How to Write a Composition Essay in Classic English Literature: Complete Guide

Writing guide
Posted on October 7, 2020

Composing a paper is a kind of easy-manageable task if a student has a syllabus or instructions from the professor. At the same moment, it becomes the worst nightmare if there are no explanations and help. Especially, it happens when one is assigned a composition essay. Students may wonder what is it? Isn’t essay a composition itself? Are there any mistakes? Yes, this type of paper also exists. But, do not write it off as lost because the requirements will not spoil your mood or waste precious time.

A composition essay is a free piece of writing. Usually, poems, prose, verses, novels are the ones referred to this paper but there are events when curators expect their students to see a regular essay that will focus on events, objects, characteristics of one subject.

First off, one should understand that this writing does not require a reference list as well as citations from trusted sources. It is necessary to choose one area of interest and go with its analysis. Some educational guides divide a composition essay into a few types, narrative, argumentative, expository, and descriptive. However, it is a common practice to combine all of them in one.

Secondly, it is crucial to understand that this essay still needs facts, and evidence because Classic English Literature subject cannot be researched without authors and their masterpieces. It means your work will depend on a precisely chosen topic, and a touch of creativity.

Finally, do not think that you will never come across such type of essay in the future. Of course, everything depends on the career. But, many tasks can resemble writing that should be also academically structured, and formatted. In such cases, you will only win the battle. Moreover, it is a good exercise before coming across more complicated papers such as contrast and compare, analysis, and professors’ favorite, dissertation. So, now this guide will reveal some tips that you had better write down on the paper and save for better times. And, nothing will scare you no more.

How to Write a Composition Essay in Classic English Literature: Exercises

Let’s spend some time on exercises that will substitute a preparation stage. In fact, students opt for copying ready-to-use samples, or they just rewrite online essays to save efforts. Isn’t it smart? Today, plenty of online plagiarism checkers can spot such attempts and a professor will only congratulate a student with a complete failure. To succeed in generating cool ideas, proceed with the next steps:

  • Make a top 10 list of Classic English Literature works. One can refer to such a list online or make his own based on preferences. Besides, you can choose the direction of works, for example, the books on romanticism, Gothics, social topics, that were adapted in cinematography, and so on. The narrower specialization you choose, the faster the ideas will come;
  • Investigate Google. It might sound strange though but Google displays the most common topics for this subject. And, there is 90% probability other students will go for them to idle around. Once you have an approximate idea of them, eliminate them from your choice. Be original;
  • Find instructions. Many educational establishments post their syllabus on how to write an essay on the official websites. So, maybe you can learn something else before writing;
  • Determine the level of research. Some topics can be extremely researched that one will find nothing to add except for his opinion. Make sure, work has much analysis on it by lit-crits. But use their works only as a fact or supporting evidence for attaching. Note, the level should still give a chance to discover something else.

Finally, ask the advice of the graduates or seniors about the previous year’s topics or their tips to succeed in writing. Otherwise, one can find groups in social networks where students from around the world like to communicate on literature topics and share their insights regarding the authors, masterpieces, and their attempts in writing papers. Note, you do not need to copy someone’s work, gain just inspiration, or borrow some working tactics from others. Never neglect the help, a composition essay is not a red flag for competition.

Choosing a Stellar Topic for a Composition Essay in Classic English Literature

Most of the time, professors and online guides insist on picking up the hard-manageable topics, and it is true. Complexity challenges students and they learn how to think critically. However, one should not forget about the interest regarding a subject. No matter how hard a selected work is or seems, it is useless to struggle over it all days and nights, if you do not find it engaging. Of course, it does not concern the events when a professor solely assigns a topic, this is already an irreversible situation.

If you are your own master and can choose whatever you like for a composition essay, get inspired by the following examples:

  • Happy End in Romeo and Juliet? (Yes, everyone knows that a story ends tragically but there are too many essays based on this tragic love. Try to choose another approach, and think of the possible outcomes in case of a happy-end.);
  • Pride and Prejudice. Who Will Elizabeth Choose These Days?
  • The Mystery of Sherlock Holmes: Is It Worth Adapting This Masterpiece?
  • Morality in Lord of Flies;
  • Predictions That Occur Today but Have Been Mentioned Before in Literature;
  • The Language Patterns in Classic Literature vs Today Slang;
  • Edgar Allan Poe: A Father of Mystics?
  • How Charles Dickens Ended up Teaching the Morality Adults Rather Than Kids?
  • Gender Roles in Classic English Literature;
  • Sexism and Feminism in English Literature;
  • Uk’s Identity in English Literature.

Besides, there is one more interminable controversy. A Classic English Literature is an imaginary depository of masterpieces that gained popularity within the countries. Time flies, and it is possible to include Harry Potter in this classification. As of now, it is just simple observations but who knows maybe your curator agrees with this point of view, and you can generate a topic based on this work.

Formatting a Composition Essay in Classic English Literature

To not get you puzzled up, a composition essay does not have complicated instructions regarding the format.

  • It includes Introduction, Main Body, Conclusion;
  • 500-800 words (varies in educational establishments);
  • Times New Roman, 12;
  • One-inch Margins;
  • Presence of facts, evidence.

Some smart students even attach visuals such as photos of Shakespeare or illustrations to the author’s works. It is an essay, not a project. The same is related to colored text, use only black. And, be very careful with italic because it is accepted only for the headings but a composition essay of 500-800 words predetermines only one heading that should be simple.

That’s not tough, is it? When proceeding with composition, it is recommended to turn to an outline. It is an improvised scheme allowing students to gather the ideas and structure them as per the paragraphs. Those who skip this stage may find it hard generating any thoughts or may forget interesting ones during the actual writing.


A thesis and hook to the rescue. No essay is possible without a thesis, so do not neglect using it, otherwise, a lower grade will anticipate you so bad. Usually, it consists of one to two sentences only but they should draw the reader’s attention. For example, use a rhetorical question asking a reader what he thinks about the works presented in the Classic English Literature list. Should it be extended? Or, is it worth excluding some representatives from there? Besides, one can use a joke or anecdote claiming that Shakespeare would be so proud of love motives in modern literature but he would never accept he is less popular than Joanne Rowling.

This paragraph is of no more than 150 words, and there is a must to include a transitional sentence at the end that will lead to the main body.

Main Body

What, How, and Why are your best friends when dealing with this part of an essay. Anything you write should be directed to those interrogative pronouns. For instance, a student starts with the issue, or a phenomenon he is willing to write about. It may resemble an introduction but to the main point. If an essay dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe, start with his biography, and why he is called a father of mystics. Then, mention the authors who were inspired by him and his works.

  • What is the issue? – The consideration of Edgar Allan Poe as a Mystics Father;
  • How? – How do you find him a representative of mystics literature?
  • Why? – Why did you choose him?

The same tactics are applied to the next paragraphs. There should be no naked information taken only from your opinion. It will look biased and illogical.

The second and third paragraphs are dedicated to the core. What are the works that made him famous? What are his literature styles, language? And, do not forget to analyze how his works are now adapted in cinematography.

The last paragraphs can contain your personal opinion about his activity as an author, and evaluation based on other lit-crits reviews. However, the last sentences should crown all the results and lead to the conclusion.


This part is as easy as ABC if one follows a simple rule of three – No new information – No judgment – Presence of One’s Confidence. The latter rule concerns the level of satisfaction with an analysis. If a student is sure he did his best and showed it in a composition essay, a reader will believe it.

Some students also tend to attach Call to Action that provokes additional food for thought. For instance:

  • Think, what would you say Edgar Allan Poe if he was alive?
  • Can you name at least 3 characters from his works?

Keep in mind, it is just an alternative tool to finalize your essay. You always can finish with the conclusion of the author’s contribution to literature.

How to Write a Composition Essay in Classic English Literature? After All Is Done

Here we go, you are almost done. Now, it is high time to spend some time on proofreading and boosting your confidence in the overall look of your essay. According to many professors or educational syllabus, it is highly recommended to leave work for some time to give it and yourself a rest. Usually, 1-2 days are more than enough to restart your “Windows” and go back to the written lines. Nevertheless, this tip would slightly concern those who missed all the possible deadlines and now are in a hurry to submit an essay until a professor still makes advances. You are trouble-makers but even you can find a solution, online editors that will instantly highlight the mistakes, and improve the readability of the text. Other tips are:

  • Check your paper for homonyms. These words are quite tricky, and it takes some time to understand what is the problem with a sentence. You can mistake except for accept, effect for affect. Editors do not always highlight them, so find a concentration and reread sentences a few times;
  • Read backward. It does really work. Whenever our eyes become blurred because of tiredness, it is hard to spot any literacy discrepancies. So, try to fool your brain, and read backward;
  • Check numbers. Those who managed to attach numbers should be careful with them. Especially, it concerns dates, and prices (if they are suitable for a topic). Make sure, there is no 18888 instead of 1888. A professor will laugh;
  • Ask someone to proofread. This option stays the last and is applicable only if you cannot deal with an essay on your own. Sometimes, hesitations about the correctness eat us alive. Thus, ask your friend or family member to read an essay, and say feedback.

Now, you are finally done. Only a few days and the result will be ready. During this time, try to focus on other assignments or tasks because anticipation may play on your nerves. If you followed all the above-mentioned tips, they won’t let you down. Good Luck!


  1. Greenblatt, S. and Abrams, M. (2018). The Norton Anthology of English literature. W. W. Norton & Company.
  2. Liebman, J. (2017). How to write any high school essay. 1st ed. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  3. Van Zile, S. (2006). Mastering the 5-paragraph essay. New York: Scholastic Inc.
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