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Argumentative Essay Analysis
Arresting Monstrosity: Polo, Frankenstein, and the Horror Film is an article written by Dwight Codr, the aim of which is to determine the main ways of interaction between the polio era and the horror films of that period. The article conveys strong evidence that helps to depict the authors idea in the credible and logical manner creating the sense of a strong argument. The author uses definite vocabulary, supports the arguments with in-text citations and notes, and organizes the text in the way that is appropriate to provide the consequence of arguments in support of the main claim.
From the point of view of the argumentative essay, the discussed article contains all necessary parts, especially claim and support are evident in the text. At the beginning, the author provides the explanation of the necessity of discussing the current theme that is determined by the wide range of films related to the topic of the polio disease. He claims that the horror effect of the polio allusions in the pictures is connected with the peoples fear of being infected (Codr 172). Besides, an appropriate in-text citation of Marc Shell helps to emphasize that gap in research in the field of cinematography that could explain relationship between the polio era and horror films in the full extent (Codr 172). Therefore, Codr conducts a deep analysis of this cinematographic phenomena pointing out several important stages of the development of the polio idea in the horror films. This approach helps the author prove the influence of the polio context on the character of the horror films of the 20th century and their role in terms of social awareness of the problem.
In order to address the distinguished features of the horror cinematography before and during the polio era, the author starts with the description of the image of the monster at the end of the 19th at the beginning of 20th centuries. At that time monsters were depicted mainly as lithe, flexible and even handsome (Cord 173). Such prehistory helps the reader to understand the transformation of the image of the monster determined by polio disease. By providing several examples of the pieces of art with the handsome monster image, Cord makes the reader feel bewilderment. Obviously, the contemporary audience does not associate the notion of monster with the epithet handsome. He even provides a figure that makes the discussed prehistory even more visual. Such beginning of the article helps the reader to focus on the question of what provoked the change of the image of the monster in the later horror films.
After covering the prehistory of the topic, Codr begins to discuss the first images of the monsters influenced by the polio disease. He establishes the relation between the outburst of the disease and the introduction of the polio-like image of a monster. He explains that such new perception of the villain is influenced by the appearance of the first polio victims. This evidence is successfully supported by the childhood memories of the disease written by Michel Perrault and Charles Mee (Codr 174). These experiences are considered as a strong support for the claim that the image of Karloffs Frankenstein that appeared due to polio outburst was a consequence of the polio hysteria and kinetic resemblance of the main symptoms of the polio. Such consequent and meaningful presentation of the argument helps the reader to easily catch the stage of the transmission from the handsome monster image to Karloffs image as a result of polio epidemic. The list of films provided later in the text gives an opportunity to see and in some cases check the evidence of the theoretical part of the essay regarding Karloffs image and its subsequent influence on the cinematography.
Although the author provides very informative and clear reasons for introducing the Karloffs monster into the film production, it could be better if this part was introduced before the list with the presentation of the polio-related monster images. However, the writer has explained his reasons for such organization in a quite credible manner. As the first reason pointed out by Codr is a large quantity of the polio victims since 1916, the author provides the statistics that support this data with the numbers of cases during that and following periods (Codr 175). The author explains the gap between the first and the second polio epidemic waves and the cinematographic outburst with its peculiarities since 1920s by the fact that the disease was acknowledged only in 1926-1927 (Codr 175). As a result, the author uses historical facts as the way to convey a strong feeling of the cinematographic involvement into the historical events that influenced the humanity and depicted its main fears.
The next important idea that is present in the text as the essential consequence of the previous facts is the allusion of the polio disease in the next films to that cinematographic polio era. This idea was properly supported by an in-text citation to Shells words when it was mentioned that movie or stage play about polio may not be essentially about polio (qtd. in Codr 176). Because of the logical representation of the material, this fact arises as a sensible conclusion of the introduction of polio theme in the cinematography. With the help of different examples of films related to this theme, the author points out general plots of the movies that demonstrate Karloffs image of the monster. Besides, the polio topic is also depicted from the point of view of the children. This fact was another reason for the terrifying effect that horror films of the polio era had on the audience. The author also maintained it by relating to the notes and explaining in more detail how the image of a child enhances the scary character of the polio monster. However, some not full notes can be pointed out in terms of discussing their effectiveness in supporting the argument. They deal with the question of race that arises in the article as one of the consequences of the polio era. The race issue should be highlighted in more detail, or it should be omitted, as the provided message is not convincing enough.
As a result, the author provides appropriate warrants to all evidence used in support of the claim. The interaction between different pieces of evidence and claims is well-traced and logical. Therefore, warrants carry the function of a link that helps the reader to focus on the main idea of the essay, even though there is much statistical and factual information. Although the article is convincing, the last part of the essay deals with the film The Crippler created by NFIP. Therefore, in general, there is no separate conclusion that could state the link to the claim at the beginning to generalize all evidences in support to the main idea.
The diction of the text is formal. The author uses special medical terms throughout the essay in order to convey the image of the medical motive in the discussed films. However, the text is not overwhelmed with the medical vocabulary; therefore, it is approachable for a wide audience. Although the style is academic, there are a few expressional words that convey particular emotional attitude, e.g. terrifying, spine-chilling fears, etc. Such combination of formal and expressive diction helps to appeal to the audience and create the connection between real and cinematographic horror of polio.
All in all, the author of the essay provides deep and credible arguments in terms of the main claim. In-text citations support the idea proposed by the author. However, there are some issues in the logical organization of the introductory part where the explanation of the reasons for polio are provided. Moreover, the essay lacks a generalizing conclusion that would relate to the main claim. However, the main part of the essay is organized logically, numbers and evidence are provided, and a well-chosen word-stock helps to support the argument. All these factors combined demonstrate polio disease as a determining factor in the creation of the image of monster in the cinematography of the polio period.