Instructions for Paper 1

Your first paper assignment is to write a critical analysis. A critical analysis is a brief summary and evaluation of a text. It requires summarizing the author’s main thesis and the reasons she provides in support of that thesis. But it also involves a critical evaluation of the author’s argument. To do that, you should think about questions like these: Do you agree with the author’s thesis? Why or why not? Do you find the reasons the author provides in support of her thesis convincing? Why or why not? Are there other reasons that the author didn’t mention that would support her thesis? If so, what are they? Are there reasons to think that the author’s thesis is false? A critical analysis needn’t address all of these questions, but it should address some of them.


You’ll write your critical analysis on the following passage from Plato’s Apology, lines 40d-41b:

Let us also think in the following way how great a hope there is that it [i.e. death] is good. Now being dead is either of two things. For either it is like being nothing and the dead man has no perception of anything, or else, in accordance with the things that are said, it happens to be a sort of change and migration of the soul from the place here to another place. And if in fact there is no perception, but it is like a sleep in which the sleeper has no dream at all, death would be a wondrous gain. For I suppose that if someone had to select that night in which he slept so soundly that he did not even dream and had to compare the other nights and days of his own life with that night, and then had to say on consideration how many days and nights in his own life he has lived better and more pleasantly than that night, then I suppose that the Great King himself, not to mention some private man, would discover that they are easy to count in comparison with the other days and nights. So if death is something like this, I at least say it is a gain. For all time appears in this way indeed to be nothing more than one night. On the other hand, if death is like a journey from here to another place, and if the things that are said are true, that in fact all the dead are there, then what greater good could there be than this, judges? For if one who arrives in Hades, released from those here who claim to be judges, will find those who are judges in truth — the very ones who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthys, and Aeacus, and Triptolemus, and those of the other demigods who turned out to be just in their own lives — would this journey be a paltry one? Or again, to associate with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer, how much would any of you give? For I am willing to die many times if these things are true, since especially for myself spending time there be would be wondrous. (This passage is found pp. 60-61 in your book)

Other Instructions

  • Papers should be typed using a standard 12-point font (e.g., Times New Roman), doubled spaced with one-inch margins.
  • Your critical analysis should be approximately1,000 words. Include a word count.
  • Don’t use outside sources and try not to quote the text you are summarizing. Try to explain the author’s argument in your own words. However, if you do quote or need to refer to specific places in the text, an in-text citation is fine. Use this format: (Plato, p. 56)