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How to Write an Expository Essay

If this is your first expository essay, there are certain steps you must take. First and foremost, you need to find an essay topic if it isn’t already assigned to you. Your topics should be related to your class or course. Here are some examples of expository essay topics:
  • Why do teens smoke?
  • What factors cause teen suicide?
  • Why do you want a certain career?
  • What causes gang violence?
  • Why did communism have a stronghold in Eastern Europe?
  • Explain how the Black Plague changed Europe
  • Explain why fewer women die in childbirth in the developed world than 100 years ago
  • Explain why Norwegian Black Metal is linked to church burnings
  • Explain why school shootings happen
  • Explain how rock-and-roll became mainstream

After you’ve chosen your topic, then you need to research your given problem. Be sure to only select reliable scholarly sources; not all books or studies are created equally.

Once you have done substantial research, begin writing your essay. The format of the expository essay is as follows:
  • Introductory paragraph that introduces the reader to the problem. Inside your introductory paragraph, you must have your thesis statement that you are going to prove with sources throughout the essay.
  • Body paragraphs that flow naturally into one another and logically explore the problem.
  • A concluding statement or summary that wraps up your essay and thesis statement.

Expository Essay Examples:

The real and often banal face of evil is more difficult for us to define and to understand. In Hannah Arendt’s book Eichmann in Jerusalem, she describes Adolf Eichmann: a man who during his term in the SS systematically organized the transportation of Jews to the ghettos and onto the death camps in Poland during the Holocaust. One would expect a purely evil, diabolical, inhuman man. But Arendt does not describe a frightful man, foaming at the mouth, and inspiring horror with all who saw him, but an eerily everyday man who was complicit in mass-murder. This sharply contrasts with the depictions of evil that can be found in the works of literature and in the films that have been covered in this course. The face of evil may not be the Sandman with his gnarly hands and fearsome countenance. It may not be Mephistopheles, the demonic huntsman, or the poisonous black spider. The evil man may not be like the charismatic and hypnotic Dr. Caligari or even the sinister and conniving Jew Suess. In the post-Holocaust world, all become capable of evil once painfully “normal” human beings like Adolf Eichmann, overstep the bounds of conscience and perpetuate evil…

Nikolai Stavrogin in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Demons is a mysterious, often repugnant, and self-indulgent character who commits suicide at the end of the novel. While there are other suicidal characters, like Kirillov, throughout the work, their suicides are, if not understandable, but completely predictable. In complete contrast, Stavrogin’s suicide is completely unexpected. Yet, his suicide is not without reason. He is partially driven to suicide by his need to demonstrate complete self will and achieves this by acting upon his impulses, harmless or malevolent. But there is also something more sinister in Stavrogin. The originally omitted chapter “At Tikhon’s” reveals not only one of the motives behind Stavrogin’s suicide, but clues the readers into the extent of the evil in Stavrogin. He is not a man driven to an act of desperation by boredom, nor solely by ideology, but because of his own vileness. Throughout the course of the novel, Stavrogin becomes aware that his evil must be destroyed…

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