Sunday, May 4, 2014

HOW TO PLAN AND WRITE CAUSE AND EFFECT ESSAYS


THE PURPOSE
The purpose of the writer when writing an essay of this type is to specify the causes and / or effects of an issue, a movement, a trend, a custom or a serious problem.  This is the one and only purpose, which has various implications as we shall see.
THE PLAN
The introduction
The purpose of the writer in the introduction of the essay is to lead up to the topic if it is a custom or a trend for example. Here is an example of an introduction of this type:
THE REASONS FOR THE USE OF COSMETICS AND OTHER BODY ADORNMENT
The adornment of primarily the face but also the rest of the body with paint of one sort or another is, contrary to opinion, a very old tradition. While indigenous tribes will resort to natural products available in nature for the purpose, 16th and 17th century Europeans used lead based paints on their faces, which were highly toxic. Body paint or facial paint is still very widely used in many areas of public life sometimes for ceremonial purposes, sometimes during war, but sometimes for health and beauty.
In this example, it is a long standing custom or tradition that is being examined so a flashback into history or chronology is used to work up to the topic. The thesis statement comes at the end of the paragraph and covers the general areas which constitute reasons. All the points that are to be covered in the development do not need to be listed in the introduction. In fact, it is recommended that you don’t as it looks list-like and the essay becomes rather repetitious. Here is a second example; this time the subject is a matter of concern: the increasing divorce rates.
THE REASONS FOR THE INCREASING DIVORCE RATES
The family has always been considered the basic unit of societies and as such been protected and preserved. All traditions and religions have always upheld the family as sacred and divorce, the breaking of the bond connecting the spouses was considered a most definite no- no and frowned on. But as Heraclitus so aptly put it, there is nothing permanent except for change and this applies to divorce as well with the breaking up of the once hallowed institution becoming ever more common. There are various reasons for increasing divorce rates in the modern world.
Again, the plan of the introduction involves leading up to the issue: we start with the family which is, as a concept, what divorce relates to; discuss the importance thereof throughout history; introduce the change observed in the current century, divorce, and indicate clearly that the purpose of the essay is to discuss the reasons for this new trend. Here is a third example; this time for an essay whose purpose is to discuss effects.
THE EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN
Family life is always pictured as a bed of roses with marital bliss and happy well adjusted children leading satisfying and useful lives. The fact that this isn’t always true is no secret; there are rifts, bust ups and sadly violence in many families all over the world for reasons ranging from psychological problems to economic concerns, drink and tradition. The women on the receiving end of the violence are not by any means the only victims though: the children suffer too; both in the short term and the long term as they carry the legacy of their fathers on to future generations.
Since the purpose of the essay is to focus on effects, it is logical to mention causes in the introduction. Again we lead up to the topic starting with what is ideal or normal: marital bliss and then introduce the possible darker side which is a serious problem in this case: violence in the family. The last sentence is again the thesis statement where the focus is narrowed down to the children and the general make up of the development is clearly indicated. The essay is to be a two paragraph affair focusing on first short term effects and then long term effects. The further details of these general categories are not provided though and shouldn’t be as explained above. Here is one last example:
OBESITY: CAUSES
Obesity is on the rise in developing and developed countries and has become a reason for concern. The concern is due to the fatal illnesses linked to the problem which have caused death rates to soar. The biggest killers linked to obesity today are heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases; the treatment of such diseases is a huge burden to the state. This growing expense, as well as humanitarian concerns, is leading more and more professionals to try and curb this new trend. The solutions lie in coming to grips with the reasons the most important of which is changing life styles.
This example presents an alternative way to write introductions to such essays: discussing the effects in the introduction to justify the need to discuss the causes in detail. The writer then does something very clever: he provides on single reason, which means all he discusses will fall under this heading.
The development
The developmental paragraphs of any essay of this type consist of the causes or the effects which have been grouped together along the lines indicated in the thesis statement. The rule of going from the general to the particular is adhered to and each general category is further subdivided into details with support plus examples in each paragraph. Here is a sample outline:
First developmental paragraph: ceremonial purposes
·         Religious ceremonies: Eastern religions, African and Aboriginal religions, Indian rituals and by shamans
·         In coming of age and sports ceremonies in Africa, East Asia and among indigenous peoples
·         The theater, the movie industry and regularly on television
Second developmental paragraph: during war
·         By indigenous tribes all over the globe to elicit fear ( Indians, South American Indians, The Maori, The Zulu and the like)
·         By commandos for camouflage
Third developmental paragraph: health and beauty
·         To delay aging ( a lot of modern day creams)
·         To enhance beauty in accordance with the norms of society and conceal blemishes ( specific types of makeup were the custom in different societies during different periods; Black eyeliner in ancient Egypt and the Middle East, moles or patches in 18th century Europe, the makeup of geishas and the like)
·         For health reasons (creams, foundations and the like)
If you were to look back to the introduction to this essay provided above, you would see that the reasons to be examined are stated in general terms; details come in the development. This style of writing helps avoid repetition, is logical and looks tidy. Here is a second example; this time the introduction and the development of an essay discussing the reasons for divorce. The essay has an alternative introduction which none the less follows the rules:
CAUSES OF DIVORCE
Marriage, the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of forming a family, is one of the most respected social institutions. In the past, divorce was very much looked down upon with divorcees shunned by society. This attitude has changed but divorce rates have also increased. Nobody plans or expects to get divorced when they take their vows but it does sometimes happen. A more permissive atmosphere is certainly a factor but is it the only factor? There are two main reasons for the increasing divorce rate: the increasing self centeredness in modern society and jumping into marriage too quickly.
Selfishness and self centeredness are unfortunate consequences of the move towards individualism in the modern world. The feelings, rights, wishes and desires of the individual are upheld to the detriment of institutions like marriage where these attitudes won’t work. Such a person would find compassion, tolerance, consideration, sharing and empathy very tough. There is only so far a person such as this will tolerate the give and take a marriage necessitates. The inevitable consequence is divorce. The fact that divorce proceedings are so easy in the modern world helps speed up the process.
There is an old English adage: look before you leap; this is true for marriage as well. Marriage means two individuals from completely different backgrounds, sometimes even different cultures, deciding to spend the rest of their lives together in a small apartment. From this perspective, marriage sounds insane. What makes it work is love, friendship, and sympathy all of which come from familiarity. People who don’t know each other well enough don’t have the familiarity and friendship to fall back on; the blind love that brought them together won’t last and with nothing to fall back on, divorce is inevitable.
On reading the essay, it becomes obvious that the general categories mentioned in the thesis statement at the end of the introduction are expanded and support is provided.
The conclusion
Conclusions are where the writer is expected to move away from the specifics of the development and become more general once again. Conclusions for essays about problems could logically contain solutions, which would make a lot of sense. Alternatively, they could be restatements or a discussion of future trends. What they most certainly are not is a repetition of the introduction. A restatement is completely different from a repetition. Here is the concluding paragraph to the essay above:
In conclusion, although a happy marriage is to be desired for all kinds of reasons, divorce is also a fact of life. It is a traumatic experience yet it can be avoided with the right attitude to relationships with people the most fundamental of which is marriage.
Here is an alternative including the addition of advice and a possible solution; both very reasonable.
In conclusion, although it is true that divorce rates have increased in the modern world, this measure should still be considered a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. Naturally, abusive relationships and similar impossible situations should not be allowed to continue but counseling should be widely available for couples going through a rocky patch to discourage them from taking the easy way out. In short, divorce is not evil or a sin but it should most definitely be a last resort.
Here is an example of a conclusion written for the essay on cosmetics and body paint the introduction to which has been examined. Notice that this conclusion is partly a restatement and partly a prediction of future popularity.
In conclusion, as can be seen it would be very simplistic to label all body and facial paint as women’s business and completely frivolous. Facial adornment has had, and still has, an important place in the social lives of communities and being major components of rituals, help bring society together as a more cohesive whole. As such, the use of cosmetics will continue in private and public l ife.
When discussing introductions, we looked at the introduction to an essay discussing the effects of domestic violence on children. Let us examine the conclusion to this essay.
 In conclusion, the damaging physical and psychological impact of being witness to domestic violence affects not only the child but also the adult he grows into and the people he comes into contact with as an adult. The family he forms is likely to suffer in the same way and the psychological scars formed in the victim’s childhood continue to do harm down the generations. The poison is spread in the social circle of the victim and also in society, which means that the state needs to have measures and institutions  such as social services in place to tackle such problems before they get out of hand.
This conclusion is your typical restatement: it refers to all the points made in the development yet there is no repetition; it is completely different lexically. This is what makes it a restatement
Before we stop, let us examine one complete essay; the essay on obesity the introduction to which you have already read. You will observe that the conclusion for this essay contains solutions as is the case  in practically all articles concerning the causes and effects of problems you will ever come across. Don’t take my word for it; check and see.
Obesity is on the rise in developing and developed countries and has become a reason for concern. The concern is due to the fatal illnesses linked to the problem which have caused death rates to soar. The biggest killers linked to obesity today are heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases; the treatment of such diseases is a huge burden to the state. This growing expense, as well as humanitarian concerns, is leading more and more professionals to try and curb this new trend. The solutions lie in coming to grips with the reasons the most important of which is changing life styles.
One aspect of our changing lifestyle is down to technological development. Every modern convenience saves time and energy thus leading to inactivity. Everything from modern washing machines and vacuum cleaners to cars and motorcycles save time and make life easier but also prevent people from expending all the calories they ingest. Washing day could be best compared to a military operation in the past leaving the housewife dead on her feet; no household chore in the modern world compares to the way it was done in the past. As for life outdoors, shopping is now an activity that takes place at weekends and involves the family car; there is no walking and no heavy lifting. The same goes for work: people are glued to their seats in the workplace or on transport. The drop in the amount of energy expended is phenomenal so obesity should come as no surprise. Things don’t stop here however; the modern mantra of wanting everything to be done yesterday affects eating habits too.
Our obsession with speed has altered one of the most pleasurable examples of socialization and bonding: meal times. Since nobody has time for anything and convenience is paramount, microwaves have replaced cooking and TV dinners and fast food have replaced all that lovely stuff your grandmother used to cook. Couple that with the addictive chemicals in a lot of fast food and the modern consumer is hooked. One thing the modern fast food industry knows how to do is how to keep people hooked: plenty of fat, carbs and sugar. The inevitable result is obesity. The solution is obvious: we need to travel back in time.
To address this problem, we have to make sure that home cooking replaces fast food over all. This means workplaces, school canteens as well. When beans, salad and broccoli replace hamburgers and pizzas, we will have won the battle. The next obvious solution is to actually give people time to eat. The drastic drop in calories thus achieved, coupled with thirty minutes of walking a day, will help most people shed those pounds easily.
Before we leave the topic, it is important to point out that there are argumentative elements in such essays as the writer may need to prove that such and such is indeed the cause for something; there may comparative elements if the writer compares causes in terms of severity. In short, there are no clear cut distinctions and hard and fast rules except for common sense and rational thought










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