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'The nature of a man' - Research & Reflection paper body paragraphs


joshj2398 1 / 2  
Oct 26, 2014   #1
...to improve what I already have

Prompt: Choose a topic/theme which is common to a number of works we have read this summer and in the class so far. You will be exploring your topic as it appears in a variety of sources from a variety of time periods. You will be looking for shifting ideas on your topic and connections among the sources you have chosen, looking for more insight into ways of understanding your theme. The paper includes both research and reflection. The research component is drawing examples from a number of different sources; citing those sources properly using MLA style; and fitting the sources into their places in history. The reflection part, which is the more important part of the paper, will be exploring what you believe the various sources seem to be expressing about your chosen theme. You should also arrive at an articulation of your own personal beliefs about the theme.

For SOURCES you must use:
a. TWO of the following: The Reason I Jump, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Scarlet Letter
b. TWO of the essays, poems, or short stories we have read in class (e.g., Montaigne, Bradford, etc.)
c. ONE excerpt from the Bible

For ADDITIONAL SOURCES select at least TWO of the following:
a. A personal anecdote
b. A piece of advertising
c. Information delivered via print or broadcast media (news, not advertising)
d. A reference to popular media (movies, t.v. shows-not advertising)
e. An additional book or article not listed above

The structure of your essay and the connections you make will be organic to your content-you must struggle to find the right structure to make the best connections. Your essay should be approximately 5 to 7 pages in length. You should cite your material and include a works cited page using MLA format. Your essays will be due Friday, October 31. It will be worth 200 points.

Examples of themes:
Views/attitudes towards nature
Gender roles in society and/or relationships between men and women
Search for meaning in an individual's life - including, but not limited to, importance of religion
The individual and his or her relationship with society
Utopias and Dystopias: The best and worst in human nature
Views of the outsider, the stranger, the "other"
Other themes are encouraged but must be approved by the teacher

What I have so far (missing 2 bodies):
Throughout history, the nature of man in works of literature or really art in general, has been judged and critiqued by numerous people. Many writers, both indirectly and directly, have argued that man is naturally a savage beast that is only capable of being violent and selfish, but other writers have shown and proven that man is in fact peaceful and capable of doing no harm, whether it be to society or to himself. However, these are not the only views on man that are apparent in literature. Man can be a selfish thing that only does what it needs to in order to benefit himself; However, man is also capable of being selfless and altruistic and willing to help his fellow human.

Trends in the history of man show that he is inherently misguided. Without a clear definition of what is right and wrong, and sometimes even if there is, he will likely deviate to what benefits him immediately. In Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Mr. Kurtz, an ivory trader in the Congo, is overcome by greed when his lust for ivory increases. He is even driven to turning allied tribes against each other, as well as creating alliances and enemies with the native Africans in his hunt for ivory. Charlie Marlow, a British seaman who travels to the Congo on the Company's steamboat and is considered moderate compared to the Company and Kurtz, asks the Russian trader, a Russian trader sent by a Dutch company, if "'Kurtz got the tribe to follow him, did he?'" (Conrad 93). The Russian trader states that "'They adored him'" (Conrad 93) and that "' he came to them with thunder and lightning, you know-and they had never seen anything like it-and very terrible. He could be very terrible'" (Conrad 93), showing that to the natives Kurtz is a powerful figure. In essence, Kurtz uses to his advantage superior technology and an uncivilized native population for his own economic gain. Kurtz is so avaricious and powerful that in fact, he convinced this tribe to steal from an allied tribe for the sole purpose of obtaining ivory, showing the immense ivory-fueled greed that is consuming him as well as the intrinsic selfishness of man. It is significant that he felt the need to use "'thunder and lightning'" (Conrad 93), and strike fear into the natives' hearts in order to benefit, instead of attempting to negotiate in a civilized manner, which is rather ironic considering Kurtz is from the civilized world. This further reflects that given the opportunity, man will be selfish. A similar situation occurs in Genesis. In Genesis when God creates Adam, God commands that he "must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2.15) and when Eve is created, she was made aware of this as well. However, when the serpent attempts to convince Eve to eat the apple by saying "'You will certainly not die for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil'" (Genesis 3.4), she is swayed and eats the fruit and also convinces Adam to eat the fruit. Because they go against God's will, Adam, Eve, and the serpent are punished. It is significant that even with this command given by God, Adam and Eve still disobey it for their own personal gain. Eve was selfish in making the decision to eat the forbidden fruit only thinking of the things that the serpent promised and the wisdom she could gain. Adam was selfish in simply eating the fruit and not being considerate of God's will. Rather than consulting God first and requesting permission, he immediately eats the forbidden fruit with no concern for the consequences. This further conveys the idea that even if there is a definite write and wrong, no matter what, man will do what is needed in order to reap the benefits. If there is an opportunity for man to benefit in some way, he will attempt to do so, whether or not the method is ethical or not, and perhaps even against the will of a greater force.

Even though it is made apparent that man tends to do what will benefit him with or without a clear definition of right and wrong, it is also clear that he is capable of being selfless and altruistic. In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch, an attorney, puts his reputation and credibility at stake when he has to defend Tom Robinson, a black field hand accused of raping Mayella Ewell. When Miss Maudie is discussing the case of Jim Robinson with Jem, she said that, "'there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them'" (Lee 219). In essence, Atticus is doing what no other attorney in the county is willing to do voluntarily. It is significant to notice that he is defending this man solely because he believes in caring for the well-being of people, as made apparent by being the only man willing to do this, even with the negative criticism given by a great deal of the residents of Maycomb. It is also significant that despite knowing that defending a black man in this era and region would likely put his family in Danger, he proceeds to "'do out pleasant jobs for us'" (Lee 219), and does so simply for the sake of defending a fellow human being that he believes deserves the same defense as any other human. He also believed that it was his duty as both a lawyer and a human to defend Tom. In addition, other than the expected legal fees, he defends Tom Robinson without expecting reward, further showing the true selflessness within him as well as the overall capability of man to be selfless.

My issues/questions

Okay so for AP English/Language & Literature, we were assigned to write a research and reflection paper due on Friday, but I have already done half of it. I'm writing about the views/attitudes towards human nature and I need to include 2 or 3 quoted sources per paragraph. As my sources I have to use The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Scarlet Letter, 2 of any of these: Of Cannibals by Montaigne (link below), Of Plymouth Plantation by Bradford, and Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, and want to/have to use a news article of some sort, Star Trek (any series) and/or Star Wars (any movie/series/tv show), and/or (I'm not ethically bound to tell the truth in my work, just so you know) a "personal" anecdote. For the sources that are popular media (Star Trek and Wars), I really don't care what it is, just as long as it applies to the paper. The 2 body paragraphs I have already done are man's tendency to do what benefits him and man is also capable of being selfless and altruistic.

One thing that's holding me up is that I'm having a really difficult time, given the sources I need to use in the last 2 bodies, figuring out what I should even write about and how I could allocate the remaining required sources into the last 2 bodies.

Hold ups on improving what I have:

For my first body paragraph (shown in the following pictures), my teacher marked this (imgur dot com/KeTZiZQ) and this (imgur dot com/6rcmSCc). I'm really confused by her "go more into depth with your commentary" comments. I really don't know how I should go deeper. It just isn't that obvious to me how I can go more into depth with my commentary.

In my second body paragraph (this(i.imgur dot com/OD8po5Q.jpg) and this (last sentence)(i.imgur dot com/ZNp3BKi.jpg)), she marks on the little grading slip these comments (i.imgur. dot com/tLJcHkR.jpg). Again, I'm pathetically mystified by what she really wants me to do and how I should execute.

Please, any help and ideas are tremendously appreciated.

Link to Montaigne thing if necessary: imgur dot com/a/TsRoY
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Oct 26, 2014   #2
If you need to add a few body paragraphs, it's great to think about it this way: Each paragraph = 1 idea, expressed in the first sentence of the paragraph (the paragraph topic sentence). That means if you're writing a 5-paragraph essay you can think of it as one main idea/message and 3 supporting ideas.

So, what is your main message to the reader? That is the sharp point to your spear -- the important part, the part that is the reason someone made a spear in the first place. That message is the reason for the rest of it, so if you rest your attention on that central message you can easily come up with 2 more supporting ideas (i.e. 2 more body paragraphs).

The body paragraphs are like microcosms of the essay. Each paragraph has a main idea and then the rest of the sentences in the paragraph explain that idea. Likewise, every essay has a main idea and all the paragraphs explain it.

Trends in the history of man... --- This paragraph is great writing, you are really talented with language. But I suggest 'humankind' instead of man or mankind.

"go more into depth.." They want you to challenge each idea you are sharing. For example: In the paragraph that begins with 'Trends in the history...' (mentioned above) you did a great job of explaining the story but the teacher wants you to slow down and 'analyze' every idea. See, if you stay mindful of YOUR main idea (the idea that makes the essay worth writing) then every little detail of this paragraph is something that can support or refute your idea. So, focus on the message of your essay, and add some sentences in each paragraph to comment on how [whatever you are saying in the paragraph] relates to your essay's main idea.
OP joshj2398 1 / 2  
Oct 26, 2014   #3
"If you need to add a few body paragraphs, it's great to think about it this way: Each paragraph = 1 idea, expressed in the first sentence of the paragraph (the paragraph topic sentence). That means if you're writing a 5-paragraph essay you can think of it as one main idea/message and 3 supporting ideas.

So, what is your main message to the reader? That is the sharp point to your spear -- the important part, the part that is the reason someone made a spear in the first place. That message is the reason for the rest of it, so if you rest your attention on that central message you can easily come up with 2 more supporting ideas (i.e. 2 more body paragraphs)."

I understand this, but what I'm struggling with is coming up with ideas as to what my other 2 body paragraphs should be since my essay requires a logical flow of ideas concerning views/attitudes toward human nature. I'm also having issues on how to use the last required sources in those last body paragraphs.
OP joshj2398 1 / 2  
Oct 26, 2014   #4
I think I'd be able to use one or 2 required sources to do Man is also judgmental, but which one other than Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God?
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Oct 27, 2014   #5
Joshua, I can understand that you need to concentrate on the content of the paper and make sure that the theme is also addressed properly. That said, you need to make sure that you do not neglect to double check the words that you use in your essay as well. I refer specifically to the following line:

This further conveys the idea that even if there is a definite write and wrong

- I am sure you meant to say "right and wrong" instead.

Now, you mentioned making a Star Wars and Star Trek reference. For Star Wars, I will recommend that you refer to the internal / personal battle of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. This was the part of the movie when Anakin was torn between giving in to the dark side in the misguided attempt to save Padme Amidala, his wife and fulfilling the oath he took as a Jedi to protect the innocent and remain celibate all his life. There are two wrong decisions he made, which is why he would never have made the right decision. His actions already assured that no matter what he did, he would end up on the dark side. His intentions were good but his methods, unfortunately, led him down the wrong path.

As for Star Trek, you can make mention of the part in the movie "Star Trek Into Darkness" that showed how Spock was willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of the people on the planet. He was willing to die because his death would assure the survival of the planet and any effort Capt. Kirk took to save him would alter the evolution of the planet. Kirk chose to save Spock regardless of the danger to the evolution of life on the planet. Thus showing that people will always choose to do the right thing, even if it produces the wrong results. That is the message that these two movie convey quite strongly to the viewers. This works or ties in directly with your comment about man always doing the right or wrong thing, but then asks us to consider the effects of the right decisions producing the wrong results.

I hope my advice helps you out even a little :-)


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