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Man-made monsters Literature & Language Essay Paper (Essay Sample)


For the second formal paper you have considerable latitude in terms of the topic to be explored, which, again, should pertain to your Pictorial Problems project and to the theme of this course, Man-Made Monsters.

Using any of the books or shorter works we’ve read this semester as a starting point for this paper, try to develop an argument around your Pictorial Problems project that relates to the idea of “man-made monsters,” monstrosities, atrocities, or just plain criminalities in the context of a larger societal or historical problem (obvious “atrocity” lends itself to this conceptual widening of the lens). You can certainly develop your thesis around any particular “case” of an individual monster, but I would like you to think about it also in terms of its broader social manifestations. As we are dealing today with our own global pandemic, perhaps you can find a way to link some of the works or characters we’ve been discussing to the idea of social irresponsibility in times of epidemic (possible secondary sources might include Michel Foucault’s histories of the clinic and the prison or Antonin Artaud’s essay “Theater and the Plague”). How do people exacerbate such situations through irrational reactions—whether of fear, defiance or defeatism. In short, try to think of man-made monsters or even naturally occurring disasters as a trigger to some institutional, political, or natural crisis.

Your essay must be four to five pages in length (approximately 250 words per page) and will constitute 25% of your grade. You should make use of any episodes or quotations from any of the books, short stories, or essays we have read in class that support your argument. You are also REQUIRED to use at least ONE secondary scholarly source, which should be cited accurately in a Works Cited list at the end of your paper. Please follow MLA style (we will discuss this in class).

The paper is due in class on Thursday, Apr 16th, and it must sent to my SVA email address above. It must also be double-spaced with 1-inch margins and in Times New Roman font.
Using Sweeney Todd (the play) as the thesis of Man-Made Monsters and choosing one of the text below and compare.
READINGS AND REQUIRED TEXTS: Please see the schedule of your syllabus for details because many of the readings will be posted on Canvas. That said, you are REQUIRED to purchase all texts marked with an asterisk (*). They are available at the Baruch Bookstore, 55 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010 (near E. 25th Street; Tel.: 646-312-4854) Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great, Part One (Canvas file)*William Shakespeare, Macbeth (Folger Shakespeare Library, Simon &Schuster, ISBN 978-0743477109) *Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost (Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0618001903—note: ebook versions available through Amazon) *Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions, ISBN 978-0486264646) Kevin MacDonald, Last King of Scotland (film)Derek Walcott, “A Far Cry From Africa” (poem—handout)*Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem; or, The Banality of EvilMahmoud Darwish, selected poemsSigmund Freud, “The Uncanny” (on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman”)(Canvas files)Edgar Allan Poe, “The Man That Was Used Up” (Canvas files)Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People”(Canvas files)Charles Laughton, The Night of the Hunter (film)*Jean Genet, The Maids (Les Bonnes)Claude Chabrol, La Cérémonie (film)*Gore Vidal, Myra Breckinridge (pending)


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Human-Made Monsters
Monsters, whether real, imagined, or hallucinated, have been part of human society since the beginning of time. Some children struggle to sleep because they believe they have monsters under the bed. Religious people pray to cast out evil and rid monsters from our society. In this context, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a monster as a person of unnatural or extreme deformity, ugliness, cruelty, or wickedness. Cruelty and wickedness are enough attributes for a person to be considered a monster (Singer). Therefore, apart from the monsters, people see in imagination, nightmares, hallucinations, and, in religious ceremonies, there are people within the society that are monsters. Examples are serial killers, terrorists, rapists, robbers, drug cartels, and even the corrupt officials who siphon resources away from the needy people or those who propagate crimes against humanity. While there are many reasons why people resort to monstrous acts, society is to blame for some of these monsters, hence, human-made monsters.
In Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a fictional story of a murderous London barber. In this film, a seemingly happy family man is running a barber store in London. Judge Turpin, a corrupt and self-centered judge, lust for the barber's beautiful wife. In pursuit of his lustful desires, the judge orders the barber to be transferred to a prison in Australia for a crime he did not commit. Choosing a jail in Australia meant to ensure that the barber would never see his wife again. The judge rapes Lucy (Sweeny's wife), and out of shame and stigma, Lucy unsuccessfully poisons herself with arsenic. She survives the attempt, but she becomes insane and ends up surviving on alms like a beggar in the streets of London. After 15 years, the barber returns calling himself Sweeney Todd, and he appears to be a mad-man. Sweeney Todd is a man on a mission to rid the world of evil people (people who have wronged him in the past), and his ultimate desire is to kill judge Turpin. In Sweeny's words, "…there's a hole in the world like a big black pit who are filled with people who are filled with shit…they deserve to die…" (Burton).

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