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SAT Essay Sample 1

Time has a doomsday book, on whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names. But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

ASSIGNMENT:
Are there some heroes who will be remembered forever? Or are all heroes doomed to be forgotten one day? Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. (You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science.)

Every age, and every culture has its heroes. In some times and places the heroes have been gods or god-like creatures from mythology, or mortals apparently much above the mass of humanity. But today, sports stars, film stars, and political leaders with clay feet have replaced Ram, Achilles, Cleopatra, and Alexander. In fact there are almost no heroes of any age that can withstand our tendency to debunk. There are figures who will always be in the history books, but they won’t always be regarded as heroes.

Let’s consider Julius Caesar – a hero in his own time but regarded, thanks mainly to Shakespeare’s play, as a man with mortal failings: vain, superstitious and arrogant. He can no longer be thought of as a hero – just a man who came to prominence for his actions at a certain point in history. He has his place in the history of the Western world and his face on ancient coins, but scarcely fits our need for a hero for all times whom we can revere.

Even Shakespeare himself, the writer of immortal plays and poetry cannot fit our need for a heroic figure. He created heroes but cannot qualify as one himself: we know too little about him. History will always try to heap accolades on the man who wrote such sublime words, but that doesn’t stop critics from trying to take away his glory. There are those who claim that he didn’t even write the plays.

Of course the history books are full of great men and women who are long gone, and no doubt we can all find our personal heroes from their pages. But the dead cannot defend their reputations and so every biography and every film chips away at their greatness. Alexander the Great will never seem so great once we have seen the film.

Finally, we must agree that very few ‘heroes’ will be revered for all time. The man who saves a child from a tsunami will find himself lauded in the newspapers for a few days, the sports superstars will last a little longer. But no modern human, except for a very few such as Mother Theresa, will be guaranteed a page in the book of all-time heroes.

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