There are different styles of essays that we may encounter when we read an essay. This depends on the characteristics of the essay in which we can determine its formality or informality. A Few Kind Words for Superstition by Robertson Davies appeals to the reader on a formal sense rather than an informal sense and this can be determined if we look at the characteristics that an essay must include to be labelled as a formal essay. The subject, content, and the style of Davies’ book clearly proves that his essay belongs within the formal essay category. Formal essays are geared towards convincing the reader about the author’s subject and are used to convey messages.
A Few Kind Words for Superstition was written to inform society about the superstitions that control most of the human-life everywhere. This is brought on by a style of seriousness and the significance that it has to everyone, everywhere. Superstition is said by Davies to be “alive and flourishing among people who are indisputably rational and learned.”1 This style of writing makes the reader feel like superstition is a manifestation of human-kind and that it is a major part of human daily rituals. He makes the reader feel like it is a human manifestation that is of major concern to everyone especially the manifestations that are encountered in all the areas he mentions. For every manifestation he makes a relevant comparison to the university life then moves onto religion and culture. The mention of religion and the common superstitions that religions and cultures encounter show us that superstition is everywhere and makes the reader feel that this is a significant part of human daily life and that it is a problem that they should probably think about. Davies shows us that these superstitions are controlling many lives and that it is a serious subject that controls human thought, interactions, and any other human related paranoia. By making the reader see the many examples of superstitions in the daily life he makes it significant to the reader because of the many interactions that the reader would probably have with people and their superstitions. Clearly the seriousness and significance that Davies presents, gives the reader a sense of formality because of it ties to the characteristics of a formal essay.
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When one reads Davies’ essay they should look at all the evidence or points that are laid out by him and make sure that they can make sense of what he is trying to get across. Davies wrote the essay in an accurate, logical and factual way because he wanted the author to truly believe his point and he wanted to properly convince them. A writer needs to make the reader feel like their facts are true and Davies does this by mentioning common knowledge things that the reader is familiar with. Generally, authors are factual in their essays. This is because many people who know the facts will reject the essay and criticize the author for trying to falsify the opinion in order to get someone to see their point. Eventually the author would not be supported because they are not gained with the support that they need to back up their point. Davies’ content is accurate and factual because of the universal knowledge that everyone has with religion and culture. Although not many know all the facts to be true, they assume that the rest is because of the truths that are described in the basics of his points. Davies is logical and we see this because of the way he presents his facts. We basically believe that he can lose his respects as a writer if he doesn’t follow the rules of being a writer that presents his content accurately, logically, and factually.
Essays are generally written to make sure that their point is conveyed in a specific way that convinces the reader. Davies presents his essay in a style that is orderly, dignified, impersonal, and didactic as may be apparent throughout the entire length of the essay. The structure of the essay follows a pattern of generalization of the subject by telling the reader about how it relates to them and it presents the thesis that he outlined about superstition. The essay is compacted into two pages which started with a definition of the meaning of superstition and giving us examples of daily-life superstitious beliefs. Several forms of superstition were then presented to the reader in order for them to learn more about the manifestations of superstition. This teaches the reader a lot about superstition and intended for the reader to view what superstition really is on other levels. This is orderly and dignified because of the conventional ways that one introduces a subject. The explanation of the subject is given and then brought into other aspects and onto other levels. This was clearly done by Davies, as he explained superstition and then talked about the levels of meaning beyond what superstition is. The essay was impersonal because of the direct stating of what superstition is and the societal beliefs about what people believe superstition is. A clear indication of its impersonality is the fact that Davies did not use the ‘I believe’ or ‘I think’ statements that come with personal opinions and styles of writing, making it far from being something that is an opinion.
Characteristics of the subject, content, and style make it apparent to us that this book was written in the formal sense and that it was written to influence an idea that can be pondered and taken into consideration. A Few Kind Words for Superstition has linked these characteristics making it the style of essay that we know to be the formal essay. It is one of the many formal essays that readers have in order to intellect their minds and to experience the use of opinion in order to support or reject Davies’ idea of superstition. Formal essays are intended for the reader in order to be influenced and to look at another perspective other through facts presented and many other styles of writing that is intended to influence.
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