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Three Essential Elements Of A Personal Essay

950 words - 4 pages

The personal essay is an expression of the author's feelings, thoughts and experiences. By writing a personal essay and sharing the personal experience, the author is trying to entertain and involve the readers. A variety of stylistic techniques may be used by the author in a personal essay, such as narration, description, persuasion and so on. The voice of a personal essay is very individualistic. Generally, there are three essential elements in a personal essay, which are "honesty", "vulnerability" and a drive towards "self-disclosure". Those three elements play important roles and make a good personal essay.Sometimes it is difficult to face the truth; it is even worse to write it down, so being honest is very important in writing a personal essay. From psychological perspective, most of the humans have the fear of placing private truths before an audience, and, even have the trouble to interpret their memories. However, it is very necessary for a personal essayist to overcome the fear and be honest to the readers. First of all, honesty brings an accurate perspective of view. The purpose of a personal essay is to telling the author's own experience, therefore, the author can not make a story up by saying it is his/her own experience. Phillip Lopate, in his introduction to The Art of the Personal Essay, offers the idea that "if the essayist can delve further underneath, until we feel the topic has been handled as honestly, [......], then at least one essential condition of a successful personal essay has been met"(xxv). According to Lopate, being honest and keeping the accurate perspective of view makes a good and successful personal essay. Moreover, the author's honesty gives the readers an impression of sincerity, which makes the reader have desire and patience to continue reading the essay. By reading George Orwell's personal essay "Shooting an Elephant", which is such a long story that I did not want to read at first, I was attracted and moved by the story. Orwell writes that "[he] was hated by large numbers of people---the only time in [his] life that [he] has been important enough for this to happen to [him]" (35). The readers can easily feel his honesty and wonder why he writes so, so they keep reading the story to find a reasonable answer. Honesty is essential in a personal essay; being vulnerable also holds the balance.In order to open the author up and lead the readers to find the same feelings, vulnerability is also significant in writing a personal essay. First of all, some vulnerability arouses the readers' sympathy. "Baring the naked soul" can awake the sympathy of the reader (Lopate xxvi). Being vulnerable does not mean the author is poor; the reader may also have the same experience too, which they may not have the courage to speak...

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