Sample Essay Outlines
Topic #1: The Varieties and Costs of Freedom
I. Thesis statement: In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare demonstrates that there are several distinct varieties of freedom, each of which has its own cost.
II. One can be emotionally free—but one pays the cost of social disapproval.
A. Kit demonstrates emotional freedom when she dives into the water without thinking. The cost is Goodwife Cruff’s disapproval, which eventually leads to witchcraft charges.
B. Hannah follows her heart when she leaves Massachusetts. The cost is living alone, suspected by the community of witchcraft.
C. Nat follows his heart when he “illuminates” William Ashby’s house, and he pays for it by being put in the stocks.
III. One can be politically free—but one pays with blood and boldness.
A. The theft of the colony’s charter comes at great risk.
B. The Wethersfield militia organizes to fight for the colony’s freedom, and some members are killed.
C. The citizens of Wethersfield organize against the royal governor knowing that elements of their colony (New Haven colony) have already lost their charter.
IV. One can be spiritually free—but the cost is isolation and emotional austerity.
A. The Puritans as a community left England, severing families (such as Kit’s mother and her aunt).
B. Matthew Wood’s attempts to keep his family safe from sinful vanity means denying his daughters beautiful clothes.
C. Hannah Tupper’s refusal to follow the Puritan religion leaves her living alone near Blackbird Pond.
D. Kit’s rescue of Hannah and her friendship with her leave Kit vulnerable to charges of witchcraft.
V. One can be intellectually free—but one always pays a human and emotional cost.
A. Kit’s embrace of plays as literature and alternative teaching methods lead to her losing her job, and to others suspecting her of sin.
B. John Holbrook’s political stance costs him considerable anxiety as he does not want to cross his teacher, but must find a way to do so.
C. Matthew Wood banishes Reverend Bulkeley from his home because of their intellectual differences, and he almost loses his daughter Mercy as a result.
D. William Ashby is a good counter-example. He is not intellectually free, and so loses Kit.
VI. Conclusion: The American Revolution can be traced in terms of these developing and contesting freedoms—and in people’s recognition that they must pay the costs. It is for this reason that the Declaration of Independence ends with the authors pledging to support the revolution by saying “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Topic #2: The Struggle for Identity
I. Thesis statement: A variety of internal and external forces tug at every character in The Witch of Blackbird Pond . How they resolve these tensions determines their eventual individual identities, and the collective process will determine the identity...
(The entire section is 746 words.)