Literary Criticism as a Study with Its Functions
Literary criticism is a hard study to grasp because of the numerous explanations that must make sense for the critic’s view to be comprehensible to readers. Understanding the role of the critic is vital. The critic is second most important aspect, next to the author and the work itself. In this course, we have read many critics, that all have valid points. The critic’s prospective is the second most important element of literary criticism, next to the author and the work itself. In this course, we have read many critics’ opinions who all have valid points. The critics are what make the works understandable sometimes. Most, if not all, of the critics have particularly interesting ideas on the purpose of the critic. The materials in this course give the reader many things to ponder, concerning the role of the critic. In class, we discoursed how nothing is original, and one must agree with that statement; however, the critic’s opinion is valid in the sense that it is told from a different angle or perspective. This reader feels that the critics can be harsh in some cases, but the harshness may be necessary. The purpose of the critic is not always viewed as black and white; but may be gray by nature. The uneasiness about the critic is so complex that it forces the readers to rely on other critics’ profound knowledge of the material. Literary scholars Matthew Arnold and Alexander Pope both have differing views concerning the necessity of the critic, his role, and his power that he wields over the work/text. While Pope and Arnold are excellent critics, they each bring something different to the playing field. Arnold brings the idea of disinterestedness and Pope outlines the true characteristics of a “good” critic.
Although, both critics have valuable and necessary opinions regarding the critic, Matthew Arnold’s familiarity and concern for the critic is the most stunning to the reader. The essay “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” he outlines the strong feelings that he has against the critical power, he believes “everybody, too, would be willing to admit, as a general proposition, that the critical faculty is lower than the inventive,” with that being said, one derives from the statement his true feelings toward the critic (Arnold 696). Even though, Arnold later discusses the requirements one should possess to be a true critic, the main thing he must possess is curiosity, “But criticism, real criticism, is essentially the exercise of this very quality” (702). Curiosity is a taboo virtue to possess in the American culture, at times, while in many other cultures it is seen as a great attribute to have. Arnold even agrees with the notion that the word “has in our language no sense of the kind, no sense but a rather bad and disparaging one” (702). The idea that the word curiosity has a negative connation speaks volumes of his innate feelings toward the critic’s opinion. It seems his negative idea of curiosity stems from the danger of lurking too hard. He also argues the idea of free play, which the critic must have. We discussed in class what free play actually consists of, which is one must permit the material to flow freely through the mind in order to have a precise or non-biased point of view.
However, now that the idea of free play is known, Arnold introduces the concept of disinterestedness, which is “keeping aloof from what is called ‘the practical view of things’; by resolutely following the law of its own nature, which is to be a free play of the mind on all subjects which it touches,” the idea is great because it gives the critic something to hold on to while criticizing the work (703). The main concept of disinterestedness, is that one must be extremely proficient, in order to understand and make a proper judgment regarding the material in question. A great indication from Arnold’s essay is the theory of outside influences ruining the critic’s judgment because it brings preconceived notions to the work. While Arnold believes the creative power is greater than critical power, he assures the critic that he must present “fresh and true ideas” (712). Arnold concludes, “to have the sense of creative activity is great happiness and the great proof of being alive, and it is not denied to criticism to have it; but then criticism must be sincere, simple, flexible, ardent, ever widening its knowledge,” and with this conclusion the reader is forced to dig deep inside themselves to understand the logic Arnold presents (713).
While confusing the reader, “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” offers great insight into the realm of criticism and the role of the critic. Arnold’s concept of curiosity is valid and it makes sense because without it, one may not have the mettle to want to understand the material. Taking Arnold’s curiosity approach, one must try to understand his essay. Although the essay is methodical, it lacks in simplifying the concept of the critic. Arnold states the critic’s job is to make the material understandable to the simple man. Well if that is the case, he lacks in that area. One cannot fathom how he can issue guidelines on what his fellow critics should do, when he clearly fails to follow them at times. The guidelines appear to be simple, but somehow an intelligent man, such as himself, could not follow them and that is astonishing. The reader looks to Arnold to make the idea of criticism more relatable, but he fails and it causes one to criticize him. Maybe Arnold’s intentions are to bring out the inner critic in his readers. If so, he does a magnificent job in making this reader question his creditability and intent.
Using Arnold’s logic, I can analyze a movie entitled, For Colored Girls, in which I witnessed the intersected lives of nine black women, who all have tremendous turmoil they must overcome. Each woman has a name and a color. The character in question is the Lady in Red. The movie is powerful and yet one of the most criticized movies, in the African-American culture because of the taboo characteristics the characters exhibit. Using Arnold’s idea of criticism opens up the realm of the creative power; I can acknowledge the need for the art. The movie provides an insight into the troubled world of the black woman, and with that insight, criticism is bound to occur. The Lady in Red is married and her husband is a “down low” man. I cannot fathom how she did not know that he was attracted to men, but she knew he was having an affair. Nevertheless, I am forced to realize that I must stay disinterested, and while doing that, I will realize there is more to the wife’s logic. While her husband does cheat on her, she refuses to leave him. Upon discovering, they both have AIDS, she ponders on the idea of leaving him, but she sticks by his side. Keeping the disinterested view in mind, I can only conclude that the love within the marriage is stronger and deeper than one can imagine. Knowing that love is strong and flexible, it allows me to understand her reaction. I cannot help but to contend that Arnold’s theory concerning disinterestedness does work with a little time and dedication taken to understand the intent of the material being analyzed.
However, Alexander Pope also has great ideas concerning criticism in “An Essay on Criticism.” The essay is in the form of a poem and it takes some time to analyze it. Nonetheless, once the process begins, it is accurate in its intentions. Pope’s intentions are simple, in the sense that his points are thorough. The main entity a reader can take from Pope is that judgment is universal, and with that being the case, no one critic is wrong. Nevertheless, he does mention one cannot judge without knowing the whole truth. On page 349, Pope states, “Most have the Seeds of Judgment in their Mind / Nature affords at least a glimm’ring Light; / The Lines tho’ touch’d but faintly are drawn right” (lines 20-22). The aforementioned statement allows the critic to realize it is okay to judge a body of work. He later indicates the idea of nature as the source of art, so therefore, art can be judged, but it must be done properly. Pope also discusses how the failure to learn can damage ones perception:
A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again. 215-218
By stating the above, he assures the reader that human nature is imperfect. The principles drawn from the quote are it is extremely dangerous to assume one knows a lot, when they know very little, because it can ruin ones judgment.
However, Pope also assures the reader that taste is determines how one judges something. Additionally, Pope warns the reader to be careful because her perception can be misperceived. In a scholar’s true fashion, Pope delivers the following message:
‘Tis best sometimes your Censure to restrain,
And charitably let the Dull be vain:
Your Silence there is better than your Spite,
For who can rail so long as they can write? 596-599
The message allows the reader to understand that is it better to be silent than to embarrass oneself. The lack of knowledge one presents will do more harm than good. Pope also outlines the general differences between good and bad critics. A good critic knows that he may not necessarily be fond of the material, but they can appreciate the value of the work. Whereas, the bad critic is one who thinks he knows something, but he lacks complete understanding of the material, yet he continues to place judgment.
Using Pope’s method of criticism, I can re-evaluate the movie For Colored Girls. When I first saw the movie, the points the director was transmitting were difficult to understand. Upon completing the movie, I discovered the movie was actually a play from the 1970’s entitled For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Isn’t Enuf, and I researched to learn more history regarding it. After I learned the history behind the project, I understood the intentions of it. When I watched it for the first time, my perception of the movie was biased, and I believed that it was horrible because of the intersecting plots. Nevertheless, I discovered that the production used the technique “six degrees of separation,” and I began to understand why. According to Alexander Pope, I am a “good” critic because I was willing to learn more about the production before I judged it. Because I am an inquisitive person, being a good critic may just be second nature. If I had taken the” bad” critic approach to the production, the wonderful piece of art would have been damned in my mind due to lack of knowledge. Being a “good” critic allows me to appreciate art and to grow from the lesson that art has taught.
Although literary criticism is a hard study to comprehend, it teaches the reader to appreciate art. Without critics, the world of literature is dull and sometimes disconcerting. Albeit, some critics’ investigations are bursting with harshness and lack of appreciation for the texts, but Alexander Pope and Matthew Arnold differ from the ordinary. Both of the critic’s ideas come full circle, in the sense that the reader now understands more than she did before. Nonetheless, the purpose of the critic is not always viewed as black and white: It may be gray by nature, but Arnold and Pope present their readers with knowledge that make the concept of the critic more understandable. Each critic leaves an indelible mark in the reader’s mind. Matthew Arnold’s mark is the concept of disinterestedness and Alexander Pope’s is the idea of a “good” critic. One must contend that without such scholars as, Arnold and Pope, literary criticism would remain a mystery to readers. Arnold and Pope make the uneasiness about the critic dissipate enormously.
Moral Ambiguity in Frankenstein
Although each character goes through completely different experiences Alex’s, Meursault’s, and Victor’s moral ambiguity forces them each to make unethical decisions that destroy their own lives and those around them.
Due to his lack of morality, Alex acts in a violent and destructive manor that leads to multiple deaths and had the potential to destroy his own life and sanity. Alex feeds off of sex and violence, which in most cases is extremely unethical on its own. Alex has no fear for society’s standards therefore he acts without thinking. There are multiple instances through the novel where Alex asks the simple question “What’s it going to be then, eh?” (3.1.1) reflecting he is unable to distinguish right from wrong. Alex is extremely violent, demanding and offensive with his “droogs” Georgie, Pete, and Dim. All of his friends take a lot of heat from Alex because they know he is the so-called boss, the one in charge. When Alex feels threatened by Georgie over who should be a leader of their group, he attacks all of the droogs by physically punching and cutting them. After the incident Alex regains control and decides to cause even more havoc. He feels that the boys should break into an elderly women’s home. Alex rapes and kills the many women he encounters throughout the novel due to his lack of moral standards. Ultimately, these actions lead to his arrest during the altercation with the old woman. Alex has unfortunately “(deprived himself) of the ability to make an ethical choice” (2.3.13). Alex has reached a point at which he can no longer make the choice between good and evil.
While most would commit a crime and chose to hide, Alex goes against the norm, and feels the need to express his feelings through music. His actions and interest in the music acts as an outward and positive seeming outlook on the horrible sins he commits. Alex has an obsession with classical music and has grown to associate his criminal activity with the music. Alex’s love of classical music is indivisible from his love of violence, and he rarely thinks of one without the other. Alex’s struggle with moral ambiguity intervenes with the government’s process to fix him. By using classical music to try to reverse his actions and temptations the government is attempting to get inside of his head and take the morally ambiguous character and turn him into a decent human being. Luckily for Alex and society he transforms by the end of the novel. As for his younger self, he is an extremely volatile character that destroyed many lives around him and had the potential to destroy his own.
Victor Frankenstein creates the creature using pieces of dead corpses. Although his cause and determination to create a blurred line between life and death the consequences were far worse than he could have ever imagined. Had Victor been able to make the moral decision in regards to his creation the story may not have unfolded in the gloomy way it did. Victor’s moral ambiguity for leaving his “child” and not upholding the proper responsibilities of a parent led to fatalities throughout the whole novel. It has been said “treat a person ill, and he will become wicked.” By abandoning the creature Victor leaves the creature to fend for himself and the creature turns to a life seeking revenge on his creator. The creature kills numerous characters and becomes what some would consider “wicked.” Unfortunately the creature was born with the mind of a baby so he does not know that his actions are turning him to a life of murder. When the creature says “My protectors had departed and had broken the only link that held me to the world…feelings of revenge…filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them,” (16.12) this is a direct response to Victor’s inability to make choices based on right from wrong because he left the creature. If Victor had moral standards he would not have left the creature alone and his family members would not have been killed. If you deprive someone from society then they will become selfish. Victor was extremely selfish by leaving the creature, therefore he is responsible for the deaths of Justine, Elizabeth, his brother etc. Victor made an extremely unethical decision by abandoning and neglecting his responsibilities of a parent because it caused the creature to act violently and seek revenge without knowing better. At several points in the novel Victor can even be considered the monster because it is his unethical decisions that cause the most trouble. Victor knows that he is “dependent on none and related to none” (15.5) yet is still unable to decipher between right from wrong. Victor had the choice once he created the creature of the path the two could go down. Victor did not choose a life of nature and care but life of isolation and destruction due to his moral ambiguity.
Right from the first page Meursault’s moral ambiguity stops him from showing compassion toward his own mother, even during the sad time of her passing. Meursault explains, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know”(1.1.1) which is completely immoral and unusual. A typical person would not have the same reaction to a passing. At a funeral there are certain moral standards that society has set in order to keep balance and normality. Meursault goes against every single one of these by smoking a cigarette, falling asleep, and by not shedding a tear he shows his distance and lack of care for his mother. He is considered an outsider, a stranger, to the rest of the characters and this leads him to treat people without the respect they deserve. Meursault was “surprised they all shook (his) hand … as a single word had somehow brought us closer together” (1.1.18) proving he is an outsider and has not made an effort before. It would be polite to care about making relationships with people but Meursault’s moral ambiguity stands in the way of his decision-making. When Marie asks him to marry her he is indifferent and acts as though nothing important or monumental is happening in his life. In Meursault’s eyes the truth is that everyone has to die eventually so why should he care? There is no right or wrong answer to Marie’s question according to Meursault so he asks as if it does not even matter. Meursault does not believe that love is anything important. What he does not understand is his honesty is overpowered by his ignorance and he cannot attach and maintain emotions with his actions and words.
After being sentenced to the death penalty Meursault even goes as far as to say that he wishes people surrounded him so they could watch. “I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate” (123). He is free to live in his own world away from the standards of society and the care that most people have. Death is inevitable according to Meursault so he has no fear and no drive to act in regards to right or wrong. His actions prove his indifference and he is happy knowing that his does not have to care.
Oliver Twist: a Story About Real Life
Literary Criticism of Oliver Twist
Charles Dickens shows notable amounts of originality and morality in his novels, making him one of the most renowned novelists of the Victorian Era and immortalizing him through his great novels and short stories. One of the reasons his work has been so popular is because his novels reflect the issues of the Victorian era, such as the great indifference of many Victorians to the plight of the poor. The reformation of the Poor Law 1834 brings even more unavoidable problems to the poor. The Poor Law of 1834 allows the poor to receive public assistance only through established workhouses, causing those in debt to be sent to prison. Unable to pay debts, new levels of poverty are created. Because of personal childhood experiences with debt, poverty, and child labor, Dickens recognizes these issues with a sympathetic yet critical eye. Dickens notices that England’s politicians and people of the upper class try to solve the growing problem of poverty through the Poor Laws and what they presume to be charitable causes, but Dickens knows that these things will not be successful; in fact they are often inhumane. Dickens’ view of poverty and the abuse of the poor can be seen in Oliver Twist, a novel about an orphan, brought up in a workhouse and poverty to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the upper class people. Oliver Twist shows Dickens’ perspective of society in a realistic, original manner, which hope to change society’s views by “combining a survey of the actual social scene with a metaphoric fiction designed to reveal the nature of such a society when exposed to a moral overview” (Gold 26). Dickens uses satire, humorous and biting, through pathos, and stock characters in Oliver Twist to protest what the English believe are charitable solutions to the increasing poverty rates, extensive child labor.
Dickens witnesses an injustice happening in England’s workhouses and works to make society’s views of the abuse of children change, but “by this time, the horrors of the workhouse were so established in the English scene that they were destined to become part of the British social legend…total degradation” (Gold 25). Because of the Poor Law of 1834, the young children suffered more than the able bodied benefited so through Dickens’ career, he becomes preoccupied with the use and abuse of the Poor Laws. Through biting satire, stock characters, humor and pathos, Dickens explores the relationships between the paupers and the masters of the workhouse in Oliver Twist. Satire is used to portray the cruelty, sufferings, and injustice in the workhouses especially through Mr. Bumble, Mrs. Corney, and Oliver, stock characters that play a significant role in the message of child abuse in the workhouses. Through these characters and their actions, Dickens is able to reveal how ordinary workhouse masters treat their paupers. Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney are stereotypes of the heartless employers who overuse their power on the workhouse children. Mr. Bumble is the corrupt representative of an evil, unjust system but in the novel, Dickens also shows humor through this character. Mr. Bumble brings humor through many petty actions such as the courtship between Mrs. Corney and him. That scene is a humorous interval, which contrasts with life in the workhouse, but Dickens believes that humor gives a more detached moral understanding that horror could not produce. This episode shows that the happenings in the workhouse and the actions of Mr. Bumble are not a laughing matter because while Mr. Bumble is frolicking and getting fat, the many young children at the workhouses are suffering and starving in the bitter cold. The humor sets off the darkness and despair of the workhouse, by showing the different lights of the situation; moreover, increasing the awareness of the circumstances that the children are in. Insight on the abuse of children is also shown through the matron of the workhouse, Mrs. Corney. As ordinary masters of the
workhouse will conduct themselves, Dickens shows how insignificant the paupers are thought of to be through Mrs. Corney as she thanks God that she has a warm home to go to and wishes the starving paupers to be put out of their misery. Mrs. Corney’s duty as the matron of a workhouse is to provide assistance to the poor but instead of doing her actual task, she sits in front of the fireplace not wanting to suffer like the poor. It is ironic how Mrs. Corney takes great care of her cats, like they are human but treats the paupers like animals. Because Mrs. Corney and Mr. Bumble are stock characters, they are used to mock the workhouse system while revealing the horrors of child abuse in workhouses. Dickens also shows biting satire of the actual workhouse and the duties that are preformed in it to further impart his message to end child abuse in workhouses. Mr. Bumble’s workhouse has young boys picking rope hemp for many excruciating hours until their fingers bleed, which is not uncommon. After a long day’s work, one is to expect a hearty meal to replenish energy but food is scarce to those living in the workhouses and only small portions of watery gruel are given to the growing boys. Meals are made insufficient to repel the paupers from wanting public assistance and Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney take great advantage of their power of being able to “aid” the paupers. On a generous day, Mrs. Corney gives away twenty quartern loaves and a cheese and a half to the entire workhouse expecting the paupers to be ecstatic. Because a bit of bread is given to starving children, the masters want to be put upon a pedestal but neither of them is willing to spare few cents to fill the paupers sufficiently, even though they live comfortably. Not only are the boys seriously hurt and malnutritioned, but they are also stunted in growth, physically and mentally. Dickens wanted to show that many of these children become severely ill and still, they have to work; numerous children often die because of this. Ill paupers are not cared for; instead, Mr. Bumble sends them away in open carts during rainy weather because it is cheaper to move them then it is to bury them. Mr. Bumble is always seeking new ways to cut costs in caring for the paupers. Because of his stingy, heartless actions, through Mr. Bumble, “all selfish dispensers of public charity stand condemned” (Neill 170). Because of the biting satire, Dickens is really able to get to the core of child abuse in the workhouse to eventually open all of society to the inhumane acts of the workhouses.. No other literary device or writing style can explain the horrors of the workhouse as Dickens does with biting satire.
Dickens also widely uses pathos in his novels to create a flow of emotions to get into the feeling of the event occurring. Pathos is shown in Oliver to increase the emotion and feelings that this young character has to endure, his unknown identity and harsh childhood. Diane Yancey says, “Dickens never hesitates to exaggerate society’s shortcomings and play on people’s emotions in order to gain sorrow, sympathy and support for his views” (95). Oliver’s most emotional scene, asking for a little more gruel in the workhouse but getting a harsh beating for his courageous act exemplifies the horrors of working in that place. Dickens uses Oliver’s actions to create pity and with this, he is better able to show the reality of workhouses in the Victorian scene. Oliver challenges in his desperation all the inhuman repression and cruelty of a great force. This scene is a symbol of all the poignant cries of the starved and unloved in the cruel world. Dickens use of pathos explains the situation of the workhouse in a more intimate, emotional manner because the feelings that Oliver shows can be pitied. Dickens’ message of child abuse in the workhouses is greatly shown through pathos because there is a connection of sympathy to Oliver. For this reason Dickens is able to get across his views on the mistreatment of children in the workhouses.
Apprenticeships are supposedly good opportunities to learn a trade while escaping the horrors of the workhouse life but it is another scenario of child abuse. Through stock characters such as Mr. Gamfield, an employer who exploits those under his care, and Oliver, Dickens portrays the harm of being under the care and custody of a stranger. Mr. Gamfield, a chimneysweep, is a nasty, cold-hearted man who has killed many of his apprentices by them being smothered in the chimney. This cruel man wants to obtain Oliver as his new apprentice and through the brief relationship between these two stock characters, Dickens is able to show some of the lowly things that employers are willing to stoop to for money. The parish board members know that Oliver will be most likely sent to his death if he leaves with the chimneysweep because Mr. Gamfield has already lost four apprentices. Rather than keeping another troublesome boy in the parish, they give Mr. Gamfield a lesser amount of money to take Oliver into his care. Mr. Gamfield searches for apprentices out of workhouses because he knows that he will not have to spend much money caring for their necessities such as food. Because of the actions of Mr. Gamfield towards Oliver, Dickens shows the inhumane treatments that Oliver may have had to face. These stock characters gives understanding to the terrible consequences of being under the care of a ruthless employer and through the characters, Dickens is able to satirize the actions of employers preying on children to be apprenticed to them.
In the apprenticeship, Dickens uses Oliver to give actions of pathos to escape being apprenticed to Mr. Gamfield. Oliver’s incessant pleading, desperate look, and courage to approach the board gives light to how terrible Oliver would be treated. The pathos of Oliver standing up to the parish board pleading not to be sent to Mr. Gamfield is a powerful scene because not wanting to be apprenticed to such a terrible man presents great feeling of pity and sorrow. Knowing that a poor, innocent boy will most likely go to his death because of the faulty judgement of those in power shows the difficulties of the children trying to survive in an uncompassionate world. Pathos is also used to give readers a sense of pity to the children that are not as fortunate as Oliver is to escape being sent to an employer to be worked to death.
Dickens wants to show how horrendous it is to be working to your death and as Norman Page,
says the significance of this scene is to “allude to the plight of the climbing boys, another contemporary scandal” (88). Because of pathos, Dickens illustrates an image of sadness and sympathy for the children under harmful apprenticeships hoping that this will open the eyes of those who do not see how inhumane being under the custody of someone like Mr. Gamfield will be.
Apprenticeships, even in the care of a good-hearted master is inhumane. Another set of stock characters and biting satire against apprenticeships show that even the best apprenticeships are cruel. At the kind Mr. Sowerberry’s undertaking business, it seems as if Oliver can have a better start at life but all children are treated with no dignity or respect. Dickens uses biting satire against apprenticeships when Mr. Gamfield feeds Oliver scraps of meat that the dog refused to eat to get into the feel of an inhumane apprenticeship. The child abuse in these cases can go far beyond that to being forced to sleep in the damp cellar with a coffin in the center of the room as a bed. Oliver, without any other choices, is impelled to live like an animal, sleeping in the damp darkness, eating leftovers. The dog is living better than Oliver is and through this biting satire, Dickens effectively portrays the devastating life that an apprentice has to withstand. Beatings at Mr. Sowerberry’s often happen because of false accusations that others place on this poor boy which shows that he is treated harshly. Oliver, as the scapegoat of many situations repeatedly has his clothes torn and faced bruised and scratched, giving him an angry flush. This cruel taunting and treatment forces Oliver to run away into the cold, bitter world with no one to protect him. This is common behavior of masters and children of apprenticeships because child labor is efficient and cheap. Dickens, through biting satire, wants to show that when getting into an apprenticeship, the child is susceptible to horrendous acts. In a way, this scene shows pathos because it brings forth many emotions that add to Dickens’ message of reform. Knowing that anyone has to endure what Oliver has gone through will arouse pity and even anger. Dickens gets to the heart and reality of the apprenticeships to show what goes through the mind of an employer. This quality of exactness in the novel further exemplifies the hardships of children growing up in poverty. Apprenticeships are targeted a great deal in Oliver Twist because it is one of the inhumane systems to have more work done for less money. Unfortunately, “Victorian employers not as sensitive as Dickens to the physical and emotional damage child labor could inflict sees only the benefits to be had in hiring children” (Yancey 103). Child abuse is apparent in the apprenticeships despite the fact that the master may have a kind heart. This goes to show that child labor is thought to be a money saving way to expand business, but also this expresses the need for Dickens’ message of social reform. Through his exact accounts of what actually goes on in those places, Dickens is able to satirize the conditions of apprenticeships.
Through biting and humorous satire, Dickens is able reveal his thoughts against the abuse of children in the work places. Dickens “made his mark in 19th century England with humor, creating a cast of characters that exemplified all that he loved, satirized, and hated about society” (Bender 15). Charles Dickens is able to observe the abuse of child labor without being blinded by the laws that are made to justify abuse. Through Oliver Twist, Dickens presents the reality of the happenings to children in workhouses and apprenticeships where “some are killed off in the name of charity and others grow fat in the name of parish service and those who survive the workhouse are made slaves to assist in the burying the one group and fattening the other…great many birds…killed by one stony law” (Gold 41). Dickens observes the system of child labor and rather than taking a subtle stand, he works though his novels to open the eyes of society on issues pertaining to the poor. Dickens spends much of his creative life trying to reprimand society’s treatment of children and does so by showing the existence of child labor in his novel. Because of his great use of satire, Dickens goes far beyond the surface of child labor to extending his depiction of poverty to the abuse in workhouses and apprenticeships. He gives voice to the many children who have gone through life unheard, opening society’s eyes to the inhumane conditions that the poor children are forced to live through. Dickens does so by writing a “story of the routine cruelty exercised upon the nameless, almost faceless submerged of Victorian society” (Wilson 129). Dickens’ work of social reform is not limited to Oliver Twist for “a great and universal pity for the poor and downtrodden has been awaken in him which is to provide the
driving power behind his pen in book after book” (Neill 168). Much of Dickens’ literary career is devoted to create awareness of the reality that is being overlooked by many. He attempts to enlighten everyone with how the world should be, a place in perfect harmony. Truly, Dickens did not write his novel in a dream world, but rather showed the inevitable truth if society does not change.
The Mohicans: Past and Present
When we finished the book the Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, most of us will wonder that can the Mohicans tribe still thriving when Chingachgook was the last one? That pushed me to do research about Mohicans and I found that they are still in existed. How amazing that the Mohicans people, today are known as Stockbridge-Munsee, is living in Bowler, Wisconsin. Their name meaning is “from the waters that are never still” (Stockbridge Indian Massacre par. #2) from the word Muheconneok. The Mohicans tribe have a lot of fantastic things to get to know, such as their culture, descendants, and lifestyle. Let’s take a trip to more understand about the Mohican people today.
First of all, I would like to introduce about the most amazing thing we would to know about them is the Mohican culture. After the Mohican tribe helped the British in the Indian and French Wars, the Mohican people were reduced from 1782 to 138 and they merged to Oneida people (Mahican-Native Americans of the Northeast Woodlands, par. #3). In the early 21st century, they estimate there are approximately 3,500 Mohican descendants (Mohican People, par. #4). In the Mohican tribe, their leader had a strong political sachem. The leader will be supported by a tribal council to run the tribe. To make their religions accepted by the Christians live among them, they had to fight to have their right in their worship.
The next interesting thing about the Mohican people is their descendants. In the past, the Mohican people spoke Mohican language, but it does not continue today. Now they all speak English. The last Mohican Indians person could speak their own language was around 1933. The Mohican Indian kids in the past did not have a lot of chores and played less, but now, their children go to school, helping around their parents, and play as every child in the world. The Mohican women can do what they desire nowadays, but in the past, they had to stay at home, work on farm, take care their kids, and support for the Mohican men that went to hunt or war.
Three members of the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Council
The last amazing thing about Mohican people is the changing in their lifestyle. “The Mohicans did not live in tepees. They lived in small round houses called wigwams. Some Mohicans built rectangular lodges instead” (Mohican Indian Fact Sheet, par. #10). Most Mohicans do not live in that wigwams anymore. They live in apartment or house like us. Sometimes the Native Americans built wigwams not for living, but for connecting with their heritage. They hunted and farmed for living in the past, but now they can work in most of work fields. They made their own tools for hunting and farming form wood. Their clothing were made from finely tanned animal skins. They painted their face, women wore skirts, and men wore breechclouts. Mohican people used canoe to travel along the Hudson River and dogs as pack animals.
The Mohican tribes fortified villages
In conclusion, Mohican people have amazing history. They have changed and adapted very well. Mohicans culture, descendants, and lifestyle are three of the things makes their stories more interesting. It is so great to discover about one of the most famous tribes in Native American Indians. When we know more about them, we can feel their spirit and culture. Mohican people have their own stories and they are proud of that. Mohicans’ spirit still stay strong in Mohican descendants today. That helps them move up and become stronger and stronger day by day.
Comparison of Structuralism and Feminism Literary Theory Schools
Introduction In this essay I will give a brief introduction of two significant schools of literary theory: structuralism and feminism, explore the influence structuralism has on feminism, then evaluate the importance of two schools from literary criticism aspect.
Structuralism Before Structuralism came into being in 20th century, criticism was said to be “a sorry unscientific mess that needed to be smartly tidied up” (Eagleton, 1999). Canadian Northrop Frye provides a plausible solution to systemise criticism and banish all biased judgement and gossip in his Anatomy of Criticism, believing that there were certain objective laws working within literary works of different genres, forming the basic structure of modes, archetypes, myths and genres. Aside from Frye, the most significant theory came from Ferdinand de Saussure, the founder of modern structural linguistics, who views language as a system of sign: the signifier and the signified. Word is regarded as the signifier and the meaning is the signified. The relation between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary. There are no pre-existing entities to words. Literary structuralism is an attempt to apply this theory to literature, focusing on the internal relation of signs, how they combine and form meaning. Meaning changes when the use of language is structurally shifted. Meaning is created by internal relationship, meaning is not stable, predetermined entity.
Structuralism views literature as aesthetic object in a more systematic and scientific way, (Eagleton, 1999) analyse with linguistic approach. (Chinade, 2012), so that an objective literary system could be established. It should be closed, uninfluenced by external values, and materials. To maintain the discipline of this objective system, subjective value judgement should be avoided. Nothing supports the meaning other than the literary text itself. The system should involve no history other than literary history, no author or social background. The idea of structuralist literary analysis is grounded on textual evidence. This have backed some theorist that positioned the author is dead and the reader should be dismissed. No single structuralism is alone as a literary theory, but “there is a range of theoretical positions and arguments, all in support of the idea that the literary text as a product of language remains the final arbiter rather than the author or the social circumstances surrounding the production of the cultural product.” (Chinade, 2012) It gave rise to post-structuralism. The movement from structuralism to post-structuralism is marked by Roland Barthes’s famous essay and literary theory “The Death of Author”. Structuralism helped promote the notion of the death of man. Traditional enlightenment believes that man is the centre of cultural process- a creature that can exert domination over it environment through the exercise of reason. Whereas the death of man is the realization that man is not by its own will; we are controlled by systems. (Appignanesi 2001: 75) 3. Feminism Feminism is a social and political theory, what distinguishes it from other theories is its unrivalled view of traditional ideology. It involves a critique of sexism, a postulation of phallocentric and male superiority. (Beasley, 1999) Before feminism, the entire western mainstream philosophy and history are based on masculine point of view, while feminine point of view- be it writer or reader- was largely absent. Different periods of feminist movement are addressed as waves.
The first-wave feminism is a political movement started from 19th century, aiming to reform legal inequalities, mainly for woman gaining the right to vote. That is what feminism was at the very beginning: woman’s right movement. Later, the proposition expended, and theories develop around it. What happens between theoretical text and literature is not just one-sidedly applying theory to an abject text to demonstrate theory’s intricacy but a discourse transacts between the two. (Rooney, 2006) As social movement, feminism uncover many cases of gender inequality and help making the public aware of this issue. As a literary criticism, feminism is used to access gender perspective. (Rooney, 2006) Originally the premise of feminist literary studies is that women read, and their reading would bring new perspective into centuries-long phallocentric society and academic field. Feminist literary theory maintains that women’s reading is momentous, intellectually, politically, poetically; women’s readings signify. The historical background that originate this idea is the time when women’s reading was of no significance and women reading was opposed and considered as social hazard. The rise of the English novel, in the eighteenth century, “was accompanied by a stream of diatribes opposed to women’s reading” (Rooney, 2006), fearing that it would upset domestic order, and novel might have an impact on women’s virtues of chastity and their docility toward patriarchal authority. Nevertheless that time when women was scarcely educated, not to mention to have their voice be heard in the public was long gone, now feminism as criticism of literary works is no longer gender exclusive. And even the concept of gender has been deconstructed during post-structuralism, which will be discussed later in this essay. Feminism after structuralism found itself in serious dilemma when it tried to deconstruct itself, which shook the very foundation of feminism. Any attempt on “what is woman”, whether from the aspect of biology, society or culture, fell into the sexist concept of generic woman being an object to be passively defined.
The subjectivity of woman was undefined and indefinable. (Beasley, 1999) These woman’s right activists and feminists are taking gender as a position from which to act politically, yet gender is not natural, biological, universal, ahistorical, nor essential. Any generalization in their statement, either about women themselves or address and accusation toward the other party/sex easily leads to controversy, not only because generalization is often subjective but also because this crime of generalization, this judgemental pointing finger toward a specific group of people, is exactly what women strive to resist within the structure of patriarchal society. Just as women should not be defined as weak and as oftentimes victims of crimes, nor all men should be accused of being potential rapists. Nonetheless, certain phenomenon is in truth relevant to gender. As the result, feminists need to explore the possibility of a theory of the gendered subject that does not slide into essentialism. In Linda Alcoff’s dissertation Cultural Feminism versus Post-Structuralism: The Identity Crisis in Feminist Theory in 1988, she resolved that “positionality” was the new way feminist could make a stand. From an experiential viewpoint, “the very subjectivity (or subjective experience of being a woman) and the very identity of women are constituted by women’s position.” (Alcoff, 1988) Their values are interpreted and constructed from their positional perspective. And “identity of women is the product of her own interpretation and reconstruction of her history, as mediated through the cultural discursive context to which she has access.” By adopting an empirical perspective, feminist can avoid generalization of themselves yet still articulate their needs and experiences of difficulties. Strikingly, this dissertation from 30 years ago perfectly grasps the essence of dilemma feminists find themselves in nowadays, and the reasons behind endless debates at online social medias. At the end of her dissertation, she then set the future course of feminism based on her findings and stated: The demands of millions of women for child care, reproductive control, and safety from sexual assault can reinvoke the cultural assumption that these are exclusively feminine issue and can reinforce the right-wing’s reification of gender difference unless and until we can formulate a political program that can articulate these demands in a way that challenges rather than utilizes sexist discourse. Nowadays, feminism thrive for diversity, multiplicity (as opposed to ) and gender equality which is not only for woman but for man as well. In second wave French feminist Luce Irigary’s renown book This Sex Which Is Not One, she asserted that “if their aim were simply to reverse the order of things, even supposing this to be possible, history would repeat itself in the long run, would revert to sameness: to phallocratism.” (1977) 4. Conclusion Following the rise of New Criticism, the age of 20th century is a prominent time in which many literary theories flourished. The appearance of structuralism was needed as the society grew more industrialized and scientific. It allowed a broader, more structural view when examining literature, moreover, not as an aesthetic object but as a social practice. (Eagleton, 1996)
Extended Project Qualification (epq)
A Virtue of withdrawalMessage in honour of the late Rt Hon Sir Samir Zubair – It is indebted to you, dear grandfather and honor’d Sir, that the sentences pronounced through my mouth, and proceedeth from the ink of my pen, are presented in the mode that they are. You had obliged me, when you lived, to teachings of your idiosyncratic flavour of writing, which I have thence recruited into the fabrication of my own works. To think what good fortune I had to be subjected with such spirited teachings of your lessons in literary is most pleasing to the mind. Many a times while writing this have you occupied moments of my thoughts. Thereof, aligned with your good opinions on the matter, and the ornateness of your literary ways, I dedicate unto you, this Virtue of Withdrawal.
Abstract – The question this disquisition is to treat be; how has it come forth to be that Britain is a beneficiary to her own liberalisation, through her withdrawal from the European Union? In sum, it is my intention to survey, and whence write, on all factors which may enter into account when postulating in favour for the said question above, and indeed when postulating to the contrary too.
A point of order – Before this literature shall expound upon the more material particulars of the matter, I shall indite brief, howbeit pertinent, contextual paragraphs, whereof offering a ridged foundation of knowledge to those readers whom are lay in these affairs of constitution and political matter. Should the lay man find himself upon this literature, it is my advice to him that he ought to become familiar with the forthcoming paragraphs below, which shall thereof see that he deciphers the central text with relative ease. Verily, it appears to me impractical for a man of deficient knowledge in these affairs to ensue reading further into this literature from hereafter, without at a minimum consulting the contextual paragraphs. Thus, I hope such a man, whom this is applicable to, recruits my advice and from hence effectuates it. I trust this publication shall be comprehensible to the lay person as well as enthralling to the learned man.
It has entered into account that particular men whom entertain opinions inherently discordant to those of mine may find themselves at these sheets. I say to them, though I warrant very little of their countenance on the doctrines of my politics, and whence they may view this literature as a production of erroneous sentiments, it is not my wish to carry out an offensive on the workings of their mind. Should they find my works decried, they ought to be at liberty to talk with collogue about why it be so.
Contextual paragraphs – It has not been uncommon of late for certain minds to receive the phrase ‘Brexit’ with a sense of incertitude of interpretation, thereof I shall hereafter refer to this said Brexit as ‘EU withdrawal’. From hence, the risks of straying into misinterpretations are eradicated. Brexit (cited in long form as Britain-exiting), the phraseology attributed to the referendum conclusion whereby Britain hath voted to depart the European Union, and thence all the curtailments and bureaucracy it encapsulates, has sawn grave dissension among the people of Britain, and those ministers of the sovereign. (One should hereby proceedeth with an understanding that these said contention derived divisions are not a product of EU withdrawal per se ; manifestly rather, the coexistence of these divisions among civic society could truly already have been observed by eyes whom chose to see it). Withdrawal has merely served itself as an instrument of highlight.
The European Union (EU), beforetime termed as the European Economic Community, is a political and economic union, succeeded from the Treaty of Rome, as a response in furtherance to the late proceedings of war in Germany and France, that thence wherethrough spread to other parts of the world. In pretext of concord and order, those authorised representatives of the soverign in Germany and France felt it necessary that the relationship binding these economically alimeted countries ought to be animated by a spirit of rational amity ; and thence, consensus manifested for a permanent body that would be the sine qua non in which this spirit could reside.
George Eliot Wrote Silas Marner: the Weaver of Raveloe
It is her third novel which was published in 1861. Silas Marner is a tale of a linen weaver, who was highly sought after as he was highly skilled in his trade. The tale’s heavy emphasis was on morality and justice which were common themes in George Eliot’s writings – perhaps attributed to her upbringing and how she was greatly concerned with the good and bad in social & human relationships. The book also touches on how consensus of justice in communities work – predominantly by how popular or powerful the character is being portrayed. And how she weaves the tale to end with how justice over rules the injustice inflicted upon Silas Marner.
Silas marner is the linen weaver and the main character of the story… who settles in Raveloe from Lantern Yard after the betrayal of his best friend. He tries to hide the pain of his past by burying himself in his work and saves quite a lot of money/gold. When his money/gold was stolen, he was mortified and bitter. However, all his bitterness was replaced by love for the child whom he adopted. Being a person of high morales, the story ends with Silas wanting to seek the truth from his past when he visited his old village – Lantern Yard – to find his old villagers to tell them the truth of what happened. However, his old village was gone and although he could not find a closure – he still has a happy ending with his daughter by his side.
The author, George Eliot, was a woman born into an era whereby women were less respected. Thus she hid her real name – Mary Anne Evans. Her father, Robert, was a man of legendary physical strength, great practical ability and unimpeachable honesty. It is said that she was her father’s favourite and most faithful companion. At a young age, her mother fell gravely ill and passed away not long after the birth of her twin brothers. The idea of being abandoned as a child is re-lived in her tale during the point where Eppie loses her mother to drug abuse. This background history would enable us to further understand the perspective from which the author was trying to portray. This historical background could be the factors that molded the tale of Silas Marner.
The author manages to weave interesting facts surrounding morality and ethical boundaries in the story, Silas Marner. With many efficient literary devices like imagery, symbolism, repetition, contrasts etc, George Eliot was successful in delivering a tale that relates to many of us – tugging at our heartstrings . Her story also dwells on delivering justice to those who had integrity issues. It also drew our attention to the fact that one’s ambitions and greed could lead us astray and make us lose our values as a human being. As such, this would be the main focus of my investigation. Unlike most moral and justice criticisms, i would be focusing on the third person narrative – omniscient – and how it effectively brings the ideas of morality in the tale.
First aspect to explore:
Morality is a fragile standard molded and bent by the society we live in. In many cases, morality and justice come hand in hand as is the case in Silas Marner. Upon further exploration, after re-reading some chapters in Silas Marner, moral standards is a recurring theme that within its fairytale like formatting.
For a long time, Politicians, Philosophers, religious figures etc have been debating about whether morals are something we are “born with” or whether we acquire it as we are growing up. So that brings us to the question on whether our moral standing is acquired through – “nature” or through “nurture”. To answer this question – firstly we have to understand that different moral standards exist in different cultures and communities. Since moral standards are incorporated differently in each culture and community, this leads to each person having differing set of beliefs and their related actions. For example, in some communities, young children can do almost whatever they wish and get away with it – probably due to the fact that that society believes children are children and know not what they are doing. While in other stricter communities, children are treated like adults and punished in almost the same way – with the belief that they must learn at a young age.
In the adult world, adults often acquire their moral standards from a higher authority or acquire their own moral system based on what seems right to them or through their own learnings and teachings from their parents. However, a person’s morals can be changed as they grow up example, a Where people’s’ morals come from and what the specific morals are can change independently. For example, if a pious person has grown up with a certain set of moral standards but joins a cult which teaches them to steal or beg on the streets or even to prostitute themselves to fund the church – they might adapt their morals to abide by their newly acquired beliefs. In the case of Silas Marner, the scene in chapter ___ where Molly, Eppie’s drug addicted mother passes away in the snow near christmas time, Godfrey Cass the husband, abandoned both eppie and her mother, just to pursue his new lover, Nancy Cass.
Besides morality, some critics, speaks about how George Eliot’s concern about sympathy changed her entire treatment of social and moral issues during a certain period in time. In her work, the sympathy there depended absolutely upon a ‘division in the psyche a split in consciousness that permits two conflicting views to exist simultaneously’. This mental division is the material of conscience. By using the third person narrative, she – the narrator – is looking at this tale from an ‘outsider’ point of view. With such, it could also portray the dilemma one could face such as the idea of ‘bad’ and ‘good’ in our heads, the angel and devil in us. The usage of Authorial Intrusion can be of great aid to such portrayal due to it being a literary device wherein the author penning the story, poem or prose steps away from the text and speaks out to the reader. The Authorial Intrusion establishes a one to one relationship between the writer and the reader where the latter is no longer a secondary player or an indirect audience to the progress of the story but is the main subject of the author’s attention.
The Theoretical Background of the Study
Comparative literature studies seem to have reached a noticeable place in the realm of literary criticism. It is mainly concerned with analyzing shared points and aspects between two or more literary works beyond national and local borders. Actually, the primary purpose of Comparative Literature is to inspire literary criticism across many borders in order to make readers aware about the themes that are normally evaded by the limited emphasis on a nationwide literature. Many critics of comparative literature are supposed to track the alterations of literary texts beyond geographical and time limitations. They look for the relations of a literary work with history, politics, and different principles. Henry Remak has defined Comparative Literature as what follows:
Comparative literature is the study of literature beyond the confines of one particular country, and the study of the relationships between literature on the one hand and other areas of knowledge and belief, such as the arts (e.g., painting, sculpture, architecture, music), philosophy, history, the social sciences (e.g., politics, economics, sociology), the sciences, religion, etc., on the other. In brief, it is the comparison of one literature with another or others, and the comparison of literature with other spheres of human expression. (as cited in Stallknecht & Frenz, 1961, p. 3).
It has been noticed that the literature of one country may be under the influences of literary works from other countries and even the writers who know nothing of each other, show captivating similarities. Jost (1974) has emphasized that literary works should be investigated together while disregarding “their national origins as soon as they are ideationally or factually related, as soon as they belong to the same current or period, the same aesthetic category or genre, or as soon as they illustrate the same themes or motifs” (p. 13). Tötösy and Vasvári (2013) have also indicated that comparative literature can be probed through two techniques. The first one means “the knowledge of more than one national language and literature” (p. 5). And the second one has determined the subject as follows, “comparative literature has an ideology of inclusion of the Other, be that a marginal literature in its several meanings of marginality, a genre, various text types, etc.…” (p. 5).
Comparative literature has got a number of schools. Comparative literature’s French school has mainly attempted to analyze the issue of influence (Wellek 1942, p. 39). According to J T Shaw, in order to be expressive, influence has to be established in a fundamental method. Actually, it may be shown in style, images, characters, themes, and it may also be shown in the content (as cited in Stallknecht & Frenz, 1961, p. 66). He has also added:
The center of interest should be what the borrowing or influenced author does with what he takes and what effect it has upon the finished literary work. The study of direct literary relationships and literary indebtedness can be indispensable to understanding and evaluating the individual work of art, not only for placing it in the literary tradition, but also for defining what it is and what it essentially attempts and for determining wherein it succeeds. (as cited in Stallknecht & Frenz, 1961, p. 71).
It is also stated that the French school is dull and wide-ranging, so its growth has been really slow. That means they believed there were no limit in American comparative studies. Actually, American comparative school is free in analyzing any subjects (Wellek 1942, pp. 1-10). Wellek as one of the most eminent scholars in the realm of comparative studies has proclaimed in Theory of Literature (1942, p. 12) that the French concept has had a number of problems; for example it limits the criticism to such issues as the sources, influences and fame. The seriousness of these problems is that it may attract the attention to the writers of second-class while overlooking the spirit of literary phenomenon, which requires great attention to be analyzed.
The best analysis of the literature is possible through a detailed focus on its essence which means the literature should be free from any political, lingual, or racial obstacles; besides, it should not be restricted to a particular methodology. Wellek (1942) believes that such matters as the description, designation, explanation, narration, illustration and presentation should be paid attention in the literary criticism. Consequently, it should not be considered that the historical method is the only way to the analysis of a literary work. He has also declared that one of the purposes of Comparative Literature is to rewrite the literary history; so, Comparative Literature in this sense requires linguistic knowledge, comprehensive outlooks and each literature should be at the methodical and philanthropic level (p. 13)
In fact, Wellek (1942) was against inaugurating any restrictions for Comparative Literature and wanted to meet each of the “criticism”, “History of the Literature”, “National Literature” and “General Literature” together. He stated:
No doubt that Comparative Literature wants to overcome the passions of nationalism and narrow looks, but it does not ignore the existence of different national traditions and vitality, as it does not diminish their importance. We must beware of false choices, which are not needed, because we want both the National Literature and General Literature. We need a broad perspective, which cannot be achieved except by the Comparative Literature. (p. 231)
It is believed that the French school is primarily preoccupied with the matter of influence. On the other hand, the American school has attempted to get rid of all the French school’s restrictions. Shamsuddin and Abd Rahman (2012) have discussed the difference between that French and the American schools because Comparative literature of French school is the meeting points among other cultures and literatures. However, American school has been mainly obsessed with overcoming the limitations of French school.
Intertextuality refers to the influence and presence of preceding texts in the construction of new texts; this means that it is impossible for a text to be wholly generated by its author. In fact, any text is produced through the process of interrelationships of various textual elements of the relating texts and the author’s imagination (Abrams, 1993, pp. 185-6; Peck & Coyle, 2002, p. 143). Many literary figures, in particular the authors may apply intertextual features intentionally or unintentionally. Bell (1993) thinks of intertextuality as a series of texts that are associated with each other and influence the present text. Critics also believe that intertextuality is an essential aspect of any literary work. In fact, all texts are intertexts and the traces of earlier texts can be noticed in the present text.
The term intertextuality was first coined by Kristeva in the essay “Le mot, le dialogue et le roman” (1967); however, according to many scholars, this concept was first observed in Ferdinand de Sausssure’s and Bakhtin’s ideas (Booker, 1996, p. 58). Kristeva’s focus was the literary theory of Mikhail Bakhtin, and her philosophy is mostly a fusion of his theory with Saussurian linguistics.
What made Bakhtin’s theory a significant theory for Kristeva is the concept of dialogism. Bakhtin considered dialogism as a vital component of language. Bakhtin (1984, p. 38) established two types of texts or utterances: the monologic and the dialogic. The dialogic text is incessantly having a dialogue with other texts, and is learned by other texts, while the monologic text generally enforces a particular logic and significance. These terms refer to ideological standpoints. Thus, Bakhtin regarded all the language as dialogic.
Following her, many theorists have used the term “intertextuality”. The first protuberant theorist who elaborated on Kristeva’s concept of “intertextuality” is Roland Barthes. Around the same time, Jacques Derrida also established a model that has many characteristics in common with Kristeva and Barthes’ ideas of intertextuality. These theorists have been known as “post-structuralist” theorists (Allen, 2011, p. 92).
According to Kristeva (1980), no text is independent of other relating texts existing before it; ‘… any text is an intertext – the site of an intersection of numberless other texts’ (p. 42). Barthes (1988) also imposes that ‘… a text is not a line of words releasing a single “theological” meaning … but a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash’ (p. 149). Consequently, understanding, examining, and interpreting any literary text all rely upon being aware of other relating texts (Short, 1989), because their textual elements for sure influence and are present in that text.
It is because of such intertextuality that an author can generate the present text and the reader can discern the new connotations (Allen, 2011, p. 71). In fact, when the writer is writing a text, s/he may call a series of codes and other features of other texts through quotations, allusions, and inferences and through appealing to these as well as his/her experience of reading the related texts, the reader is able to make sense of the text. In this way, the author and the reader will have a mutual relationship.
Models of Intertextuality Analysis
This part will be a brief introduction to different models of intertextuality. Then, the model which is going to be applied in this study, as a more practical one, will be discussed in details. The first model to be introduced in the present study is Halliday’s model. Halliday (2003) has mainly regarded intertextuality as a part of the text’s history. It can be declared that he thought of any text as being made in the history, and each former text being a part of the history of that text.
In Halliday’s (2003) opinion, intertextuality in literature shows itself through allusions. “Intertextuality is … the set of acts of meaning to which the given act of meaning makes allusion. This is familiar in literature and philology as allusion and in semiotics as intertextuality (emphasis original)…” (p. 361). He has considered the history of a text having four “strands or dimensions”: intertextual, developmental, systemic, and intratextual. In other words, these strands make the past/history of text (pp. 360-61). However, Halliday’s model has some shortcomings because it does not propose a practical agenda for defining the elements of intertextuality because it is mostly abstract.
The next model belongs to Widdowson. Widdowson’s intertextuality is mainly from a linguistic perspective. Although, he (2004) regards Halliday’s model an insufficient framework for intertextual examination of texts, like Halliday he believes that intertextuality is noteworthy and important in investigating any literary text (p. 140). To him, finding about the exact intertextual items and what items of former texts are present in the present text is not easy (p. 147). Still, he absolutely believes in the fact that all texts have intertextual elements within themselves and we need useful methods to understand intertextuality in texts (pp. 147-8). Again, Widdowson has not suggested any concrete outline for finding intertextuality elements in literary texts.
Fairclough’s model is also of great significance in this regard. Fairclough (2003) believes that a text is made of a number of features such as functional, lexical, grammatical, coherence, and textual structure, which should be paid remarkable attention in analyzing texts. The relations between these elements begin from single words and continue to clauses, sentences, and finally the text itself. Another momentous element working in the construction of the text is “intertextuality” (p. 75).
Consequently, the researcher adds three more important elements incorporating in the construction of text and discourse: Force of utterance, coherence of text, and intertextuality. “… Force of utterance is the intension and impulse of the text (promising, request, etc…) that discourse has within itself, coherence of text, causes inherent and coherent relations between internal components of the text, and intertextuality of the text determines the relations between the text and all other related texts (pp. 75-6). The problem of this model is that Fairclough has just highlighted the prominence of intertextuality in text construction. This definition of intertextuality again lacks any real basis for investigation.
Genette’s Intertextual Model
The last and most important model belongs to Genette. Genette (1992, 1997) has come up with a new term as “Transtextuality”; he has five categories, one of which is intertextuality. The other four are: architextuality, paratextuality, metatextuality, and hypertextuality. Among these categories, he believes intertextuality and hypertextuality show the textual relations between literary texts, while other parts emphasize between-text relations. Genette’s intertextuality can be defined in three types: explicit and formal intertextuality, the explicit attendance of elements of texts in the text like quotations, chiefly direct quotations; non-explicit concealed intertextuality, such as plagiarism; and implicit intertextuality, like those hidden elements of other texts like references and allusions in which the writer gives some hints. Like the previous models, Genette’s model also is not effective enough to be used practically for intertextual scrutiny of the texts because it has restricted intertextuality to only three types which makes a comprehensive understanding of the text problematic (Yazdani & Ahmadian, 2013, p. 159).
This chapter provided a short discussion of the present thesis’s methodology. It was stated that comparative literature has been mostly concerned with examining common themes and characteristics between at least two literary works beyond national and local boundaries. After that, the writer discussed the concept of intertextuality which was first coined by Julia Kristeva. After Kristeva, Genette established the term “transtextuality” or textual transcendence as the relation between a text with other texts. He classified this term into five categories in which intertextuality is a text that covers words from another text; paratextuality is a text in which the readers are influenced by things which are not in the text themselves, such as titles; metatextuality is about referring to another works’ texts in a different text; architextuality is about a text by title; and hypertextuality embraces translation and adaptation.
Role of Gender and Feminism Issues in Showvalter’s Book
As both theories of Feminism and Historicism are deemed to be essential parts of this paper, they should be explained. Elaine Showalter argues that women’s writing was underestimated by the male commentators. She separated feminist criticism into two particular assortments. The first is entitled ‘women as reader’ or ‘Feminist Critique.’ Feminist Critique concentrates on women as a peruser who is using up the male-delivered literature. It is a method for excoriating in which a female peruser changes the given content, arousing it to the noteworthiness of sexual codes. They are worried about the photographs and stereotypes of women in writing, the exclusion of as well as misguided judgments about women in criticism and also the control of the female viewers. The second is called ‘woman as writer’ which stands for women as the maker of printed meaning. However, Feminist Critique is male-oriented. We eventually learn only what men thought the opposite sex was experiencing and feeling. Showalter’s Gynocriticism came to build a female concept for the study of women’s literature hinge on female circumstance instead of readjusting male theories. She argues that women have their own personal style of writing. (see Showalter 216-7)
In her book, A literature of their Own, Showalter states three phases of female writing namely ‘‘Feminine,” “Feminist” and “Female” phases. “Feminine” occurs from 1840 to 1880. She announces that this stage is portrayed by women in an exertion so as to achieve highbrow equality with the manly culture. It applied an unpredictable weight on the story, tone, style, structure, and portrayal. The second stage is called “Feminist.” It occurs from 1880 to 1920. Women won the vote and utilized writing in order to exhibit the agony of wronged womanhood. The last stage is ‘‘Female’’ stage which started in 1920. In this stage, women abnegated “imitation’’ and “protest’’ which are two sorts of reliance. (see Showalter 217-8) It is imperative to see this literary tradition in connection to the advancement of women’s mindfulness and the battle to vanquish their place in a male commanded world. The errand of feminist critics is to locate a new dialect, a new method of reading which can incorporate their knowledge, experience, rationality, cleverness, perception, and affliction. I argue that Haywood’s novel fits into the feminine stage. Haywood defends and supports women’s own independent perspective. She demonstrates the role and the maltreatment of women of that time. Showalter’s feminist criticism was able to influence the principle of British literature. It brought a new perspective to female writers who, during this period, used to write under a male name.
It is prominent to consider the historical context of the novel as the eighteenth century eyewitnessed crucial changes in the institution of marriage. Haywood’s The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless demonstrates how women are depicted socially, sexually, and economically especially with the dominance of men in the social system. She argues that the social restrictions on women have to be removed in order to bring equality of both sexes in the public as well as in the private life. Haywood shaped her characters and plot so as to demonstrate her attitudes towards women’s treatment and her empathy with other women. She raises awareness of the demerits society laid on women of that time. Haywood uses authorial narration in her novel. The narrator knows about all the characters’ motives, conscious and unconscious thoughts. To put it differently, the narrator has a wider knowledge of the story and is in a position of authority which enables her/him to know all about the events, beyond those described in the novel, as well as the characters. The narrator uses retrospection and does not merely focus on the consciousness of one character. Haywood’s use of epistolary discourse throughout the entire novel not only pushess the story forward but also enhances the reader’s comprehension. Epistles are used as a mean of communication between lovers and siblings. Letters provide the reader with the characters’ motives and make the reader feel connected to the characters. Equally important, the historical background is imperative in order to comprehend the marriage perspective in The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless.The novel was written in the eighteenth century when perspectives towards matrimony switched. Haywood presents the eighteenth century world through women’s eyes and gives expression to women’s experiences. In her work, she demonstrates the characters’ conflict between their obligations to members of their families and their own desires.
Once a woman enters into the institution of marriage, she is submssive and a servant to her husband. In the eighteenth century, women’s life turned around the domestic sphere. (Browne 30) Married women were deprived of property and the husband has full authority in the household. The wife’s duty is to obey the husband and fulfill all his needs as well as her children’s: ‘‘[…] the married woman or femme covert continued to be the sole property of her husband once the marriage contract was signed […] and occasional access to divorce under exceptional circumstances in England’’ (Roulston 21) Women’s voice was unheard and once married they were manipulated by the husband. The position of married women legally and economically, in the eighteenth century, was in the possession of their husband. The law gives the husband full control and rights allowing him to be dominant over his wife. Married women who stayed at home felt different and lonely because their husbands went out to work. In other words, the housewives who sat at home every day knew that they were unhappy living an unfulfilled life. Additionally, women felt incomplete and relatively worthless. They were truly unhappy with their role in society.
“The Grass Eaters” Analysis
In Krishna Varma’s story “The Grass Eaters”, story takes place in the past in Calcutta, India. Basically, The Grass Eaters set at the time of religion dispute between Hindu and Muslim also when independence in India was big issue. Whereas, in “A Women Like Me” by Xi Xi, is slightly different because story held in Hong Kong during the end of 20th century where people had fear of unknown mysteries of life. However, both story occur in different time and place but their thinking and way to see the world makes difference in each story that catches the reader’s till the end.
To commence with, in story “The Grass Eaters” basically reflects that Ajit babu and his wife who has seen almost all kind of struggle in their life from living in a pipe and by eating grass as a staple food. Moreover their hunting for a proper house and food never end throughout their life, but in worst situation he never lose his belief of their life Ajit always stayed positive even though his wife rejected his offer to stayed in an abandoned freight wagon. “For the first time in weeks Swapna smiled, a very vague smile. Then, slowly, she drew the edge of her sari over her head, cast her eyes down, turned her face from me, and said in a tremulous, barely audible whisper that she (short pause) did (long pause) not want (very long pause) her (at jet speed) baby-to-be-born-in-a-running-train”. From this speculation we can identifies that also in worst situation Ajit can find bunch of happiness which can give his life some kick to face the world and stay positive in any kind of situation. Furthermore, Krishna Varma has also focused Swapna’s character as a biggest supporter in Ajit’s babu life because in any hardship he remains with him weather they to stay in pipe or in empty wagon. She also sacrificed her dreams and adjust with what they have; in fact, just imagine if Ajit wife was a negative thinker and demanding wife and Forcing Ajit to buy jewelry, clothes and proper food Ajit would have not fulfill her demands then she might left Ajit in arduous situation and there will be no one in Ajit hard time to support. It is so important that you need perfect partner to survive in Catch 22 situation and to face challenges to move forward with each other support. Nevertheless his so Prodeep might not come again as he engaged in Naxalite activities, but sill he is living with a hope that after his death “we have a son to do our funeral rites when we die”. This statement makes picture clearer that he was happy with what he have.
On the contrary, “A Women Like Me” is completely different story Xi Xi herself writes, “I feel that the blame for my having fallen into this trap, from which there is no escape, rests solely with Fate, which has played a cruel trick on me. I am totally powerless to resist Fate”. Xi Xi is insisting that and I personally feel that Xi Xi is not satisfied with her life. She is afraid of her destiny before coming to any conclusion of what future might be or what will happen in her future life? Due to this type of question she directly decides herself that Xia will reject him after knowing her job. Besides, this from her personality I can imagine that she has no clue where her life is going and she is completely a negative thinker, just because what other think about our profession and doubting on her own will led to see only on negative side on her job. No doubt her profession was gifted by her mother but, her aunt Yifen gifted her skills to be a professional makeup artist; However, Xi Xi says “I had become another Aunt Yifen; the two of us were, in fact, one person-I had become a continuation of Aunt Yifen”. According to this statement I think that she was comparing her life with her aunt Yifen and this also shows that all the fears and worries derive Tragic story of aunt Yifen is might happens in her life also. Overthinking, fear of destiny and afraid to be a single these kind of thoughts demolishing her from inside; while, she never thought on the flip side of coin maybe she would be living successful life with her boyfriend and still she will be doing her same job as before. Well narrator leaves reader in middle of the ocean where they were curious to know about her future.
To a greater extent, if we compare life of Ajit babu and Xi Xi then I believe both character some correspondence. No doubt, writer has shown both a character as a hardworking in life but they have not taste the success till the end of story. In addition both are looking for a chance of fate and hoping that one day their life might change. Also, both had and supporter like “Ramaniklal Misrilal” and “aunt Yifen” both has showed their support when they were facing hard times in life. Beyond, this both character are waiting for perfect time to change their fate on their side one day.
To conclude, both narrator has described their character in their own way as the belong to different culture; but, as per my inclination Ajit babu character was more strong that Xi Xi because in life Ajit babu has proved himself and survive in situation were his fate asked and question and every time he perfectly replied; while, Xi Xi failed. So ultimately both help us to realize that our life is totally depend on how we approach towards our life.