Your assignment is to write a persuasive essay of 5-7 pages (1,000-1,500 words) on the subject of the death penalty. You should answer the following question in your essay: Is the death penalty an appropriate punishment for violent criminals in the United States, or should it be abolished nationwide? Write an essay expressing your own opinion on the death penalty, in which you attempt to convince the reader to take some action (either agree with your point-of-view, actively protest against the death penalty, or take some other action).
Your essay must have a title, a thesis statement, and five or more paragraphs. Use prewriting techniques to generate ideas if you need to. The purpose of a persuasive essay is to convince the reader to agree with a point of view or to take an action. The author of such an essay uses appeals such as ethos, logos, and pathos, as well as other techniques (such as metaphor and simile) to deliver his or her message to the reader.
You may refer to the three persuasive appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos) and/or use the terminology created by Stephen Toulmin in your essay. For example, you may identify the following elements in the sources you analyze: claim (thesis), grounds (evidence), and warrant (link between the two). You must use evidence from each of the following sources to support your thesis. You may also use additional sources related to the subject of the death penalty:
- The film The Green Mile. Do the events of the film (specifically the tortuous execution of a guilty man and the execution of an innocent one) affect your opinions on the death penalty? (You may also use Stephen King’s original novel The Green Mile as a source.)
- Two or more of the following essays:
- Zachary Shemtob and David Lat, “Executions Should be Televised” (pages 62-63 in the Barnet book).
- Edward I. Koch, “Death and Justice: How the Death Penalty Affirms Life” (from our course website).
- Adam Gopnik, “The Caging of America” (pages 571-580 in the Barnet book).
- David Bruck, “The Death Penalty” (from our course website).
Please see the next page for a sample works cited list. Your final draft must be word-processed, according to the Modern Language Association style guidelines. You may also use information from the www.bedfordstmartins.com/barnetbedau (Links to an external site.) to support your points. Relax and have fun with this assignment!
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