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Illness As A Metaphor Ap Essay Question

An incisive extended essay, Illness as Metaphor exposes mythologies connected with two of the most fearful of maladies, tuberculosis and cancer. During the greater part of the nineteenth century, tuberculosis was either romanticized and sentimentalized, or made the object of terrified speculation. Until 1882, when the tuberculosis bacillus was isolated and established as the cause of infection, the nature of the disease was believed to be mysterious. Around this mystery, which could be emotionally but not intellectually apprehended, an elaborate pattern of metaphors developed. Lacking medical facts to explain the true pathology of the illness, people invented a fanciful tuberculosis, using language that communicated their ambiguous, often contradictory feelings. Sontag points out that this fantasized tuberculosis scarcely resembles the real, scientifically described disease. As the inaccurate judgments of nineteenth century science gave way to factual investigation in our own time, so the metaphors of the past were seen to be inadequate. In the same manner, Sontag argues, contemporary metaphors applied to cancer will give way in the future to more exact language describing that malady. In time, cancer will be demythicized as tuberculosis has been. Sontag’s thesis is that we must understand the tyranny of false metaphors in order to liberate ourselves from the language of fears and superstitions that have no basis in reality.

To develop this thesis, Sontag carefully examines the older metaphorical concepts of tuberculosis as a pattern against which the reader can compare the modern metaphors of cancer. She has little interest in the medical or pseudoscientific notions of the disease prior to this century. Instead, she chooses as examples a wealth of material from literature. Because the metaphors concerning pathology either originate among writers, or because literary masters express in definitive form the most nearly representative metaphors derived from popular speech, writers serve as her primary source. With extraordinary erudition, Sontag assembles information from such diverse writers as Stendhal, Kafka, John of Trevisa, Muger, Hugo, Dickens, Henry James, Turgenev, Stevenson, Joyce, Goldsmith, Shelley, Mann, Gautier, and so on. Citing examples from fiction, drama, biography, letters, and diaries, she synthesizes enough material for a convincing essay on a topic such as “Literary Uses of Tuberculosis Prior to the Twentieth Century.” But she is less concerned with the impact of tuberculosis—either as metaphor or fact—upon literary figures than with the mythology that these writers perceived to be associated with the disease.

For most of them, tuberculosis was romanticized as an illness that spiritualized its victims. Even as the so-called consumptives seemed physically to waste away, they were believed to have gained spiritual resources. Considered sufferers from a disease of passion, tuberculars were supposed to be either individuals who were recklessly sensual, or, in contrast, people who denied themselves sexual energy. Either way, their disease was linked to excesses or repressions of love. Furthermore, victims were romantically associated with a malady that was to terminate following a prolonged but not agonizing illness. The fact that the progress of the disease seemed to be uncomfortable rather than painful, that its signs were pallor (or ruddy complexion) and emaciation rather than any horrible outward physical disfigurement, and finally that it seemed to heighten rather than diminish perception—all these observed conditions contributed to make tuberculosis seem “interesting.” Indeed, even those who were its victims appeared to accept the mythology of the disease with some satisfaction.

Yet, as Sontag demonstrates, the mythology failed accurately to describe tuberculosis as a pathology known to science. Although in its early stages the malady might seem to the victims to be only uncomfortable, in its final stages its ravages could be terrible. And the supposed spiritualization of the consumptive was actually a process of bronchial disintegration. Finally, the supposed etiology of the disease was entirely false. Passion had nothing to do with the causes of tuberculosis: a bacterial infection was responsible. As soon as Koch and others explained the nature of the disease, it lost its glamorous mythology. Contemporary writers speak of tuberculosis in accurate, rather than metaphorical language; and when a great writer, Thomas Mann, uses the older metaphors for the disease (for example, in The Magic Mountain), he can be...

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Many sources of information exist: from college textbooks to academic journals and websites. Many students can’t handle the research properly, so they get stuck each time they try to understand how to write a synthesis essay. If you know the way to work with information, it is half the battle.

“What is a synthesis essay?” If you have this question, the information below shared by the professors from top colleges will be useful. How to write a synthesis essay AP English? A serious question requires a serious answer. Ask the online academic writers & editors for help without investing plenty of money to have any type of homework done due tomorrow!

How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Basic Knowledge

The way student writes his/her essay depends on the selected sources and amount of related information. Pick 2-5 texts to analyze. The main points to consider in this type of academic assignment are:

  • What are the specific ideas discussed by each of the selected writers?
  • Do the writers who come up with the same conclusion apply the same ideas or do they offer various ideas on a single topic to conclude in the same way?
  • Do the 1st writer’s ideas support the opinions of another writer?
  • Do the writers of the selected sources who disagree cover similar issue, or do they cover different aspects?
  • Are any of the points mentioned the same points in various words?

The next point to highlight is the official definition of this type of academic essay, and the general essay writing structure called an outline.

What is a Synthesis Essay?

Before learning how to write a synthesis essay, it is critical to define this term. Synthesis refers to gathering data from various sources and creating a whole content out of it; an academic essay is a writing assignment teachers give to test student’s knowledge and skills on the particular topic. By combining these definitions, a student may guess what it means. Many sources of information exist: it is important to pick primary/secondary sources that are relevant, up-to-date (no older than 5 years), and credible (meaning a student can trust people who wrote that). Non-written sources are a good idea for inspiration. Be attentive during the class lectures, observations, and interviews.

The heart of such essay is extensive research on the assigned topic – the writer should know multiple approaches to bringing out a concept from various sources. The next stage is mixing them and creating a convective piece of writing. The goal of any essay is to draw reader’s attention to the existing problem no matter what the topic/field of study is.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay Outline?

The point-by-point structure is what every student needs to learn how to write a synthesis essay outline. An outline is similar to the table of contents. It contains the categories + subcategories on the given topic the writer plans to cover in the piece. An essay organization will look this way:

  1. Introduction with a hook & thesis statement.
  2. A single point discussed by 2 or more sources of information.
  3. A 2nd point covered by 2 or more sources.
  4. An optional section with a single or more basic points covered in a single article each.
  5. Conclusion with the restated thesis, summary, and powerful concluding sentence.

Synthesis Essay Outline: Specific Example of Organization

If the student works with a single source at a time, such “source-by-source” structure will be considered weak. It is not enough to provide a summary of each observed text. Synthesis is about bringing together, analyzing both, comparing & contrasting, whatever – it is not about exploring a single source. It is a good idea to come up with a couple of paragraphs before the conclusion to synthesize points discovered in several sources.

A source-by-source structure is the most popular. Here is an example of fair organization:

  1. Introduction
  2. Summary of text #1
  3. Summary of text #2
  4. Summary of text #3
  5. Synthesis paragraph – a single commonality among the analyzed texts
  6. Synthesis paragraph – one more similar trait shared by the analyzed texts
  7. Conclusion with some predictions and implementations

If you need a particular example, look at this one:

  1. Introduction (High school football, “Nowhere to run: Consequences of high school football” by Robert Wayne and “The impact of high school football on students’ scores” by John Legman, thesis statement: “There is a strong correlation between the low high school scores and participating in local sports activities, especially football team.”
  2. Introduce 1st idea related to the topic: Those who join high school football teams tend to show a rapid drop in academic performance during the semester.
  • Text #1 perspective on that topic
  • Text #2 perspective on that theme
  1. A 2nd idea related to the topic: High school football team member initiate bullying. Both performance and behavior suffer.
Text #1 treatment of the issue
Text #2 treatment of the issue
  1. Conclusion

Synthesis Essay Introduction

Students who wonder how to write an AP English synthesis essay should begin with the synthesis essay introduction. In AP English test, synthesis essay is a common phenomenon. To give your essay a chance to survive with the high score, it is important to make the audience want to read the paper from cover to cover. In this case, the audience is made of the strict graders, which makes the mission complicated.

If a student opens his essay with a powerful hook sentence, the chances of writing a successful piece go up. Try these ideas:

End up the introduction with the thesis statement. Find some examples in this article.

If a student experiences problems with starting the essay or overcoming a writer’s block, he/she should try using one of the special writing applications.

The Principle of Writing a Synthesis Essay Thesis

A synthesis essay thesis serves as the main argument of the entire paper. It is a full sentence or few that identify the academic essay on a chosen topic in a significant manner. A thesis should be impressive as an essay title. A student must stress the importance of the discussed topic and focus on one of the existing opinions towards the issue. A thesis should not sound weak/general – narrow it down! A thesis should come across as a probing question the writer is trying to answer/defend in the eventual lines of the text.

Synthesis Essay Conclusion Example

For a better understanding of synthesis essay conclusion example, have a look below.

“With the help of field experts like Robert Wayne and John Legman along with their studies called “Nowhere to run: Consequences of high school football” and “The impact of high school football on students” respectively, the essay proved that a strong correlation between the high school football engagement and drop in academic performance exist in most of the United States educational institutions, but football is not the primary cause. There is not enough information to make a final decision. Among other possible causes, the researchers name regular depressions and stresses associated with the family conflicts, overloaded homework schedule, and problems with girlfriends/boyfriends.”

15 Synthesis Essay Topics for Beginners

The last thing to include in this informative article is a list of good synthesis essay topics.

  1. Write an essay describing the impact of World War II on Eastern Europe
  2. Influence of social media on college students
  3. Impact of texting on teens’ grammar
  4. Talk about the mindset of ISIS hardliners
  5. The universal system of patriarchy and its outcomes
  6. An insight into e-commerce
  7. Positive awareness of the sexual education among adolescents
  8. In-depth analysis of the algorithms that make cryptocurrency work
  9. The impact of American art on modern European music
  10. The evolution of beauty standards throughout centuries
  11. The policy of expansionism of some Asian countries
  12. Influence of housing estates on ecology
  13. The way high school football harms the student’s academic performance
  14. Deforestation & agriculture
  15. The steps taken by different nationalities to fight global warming issues

Synthesis Essay Example: Smallpox

Students who require examples to understand the topic better should focus on this section. We offer a good essay example written on the medical topic.

“The paper is focused on smallpox, s severe disease with the possible fatal outcome that has influenced the entire history of medicine. The in-depth study of the health condition has led to the appearance of a new treatment. It prevented millions of people over the course of history from death and gave a chance to humanity to overcome other serious illnesses.

“Amherst and Smallpox,” an article taken from NativeWeb, defines smallpox as a deadly disease spread by some virus. Through the lungs, the virus penetrates the entire lymphatic system and may infect the blood.

“Smallpox: Only Adults Suffer” article by Kelly Donor insists on the fact that this disease is not that threatening today as the prevention measures are stronger. The writer proves her words with the help of recent studies. They show the significant drop in fatal outcomes during the last decade.

Both of the explored sources agree that a special program of vaccinations by The World Health Organization made smallpox one of the 2 infectious illnesses that have been eradicated in full. It means that severer health conditions exist without any effective treatment. Unlike Donor, NativeWeb authors do not think everything is over; they insist that the final traces of the virus should be destroyed to guarantee the safety from this disease.”


To sum up, to learn how to write a good synthesis essay, a student should discover more about the world of research. If it is about learning how to write an AP English synthesis essay, it is important to open the official AP website with the current requirements and study the grading rubric to understand what to focus on. Does it sound difficult? You have a way out if you are running out of time and nerves. Contact professional academic writers for hire at any time of day/night to have an academic homework done within the set timeframes. Writing can be easier than you think.

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