12 Jan 2009

Essays on Fahrenheit 451

In colleges and universities around the world, students are often asked to read and evaluate dystopian novels.  One of these, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is, ironically, about a society where books have become unlawful to even own.  Bradbury, like most dystopian writers, was concerned about trends he saw happening in the society around him.  As the social and even legalistic expectations of political correctness have increased over the past few decades, the censorship of books has reared its ugly head, causing many writers to second guess their work and water it down to limit the number of people who might be offended by their work.


The main character of the story is a “fireman.”  Not the kind we might think of today, but one who is responsible for burning books, along with any structure in which they are found.  Guy Montag lives in a world gone mad with consumerism, censorship, and the thirst for faster cars.  As with most dystopian novels, a series of events causes Guy to begin questioning the world in which he lives, realizing there is something more, something beyond the law, something beyond his own assumptions, and he begins a fast paced quest to find the answer.


  • In the novel “Fahrenheit 451,” three fundamental forms of censorship are revealed:  social censorship in which special interest groups pressure for the censorship, self-censorship in which individual authors begin censoring themselves to avoid social censorship, and institutional censorship where censorship becomes a matter of law.  Identify examples of each within the novel and within our own society and discuss why Bradbury was so concerned about the subject.
  • Proponents of censorship claim that the public and nation must be protected from certain “dangerous” ideologies, ranging from political malcontents to concepts which religious groups claim are sacrilegious.   Opponents decry the silencing of opposition voices and new ideas are counter to what the United States represents.  In light of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, does censorship truly have a place in a free society?  Why or why not?

In an age where political correctness is not only permiating our society, but even intruding into the halls of science, philosophy, and law, can original thought or opinions which stand against conventional wisdom have a chance?  Or, as Bradbury predicted, are we doomed by our own personal agendas to be safe from anything controversial, but void of any innovative impulses?  Only time, and our decisions, will tell.


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Filed under: College literature papers — Tags: , , , — admin @ 8:03 pm

12 Nov 2008

Essays on Lolita

Few books have earned such undeserved reputations as that which hangs over Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” written in 1955. Lolita has a reputation as a pro-pedophile novel, yet when read reveals a staunchly anti-pedophile position. It’s protagonist and narrator, Humbert Humbert, offers the story of Lolita not as an effort to brag or as encouragement for others to repeat, but as a confession and an apology for his crime … that of stealing Lolita’s childhood innocence.

The history of Lolita serves as an extreme example of the dangers of arbitrary censorship. Because of the book being banned, an entire mystique arose around the novel, a mystique that has survived to this very day, half a century after its first publication.

Lolita reveals the obsessive extremes that men such as Humbert Humbert will go in their personal quests for fulfillment of the sexual cravings, regardless of how inappropriate or even illegal those cravings might be. Even the responses of Clare Quilty (the true villain of Lolita, if one must point to a particular one) as Humbert Humbert is shooting him during the book’s climax reflects the lack of self-esteem most such men possess.

Contrary to its reputation, Lolita is a scathing attack against pedophiles (those sexually attracted to pre-pubescent minors) and ephebophiles (those sexually attracted to adolescent minors), showing their tendencies towards self-destructive actions, even when their sexual cravings are being met. At very worst, Lolita is an expose on the ultimate truth that such behavior is but a symptom of much deeper problems.

  • One of Lolita’s most controversial aspects is the manner in which Lolita, Humbert’s victim, comes to use his sexual obsession with her to manipulate him. Write an opinion of this, arguing for or against its realism and back up your position with supportive references.
  • After initially struggling with censorship and attempts to ban it, Lolita has come to be considered one of the most significant novels of the 20th century. Why would it be considered such? Were the initial censorship and ban attempts justified and why or why not?

Almost universally, authors like Nabokov cite works that took them far from their typical genres as their favorite successes, such as Nabokov’s “Lolita.” Rationally critiquing controversial topics like those in Lolita takes special dedication to such writing. Professional writers, such as those working for our company, can handle even this level of controversial topics with detached professionalism. Contact us today for more information.

Essays on Areopagitica

Literature takes many historic forms, from simple fictional prose to poetic prose to eloquently written political appeals. One political appeal, The Areopagitica was perhaps the first argument in history defining and arguing for the freedom of the press, predating the First Amendment of the Constitution by more than a century. The Areopagitica was published by John Milton in 1644 as a plea to the King of England to rescind the “Licensing Order” of 1643 and to again allow the free, uncensored publication of all books.

During the era of 1642 to 1651, England was rocked by a series of three attempts to overthrow the absolute rule of England’s monarchy, being finally successful in 1651 with the victory of the Parliamentarian forces at the battle of Worchester. Early during this decade, the King of England, Charles I, attempted to quell the rising dissention of the people by issuing the 1643 “Licensing Order” that required all books acquire the approval of royally appointed censors prior to publication, a concept to which the Areopagitica was written in opposition to.

Milton’s motivation in publishing the Areopagitica was not necessarily a political one, though he was a parliamentary supporter, but was in fact of a more personal nature. As a consequence of the 1643 order, Milton had several publications on the subject of divorce and his support of the right of divorce rejected by censors not because of blasphemy or libel, as had been the original intent of the 1643 order, but because the censors found his topic personally objectionable. Milton argued in the Areopagitica that the 1643 order had extended too much power to the censors who were all too ready to abuse the authority and was in fact fueling the ire of the people against the crown.

Naturally, the Areopagitica, effectively an attack against the rampant climate of censorship, was published without censorship approval.

  • Review the text of the Areopagitica and analyze its arguments in light of the events surrounding it in England. Was the argument radical? Was the argument effective? What reasons might the King of England have had in encouraging censorship?
  • Compare the Licensing Order of 1643 with the United States Sedition Act of 1918. Are there similarities? Does the government truly have the right to issue such an order? How would Milton’s arguments in the Areopagitica apply?

It is not uncommon for governments to overstep their authority during times of trouble. Yet, as Thomas Jefferson pointed out, the price of our freedom today is eternal diligence. John Milton set the precedence on the issue of freedom of the press in the Areopagitica long before the United States was born. Hopefully, the idea will survive the insanity we are experiencing in the world today.

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03 Nov 2008

Essays on To Kill a Mockingbird

Though many books have caught hell from would-be censors, the 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, has earned more ire than most, primarily for its use of racial epithets. Set in the deep southern states, “To Kill a Mockingbird” addresses a wide range of social issues, from interracial relationships and discrimination to the loss of childhood innocence and deception in the pursuit of justice.

The main character in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is “Scout,” a young, ten-year-old girl who lives with her older brother and her father. To Kill a Mockingbird” has many underlying structures to its plot, including the random musings of Scout, her brother Jem, and their friend Dill regarding the mysterious “Boo” Radley, a seldom seen neighbor who seems at first mythical, though later is proved to exist by the appearance of mysterious gifts in the tree outside Scout’s home. Scout’s life is complicated by her father’s agreeing to represent a black man, Tom Robinson, in a rape trial where he stands accused of raping a white woman, and the aftermath of that trial.

The aftermath of this accusation and the subsequent events shows the devastating effects of false accusations, wrongful convictions, and personal petty vendettas – issues that still haunt our society today.

  • Would-be censors decry “To Kill a Mockingbird” as racially inflammatory because of its use of racial slurs and epithets. Proponents of the work argue that its use is necessary to accurately depict the racial discrimination and tensions of the era in which the story is set. Create an opinion paper reflecting your view on the subject. Don’t forget to present the basic argument from each side before establishing your own position, instructors almost universally take points off for that.
  • Through the events of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the characters Scout and Jem undergo significant development. Describe this development and the reasons behind it. How does this development affect their world view?

Though our society has made great changes in racial relations since “To Kill a Mockingbird” was written, advocates argue that we still have much work ahead of us. Incidents such as the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles and the KKK rally turned riot in Denver, Colorado are used as anecdotal evidence supporting this claim.

Our writers keep their fingers on the pulse of our nation and world, spending as much time reading the news and literary publications as they do writing to keep abreast of such developments. This dedication not only to writing but to knowledge itself gives them particular insight in writing essays on “To Kill a Mockingbird” and similar works critical of our society and its practices.

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