Ap Lang Rights Of Man Essay

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Rights Of Man Essay - With A Free Essay Review

“The melting pot” is supposed to be a nation where the sidewalks are “paved with gold”, where the oppressed come for release, where diversity in ethnicity and culture are accepted. Thomas Paine seems to agree with this as he characterizes America as a diverse nation who, through government, finds a common ground to stand upon and create harmony in his essay "The Right of Man." He believes our differences do not separate us and our individuality does not hinder our unity; his belief is unpalatable, it tastes like a lie spewing from a foolish mouth. This being said, part of Paine's theory still holds true. Today's society is an oxymoron; we are separately united. Things such as government bring us together while everything else pulls us apart. The affluent may be taxed heavily, but no one could argue efficiently that they are not privileged; reciprocal for the impoverished. We may be “one nation, united, under God” but, in my opinion, we will always be in an overstuffed pot that never fully melted.

On September 15, 2001, a man named Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down and killed in Mesa, Arizona; why else but because of the prior 9/11 attack made by al-Queda. This man just so happened to wear a turban and was inadvertently targeted. Though he was legitimately an American, he was murdered out of hate because a white man associated Balbir and those of his culture with al-Queda and the terrorist attacks. Ten other attacks similar to this one occurred following the tragedy of September 11th. These murders show a lack of unity in American society. Sodhi was a victim of prejudice because his culture was different from another man's, yet Paine believes that the United States government creates a tie that bonds people of different cultures and social statuses together. In these eleven cases, the bonds proved to be weak.

America is considered to be an affluent, literate society, once at the top of the technologically advanced food chain of countries. In making this assumption, we forget about the minority that is the illiterate, the impoverished. Illiteracy and poverty go hand-in-hand; many students drop out to join the work force to help parents and guardians keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. At a dumbfounding fifty-percent, low or complete illiteracy flood America. When you have a car which has a brand new, v8 engine, but the transmission is nearly shot at 200,000 miles, the car will no longer run efficiently. This theory is compatible with our nation's literacy ordeal. How can we be united, especially through government when half of the country can barely read or write, let alone understand our complex political system and campaigns? Moreover, how are we united if half of the "united" front is not even represented in government? The answer has been staring us in our faces, but most of us simpletons have been to oblivious to recognize it: we cannot.

1791 was a time after the revolutionary war, a time where the colonies came together to fight Britain for freedom from taxation without representation. During a major revolt for independence, of course the colonies joined together to become one; they were all fighting for the same thing. Coming together in "cordial unison" as they did is similar to the way today's society came together for nine-eleven (save a select few, as previously mentioned). America became one body, fighting for justice and the lives of many; and as we became one, we had a new-found strength and were empowered. Many debated that we would stay in this "cordial unison", but we did not. We were incapable of setting aside our prejudice to become one nation eternally; we only have a minuscule capacity to do so, and only in case of emergency. So, here, I can understand where Paine was coming from when he though he was living in a place of complete concord.

When I cross paths with the word government, my brain automatically brings up high school. As a miniature America, if you think about the way people within a high school interact, you would find a separated society. The student body is divided into cliques by social status, color, neighborhood, hobbies, ect. Granted, we all interact, but we never venture too far into the lives of those different from us. We simply coexist, straying off into the shadows in avoidance of the unknown. A cordial "hi" is exchanged, but that is the extent of the relationships. The principal and staff are similar to the highly literate, political buffs, and wealthy. Many develop opinions of teenagers before even meeting the student. This is the way our country is, and always will be.

America is composed of dolts who are more concerned with job security and yearly income than the true issues. Our bigot politicians cannot (or will not) confront the underlying problems that keep us from being united i.e. prejudice and illiteracy. If we put our selfish wants aside but for a fraction of a second, I am sure Thomas Paine would look down on the United States of America in awe at the unity and harmony we could obtain. We are one nation, under the same law, same leaders, same society, but our differences are too heavy a burden to be ignored. Our lives are lived isolated from one another, yet still on the fringes of society.



I enjoy the pessimistic tone of your essay, but I think you ought to do a little more to justify it. You argue, ultimately, that prejudice and illiteracy are the underlying problems that prevent America from being properly united, but the only thing your essay tries to demonstrate in this respect is that prejudice exists and that illiteracy exists, and since you don't demonstrate how widespread prejudice is or explain how you arrive at a 50% literacy rate for the U.S., you probably shouldn't expect your reader to have much confidence in your analysis of the problem. I think you need, then, to present more evidence and then actually make the argument that prejudice and illiteracy are causes of the problem of disunity rather than symptoms of deeper problems. You yourself claim that illiteracy and poverty go hand in hand. If one accepted that argument (which I'm not convinced is always true, and which you don't support), why should one prefer the argument that illiteracy is the underlying issue over the argument that poverty is the underlying issue? If one accepted that there is a lot of prejudice, why would one prefer the claim that prejudice is the underlying issue over the claim that poor education, say, is the underlying issue? Or why, ultimately, would one not be inclined to throw one's hands up and say, there's no underlying issue; there's just a large bundle of interrelated issues that tend to go, as you say, hand in hand?

Your essay also doesn't really clarify the extent of the problem whose causes it wants to analyse. You use the example of post-9/11 murders to demonstrate both the existence of prejudice and the claim that the U.S. is not unified. You argue elsewhere that the U.S. was broadly speaking (i.e., excepting those murders) unified following those attacks. In that case, you, in effect, recant your implication that we can gauge how serious the problem of disunity is by way of the first example that you offer. It follows that you need to demonstrate the existence of the problem of disunity differently.

Now you also use the issue of illiteracy in America to demonstrate disunity. In the paragraph dealing with illiteracy you claim half the population can barely read or write and ask two rhetorical questions designed to persuade the reader that there is no unity. Rhetorical questions can be useful techniques of persuasion, but in the absence of an explicit argument, they can come across as merely manipulative. So make the argument explicit. Explain why the existence of illiteracy means that the country is not unified. Use syllogisms rather than rhetorical questions.

In the paragraph that follows your discussion of the problem of illiteracy, you start talking about Paine and the American revolution. In the paragraph after that, you discuss the situation in American high schools. Those are the most obvious instances of the apparently arbitrary character of the logical progression of your essay. Things would be helped a bit by the inclusion of transitions between paragraphs, but I'm not sure that even with the help of a transition, I would understand the relevance of talking about high schools, unless you can relate the argument you make there more compellingly to the conclusion of the argument and to the thesis of your essay. The conclusion you arrive at in that part of the discussion is the claim that "this is the way our country is, and always will be." The "this" is very ambiguous, but the argument needs to be logically explained. More importantly, the paragraph as a whole would be more interesting if you made an explicit argument about the possible relationship between divisions that emerge in high school and divisions that emerge in society. I understand that the two structures might be similar, but is that mere coincidence (and if so, why bother talking about it?) or is there a common problem that both sets of divisions reflect? The general point I want to make here, however, is that the essay as a whole lacks (in a different way from the country!) unity, so work on tying these paragraphs together, both with transitions, and with conclusions that relate the point of an individual paragraph to the argument of the essay as a whole.

Finally, a word about style. I don't think you need artificially to prop up your argument with irony or rhetoric. There's no need to say things like "why else but because" or "just so happened to wear" when "because" and "wore" would communicate all the information that you need to communicate in order to make your point. And don't tell us we are dolts or simpletons (by using the word to describe us); show us what we tend to think and believe and ignore and so on, and let us come to the conclusion about our being simpletons ourselves. (I guess that means that you need to assume we are not simpletons in order to convince us that we are). And don't call the politicians “bigots;” just explain what they do that is bigoted.

Best, EJ.

P.S. A few language notes:

"in his essay 'The Right of Man'" - The placement of the prepositional phrase makes the sentence awkward; put it at the beginning. I take it you mean _Rights of Man_

"efficiently"; effectively?

"reciprocal for the impoverished" - I'm not sure what you are trying to say here, but you need a verb to say it, and "reciprocal" is the wrong word.

"inadvertently" - the word means "unintentionally" but you are talking about a deliberate targeting of the victim.

"At a dumbfounding fifty-percent etc." Revise the sentence; it doesn't really make sense. (Also, how about a source?)

"This theory is compatible with our nation's literacy ordeal" Here "theory" is the wrong word. If it were the right word, then "compatible" would be the wrong word. "Literacy ordeal," if it means anything, doesn't mean what you seem to want it to mean.

Submitted by: briannabernard

Tagged...paine essay, essay on american government, essay feedback

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