Hello,

To be frank, my English grade is very poor right now and I need at least a 90 on this paper just to pass. Any critique is appreciated.

Requirements: 10-paragraph (minimum) paper on the topic "hero". We choose from Legendary, Tragic, Modern-Cultural, and Modern-Personal. I chose personal. I tend to be a little paranoid online so some parts are "left out" (you'll see what I mean)...

My personal hero is (person's name). He’s an amazingly talented violinist and a great all-around person. When he was in high school at (name of school), he was the All-State concertmaster for two years. He has entered many competitions around the country, and consistently places first in nearly every one. A few years ago, I was at a contest with him in Idaho where $1,500 and, more importantly, a lot of pride were on the line. His performance was flawless, and there was no doubt in my mind that he would win. However, it turned out that one of the judges, who had a grudge against John from a previous contest, gave him a 50, while all the other judges had given him high 90’s. We soon found out that this judge was also intoxicated during the contest. I know that many people, including myself, would’ve been outraged. John, on the other hand, gracefully shrugged the incident off like it was no big deal. I respect and admire the poise he showed then to this day.
Maybe I can suggest a framework for your essay.

* Define hero maybe by getting a definition from the dictionary. Pad it out a bit with examples of the stereotypes often associated with the ‘hero’.
* State who your hero is and why he fits the hero category.
* Reinforce your reasons for choosing violinist as hero. Perhaps choose examples from history and society today. Maybe cover the facts/legend of Niccolò Paganini, the amazing achievement of Itzhak Perlman, discuss the musicians from Europe who have become ambassadors for the countries (they assume roles similar to International sports stars – have you read the essay by George Orwell regarding international competition in sports? [war without bullets]; compare & contrast the virtue of music over sport in that context).
* Go behind the scenes a little. Violinists who are at peak level must practice seriously for long hours. It’s not just a job, more like a vocation. With that stated, consider again what it means to be a hero. Is it more than strength and dominance?
* Perhaps look for musicians who have featured as heroes in literature; the bible story of David playing harp for Saul comes to mind.. Perhaps consider Greek myths and the power attributed to music makers.

How many paragraphs? At least as many strong ideas that mesh together to form a convincing argument. Practise makes perfect.
I reckon it’s Important to start from a generalization and move to things that are more specific. Maybe begin your essay like this:

A hero is a person noted or admired for nobility, courage, and outstanding achievements. (From The Oxford American Dictionary of Current English) If one considers what ‘hero’ means to most, it’s clear that popular imagination turns to tales of old & stories read to one in childhood. The knight of the realm is both hero in literature and hero in fact. Though modern day knights in Britain for example don’t wear shining armour, they are honored for extraordinary courage and are drawn from many fields of endeavor. More often than not, they are persons of refinement, men and women who have cultivated their skill to an extraordinary level. This shift in the appreciation of the character of the hero was encapsulated beautifully by Samuel Johnson, “Claret is the liquor for boys; port, for men; but he who aspires to be a hero (smiling) must drink brandy”.

My hero is a superb violinist… [Your paragraph]

further down if you choose to discuss stereotypes of modern day heroes (sports stars maybe) you might use Orwell’s sentiments perhaps.
"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting." -- George Orwell, English novelist and critic

Personally, I would attempt to make the connection between sport and consumerism. For a brief essay on the pitfalls on consumerism, see my post in another section. Here’s a Brief reference regarding sport and money
EVERY YEAR ADVERTISERS pay celebrity athletes millions of dollars to endorse their products. For instance, at the height of his career, Michael Jordan was estimated to be making in excess of $32 million per year from endorsements alone (Jensen, 1994).

In Contrast with sportsperson as hero, I’d emphasize the nobility of classical music and the artists who deliver it and interpret it for us. Maybe discuss the power of music to inspire and encapsulate noble sentiments.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do some research for you. I hope it’s helpful.
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Who said that a life of a sports star is easy? Do you know how difficult it is to get to the top? What about injuries? Don't you think it is difficult to keep fit to the standards? Isn't is a short life doing what you like doing?
Oh, yes to all. But the issue? It’s the challenge of taking one side of a debate. However, regarding sport, I remember watching a news report where a legendary 100-meter sprinter tried to answer a reporter who assumed that he just ran on nervous energy; it was implied that he used raw talent and no brains. The sprinter became very angry and made it clear that his performance was a supreme effort that needed total integration & dedication (who are we to argue?). But, Maj, if your comment is that the structure of the essay is fundamentally flawed, then that’s a different matter. My personal view is that most people don’t consider a violinist to be a hero. The best way to demonstrate otherwise is to compare and contrast with other popular stereotypes. No?

So, the issue at hand is about presenting a point of view, debating one side of the story. What do you think?
Very entertaining. Let’s assume that our guest to the forum nominated a sports star for hero? Consider a framework like this:
War or dangerous adventure is the hero's normal occupation. He is surrounded by noble peers, and is magnanimous to his followers and ruthless to his enemies. Today’s athlete is a warrior too; only the theatre of war has altered: the killer instinct is definitely there.
My hero is a college champion. In track and field [the list of achievements; indication of the level of competition; anecdotes perhaps]
But is [my hero] really a warrior?

In addition to his prowess in ‘battle’ (the track & field), he is resourceful and skilful in many crafts; he can build a house, sail a boat, and, if shipwrecked, is an expert
swimmer. He is sometimes, like Odysseus, cunning and wise in counsel, but [my hero] is not usually given to much subtlety. He is a man of action rather than thought and lives by a personal code of honour that admits of no qualification: call him a jock par excellence but only if you tell him to his face and say it with a smile.
And so on. Maybe consider some of these issues.

*Sports have been an integral part of academic life since… My hero…
* The sports arena has been proving ground for mighty men since… My hero’s ambition will surely reach its mark.
* In business today, college sports ushers a guy into corporate life as a truely Renaissance man...
* In today’s ultra-competitive world, [my hero] is a winner...

From so many angles, my 'college jock' is truly the Odysseus of the new millennium (slight irony intended).

It is so clearly obvious that sports people are heroic that writing an essay from that angle is about as easy as falling off a log. In contrast, it takes some skill to raise a crippled man to hero status and yet that is what Itzhak Perlman has achieved in the field of music.

Satisfactory?
Maybe the essay is one way that academics assess students and grade them. From this point of view, the essay is only a vehicle for demonstrating the ability to think critically and write clearly.
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