essay for english, 5-7 pages MLA FORMAT

Length: 5-7 pages – The book is called STATUS ANXIETY

For your third and final essay, you will be examining a work of art and how it both criticizes some aspect of society, as well as provides some solace.

As the world eagerly embraced and supported new industry and innovation during the industrial revolution, we saw a discernible turn away from the arts. Because it didn’t offer a clear path toward economic growth, the fine arts no longer held value. In Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton explains this shift when he refers to what was apparently the popular opinion of the time concerning artist types, the highlight coming from one Oxford academic, Fredrick Harrison, who stated that “the man of culture is one of the poorest mortals alive.” Even now, in the modern world, we are in the midst of a similar turn, our interests favoring technology over human contact and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) in schools over the humanities. But while material progress certainly has its place, there may be solid grounds for acknowledging the merit of art.

According to Botton’s second solution to status anxiety, art may have a valid purpose in society, which is to “function as vehicles to explain our condition to us…[and]…act as guides to a truer, more judicious, more intelligent understanding of the world” (125). It is the job of artists to examine our world and reflect it back to us with some analysis and criticism.

For your third essay, you will find a piece of art (song, short story, novel, poem, movie, painting, photograph, sculpture, etc.) that speaks to the human condition, whether it be:

  • an overt piece of social commentary (think of Banksy’s “Flower Thrower,” the “Face2Face” photography project on the Gaza strip, India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” or Milck’s “Quiet”)
  • a relatable piece that connects on a personal level and addresses insecurities or desires to which we may not want to admit (think Radiohead’s “Creep” or Jim Gaffigan’s “McDonalds” bit)
  • a seemingly simple observation of some aspect of our society (our customs/behavior/ideals/etc), but one that offers deeper interpretation (think Seinfeld’s bit on having too many “things” or Louis C.K.’s “Everything Is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy”)

In your analysis, you will include the following:

1. An explanation of the art you’re analyzing.

2. An explanation of the topic on which the piece of art is making a statement.

For instance, Gaffigan’s stand up bit is technically about McDonalds, but the topic is snobbery and judgement. And Milck’s song is about technically about speaking up, but the topic is sexual assault.

3. An analysis of what the piece of art is saying about the topic.

4. Support from the book. (Analysis of the piece of art as a form of solace).

5. Support from two other outside sources. (Find articles/essays/videos that relate to the topic of your chosen piece of art).

6. Every body paragraph should include a quote, either from the art itself, our book or an outside source. (If your piece of art is a song or movie, you may choose to include a specific line to support one of your points. But if your piece is a painting or photograph, you may choose instead to provide a thorough description of some aspect of the visual art as your support.)

7. Finally, if applicable, please provide me with a copy of the art you’re analyzing.


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