THE SOCIAL CONTRACT IN FICTION

THE SOCIAL CONTRACT IN FICTION

Fiction is a Petri dish for the human condition. Authors of fiction are like scientist gods, sprinkling bits of humanity across the fertile ground to see what takes root and how it grows. We all have a favorite piece of fiction—book, game, TV show, graphic novel, or film—that speaks to us about what it means to be human. Whether that favorite is comic, tragic, or something in between, it expresses something important to us about our existence and how we experience it.

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This week, we are studying the concept of the social contract (the agreement between a given group of people about how they will function in relation to one another). Although most works of fiction don’t explicitly mention a social contract, most of them do include some form of one. Think about the social contract as it’s expressed in the world of the TV show Friends: A bunch of self-interested people finds happiness through working as a team. Or the social contract as it’s expressed in the more recent Breaking Bad: A lone wolf preys on a society that has failed him morally and financially. Each of these works of fiction expresses a world view in terms of how people are (or are not) responsible for one another.

What is your favorite work of fiction, and how is the social contract expressed therein? See if you can state the social contract in a sentence that relates the individual to the group as in the examples above. What does this work of fiction seem to want you to learn or remember (through laughter, horror, tears, or introspection) about the human condition via this social contract?

This assignment is a little more free-form than our first two assignments. There is no set structure for it. However, it is an academic paper, so it should have an introduction with a clear thesis that leaves no mystery about what you will put forth; body paragraphs that are ordered and connected to support the thesis; and a conclusion which reflects on your findings. You should assume that your reader has a passing knowledge of your favorite piece of fiction, but you should briefly explain things like character (who’s important and why), setting (time and place), and conflict (the reason people are interacting as they are) so that there are no unsupported leaps in logic. You should use examples as you need them to illuminate your assertions. You can find these examples in the fiction itself, for example, paraphrasing the climax of a novel or quoting important dialogue from a movie.

You MUST USE evidence from John Locke and/or Thomas Hobbes, whom we are covering this week (see our lesson and/or use outside sources), to support your ideas about the social contract in the work of fiction. Their ideas may or may not dovetail with the social contract as expressed in the fiction you’re covering. You can use them as a comparison, contrast, or both. You MUST CITE their works where you refer to it.

Your focus here should be explaining your favorite work of fiction in the context of the social contract. You don’t have to convince your audience that this is the best work of art of all time, just that it holds specific ideas about how individuals do or should interact in a given group.

This assignment is three to five pages. Evidence (cited) from your work of fiction and support (cited) from Locke should be used to illustrate your ideas, not in place of them. APA format.

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