Value of Life Essay
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Human life is full of meaning. As humans, we assign value to many things. However, what happens when we assign a specific value to a human life? This is the issue being presented in the article, “What is a Life Worth,” by Amanda Ripley. The government is determining a monetary value to a human life, and it does not appeal to the masses. There are many problems with the cold calculation, and most people cannot see the other side of the numbers. The economic value of a human life is calculated based on the income the person was receiving, but when the check is given to a loved one of a small amount, the compensation is misinterpreted as an overall value of the human life. The true value of a human life should not be combined with the…show more content…
However, these parents have mixed the monetary value of their daughter, and the actual life value of their daughter. The father made sure that he would received some sort of economic justification for the death of his daughter, he does not understand that the government is trying to help the people by attempting to secure an economic stability for the families involved. The equation for the financial claim gives a clearer understanding to the monetary value given by the government.
The true value of a human life may be determined based on the outlook a person may have. Many people who have experienced some traumatic life-threatening event or witnessed a loss of a loved one may have different perspectives on how life should be valued, or if there is a value at all. In “Hamlet’s Soliloquy,” Hamlet violently grieves the loss of his mother, and many other loved ones. He describes the pain that he has endured and questions if it is worth it to carry on, and to continue living. Hamlet does not see the point in life and cannot assign a positive value to life, while considering suicide. Despite the fact that he is still alive, he doesn’t value life without his family or his loved ones. On the other side of the spectrum, Lance Armstrong has a completely different approach while determining the value of his own human life. In the Autobiography, “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life,” Armstrong believes
Presentation on theme: "What is “The Value of Life”?"— Presentation transcript:
1 What is “The Value of Life”?
2 The Value of Life Readings for this module:
Armstrong, Lance, with Sally Jenkins. It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. New York: Putnam,Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education. “The Human Life Value Calculator.” LIFE. <http://www.life-line.org/build/human_life_value_calculator/index.php?pt=lfhlvc&m=1>.Ripley, Amanda. “What Is a Life Worth?” Time 11 Feb. 2002:Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Act III, Sc. 1, Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.
3 The assignment sequence you’re about to begin will ask you to read several different texts, each of which addresses the issue of how life is valued. As you will see, the texts provide very different ways of thinking about how we can, do, and should value life.
4 Reading Rhetorically Prereading Activity 1: Getting Ready to Read
Before you read what others say about the value of life, take a few minutes to respond in writing to the following quickwrite prompt: What does being alive mean to you? How do you assign value to life? What makes life challenging? What makes it worth living? Describe a few examples that help to show your thinking about how people should value life.
5 Activity 2: Introducing Key Concepts
This activity will help you build your understanding of the many meanings suggested by the concept of “life.” Use the model below to explore the ways in which society defines “life” in various contexts.
6 Concept: LifeExample sentence:Synonyms:Contexts:Examples:Non-examples:
7 Text 1 – Hamlet’s Soliloquy
Activity 3: Surveying the TextThe first text you will read is the famous “To be, or not to be” speech from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, which was published in 1604 under the title The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke. That speech is a soliloquy, a convention used by playwrights to allow the audience to hear the thoughts of a character. Take a few moments to look over the text, and then answer the following questions:
8 Hamlet by William Shakespeare
9 What prior experiences have you had reading plays?
What did you notice about the page format and annotations?What did you notice about the text structure?
10 Activity 4: Making Predictions and Asking Questions
When approaching a new text, you should always try to draw on your prior experiences to help you predict what the text might be about. The following questions will help you to do so:What is a tragedy? What themes and outcomes would you expect to find in a tragedy?What do you know about the language in plays written by Shakespeare? What have you done in the past to help yourself read Shakespeare effectively?The soliloquy here begins with a famous quotation: “To be, or not to be—that is the question.” What do you think is “the question” Hamlet is asking? How do you think he might answer it?
11 Activity 5: Introducing Key Vocabulary
Shakespeare’s texts are often difficult because he uses words that are no longer in frequent use, even though they were common when he wrote his plays. Several words in the soliloquy fit into this category. You will see in the text that some words are marked with an asterisk (*); a definition or synonym is provided to the right of the line for those words.
12 Polar OppositesAn important rhetorical device Shakespeare uses in Hamlet’s soliloquy is antithesis, or a balance of opposites. Hamlet explores a series of oppositional relationships in his speech, beginning with the question of “to be, or not to be.” For this vocabulary activity, you will explore some of these antithetical relationships by brainstorming antonyms for the terms listed below.
13 TermAntonym1.oppression2.action3. endurance4.mystery5.life
14 Word FamiliesList as many words as possible that are related to the following five concepts from Hamlet’s soliloquy: action, thought, suffering, mortality, and fear. You may include synonyms directly from the text along with any other words you believe are related to the concept. Word families are not simply lists of synonyms; they may include any sets of words that frequently appear together. For example, “brackish” and “water” are part of the same word family.
15 Example:Resolution: end (line 5), consummation (line 8), will (line 25), decision, outcome, and resultaction:thought:suffering:mortality:fear:
16 Reading Activity 6: First Reading
Read the soliloquy from Hamlet. Although it is quite short, it packs much meaning into its 33 lines. You may need to read it more than once before you feel you have a good grasp on the ideas it contains.
17 BackgroundAt this point in the play, Hamlet feels that he is in a crisis. His father died a few months earlier under mysterious circumstances. Hamlet discovers that his father was secretly murdered—by Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius. Making things even worse, Claudius then marries Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet does not know what to do about this knowledge. He wonders whether he can trust anyone or if perhaps he is going crazy.
18 As you first read the text, focus on what you see as the “big picture” Hamlet describes. Based on this first reading, would you say that Hamlet is an optimist or a pessimist? What are your reasons for thinking so?
19 Rereading the Text and Looking Closely at Language
Strategic Marking of the TextBecause this series of texts focuses on the way people value life, you will now need to take a second look at the soliloquy. This time, read the text with a yellow highlighter or colored pencil (or devise some other way of marking the text in a unique and easily recognizable way), marking the places in the text where Hamlet describes what it means to be alive
21 Example: In lines two and three, Hamlet describes life as “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” so you could highlight that phrase as an example of what Hamlet thinks it means “to be.”
22 Characterizing the Text
Take a look at the parts of the soliloquy you have highlighted and compare them with a classmate’s markings. Find a few examples that you both have marked and mark the examples with a “+” or “–” to indicate whether the examples show a positive (+) outlook on life or a negative (–) one.
23 For the example above—“the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” —you would mark a “–” because it compares being alive to being under attack. After you have marked several such examples, reflect on the question asked earlier: At this moment, does it seem as if Hamlet is an optimist or a pessimist?
24 Paraphrasing the TextContinuing to work with your partner, choose three of your samples and paraphrase them. “Paraphrasing” means putting the ideas of another writer into your own words. Again using the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” example, a paraphrase might sound something like this: “Hamlet compares being alive to having fate shoot arrows at him.”
25 As you paraphrase, pay attention to the style used by Shakespeare to convey his ideas. What is the difference between having Hamlet say that life is like “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and having him just say, “Life isn’t very pleasant”? What are the effects of Shakespeare’s stylistic choices as a writer?
26 Activity 8: Thinking Critically
PostreadingActivity 8: Thinking CriticallyWe identified the genre earlier as a drama, but more specifically, this is a soliloquy. As noted earlier, a soliloquy is a dramatic convention that allows a character to speak aloud his or her thoughts. From your reading of the soliloquy, answer the following questions:
27 Does the soliloquy form seem to favor the expression of emotion (pathos) or logic (logos)? Explain why you think so.Does Hamlet’s soliloquy use emotion (pathos) to create a specific effect on the reader? If so, describe how emotion is used.
28 Does Hamlet’s soliloquy use logic (logos) to create a specific effect on the reader? If so, describe how the logic is used.When Hamlet speaks his soliloquy, he is in crisis. How do his circumstances position Hamlet to speak with authority (ethos) about the value of life? Does Hamlet seem to be speaking about his life in particular or about the quality of life in general?
29 As careful readers, we are of course aware that it is not really Hamlet speaking, but a character created by Shakespeare. Does Shakespeare seem like someone whose opinions and attitudes are worth considering? Why?
30 Activity 9: Charting Multiple Texts
Take a look at the chart constructed for this assignment. It is a “graphic organizer”—a fancy name for something that helps you keep track of various pieces of information and the relationships among those pieces. Because the chart is rather small and you will be doing a lot of writing on it, you might want to get a larger piece of paper and create your own chart. The chart will prove useful in the writing assignment you will complete at the end of this module.
31 Directions: As you look down the side of the chart, you will see that it asks you for information about the different texts you will be reading in this assignment:
32 TitleAuthorGenreThe title and author are self-explanatory. “Genre” means “type,” so you are asked to describe the type of writing. For this first text, you would put “Drama” or “Play” as the genre.
33 What is the text’s big issue?
– This asks you to identify the “main idea” of the text.What claim does the text make?– This asks you to identify the writer’s perspective on the main idea.
34 What are examples or quotes from the text?
– This is where you would put examples given by the writer to help the reader understand his or her claim. The quotes and paraphrases you worked on earlier will fit well here. Be sure to include page or line numbers (or both) to identify where you found the quote or idea.
35 What do you think about the text’s claim?
– In this box, you will explain your response to the text’s claim, including to what extent (if any) you agree with it.What are your examples?– Give a few examples from your own experiences that help explain your response to the text’s claim.
36 How does this text connect to other texts?
– If you see a similarity to another text, make note of it here. Connections can be made even among texts that have very different claims.Take a few moments to fill in the chart for Hamlet’s soliloquy. The final box on making connections may be left blank for the moment.
37 Text 2 – It’s Not About the Bike
38 Activity 10: Surveying the Text
PrereadingActivity 10: Surveying the TextThe second text is an excerpt from It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins. The excerpt you will read is from the book’s opening chapter. Prior to reading, try to answer the questions below. They are designed to help you activate your schema, which is a technical term that means you generate some prior knowledge so you will be ready to read and comprehend more actively.
39 What do you know about Lance Armstrong
What do you know about Lance Armstrong? If you do not know anything about him, try doing a quick Internet search and see what comes up.What is the significance of the fact that the book was written by Armstrong with Sally Jenkins?What kind of text—what genre—do you think this book is?
40 Activity 11: Making Predictions and Asking Questions
The following questions will help you make specific predictions about the content of Armstrong’s text:What topics do you think Armstrong might talk about that are related to the issue of how society values life?Do you think Armstrong’s claim about the value of life will agree with Hamlet’s or not?
41 Activity 12: Introducing Key Vocabulary
Although the excerpt from Armstrong’s autobiography is generally an easy, straightforward text to read, there are a few vocabulary words you might want to review prior to reading. When you run into those words during your reading of the text, note the context of each word and write a “best guess” synonym for it. Your teacher may want you to compare your work with your classmates.
42 expirepoignantdemisecadencemarbledacridpuckeredcatheterconstitutionarticulateWhich sets or pairs of words are related to each other? Which words refer to death? Which words refer to the body? Do you think you might encounter additional word families in this excerpt? Which ones?
43 Activity 13: First Reading
Read the text by Armstrong. As you read, pay attention to the way Armstrong talks about the value of life. As you did with Hamlet, try to determine whether Armstrong appears to be generally pessimistic or optimistic in this passage. In addition, answer this question: Does Armstrong also present an argument about the value of death?
44 Activity 14: Rereading the Text and Looking Closely at Language
Strategic Marking of the Text First Highlighting: As you did with the Shakespeare text, you will mark Armstrong’s text. This time, use an orange-colored highlighter or colored pencil (or devise some other method of marking the text differently than you marked the soliloquy). Highlight the sentences, phrases, or words Armstrong uses to describe what he thinks it means to be alive.
45 Characterizing the Text
Once you have highlighted Armstrong’s text, compare what you have selected to highlight with the choices a classmate has made. Then, working with your partner, mark some of the commonly highlighted parts with a “+” or “–” sign to indicate whether each quote shows a generally positive or negative outlook on life. Discussing the results with your partner, decide how you would answer this question about Armstrong’s outlook on life: Is he an optimist or a pessimist?
46 Strategic Marking of the Text
Second Highlighting: Go through the text once more, this time with a yellow highlighter. Imagine that you are reading Armstrong’s text from Hamlet’s perspective. Highlight any passages that Hamlet would find particularly interesting or compelling. Some of these may be the same words you have already highlighted, while others will be new.
47 Connecting the Texts – The Mock Interview
Armstrong and Hamlet, in their respective texts, provide quite different perspectives on the meaning and value of life. Working with your partner, envision a scenario in which Hamlet somehow would have the opportunity to interview Armstrong and vice versa. One of you should write out a series of at least five questions that Hamlet would ask Armstrong, while the other writes five questions for Armstrong to ask Hamlet.
48 Hamlet and Armstrong
49 When the questions are finished, take on the personas of these two and conduct the interviews. Be sure to give answers that are in keeping with the points of view provided in the two texts. After conducting the mock interviews, discuss the relative viewpoints of the characters. How well would they get along with one another? How would each respond to the arguments made by the other?
50 Here are some sample interview questions:
How do you feel you have been treated by other people?Are you afraid of death?Are there any benefits to suffering?How do you approach challenges?
51 Activity 15: Thinking Critically
PostreadingActivity 15: Thinking CriticallyArmstrong’s text is an autobiography. As with the soliloquy we examined earlier, the form of this writing has an effect on how it is read and understood. The questions below will help you assess Armstrong’s text.
52 1. An autobiography is a form of nonfiction—a text that tells the “truth.” Do you think Armstrong is being truthful in his account of his life? Explain your reasoning.
53 2. Armstrong’s autobiography is written “with” Sally Jenkins
2. Armstrong’s autobiography is written “with” Sally Jenkins. What role do you think Jenkins played in the writing of the text? How does her participation in the creation of the text influence your interpretation of Armstrong’s story? In other words, how does the combination of Armstrong and Jenkins as authors affect the “ethos” of the text?
54 3. Do you think Armstrong’s story has an impact on the reader because of its use of logic (logos) or emotion (pathos) or both?
55 4. Unlike Hamlet, Armstrong is not in the midst of his crisis when he writes his story; instead, he writes about his experiences in hindsight. Does that have an impact on Armstrong’s ability to make his ideas and story compelling to the reader? Explain your reasoning.
56 Activity 16: Charting Multiple Texts
Make an entry in your chart for the Armstrong text. Fill it out as you did with the soliloquy. When you reach the entry for “How does this text connect to other texts?”, briefly describe the ways in which Armstrong responds to or challenges the assertions Shakespeare makes in his soliloquy for Hamlet.
57 Students should begin watching the video documenting the events of 9/11. Please be certain to take notes as you view the video.
58 Time Magazine Feb. 11, 2002This is the cover of the edition of the magazine in which the article we will be reading appeared.
59 Twin Towers 9/11
60 Text 3 – “What is a Life Worth?” Prereading
Activity 17: Surveying the Text The article “What Is a Life Worth?” comes from the February 12, 2002, issue of Time magazine. Take a look at its form and length. How much time do you think it will take to read this piece? Have you read anything from Time magazine? What do you know about that publication? What kinds of articles are commonly included in it? What types of people do you think compose the magazine’s primary readership?
61 Activity 18: Making Predictions and Asking Questions