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An exemplification essay cites examples to explain or illustrate a claim or an abstract concept. Writers use exemplification to draw interest, to explain ideas the reader might not be familiar with, or to persuade  The most poignant  points are made not just by telling, but by showing. This entails providing specific examples in the form of anecdotes, personal experiences, and facts and statistics. For example, if you are talking with friends and say, “I love my job.”, listeners would want you to qualify it  with examples, saying things like you get to travel overseas and meet people from various cultures, your boss is understanding and fair, there is no pressure to perform well, and you make a good salary. That way, your audience has a frame of reference and can agree or disagree with you. Exemplification is also vital to conducting research, where you make a claim (thesis statement) in the introduction, then backing it with evidence throughout the body of the paper.

  In the opening line of “Shooting an Elephant”, George Orwell states, “In Moulmien in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people – the only time in my life that  I have been important enough for this to happen to me.”    This line draws interest, but needs evidence  in the form of examples to qualify such an odd claim. He then explains that the British Empire in the 1920s subjugated Burma, and he cites incidents when, as a European police officer in occupied Burma, the locals tried to make his life Hell.

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Structure of an exemplification essay

An exemplification  essay begins with an introductory paragraph which defines the topic and leads to a thesis statement at its end. The thesis statement should indicate the topic (hydraulic fracking) and a dominant impression, or view (dangerously endangering the environment).

The three body paragraphs should contain examples that support the thesis. Each paragraph can develop one specific example or several brief examples. Be sure to use transitions (for example, for instance, another example, etc.) to guide your audience from point to point.

The conclusion reinforces the the main idea by restating (not repeating) the thesis statement and/or by  recalling the key points from body paragraphs

An exemplification essay should give enough examples, but avoid overloading with examples just to list as many as possible.   It should include a fair a range of examples. An essay that exemplifies traffic hazards should not include only examples in your hometown. Give examples of interstate junctions in major cities or hazards of large stadium parking lots.    Also, examples must be representative, not cherry picked. (e.g.) “Fast food restaurants are always dirty. The McDonald’s  down the street, and the KFC across from it are filthy.” Those examples represent only one area in one town. Has the writer ever left his homtown?

Assignment

Write a 5-paragraph 500-700- word essay on one of the following topics.

1. What stereotypes are applied by outsiders to your social or ethnic group (or your gender, intended profession, or geographic region)? Write an essay explaining how these stereotypes are untrue and potentially harmful.

2. Write an essay that shows Rhode’s ideas apply to to a school, a business, or an organization you know well.

In the introduction, make sure you have  a clear thesis statement that identifies the point you will illustrate. Each body paragraph should present a point supported by other examples. Use a wide range of examples. Remember, If you choose the stereotype topic, be sure your thesis statement clearly defines your social or ethnic group. Also, remember that you are addressing what the stereotypes are and how they are harmful/untrue. Your examples may be in the form of other rhetorical patterns (e.g. definition, comparison/contrast, narration).

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