English Literature » Persuasive Essay

Persuasive Essay

Definition of Persuasive Essay

The term “persuasive” is an adjective derived from verb “persuade,” which means “to convince somebody.” A persuasive essay is full of all the convincing techniques a writer can employ. It presents a situation, and takes a stand – either in its favor, or against it – to prove to readers whether it is beneficial or harmful for them.

Why Persuasion?

The question arises why persuasion if the people are already aware of everything. Its answer is that each person’s ability of seeing and understanding things depend on his vision. He believes only what he sees or is told about. If another side of the coin is shown, the people do not believe so easily. That is why they are presented with arguments supported with evidences, statistics and facts. Persuasion is done for these reasons:

  1. A Better World: To ask the people that if they accept your argument, it will be good for them to take action and make the world a better place.
  2. A Worse World: It means that if readers do not do what they are asked to do, the world will become a worse place.
  3. Call to Action: It means to persuade or tempt readers to do what the writer wants them to do.

Difference Between a Persuasive Essay and an Argumentative Essay

A persuasive essay is intended to persuade readers to do certain things, or not to do certain things. It is the sole aim of the writer to coax or tempt readers, and force them to do certain things or take actions. However, an argumentative essay intends to make readers see both sides of the coin. It is up to them to select any of the two. In other words, an argumentative essay presents both arguments; both for and against a thing, and leaves the readers to decide. On the other hand, a persuasive essay intends to make readers do certain things. Therefore, it presents arguments only about one aspect of the issue.

Examples of Persuasive Essay in Literature

Example #1: Our Unhealthy Obsession and Sickness (by Frank Furedi)

“Governments today do two things that I object to in particular. First they encourage introspection, telling us that unless men examine their testicles, unless we keep a check on our cholesterol level, then we are not being responsible citizens. You are letting down yourself, your wife, your kids, everybody. We are encouraged continually to worry about our health. As a consequence, public health initiatives have become, as far as I can tell, a threat to public health. Secondly, governments promote the value of health seeking. We are meant always to be seeking health for this or that condition. The primary effect of this, I believe, is to make us all feel more ill.”

This is an excerpt from a persuasive essay of Frank Furedi. It encourages people to think about how the government is helping public health. Both the arguments of persuasion start with “First” in the first line and with “Secondly” in the second last line.

Example #2: We Are Training Our Kids to Kill (by Dave Grossman)

“Our society needs to be informed about these crimes, but when the images of the young killers are broadcast on television, they become role models. The average preschooler in America watches 27 hours of television a week. The average child gets more one-on-one communication from TV than from all her parents and teachers combined. The ultimate achievement for our children is to get their picture on TV. The solution is simple, and it comes straight out of the sociology literature: The media have every right and responsibility to tell the story, but they must be persuaded not to glorify the killers by presenting their images on TV.”

This is an excerpt from Grossman’s essay. He is clearly convincing the public about the violent television programs and their impacts on the kids. See how strong his arguments are in favor of his topic.

Example #3: The Real Skinny (by Belinda Luscombe)

“And what do we the people say? Do we rise up and say, ‘I categorically refuse to buy any article of clothing unless the person promoting it weighs more than she did when she wore knee socks?’ Or at least, ‘Where do I send the check for the chicken nuggets?’ Actually, not so much. Mostly, our responses range from ‘I wonder if that would look good on me?’ to ‘I don’t know who that skinny-ass cow is, but I hate her already.’

Just check the strength of the argument of Belinda Luscombe about purchasing things. The beauty of her writing is that she has made her readers think by asking rhetorical questions and answering them.

Function of a Persuasive Essay

The major function of a persuasive essay is to convince readers that, if they take a certain action, the world will be a better place for them. It could be otherwise or it could be a call to an action. The arguments given are either in the favor of the topic or against it. It cannot combine both at once. That is why readers feel it easy to be convinced.