How to Write a Contextual Essay

When something is taken out of context, the meaning becomes misconstrued. Since the context of an event is the framework supporting the event, a contextual essay is written with the framework of the event in mind. The event is usually some piece of writing on which you must focus the essay. You can use other writings to add depth to the essay, but only if they fit the context of the first piece of writing. However, contextual essays, like all essays, have an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

Write the introduction based on the action in the piece. This shows that you have identified the context of the writing. Describe the action's importance and how it relates to the whole piece.

Focus on the character, theme and style of the writing as you begin the body of the essay. Write briefly about the main character or characters. What character qualities are revealed by their actions?

Describe the theme of the piece. What kind of response do you think the author expects of the reader? Do they make a statement within the theme?

Define the style of the piece by looking for alliteration or imagery. Is it a dialogue or narrative? Does the author speak in first person? Describe the effect you think the author is trying to achieve.

Conclude the essay by explaining if the author was successful at accomplishing what they set out to do. Did it have a dramatic impact, or was it more like poetry or prose?


Write down thoughts as they come to you when pouring over the information to help you get started with the writing process. This is called freewriting.

Never assume given information is correct. Always research it for yourself.

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