Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Literary Analyses

Warning: this is a rant.

I hate highly dislike reading books in English class. Because invariably, the teacher always makes us look for symbolism and foreshadowing and the HIDDEN MEANING of EVERYTHING. Interestingly enough, the hidden meanings are exactly the same from teacher to teacher to Sparknotes. And this is not a dig on Sparknotes, but please read this sentence: "Since Milkman is able to conceal his leg, he believes that he can also hide his emotional shortcomings." This is from the Sparknotes on Song of Solomon (by Toni Morrison--summer reading, woohoo).

Who decides what's right and what's wrong? That Milkman example I can kinda buy, though unwillingly. But half the time I feel like literary critics just want to sound smart. And honestly, the very existence of Sparknotes is PROOF that there are STRICTLY STANDARDIZED INTERPRETATIONS OF LITERATURE. Please.

This past year in English class, I remember reading about symbols. The passage said something along the lines of (and this is very much paraphrased), "Symbols should be obvious. A reader should not impose symbolism. It is better to miss symbols than to assign a meaning to an inordinate number of objects." Thank you, English textbook -_-

I think books should be for pleasure. If people want their stories to have moral values, they should be obvious enough for any reader to pick up.

And what's the point of symbols anyway? Why does it matter what First Corinthians and Magdalene called Lena's artificial roses symbolize? They play their part in story, that's all. Of what importance is the fake love, other than what can already be seen by Milkman's behavior?

And this is not even a rant about Song of Solomon--it's just on my mind because I've been reading it for school.

Literature is an art. And art is extremely subjective. I mean, this is pretty much like the artsy people who stand in front of a canvas of blobs and streaks and say, "That green dot represents peace, but its small size and position in the corner mean that it's relatively unfounded" when there's a wide green slash through the center of the canvas.

But then there are books like Orwell's Animal Farm, where, if you know your history, there's not way you can miss the parallelism. I hated could not stand the book. Do you really not have anything else to write about? You have to just take history and play it out on a farm? Furthermore, pigs are my favorite animals. A complete non sequitur, but still. (However, I very much enjoyed 1984.)

Ahem. And now I am done.

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