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This is to be a comparative analysis of Freud’s essay “Why War?” and Woolf’s essay “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid.” What is the overall argument of each essay? In what ways are the pieces in conversation? How does the style of each essay contribute to its argument? Finally, by way of attentive reading, demonstrate whether the respective essays’ arguments prove either cogent or weakened by eruptions of held though unacknowledged prejudicial attitudes. Your essay should bring together all of these considerations as the basis for the formation and unfolding of your own argument; in other words, avoid writing about these considerations in the linear fashion.

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Over the past few months there has been much half-witted, nuclear-tipped saber-rattling, accompanied by worldwide anxiety of the sort and scale not felt for a generation. When taken up in such a climate, Freud’s “Why War?” and Woolf’s “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid” manage to be, given their own times and places, somehow all at once inspiring, sobering, and damning: The better part of a century after they were written and we have yet failed to deliberately and wholly meet the challenges posed by their authors. In this brief discussion, it will be argued, seemingly contradictorily, that Freud’s and Woolf’s essays make much the same points and radically, crucially different points about solving war. Ultimately, however, this discussion’s key claim is that, when considered together, the essays provide a perplexing, dispiriting, and familiar explanation in response to the question driving Woolf, Einstein, Freud and most of the rest of us, both then and now: Why war?

Consider first the lines along which Freud’s and Woolf’s essays are largely in unison. An immediate point to note is that Freud spends considerable space discussing the theoretical ‘history’ of how states are formed as instruments of community force or might, with the intent of keeping in check the use of violence by any one strongman individual or group....
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