How to Write a Classification Essay in Classic English Literature and Not Fail It

Writing guide
Posted on April 23, 2020

Drafting an essay is complicated, admit it. To finish a writing assignment in classic English literature means to sweat over it a lot. But writing a classification essay is ten times more troublesome. What a classification essay actually is? When completing it, you are expected to classify things into categories following a chosen principle. The prime aim of this type of academic essay is to make complicated things look simple. But to bring your work to that simplicity is a tough task.

What things do you need to know to complete this type of essay? To start with, it is of top importance to learn the most common classifications strategies. They are rather simple: the kind of something, the group of something, and the type of something. You cannot go with a general approach to classifying anything. Only a specific approach can make your essay strong. Keep reading to know more.

How to Write a Classification Essay in Classic English Literature: Topics

You may know the topic that you would like to write your classification essay on. However, you need to narrow it down to get the title. Experts suggest students follow the so-called 5-W strategy which covers the questions What, Why, When, Who, and Where? How to apply it?

Say you want to dedicate your essay to women authors in classical English literature. Be more specific because writing about ALL female writers of that period will take you years. The answer to your WHO-question is Jane Austen. WHAT work shall we concentrate on? Let’s take Pride and Prejudice, for example. WHY? Because it is a classical novel filled with humor and education, manners and money, marriage and relative ties. WHEN? It was written in 1813, yet it covers the aspects that are taking up a greater part of modern people’s lives. WHERE? Everything’s happening in Britain.

Here you go — a very broad topic is narrowed down. And the title that we have narrowed the topic to sounds like: Morality Characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A Classification.

Research for How to Write a Classification Essay in Classic English Literature

To do such a complicated classification in accordance with all the rules AND make it interesting and true-to-text, you need to research the topic thoroughly. You have the book, of course. But by simply rereading the novel, you will hardly come to the needed conclusion. What you need to do is analyze while reading.

Plus, there is much to be read and studied from the works of other researchers. Their works will become a helpful source of details that help in creating your own classification. By the way, you also can cite authoritative resources, thus making your classification essay in classic English literature be more credible.

Don’t forget to go to the library in addition to looking for all the information online. It doesn’t mean that libraries store more books that the Internet does (though views range). It’s all about experienced college librarians. Being so knowledgeable about all college archives, they can speed up the process of finding the right sources of valuable information.

How to Write a Classification Essay in Classic English Literature: Signal Phrases

After providing information on how to narrow down the topic to the title, we should have proceeded to the structure of your essay. However, we’ve decided to comment on the signal phrases that are a must-have in any classification work. Signal phrases are also commonly referred to as transitions that are signals sent to the reader saying, This is where we are going to divide things.

Here are the top six of such word combinations:

  1. can be divided into
  2. is categorized by
  3. this type of
  4. is classified in accordance with
  5. several types/classes of
  6. in this class

By using these transition phrases, you do more than just convey bits of information to the reader. You also state that you communicate something really important and meaningful. Such word combinations make an essay not just smoother but also professional looking. No one will ever say that you are writing it for the first time.

How to Write a Classification Essay in Classic English Literature: Structuring

Your classification essay in classic English literature can be structured in one of the two common ways.

Number one. You go with only one criterion for categorizing. The result is the essay with very distinct categories. When do you need to use this way? It is primarily chosen when your aim is not just to present the categories but also to show your understanding of categorization. To make the essay even more informative, add sub-categories.

Going back to the criterion for this way of classification, it is highly essential to mention it as an element of the background of the introduction part. It is followed by the thesis statement. As to the body, it then describes both categories and subcategories.

Number two. In this case, you can go with more than a single criterion. This is an approach for classification essay with a large word count, where classifications can be multiple and presented in different ways.

It is easy to guess that by choosing this way, you show your deep understanding of the topic, the ability to justify many classifications, provide various examples, etc.

Once the approach is chosen, move on. Your next step is crafting the introduction of your essay.

This is the very first paragraph of your classification essay in classic English literature. And much depends on how well you cope with it. So, the opening sentence of your introduction blog identifies the classification and includes the thesis statement that sheds light on details of the classification.

The real problem is that most students have no idea how to write an effective thesis statement. This is exactly why we have included a few more instructions into this blog post. So, the first point you need to know about the thesis statement is that it conveys the primer idea of the essay and allows the readers to understand what issues you are driving to.

There exist three unspoken rules concerning a thesis statement:

  1. It should be focused — Even with many classes or categories, your essay should have only one purpose. And your thesis statement should take this purpose for its only focus.
  2. It should be to the point — It means that the thesis statement should be pretty strict allowing you to convey the main meaning. So, please, deprive it of all the superfluous words.
  3. It should be short — It results from the two previous points. Do not make your thesis statement longer than one sentence. What if you cannot express your main idea just in one sentence? It means the idea is too vague and should be changed.

Talking about classic English literature, it is also essential to point out that the topic you have chosen may need some background information. Once you include it, it will give a deeper context for the study and make the reader more focused.

Now it is time to proceed to the body of your essay. The number of paragraphs of the body block is always equal to the number of classes or categories. Open the paragraph with a strong sentence — the topic sentence that conveys a summary of the class and its core idea.

The class comes with examples and illustrations to make the body coherent:

  1. So, you have sorted the characters of the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen into categories.
  2. You have come with the first way of organization and decided to present all categories under a single principle — the level of morality. You are making up your mind to include not only the main characters but their secondary too.
  3. You give examples to each of the categories. It means that you do not just name the category and the character belonging to it but also provide examples of situations described in the novel where the level of morality was the lowest or the strongest.

NB. Do not forget to use the transition words and phrases in this part.

Sometimes, students combine the two ways of essay organization. It means that one or two categories of your classification essay in classic English literature can be very exhaustive listing various subcategories. For instance, characters whose morality features depend on the situation, people who surround them, or their intentions.

And finally, there is the conclusion — one of the toughest parts of any type of essay. Why is it tough? You have one paragraph to sum up the findings you have shared in the body paragraphs. Take time and draw your conclusion from the aspects of the classification:

  1. Let the very first paragraph — the introduction — be your main guide. If you have started like, ‘There are four categories of morality characters in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen’, start the conclusion paragraph by saying, ‘Natural, acquired, artificial, and absent are the four categories of morality characters in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen’.
  2. Every paragraph of the body is dedicated to a certain class and enumerates a few characters from the novel as examples. Briefly mention each category, ‘Catherine “Kitty” Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourge, and Mr. William Collins are categorized as characters with artificial morality’.
  3. Give reader food for thought by suggesting that there is much more to be learned when applying this type of classification, ‘There are definitely more complex categories that could be added. Their addition would likely add to changes and drifts in the main categories’.

But this is not a full stop. This is only a draft. And you should add finishing touches to it.

How to Write a Classification Essay in Classic English Literature: Check It!

What did we mean by saying that you need to add some finishing touches? Firstly, you are expected to reread the essay and do it more than once. We suggest you read the text aloud, sentence by sentence, and then backward. At this stage, you will manage to check the word choice and spelling.

Secondly, you can turn to grammar checkers available online for free. They are awesome assistants when it comes to checking weird grammatical structures. No matter how good these tools are, unfortunately, they cannot be 100% reliable. And this is when we proceed to the third option — contacting your buddy. This is mainly the choice for those, who find it hard and very ineffective to proofread their own texts. But by buddy we do not mean someone from the street. It must be someone really knowledgeable, experienced, and reliable.

Suggestion number four is to write all the mistakes down and make their list. The list must include words you usually misspell, grammatical structures that you use incorrectly, errors that happen due to inattentiveness, etc. This list should always be at hand, this is how it will help you deal not only with mistakes in the classification essay in classic history but also during all college years.

The fifth recommendation is to check the work for plagiarism with a free tool you can find online. Mind that your work will have a chance to earn “A” only if it is 100% original. Plus, having a screen of the anti-plagiarism check, you will be able to provide your supervisor with the proof of the work’s originality.

And this is exactly when you can say that the work is completed. It took a lot of time to write it, didn’t it? But as soon as you receive the results, you’ll know that the process was worth it.


  1. Lukacs, G. (2006). The theory of the novel. London: Merlin Press.
  2. Stonehouse, D. (2018). How to write a good essay: general principles for success. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 12(6), pp.292–295.
  3. Woolf, J. (2005). Writing about literature : essay and translation skills for university students of English and foreign literature. London ; New York: Routledge.
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