Sunday, June 16, 2013

Classic Role Models of Society as Thesis Statements

Classic figures (or "archetypes") from society are an excellent tool to use in the development of a thesis statement and the opening paragraph (or second paragraph) of a paper. The use of a historical, literary, or social "archetype" can provide the writer with a reference that supports and endorses the main idea (thesis), and may serve to enhance the significance of the paper/essay.

I've taught that literature supports this by using stories that have been repeated again and again: human nature is such that we do not tend to learn our social lessons very easily, and therefore have to repeat them. The following list should offer anyone who needs to write a paper/essay a vast opportunity of ideas from which to consider an appropriate example of an archetype:

Fairy tales                                              

Legends                                                 Superstitions
Heroes and villains                               

Sports figures
Romantic stories                                   

Tragedies and comedies
Movie stars                                             

Supernatural events                             Catastrophes

Military battles/victories/defeats
Politics and politicians                           

Foreign philosophies
Food and drink                                       Songs/lyrics
Classic literature                                   

Social rebels

(And a quiz: familar with any of these folks? Link or do you know these types of people from sources such as books, movies, or other media? Link

Now try the three introductory paragraphs that I wrote to see how they work, how they support the thesis idea, and why they show the connection of who-what-when-where-how-why and the repetition of Time to support that "this idea is one that we have yet to learn despite the impact it made again and again and...." Oh, yes, the impact of how you present an image does make a difference. It's the whole point of the thesis: WHY is the idea you're trying to explain-endorse-counter against-illustrate-delinate important? What connection to society can you offer as an example? What classic role model in our archetypes would we immediately recognize? And how does the thesis idea fit in with the image you're using?

Here's 3 thesis concepts: 
(1) the dangers of the drug ecstasy, also known as MDMA or "Molly", 
(2) the interlocking problem of steroids, image, and young people, 
and (3) the significance and legacy of Florence Nightingale's life as an inspiration for the world of nursing.
--------------------------------------------------"The famous novelist Aldous Huxley, prophet of futuristic social trends, wrote in Brave New World about the indulgences and abuses of a chemical panacea: soma. The drug, he foretold, would put its user into a calm state of euphoria and bliss that transcended any logical mental capacity. 

Soma was the natural release of choice: it offered harmony, bliss, and complete enjoyment. Huxley would recognize soma today as the chemical messenger of full-blown joy and abandonment for the senses: the illegal, abusive, and still-dangerous drug known as ‘Ecstasy.’ Touted as a mood enhancer and social toy of teens and pop culture, ecstasy is weaving a tangled web of lies and danger among its users since it was first created as a "relationship drug." Its extreme use to has resulted in ever-increasing deaths—and the damage it causes goes beyond the physical parameters of the brain of unsuspecting participants. 

(The young man next to me died from a rooftop fall in downdown Atlanta in 2010 under the influence of MDMA.)

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?" (Comes the reply): "I speak what's true, but there's one who's more fairest than you." That scene was taken from Walt Disney's 1937 movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But there's a similar scene that's been in production and released time and time again--and now with chilling results, especially since the late 1980s. The young subculture in this country--those from 13 to their late 20s--have a malignant obsession with image. They yearn to fit in with a chiseled athletic look and a runway model image. 

What is the catalyst of all this self-appearance madness? Steroids, plastic surgery, and binge diets. This "wanting to be with the in-crowd" attitude has become a medieval epidemic. Our sons and daughters are willing to risk life and limb to become the next Adonis and Helen of Troy. 

Inspired by action film actors/actresses, television shows and music videos that promote social indulgence without risk, body-builders, and sports heroes who visibly bulk up to extreme proportion, young men and women are using steroids and other body-altering drugs and chemicals without medical supervision and controls. We must step up and break this pattern of behavior or sacrifice our youth’s health and well-being for a temporary image that hides the look of death. (See the 2013 story at link)
The hallways stretch long, dark, damp, and narrow. The air is fetid, musty, and reeks with the stench of blood…and death. Looking up at the ceiling, one’s eyes are greeted by cobwebs, and on the floor, dirt and filth. Men—soldiers from the British campaign in the Crimea, lie in rows on sagging cots, moaning in pain, bleeding…and dying.

But up ahead, a light has appeared—a woman! She carries within her heart the future of public health care, for she is known to these wretched souls as “The Lady with the Lamp.” Her presence offered hope for relief from pain and the opportunity for an 85% minimum chance of survival from wounds and illness--in short, the chance that a man might live instead of die.

It took a war and a woman’s influence to provide the momentum and power to change the way an entire culture thought about medical care, and a woman’s place in the world as well. Her name is honored and spoken with reverence in the field of nursing: Florence Nightingale.

In the 19th century, patient care was virtually non-existent. Hospitals were poorly lit with poor ventilation, crude sanitation, and catastrophic health practices. Amputation was a common way to prevent gangrene, but often led to other complications, and morphine and opium made addicts out of those whose pain was too much to bear. Medical staffs were assisted by drunks and prostitutes, the likes of whom couldn’t be corrupted any further by the sight of naked humans. The male patients were sexually inappropriate, and the doctors and medical students (all male; women were not considered socially or intellectually capable) did not behave much better. Every parent’s worst nightmare was for his or her daughter to end up employed in the field of nursing. This was the world of medicine (and hospitals) that Florence Nightingale sought to enter (and improve).

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