classical essay format

classical essay format

This is where the speaker/writer gives the supporting evidence to the claim. Supporting facts and opinion from authority are usually included in this section. The stronger the link between the supporting evidence and the claim, the stronger the argument of the speaker/writer will be. This is also the part where the claim is elaborated. A typical technique used in the confirmation section of a classical argument is the Toulmin technique.
A Classical argument is the basic form of persuasive argument typically used in essays and position papers . It has at least five parts: the introduction , narration , confirmation, refutation , and conclusion . The parts of a classical argument are arranged logically. That is, one section logically follows from the one before it. It is styled in this way for ease of transition in thought, especially for the main purpose of effectively persuading the reader or audience. The following is an explanation of the different parts of a classical argument .

  • State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it’s important to make that claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Here you’re anticipating your answer to the “why” question that you’ll eventually flesh out in your conclusion.
  • Begin your next sentence like this: “To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know is . . .” Then say why that’s the first thing a reader needs to know, and name one or two items of evidence you think will make the case. This will start you off on answering the “what” question. (Alternately, you may find that the first thing your reader needs to know is some background information.)
  • Begin each of the following sentences like this: “The next thing my reader needs to know is . . .” Once again, say why, and name some evidence. Continue until you’ve mapped out your essay.

“What?” The first question to anticipate from a reader is “what”: What evidence shows that the phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This “what” or “demonstration” section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. Since you’re essentially reporting what you’ve observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn’t take up much more than a third (often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.

Third section: Divisio–in which the writer outlines in one paragraph the main points to be covered in the essay. This is a preview–telling your reader what you are about to tell him.
Section Five: Confutatio–in which the writer anticipates the major objections to his points and refutes them.

As I explain to my students, a classical argument is more than “I think this about such and such.” It’s also, “You should think this, too.” It’s clearly a persuasive argument because it tries to draw people to the writer’s viewpoint and dispel any doubt that other views could be correct.
The refutation and concession should mirror the confirmation in structure and length.

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