It is once again the time of year for state mandated writing samples. Fortunately this falls right in the middle of the French Revolution, and the kids have enough of an opinion on the guillotine to easily write a decent page. The writing prompt was “The guillotine was invented to be a humane form of execution. Do you think it was? Why or why not?”
Here are some of my favorite responses:
“Chopping someone’s head off is just disrespectful”
“It was really fast and that was a good thing because there were a lot of people that had to be executed.”
“There should have been another way to execute people, like poisoning them”
“Because people are cheering when for their death they will get hurt and sad.”
“It was almost like hanging somebody, but in this case they would lay them down and cut their heads off.”
“The crime has to fit the punishment, or whatever that thing is called that’s included in the Bill of Rights. But wait, that was France not America. French people got issues. Like who in the world chops someone’s head off. That disgusting. Seriously.”
“Unlike being drowned or lit up on fire, the guillotine was a quick and painless death. If you were to be drowned you could at least hold your breath til someone came and recued you, which probably no one did, and that really sucked.”
The assignment also produced the best piece of writing I have ever seen from a 10th grader:
"Lifeless bodies lying in heaps, severed heads on spikes for exhibition, and a cheering multitude glorifying the cold blooded Madame, La Guillotine.
The Guillotine was created during the French Revolution, and was the preferred 'humane' way to execute prisoners. Everyday the Guillotine was assembled, and every day many souls were striped of their earthly forms. Large crowds formed to see the executions and in an amount of minutes equal to the amount of heads on spikes that were later paraded around, the 'big show' was over.
A clean cut was the guillotine’s greatest attribute: painless and bloody. The guillotine was on of the most inhumane machines ever created. Many lost their lives, several were wrongly murdered, and all was done in an act of hypocrisy.
La Guillotine, a femme fatale of the ages. Dominated the French Revolution and brought 'justice' to those who lacked it. Her frigid, cruel, blade devoured millions of lives."