Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do you believe that a man has a right to die as and when he chooses?

Essay topic: Do you believe that a man has a right to die as and when he chooses?

To take one's own life is called suicide. Suicide has always been discouraged. Judaism, Christianity and Islam consider it a sin. In some societies suicide is accepted or even expected in the face of disgrace. Hara-kiri is an ancient act of ceremonial suicide in which a short sword was used to slash the abdomen from left to right, then upwards. This was resorted to by warriors to escape capture by the enemy as well as to avoid dishonourable execution. The Japanese favoured hara-kiri to avoid capture even during the Second World War. Like the Japanese the ancient Romans and Egyptians also killed themselves to avoid disgrace or capture by the enemy. We have the examples of Brutus, Cassius, Mark Antony and Cleopatra.

There are many countries in the world which have made attempts to consider suicide a cognisable offence. (Incidentally, this is the only criminal offence that attracts punishment for just the attempt, and not for the commission of the offence.) Until 1961 the U.K. sought to discourage suicide by making it a crime; it still is in India and in some U.S. states.

There is by and large no social sanction for suicide. An attempt to commit suicide is often thought to be an implicit 'plea' for help, and may result from extreme depression and helplessness. There are also the cases of some notable literary figures who have committed suicide; Ernest Hemingway, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath are examples. Hamlet contemplates suicide in a mood of depression:

To be or not to be: that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them.

In the U.S., suicide is the cause of 1.4% of all deaths each year...

Friday, June 19, 2009

We are in the midst of a second industrial revolution. What are likely to be the effects of the revolution?

Essay topic: "We are in the midst of a second industrial revolution". What does this statement mean, and what are likely to be the effects of the revolution?

Every student today knows what is meant by the 'Industrial Revolution' and how it was brought about and what its effects were. When we speak of the Industrial Revolution, we mean what took place mainly in England during the course of the last century followed by other Western countries.

The main seed of the Industrial Revolution was the use of the machine instead of manually operated tools. These machines used mainly steam power which was followed later by oil power and electricity. This change in the use of machines brought about very radical changes in the methods of production and commerce. There was mass production and things were produced for a market rather than domestic consumption. Mass production resulted in the factory system with its concomitant changes. The rural set up was almost, if not completely, changed. Agricultural laborer became the factory hand; independent aritsans lost his traditional market. The coming of the Industrial Revolution brought many a social problems in its wake...

The country is a lyric; the town is dramatic when mingled, they make the most perfect musical drama

Essay topic: "The country is a lyric; the town is dramatic when mingled, they make the most perfect musical drama" -- Longfellow. Comment on the statement.

Longfellow deliberately distinguishes between the countryside and the town and wants a wedding between the two so that the result may be enjoyable. Let us see how far this is possible and whether Longfellow can be approved of for the statement.

A lyric is a musical poem. Then one is tempted to ask what is music. It is the art of expressing or stirring emotion by melodious and harmonious combination of sounds. Let us see then how the countryside has music in it. Perhaps the country which Longfellow had in his mind was a thing of the past but still one can visualize it.

The brook, the fields, the church or the temple, the workmen, women and children of the village the herds of cattle and sheep, the hound, and everything about the village stirs our emotions and there is harmony in the life of the village and hence it is lyrical.