identity is stressed. The degree of importance that is placed on either biology or environment, however, differs, and provides the basis for much of the continuing research into this topical area. Gender is one of the most important and fundamental aspects of our identity; it can be described as a category that dictates societal views of individuals, and determines how humans come to view themselves (Whitehead, 2000). Individuals are born or assigned a sex at birth, male or female, and every known culture distinguishes between male and female (Gross, 2005). Yet it is the social assumptions made about the different sexes that determine ones gender (masculine or feminine). A gender identity serves as an internal monitoring system for governing choices and directing behaviour (Whitehead, 2000).[…]

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English Literature Essays

The essays below were written by students to help you with your own studies. If you are looking for help with your essay then we offer a comprehensive writing service, provided by fully qualified academics in your field of study.

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English literature essays (page 1), an essay on the sex and love in george orwell’s 1984.

Example essay. Last modified: 27th Feb 2023

George Orwells novel 1984 explores intimate human relationships in a bleak futuristic society as experienced by protagonist Winston Smith. Since there are few bonds stronger than those developed from loving relationships among family, friends, and lovers, the only entity acceptable to love in Oceania is the face of the Party, Big Brother....

An Analysis of 1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell’s most acclaimed work, 1984, is a dystopian novel set in a futuristic surveillance society. The term Orwell coins in the book for this type of culture is “oligarchical collectivism...

An Essay on the Propaganda and Power in 1984 by George Orwell

The intricate system employed by “the party” in 1984 ensures its control of the Oceanic population and involves manipulation, propaganda, deception and the use of mechanisms of oppression....

The Interpretation of Misogyny in Taming of the Shrew

Example essay. Last modified: 7th Sep 2022

Over the years, there has been much speculation into how Shakespeare intended The Taming of the Shrew with ideas about the role of women, to be interpreted. It has been subjected to much harsh criticism surrounding its misogynistic content....

Margaret Atwood » The Circle Game

Example essay. Last modified: 31st Dec 2021

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Sir Gawain and The Green Knight​: Who is The Christian Hero?

Example essay. Last modified: 5th Nov 2021

Chivalry is a large theme in the epic poem, Sir Gawain and The Green Knight; ​ ​the poem's author is still unknown, but is dubbed as the ...

From Being to a Monster: The Influence of Society in Frankenstein

Example essay. Last modified: 3rd Nov 2021

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Meaning of Life and Existence Through the Use of Humour in Beckett's Endgame

Example essay. Last modified: 19th Oct 2021

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Concept of Change in The Catcher in the Rye

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Analysis of 'Girl' by Jamaica Kincaid

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A Feminist Lens Critique on Bradamante’s Role of Gender and Being a Warrior

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Gothic Elements in Jane Eyre and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Frederick Henry's Journey in A Farewell to Arms

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Hamlet's Antic Disposition

Example essay. Last modified: 14th Oct 2021

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    Example of a well-structured essay An Appeal to the Senses: The Development of the Braille System in Nineteenth-Century France The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France.

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