How to Write an Essay About a Historical Person
Probably you think that an essay about a historical person is a piece of cake and that it needs only an hour of writing, don’t you? Everyone knows about the most popular historical persons, whether in the American history, or in the world history. Therefore, you will have merely to choose the most famous of all of them, and describe their life story. But, unfortunately for you, writing an essay about a historical person proves to be a painstaking task.
Let’s say a few words about what is expected from you. This type of essay is not exactly a historical essay. On one hand, you really should describe historical events, but on the other, they should be depicted only in relation to the actions of a definite person. You do not need to analyze the causes for any historical event, but rather the reason and personal motivation for the person in question. Another important difference is to be found in the fact that this person may be also on the “evil” side (for example, some of the totalitarian leaders of the 20th century).
How to write an essay about a historical person – important tips
Begin with a short biography of the person your essay is dedicated to. Write only the most basic facts: when they were born, what was their family background, education, profession, etc. And, of course, write a little bit more about the historical event with which they are associated the most. Try to balance between personal bio, and the historical context. For that reason you have to read about the particular historical era, especially if it concerns Ancient times or the Middle Ages.
What are they famous for?
Well, “your” person is certainly famous for some important action - a revolution, a war, a political reform, or social activism, and so forth. Describe the facts related to their participation in the given event. Refer to certain sources, even if the person is very famous. Do not refer to textbooks or Wikipedia, but rather to academic books (even anthologies or readers).
Remember: you must stay at a distance from the person. Here it is not the right place to estimate the person’s actions. Your opinion should be easily discernible from the facts.
Your personal opinion
It is now your turn to say a word. Every time you want to express your opinion, start out with phrases like: “I think”, “I believe”, “It seems to me”. Why have you chosen particularly this person? What impressed you in them? Here it is allowed to be “more personal” and share the emotions that emerge when you hear or read the name of the person.
Other approaches to the person/event
As with every historical event, the deeds of this historical person can be also treated in different ways. You can present here, for example, some counter-arguments that shed new light upon them. Even the most respected persons have done some mistakes in their career, plans, or predictions.
At the end of the paragraph, you should contrast both viewpoints and assert why your view is the correct one. Be concise: tell it in two sentences.
Even if there are not any references in the essay (not advisable), you need to attach a short list of titles referred to the subject, particularly to the person and their historical era. These should be books or articles, or even documentaries, read/watched by you.
Advice: the bibliography should be formatted according to the Chicago style standards, unless your instructor has recommended another style.
There could be many tips on how to write an essay about a historical person. In all cases, you need to have comprehensive knowledge on the subject, and skills to express your point of view.
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