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SAT Essay

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Question: Is honesty always the best policy?

Of the widely accepted list of human virtues, many consider honesty to be the prevalent one. It is considered to be a necessary component of any respected person's personality. Yet literature has shown that this may not always be the best choice. I strongly believe that honesty is not always the best policy and to see this we must look no further than Atlas Shrugged(underlined) by Ayn Rand, 1984(underlined) by George Orwell, and The Picture of Dorian Gray(underlined) by Oscar Wilde.
Hank Rearden is a massive and influential industrialist who witnesses the withdrawal of good from society. He starts to indulge into all of his desires in search of pleasure, finding himself a mistress in the process. Keeping this from his family and the world, he chooses to lead a radically different life. As a single man, he must keep everyone in his life satisfied through crafted lies. Though this is a retaliation against his inner moral values, he must bend the truth for the benefit of all.
Similarly to Hank Rearden, Winston Smith from Orwell's 1984(underlined) is tired down to a dystopian society lacking the freedom that he comes to desire. He also starts a second life but here it is the oppressor, the government otherwise known as Big Brother that is kept in the dark and lied to. Though he risks execution, the lies Winston is forced to utter are beneficial in keeping him alive. Honest would have killed him in the end.
Unlike Winston, Dorian does not face the prospect of death because of his lies in Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray(underlined) Dorian's one secrets is that he is living under an enchantment, watching his sins and his age take effect upon his portrait rather than on him. He does not allow this to be known, resorting to lies and murder for protection. These drastic measures are standing proof of his ability to realize that honesty is not the best policy.
Human nature has created the necessity for lies. Th age old honesty policy has been nullified in today's world, and will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future.

  • SAT Essay -

    Sat essays are supposed to be first drafts to a question or hypothesis. This one seems to be different from that. You supported your thesis from literature, however, it seems to me that the question is a moral question rooted in philosophy more than literature. You have somewhat a dark picture of mankind in your examples, and I suspect your personal views have been influenced more strongly by personal experience than reading Rand, Orwell, or Wilde.
    The construcion is good. I would grade it 4.
    It would have helped I think to make some moral arguements, or discuss "white"lies, or else make it more personal. Literature after all, is fiction, and the question does not focus on a fictionalized moral question.

  • SAT Essay -

    I agree with Bobpursley. I'd give it a 4. There is an introduction, 3 internal paragraphs, and a minimal conclusion. Most of the sentences are OK, but there are a few that are rather convoluted and/or wordy. Here's one wordy sentence, for example: "These drastic measures are standing proof of his ability to realize that honesty is not the best policy." (Simpler phrasing could have been These drastic measures prove to him that honesty is not the best policy.
    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/concise.htm

    But there's no "you" in this paper ... nothing of what YOU THINK other than knowing some literary references to use as your examples.

    If you are going to take another topic to practice on, try making your case (so to speak) without using any literary references; use only experiences and personal thoughts of your own with which to back up your thesis statement.

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