The Formal Essay

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The Formal Essay- "Emotional Meanings" The function of the expository essay is to explain or to acquaint the reader with a body of knowledge. The author demonstrates his knowledge by explaining a topic to the reader. Thus, the formal essay is the one in which the author is mainly concerned with giving information about his subject. In the essay "Emotional Meanings" by Robert H. Thouless, the author is attempting to convince the reader that words have more than one meaning. The essay includes three significant sections: purpose, method of organization and style, all of which make reading the essay some what of a learning experience. The following information will attempt to convince the reader of the above. The purpose of the formal essay "Emotional Meanings" is to inform and instruct the reader on the subject of emotional meanings of words. It is also used to argue facts and opinions, as well as to convince the reader of these. Firstly, its purpose is to advise the reader that words can have subjective and objective attitudes, as well as having the power to disturb one's natural way of thinking. The following is a simple illustration of what is meant: "The words 'firm,' 'obstinate' and 'pigheaded' all have the same objective meaning- that is, following one's own course of action and refusing to be influenced by other peoples' opinions. They have however different emotional meanings: 'firm' has an emotional meaning of strong approval, 'obstinate' of mild disapproval, 'pigheaded' of strong disapproval." (56) Secondly, its purpose is to instruct the reader about facts brought fourth in the development of the essay: "When we catch ourselves thinking in emotional phraseology, let us form a habit of translating our thoughts into emotionally neutral words. So we can guard ourselves from ever being so enslaved by emotional words and phrases that they prevent us from thinking objectively when we need to do so- that is, whenever we have to come to a decision on any debatable manner."(61) This essay then, guides the reader in the direction of properly translating emotionally toned words into their true objective meanings, and understanding words for what they truly mean instead of for what they imply. It teaches how and when the use of objective and subjective words are appropriate. Examine the following passage to reinforce this claim. "Once we are on the lookout for this difference between "objective" and "emotional" meanings, we shall notice that words which carry more or less strong suggestions of emotional attitudes are very common and are ordinarily used in the discussion of such controversial questions as those of politics, morals and religion. This is one reason why such controversies cannot yet be settled." (56) It is therefore clear, that Thouless' purpose is to inform and instruct the reader on the subject of emotional meanings of words. Also, the formal essay has a very distinct method of organization, including an exposition (or thesis) and verbal illustration of the presented topic, all of which are logical in progression, and extremely structured. Furthermore, the method appeals to the intellect (sense of reason) of individuals. This section contains the thesis of the author. The thesis in the formal essay "Emotional Meanings" is stated on page 55. "A word therefore, can not only indicate an object, but can also suggest an emotional attitude towards it." Take for example the word 'nigger.' The word has the same objective meaning as 'Negro,' however has an attitude of strong disapproval. Another method of organization used is illustration. The essay reads: "These are beautiful lines. Let us notice how much of their beauty comes from the proper choice of emotionally coloured words and how completely it is lost if these words are replaced with neutral ones." (54) When a descriptive statement is made into a more blunt choice of words, it loses its effect on the reader, and no longer illustrates a scene or idea in that respect. In essence, it is fair to state that the thesis and illustration are very important factors helping to construct the formal essay, and in getting one's message across. As well as purpose and organization, the expository essay contains style. The style of the formal essay is quite distinct. Language, voice and tone are included here. Style too, contributes significantly to the expository essay. The language and tone are both very important in the respect of contributing to the mood and atmosphere intended by the author. In the formal essay, they are formal, official, objective, precise, direct and professional. Fundamentally the language or the words used in the sentences, are to tie in well with the main points the essayist is attempting to make. By nature, humans tend "to distort reality by using words to make an emotional distinction between two actions which are objectively identical." (56) "The use of emotionally toned words is not, of course, always to be condemned. They are always harmful when we are trying to think clearly on a disputable point of fact." (57) The voice of the essay, is third person and impersonal. "Let us try to study ." (58) The above statements are clear and to the point. Therefore, these aspects of technique, reinforcing the relevance of style to the essay and are crucial in making the approach formal. Hence, one is now expected to understanding that they must be able to make the distinction between objective meanings and subjective meanings of words. Precaution is advisable when one is speaking or listening. An understanding that words can be misleading, and that the misinterpretation of them is all too frequent, will aid people in becoming better at being able to censor unneeded, useless information and being capable of absorbing facts, and reliable ideas. It is also true to say that the use of words in an emotional manner brings life to the essay. If words were used only in an objective manner, the sentence would be boring, or less interesting as no thought is put into making a distinction. Therefore, to conclude, the use of emotional words brings a stronger influence on the subject, which is being interpreted.

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