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Humanities LibreTexts

12.1: Why Write an Illustration Essay?

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  • Illustration is often used as a mode of writing when the writer needs to clarify general statements or observations about perceived truths about society, nature, experiences, and behavior. Illustration is used to clarify abstract concepts by providing a demonstration of a concept with supporting examples which show, in a concrete way, the point the writer is trying to establish. For example, a review of a beach resort would likely include main points and supporting examples regarding the hotel amenities, the restaurants available, beach access and related beach activities, and perhaps, price. All of these points would be assembled in an organized written composition—a personal journal entry, a travel brochure, a newspaper review, or a letter of complaint or praise to resort management.

    Understanding Illustration

    The point of any illustration assignment is for the writer to assert an overall observation and back up that assertion with evidence-based examples. Like other rhetorical modes, it can be simply informative—providing a neutral presentation of information for readers to use to draw their own conclusions, or it can be argumentative—providing a stance of favoritism or superiority on the topic. The key to organizing the overall essay is to decide on categories of main ideas that are needed to provide a comprehensive overview of the topic.

    The Thesis Statement

    The thesis statement for an illustration essay should convey the main point for why clarification or development of a deeper understanding of the topic is necessary or important.

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    • The over-reliance on social media and texting has created an environment where people feel comfortable sharing critical feelings they would have previously kept to themselves.
    • Many of today’s popular movies rely on excessive gore and violence to entertain audiences which could explain why book adaptations are more violent than the original text.
    • If money is not object, then a vacation to the Kanaapali Shores Beach Resort will satisfy a tourist’s paradise dream.
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