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Insights Weekly Essay Challenges 2018 – Week 41: Reality does not conform to the ideal, but confirms it

Insights Weekly Essay Challenges 2018 – Week 41


14 October 2018

Write an essay on the following topic in not more than 1000-1200 words:


Reality does not conform to the ideal, but confirms it

Hint to Topic:

This topic is a quote by Gustave Flaubert – French novelist.

First interpretation:

In simple words, topic implies that in reality it is hard to practice or establish ideals such as truth, love and non violence in absolute terms. However, these ideals are attainable in reality either through thoughts or actions. Once upon a time ideal of democracy was anathema, but today it’s an ideal for most people which can be achieved (if not for most countries)

Second interpretation:

Another interpretation is that Ideals are not reality and can never be reality. But this interpretation is wrong if you closely read the topic. This interpretation is valid only if you replace the word ‘BUT‘ with ‘AND‘ in the quote (i.e Reality does not conform to the ideal, AND confirms it)

Also this interpretation doesn’t make any sense as always it’s ideals that finally triumph over evils (imagine the ideal of non-violence not becoming reality! The whole world will be in ashes and blood.)


  • First understand topic clearly. Take your time to think over keywords (Reality and Ideal) in the topic. Then properly differentiate between two words: Conform and Confirm (don’t hesitate to look at dictionary) Then make sense of the topic in its entirety. Even when meaning is clear to you, keep reading topic – this triggers ideas. 
  • Once you understand topic, write 2-3 lines on rough paper your interpretation of topic in as simple words as possible. Read this interpretation 2-3 times and again look at the topic. This is important because you should not deviate at any cost in your essay. 
  • Start essay with a relevant quote or with an anecdote. 
  • In the introduction, compulsorily define what is ‘reality and ideals’ – not in the first line itself though.  This definition should come after writing 3-4 sentences which should be either a small story, background or an anecdote related to topic. Then, establish relationship between reality and ideals (don’t get too philosophical carried away by philosophies of Advaitha or Idealism – write in layman language)
  • After writing definition, write about the context of the topic (like, why such statement is being made – what incidents have triggered such a debate. Don’t stick to Indian context alone. Give global context too.) Try to link topic with as many dimensions as possible – but without elaborating any dimension. (in introduction don’t elaborate your ideas – just give a hint)
  • In the introduction you may take a stand for or against the topic too. 
  • In the body, identify 6-7 broad dimensions related to the topic  such as: Democratic ideals, Social ideals, universal ideals, political ideals – their reality and future prospects of these ideals becoming reality. Or you may divide essay based on few selected ideals too, such as Justice, Truth, Love, Knowledge, Peace, Non-violence etc. 
  • While writing various dimensions, make sure they are relevant to the topic in question. Don’t deviate. Link arguments to support the topic. Also don’t forget to write your own thoughts about each dimensions (this part where you write your interpretation is key to fetch more marks in essay). For every argument, give examples, or illustrate with suitable illustrations such as stories, fables etc. 
  • If you are aware of philosophical theories that are related to this topic, use them minimally. Don’t use too much of specialised knowledge. It backfires. 
  • Throughout the say, avoid pessimistic tone (you may be tempted to write more about triumph of evil over good – as we are witnessing rise in violence, falsity, fake news, lack of compassion, ruthless exploitation etc).
  • Make your essay engaging and interesting by quoting stories here and there. 
  • In the conclusion provide more optimistic future of the world where ideals will ultimately triumph. 
  • As pointed out above, go beyond India and make your essay universal.