Descriptive Essay Examples

Descriptive Essay

The purpose of a descriptive essay is to provide description of something: person, place, object, experience, emotion, etc. The goal is to provide as much detail as possible so that the reader can completely understand and form an image or impression of the thing described.


The writer of a descriptive essay has much freedom in how to structure the essay. In order to provide description, the writer typically appeals to the five senses: sight, taste, touch, sound, smell. In addition, the writer uses imagery to paint a vivid picture with words.

Examples of Descriptive Essay:

This excerpt from Eudora Welty describes a corner store:


Our Little Store rose right up from the sidewalk; standing in a street of family houses, it alone hadn't any yard in front, any tree or flower bed. It was a plain frame building covered over with brick. Above the door, a little railed porch ran across on an upstairs level and four windows with shades were looking out. But I didn't catch on to those. Running in out of the sun, you met what seemed total obscurity inside. There were almost tangible smells-licorice recently sucked in a child's cheek, dill pickle brine that had leaked through a paper sack in a fresh trail across the wooden floor . . .


This excerpt is from an essay titled "Documents" by Charles D' Ambrosio that appeared in The New Yorker in 2002.


Some nights, I dug into the lee of a snowdrift and hollowed a shelter for myself. Snow contains air and insulates, holding the body's warmth so that, at a certain point, the temperature remains constant, blood and ice in equilibrium. In deep snow, I dragged supplies with a pulka I'd made from a child's sled and plastic conduit. I was afraid of avalanches and checked a slope meter before traversing open, treeless hillsides. What I feared was suffocation, particularly the inability to make my chest expand. I really knew nothing about winter, nothing about surviving the season beyond the blunt lesson in fatality I'd learned from picking up bones. Sometimes I slept in the open mouths of mine shafts, their crumbled headframes like broken teeth, where twice I found clusters of bats, hanging by their feet, their wings folded in, like the strange fruits of darkness itself.

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