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GRE Issue 2: To Understand The Most Important Characteristics Of A Society - With A Free Essay Review

"To understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities."

Most countries in the world are best known for their major cities, and major cities are like windows through which we can have a peep at a society's most important characteristics. It is true that small towns have a lot to do in forming a whole society, but as far as I am concerned, studying major cities is necessary if one wants to understand a society.

Compared to other cities in a country, major cities have the largest population, and that is the most important reason why one should study them if one wants to know about a society. A society is basically formed by people, and its characteristics are mainly decided by people's behaviors. So to understand the characteristics of a society, one must study its people, study the constructs they built, the businesses they run, and study their ways of living. Metropolises always are the most populous cities in a country and in most probability are the most representative in a country. They are often consisted of people from different places with different cultural backgrounds. For example, major cities in the U.S. such as the New York City in the east and Los Angeles in the west, all have WASP’s, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans at the same time, in the same city. So in these cities we can see one of the most important features of America as being a melting pot, which is just an example of the help of studying major cities when trying to understand a society.

Opponents may argue that other cities and towns may have better reservation of a society's most symbolic traditions. Well, it is often true, for some major cities have lost their most valuable traditions through the years of developing. However, this does not mean that major cities have lost the most important characteristics of a society. A society's characteristics do not only lie in the traditions which we can see through our eyes, but mainly lie in people's spirits. Spirits are also easier to be recognized in major cities, as people there are more open and many of them are always prepared to show themselves to outsiders. Thus, it is rather direct to study major cities to get to know about a society.

It is also true that in a large society, people in different areas always have different characteristics; they may say different languages, live in houses that have completely different styles, keep different traditions, and rely on different kind of businesses to make a living. In this case, major cities play an especially important role in understanding the characteristics of a society. As we all know, major cities are always the most representative cities in an area. In the U.S., we have capital cities in each states, and they are all symbols of their own provinces. So if you want to learn about a province, the most convenient and efficient way is to go to its capital city.

In conclusion, societies are created by people, and to study a society is to understand people's way of living there. So as far as I’m concerned, studying major cities is always a must in understanding the most important characteristics of a society.


Essay Review

Both your approach to the topic and the structure of the essay are reasonable, so let's focus here on the actual arguments.

You first argue that we should study major cities because they have the largest population. It's not entirely clear what you mean by this. If you only mean that major cities are more populous than minor cities, then that is trivially true. But there presumably are countries (and historically there would be many more examples) in which the majority of the population live in rural areas. There are surely many countries in which a minority of the population live in major cities (although the truth of this claim perhaps depends on what counts as a major city). You argue that major cities are the most populous cities and therefore the most representative, but being the most populous city doesn't necessarily make a city representative of society as a whole, and you don't explain why you think it would. It is not enough to say, as you do later in the essay, "we all know major cities are always the most representative cities in the area." Major cities, for instance, may tend to be less conservative or more prosperous than the society as a whole (which of course doesn't mean that you can understand the major characteristics of a society without studying the major cities.)

Your second argument has the merit of considering a possible objection to your position, but your way of dealing with objection is not very compelling to me, if only because your reference to "people's spirits" seems very vague. It's all right to talk about "the spirit" of a people (even if not everyone will agree that such a thing exists) but you need to make the reference concrete by giving examples of what you mean.

Your third argument seems ultimately not to be much more than a version of your first argument, but this time applied to regions rather than countries. Note also that the conclusion to that paragraph introduces a claim that is not directly relevant to deciding the truth of the original claim: "the most convenient and efficient way" is not always a necessary way.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: Juliana

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