SAT Essay Help: Sample Essay 5
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The worship of artists as heroes is both commonplace and misguided. Why does the creation of a work of art impose on the artist the obligation to lead an exemplary life? The artists have fulfilled their contracts with us by producing work that gives us pleasure or insight or both. Why hold them to an unwritten morals clause?
—Adapted from "Loves of a Poet," by RHONDA KOENIG
Is it valuable to view artists and other public figures as heroes? Organize and compose an essay that establishes your viewpoint on this issue. Substantiate it with examples and evidence derived from what you have read, studied, experienced, or observed.
There is a serious downside to valuing an individual as a hero. Because they're human they can't be perfect, so they can never live up to the image. Heroes either have to pretend to be better than they are, or be honest or get caught and disappoint everyone.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850), has the perfect setting to explore the downside of hero worship. The Puritan society of seventeenth century Boston has a strict moral code and intolerance for dissent—everyone sees everything as black or white. You're either pure or a sinner. The minister Arthur Dimmesdale is believed to be pure and saintly but he is really a sinner. Dimmesdale leads a double life, wearing "one face to himself, and another to the multitude," which eventually kills him. But his worshippers never understand that they were wrong to see someone as only good. There are many times in the book where they could see the truth about Dimmesdale but they never do. They always prefer to see everything as black and white.
Tiger Woods recent problems are another example of why it is not valuable to see someone as a hero. He was worshipped by many not just as a great golfer, but as a great man with a beautiful family who had everything going for him. But then the truth came out that he was a person who makes mistakes. This has cost him his family, millions of dollars, and maybe even his career—all because he could not live up to the perfect image everyone had of him.
Hawthorne wrote in The Scarlet Letter, "No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true." This is why it is not valuable to hold up people as heroes.
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