The Delicious Nature of Essay

It seems to me that an essay is like a box of chocolates.  We look at

the whole array, the arrangement, the texture, comparing the

choices, and then react to the offerings.  We choose one piece,

perhaps poking it in the bottom to check out the inside, and then

savor the choice.  Next we meander visually through the remainder

for another selection, comparing and contrasting it on the palette to

the first.  Which is better?  Does each have merit?  Did I choose



In the same way, we investigate the ideas of an essay and explore

point of view.  The reader questions, opines, and then feasts on

resolution.  Self-doubt and exploration lead to complication and

pathos, but there is closure, selection.  A study in contrasts and

tastes leads to deliberation and perspective.  We see the argument,

the full box of chocolates, but the complexity of differences is sorted

out in the tasting.  Sometimes we argue with ourselves about which

piece, choice, or course of action would be best.  Internal

questioning makes for a good essay  —  and a generous selection of



Essay is narrative.  I like the intimacy of essay writing and its

willingness to snuggle up like a friendly reminder to think through an

issue or dilemma.  Essays are not didactic.  They do not come with

brutality or insistence; they come with questions.  The reader is

encouraged to “think on these things”  —  a biblical imperative  —  but

a congenial framework or structure provides the means.  There is

pattern and purpose in delivery.


Fanatical pushing or erratic mood seem outside the bounds of

essay, the attempt to follow the writer’s thought process.

Intellectualism would add falsity to essay conversation, complicating

the ease of sharing.  An abundance of Hallmark phrases pulls the

reader outside the text and into his everyday world, tattooing his

memory with reminders.  However, more than sound bites is

required.  I think the narrator encourages looking beyond the

boundary of limited thinking, but catch phrases are not always the

Cliff Notes of a larger point.  Coherence is mandatory to deliver



Essay is philosophy in motion.  It is reflection and wondering,

resembling a good chat with a friend.  It sounds human and real,

often with a “Listen up!” or a “What do you think?” quality.

Sometimes the mundane is elevated to prominence, and thought

and feelings blend in one current.  An essay need not be

complicated and is probably most effective when it touches instincts

and chords that are familiar.  Confused writing is meandering gone

amuck, lost in a maze of circles and overwhelmed with words and

excess.  Keep it simple keeps a reader.


Essay can point to a moral.  Instruction does not seem to be a

common goal of essays, but there is a moral compass which

fluctuates and creates choices.  A lament, a hope, an opinion, or an

observation can lead to evaluation and engagement in an essay.

Grand lessons are learned from small details, and I think relevance

is the demand of non-fiction.  Essays pay homage to process, and

the narrator must gather up his reader and find the way to


Posted in Ann

2 thoughts on “The Delicious Nature of Essay

  1. As we discussed in class, the argument that emerges around essays as narrative/not didactic or fanatical seems strong, worth building around perhaps for the whole essay. I am less compelled by the box of chocolates, partly because I am confused if you are talking about a collection of essays one chooses from, or elements of essays one chooses from within an essay (but then, is the implication that some parts of an essay are not read?) In terms of quotations and complications from authors we have read, lots you can do to elaborate on the idea that the essay is not didactic. You have been emphasizing experience in your references to the essay–I think Emerson’s essay of that title could help you develop and complicate the ideas here: looking beyond limited thinking.

    • Thanks so much for your super-prompt response to the draft on essay. Okay, the chocolate bit can go; it was fun to play with. At 2:30 AM in a difficult week, it seemed an interesting prologue.

      You are right that I am drawn to the experiential in essay writing. After the first day of class and discussion of the principles of argument, conflict, tension, and response, I came home, threw out my notes, and thought I was in the wrong class. Essay seems to be presented as a polemic, almost a position paper, and not thoughtful response to an event, an opportunity to see a greater message in the elevation of personal experience. Moving from simple to complex thinking, dealing with the challenge of conventional views, and ultimately building to a conclusion that might be unexpected are steps in the structure, but the “event” or experience is the springboard. White and the ladies with dead moths seem to go that way. Maybe “argument” is my problem.

      I guess this paper is talking about essaying and the next is writing one. I will soldier on. Thanks again, Ann Hymes

      > > New comment on your post “The Delicious Nature of Essay” > Author : SRM (IP: , > > E-mail : > URL : > Whois :

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