When discussing virtues and vices, particularly on a comparative level, there are a number of approaches one can take. It can be a difficult task for a writer to discuss these topics since many of our feelings on matters such as greed and loyalty are matters of personal opinion. One especially effective way to write about these issues is to make one’s point clear and come across in a way that clearly indicates that a personal opinion is being expressed as opposed to a universally accepted truth.
For this reason, the essay by Marilyn Baker entitled, “Greed Works" itself works because she immediately makes it clear that she is merely stating her own opinion as opposed to a list of supposed truths that everyone should automatically recognize as such. In this sense, the article by Bob Harvey on the subject of loyalty fails. Instead of presenting readers with a more clear sense that this is simply an opinion being expressed, he attempts to gloss his essay with many quotes from credible historical and cultural figures. While this is convincing in some ways, it does not have the same down-to-earth style that is so convincing to the reader in Baker’s comparison of greed and envy.
Instead of presenting her comparative argument in a way that insinuates that what she is saying is a matter of complete fact, Baker opens her article with the blunt assertion of what she will be arguing as well as the explicit fact that this is personal opinion. In the opening lines, she says “If I had to choose between seven deadly sins, I would pick greed." This is a very clear and direct approach and instead of making the reader feel as though he or she must be on the defensive if there is no agreement on this matter, she at least makes it obvious that this is but one opinion that she will go on to defend.
This is quite a break from the way Bob Harvey begins his article. Instead of offering readers the sense that they reading an opinion, he uses several tactics to appear as though what he was saying was an absolute and universal truth. He begins with a factual and accurate definition of loyalty in an attempt to make his points credible and then immediately begins to back up his claims (which aren’t even made for several sentences) with quotes from ancient Roman senators and sports figures. In his essay entitled, “Loyalty: A Last Virtue; Me-First Attitude is Stripping Away Our Sense of Community" the author, Bob Harvey discusses the way the importance of loyalty is being reduced in our everyday lives. In order to highlight his points, he uses the quotes from famous people in both the modern and ancient world. While this has the ultimate effect of making the reader aware of the significant value that has been placed on loyalty throughout the course of human history, in many ways the author is not as effective as he could be because his ultimate message is lost within the abundance of quotes—other people’s thoughts which, in this essay, do not highlight his point, but rather bog it down because of excess quoting. Unlike the clear and unbroken tit for tat (and clearly opinion-based) work by Baker, this essay by Bob Harvey attempts to mask bias and opinion in actual fact and credibility.
Although this may seem to be a harsh attack on the essay by Harvey, it should be stated that there is nothing wrong with his opinion. Interestingly, unlike Baker, Harvey makes a point that is almost impossible to argue with. After all, who could argue that loyalty is a bad thing that should be banished? No one, of course. On that level, there is something about Harvey’s essay that is pointless. He is going to great lengths to convince (through the excessive use of “fact" and credible quotes) readers of something they already know—that loyalty is good. Baker, on the other hand, offers readers a challenge. By her bold, clipped sentence at the beginning that is unmistakable personal opinion, she is offering the chance for a duel. She offers rapid-fire support for how greed is better than envy and does not allow to stop to take a moment to think deeply. Instead, she almost lists reasons rather than ties them together in a prose-rich essay like Harvey tries to do. In short, although Harvey does have a more complex style, there is something deceitful about his essay because it is opinion cloaked in fact and furthermore, because it is stating an opinion that almost no one can argue with. Baker, on the other hand, challenges her readers and makes no bones about the fact that this is her opinion that she will defend to the end.