In a 4-5 page (1200-1500 words) essay, compare and contrast how each of the three texts addresses your chosen theme.


This essay has three goals:

  • To reinforce close reading and analysis of assigned texts
  • To give practice making thematic connections among texts
  • To hone skills of formulating and supporting written arguments



Consider the four texts that we have read so far (Plato’s Republic, Galileo’s Letter, Marx’s Communist Manifesto, and Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom”), and choose a key theme or issue that arises in three of them. Possible themes include, but are not limited to, the definition of justice, the proper role of government, the effect of money on society, and the nature of protest.


In a 4-5 page (1200-1500 words) essay, compare and contrast how each of the three texts addresses your chosen theme.



  • Begin your essay with a strong introductory paragraph that makes a clear argument (see Writing Tips).
  • Use specific examples and quotations from each text. • This isn’t a research paper – don’t use sources other than the readings (essays that are merely research papers about the books will not be accepted)


Writing Tips: Fall 2016


General Reminders

  • None of the essays requires any reading beyond the assigned texts and material specifically mentioned in the prompts (the Coates lecture, etc.). If you feel that you need to consult websites, Wikipedia, scholarly articles, etc., you’re not doing the assignment correctly.
  • If you’re struggling to understand the assignment or reading, come to office hours – don’t start consulting outside sources.
  • Essays should use specific examples and direct quotations from the readings.


Argument/Thesis Statements

  • An essay’s success depends on its thesis statement. The best thesis statements make a concrete, specific argument and do the following:

o Relate the sources together

o Draw conclusions about the relationship among the sources

o Offer an interpretation


  • Range Thesis Statement “Plato, the authors of Gilgamesh, and the writers of Genesis all assume that humans have an inherent tendency toward violence. Unlike the other authors, however, Plato believes that a strong religious commitment causes people to act less violently. This view reflects his overall belief that true religious faith inspires non-violence.”1


  • Range Thesis Statement “On the subject of religion and violence, Plato’s views differ from those of Marx and Thucydides.”


  • Range Thesis Statement “Gilgamesh, Marx, and Plato all address religion and violence.”



  • No bibliography or works cited list is necessary.
  • Direct quotations from the readings should include a parenthetical page number/Kindle location at the end of the sentence. Unless it’s unclear what text you’re quoting, there’s no need to include author/title.



  • The first person is perfectly fine (“I will argue,” “I will show,” etc.).
  • Be bold. All essays for this class require your interpretation; you don’t need to remind me of that (avoid phrases like “I believe,” “I think,” and the like).
  • Use strong, active verbs. Avoid the passive voice (use “Plato argues…” rather than “An argument is made by Plato….”).
  • Avoid long, block quotations; if your quote runs more than three lines, break it up and excerpt key words/phrases.


1 This argument is for demonstration purposes only and is completely untrue. Don’t try making it in a paper.


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