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Sample Essay Exam Questions and Answers Help

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Updated on Sep 7, 2011

Sample Essay Exam #1

The photograph or picture that moved me the most is .

Assignment: Visual images have the power to inspire thought, evoke emotion, create mood, and even make political statements. Complete the statement and write an essay that explains your choice of image. You may choose any image, including a family photograph, famous work of art, drawing or painting done by a friend, or even a book illustration. Support your choice by using appropriate examples and details.

Time allowed: 25 minutes

Response #1

You might think a memorable picture would have vivid color, an appealing or inspirational theme, or be something you might want to display and look at every day. That is not the case with the picture that is most memorable to me. Rather, it is a large mural, painted in 1937 by the Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso, to protest the bombing of a small village in northern Spain.

Surprisingly, there is no vivid red color to show the flowing blood. One must imagine this, for the mural is startlingly gray, black, and white. But there is no avoiding the horror of the images. The figures are not realistically drawn, but are cubist and abstract, and it is apparent that innocent civilians are being slaughtered. A mother screams with her mouth wide open, her head tipped back in heart-rending anguish, as she holds her dead baby. A soldier lies dead on the ground, clutching his broken sword, and three other people are shown in shock and agony. Animals, including a tortured horse and a crying bird, are also portrayed as innocent victims of the massacre.

Some symbols are open to interpretation. What is the meaning of the bull, which seems simply to be observing, or of the light bulb emitting rays at the top of the mural? Does the bull symbolize brute force, and does the light bulb signify that there is hope? Yet there is no doubt that the distorted, horrible images are intended to shock the viewer. This depiction of human grief is a profound statement of the cruelty and senselessness of war. Limiting the picture to black and white adds a funereal element to the shocking depiction of the catastrophe.

The memory of the picture cannot be forgotten; it is a metaphor for the senselessness and the horror of war. While it was painted to protest atrocities in a long ago war, it is as relevant today as the recollection of the horrors of September 11. Perhaps it should be shown to all those who contemplate starting a war. Would it be worth it to have another Guernica?

Assessment

On a scale of 1–5, this essay received a score of 4.While the writing skills are effective, the organization could be improved. For example, the fact that the painting is black and white is mentioned in the second and third paragraphs, both times noting how the color choice adds to the mood of the painting. Paragraph 3 has a number of major points; it would be less confusing if each point had its own paragraph.

There is a clear point of view, and the writer has obviously studied not only the painting, but the language of art criticism as well. Examples are well chosen and numerous. Word choice is varied and sophisticated, and there are very few errors in grammar and mechanics. If the essay were better organized, and the writer had followed the five-paragraph form, it could have received a score of 5.

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