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ENGL 1301 ESSAY 3, FINAL ESSAY – A Moral Dilemma

In the story by Ursula LeGuin we’ve read, the narrator describes an imaginary city, Omelas, which is a Utopia. The existence of this Utopia rests on one condition – the child who is kept, alone and miserable, in the cellar. All residents of the city are aware of the child, and of the condition. The only options are to accept the situation and live with it, or to walk away into an unknown future. The story asks: do you believe it is acceptable to sacrifice the one child in the basement for the perfect happiness of the entire rest of the city?

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We have also looked at other material, about the Trolley Problem and some real-life issues, that are simila.

Here is the prompt for this essay:

Do you believe it is acceptable to sacrifice a few for the benefit of many more? Why or why not?

What the essay must include:

An introductory paragraph that introduces the main idea of the essay.
A situation you find in real life that shows some dilemma or sacrifice similar to what we have been discussing.
Thesis, discussion and support of your position, using clear arguments;
Two research sources that will be used to support your position and which have in-text citations when they are used (the story “Omelas” does not count as a research source — you can use it but it’s not one of the two). One research source should be used to describe/explain the real-life situation; one source should be used to explain/support your position on the question I asked.
In-text citations for all material used in the essay, and a Works Cited page, in proper format, that includes MLA citations for all sources.
See this page for tips on organizing and writing this essay.

The essay has an 1800-word minimum length. Essays not meeting the word-length minimum will receive a completion credit between 25-45 points at my discretion. There will be no opportunity for rewriting the final draft.

The essay must contain at least two acceptable, relevant research sources, with at least two direct cited quotes from that source. The source material must help explain or support what you are saying. See below for more on this.


– It must be clear how the research material you use helps explain or support what you are saying in some way that is useful or necessary. That means you must tell us what it means and why it is important.

– Do not use research sources or quotes to state commonly known or inarguable facts.

– Do not use quotes that come from Wikiquote, Brainy Quotes, or any other “quotation-aggregator.”

– Dictionary definitions, encyclopedia entries, and Wikipedia entries do not count as research. (Wikipedia entries can be very useful for links and general information, but never use Wikipedia as a cited source.)

– “Note” sites such as Schmoop, SparkNotes, etc. cannot be used or cited as research. Free-essay sites such as 123helpme also cannot be used and should never be part of your essay in any way.

– Do not plagiarize. If you are using the words of a source, use quotation marks. If you are using just the ideas of a source, it still must be cited in the text.

helpful hints below

1. Introduction: something that gets a reader’s attention and gives that reader an idea of what the main idea(s) or theme of the essay will be. (1 paragraph)

2. Objective Description: Find and describe a situation in real life that is similar to the type of dilemma posed in “Omelas,” which we have been discussing. This will require at least one research source, cited. (1-2 paragraphs)

3. What is your position here — do you accept the sacrifice or try to “walk away” or change it? Why and how? Here is where your thesis statement will appear. This part will require at least one research source. (2-3 paragraphs)

6. Conclusion: where you wrap up and leave the readers with the main ideas you want them to have.

7. Works Cited page containing all the sources used and cited in the essay, following the example format I provided.

Where research can be used:

I am asking you to use two research sources, not counting the story “Omelas” if you use that. At least one source must be used to help explain why you think it is acceptable or not, in real life, to sacrifice one or a few for the benefit of many.

Remember two things about research and citation:

Anything you use from any outside source, whether you are quoting it or restating it in your own words, must have in in-text citation showing which source it comes from. I have provided examples and links for how to do this.
Your Works Cited must contain MLA-format citations for all research sources you use, including the story “Omelas.” I have provided a sample Works Cited, and examples and links for MLA format.
You can also use the library (the HCC library has a chat function for questions) and the online tutoring to help you with citations, quoting, and MLA format.

UNACCEPTABLE types of sources:

Wikipedia and other encyclopedia-type sources, or dictionaries;
General question sites such as Quora or Yahoo Answers;
Quote sites such as WikiQuote — if you use quote, the source must be the source where it came from;
Free essay sites, 123 HelpMe, Schmoop or Sparknotes or other class-note sites;

Good Luck !

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