2017 – 7th Grade National 3rd Place Winner

Lauren Marquardt, Minnesota.

Whether the pen is mightier than the sword depends entirely on the definition of might. The pen is most highly rewarded for being a peacemaker. Many say that words are the more peaceful way to prove a point. Peace and might are two different things. Though it is commonly said that the sword represents violence, that is only one perspective; the sword is a symbol of many things including strength, courage, authority and justice. The sword is mightier than the pen.

Might is great or impressive power and strength. Though the pen does possess this trait, the sword has a more compelling version of this feature. For example, in 1812, British commanders would seize American merchant ships judging by their accent if they were British or American. Without any proof, they would seize sailors they claimed to be British and force them to fight in the British Navy. President Thomas Jefferson tried many peaceful (pen-like) methods including verbal warning and ceasing to trade with all foreign countries. This had multiple negative outcomes. The American economy fell, and the British then began to prowl our harbors to continue impressment. The President soon realized that the only way to fix this predicament was to fight back. The War of 1812 had a controversial and hazy outcome, but it proved that America could defend its borders and its national rights. The sword-like actions of President Jefferson are what made the British stop in their tracks.

The pen is considered a symbol of power in the way that you could daunt someone. Those words have immense influence when they have physical power to back them up. Words without a “sword” behind them fall flat. If a peasant trotted in front of a crowd and said, “I will send a thunderous army that will burn your homes to ashes and slaughter your flocks!” people would smirk and shake their heads. If a king said, “I will kill all of you!” people would tremble and plead for mercy. Though the peasant had stronger words, they were not acknowledged because he did not have power to support them. He did not have a sword behind his words.

The sword is also a symbol of justice and fairness. This is shown in the symbolism of Lady Justice holding a scale, sword, and wearing a blindfold. She represents a powerful system where criminals are punished regardless of their identity. The sword represents the power to enforce the law. Without the sword behind the laws, they would just be empty words without meaning to the citizens or leaders of that country.

If one were to consider whether the pen or the sword is mightier. One ought to consider the definition of mighty. The sword, not just a symbol of violence, is also a sign to many of strength, courage, authority, and justice. The sword gives words their power, therefore the pen has no might without the sword.


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