Essay: How to read literature like a professor – Foster

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
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  • Published on: July 16, 2019
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  • How to read literature like a professor - Foster
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Introduction: How’d He Do That?

The recognition of patterns makes it easier to read complicated literature because it boosts skills in memory, comprehension, and being able to make connections to different aspects of the literature. It helps to understand complexities such as the characters and their actions and allows us to associate the different ideas with concepts outside of the work. Being able to recognize these patterns can help readers be in the mindset the author intended with mood, and makes the piece of literature more enjoyable to read. My appreciation of a literary work was enhanced by understanding symbols and patterns was when I was reading the novel Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. The concept of the novel involves Kublai Khan, Mongol emperor, and Marco Polo, a Venetian traveler. The book, without a consistent plot, is meant to be presented as Marco Polo unspooling his tales to the emperor. It is the fictional tales of Marco Polo and cities he’s explored in the format of poetry. Without the recognition of patterns and symbols, the literature wouldn’t have been as profound as it was intended to be as it connects the simplicities of a city to more complex beliefs of ideas such as desire and more thorough thoughts.

Chapter 1: Every Trip is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)

The five aspects of a quest are the quester, a place to go, a stated reason to go there, challenges and trials en route, and a real reason to go there. A quester refers to the person who is going on the quest. The concept of quests is to experience self-knowledge and to gain that aspect of wisdom. Questers are usually inexperienced, per se, and more underdeveloped as characters. They usually are not aware they are going on quests. The place to go and why the quester is going usually ties together; there is a reason to go to a certain place for the quest to take place. Tasks vary accordingly, however all quests never use the task stated genuinely and usually never get accomplished. With different hardships in the path of their task at hand, quests always come around to be educational about themselves. I can apply the aspects of a quest to the Disney movie, Mulan. In the movie, the plot begins with Mulan, she is to be matched with a man and make her ancestors proud by going through the process of becoming the perfect bride. Summing up the process, she makes a fool of herself and is called a disgrace with the knowledge she will never find a husband. I can claim that can be a quest in its own, however the main plot in Mulan involves her taking her father’s place in the military. Mulan’s ailing father is to be drafted into the Chinese military, she decides that even though she is unqualified to serve as she lives under a patriarchal regime. Mulan, being the quester, is going is the army and she is going because even though one man from each family must go to war to defeat the Huns, she is an only child and knows her father wouldn’t make it through that fight. Mulan encounters many conflicts as she is already going as a woman going into a men superior situation. Her family does not know about her decisions in taking her father’s place, so she steals her father’s armor, cuts her hair, takes the family horse and leaves. The situations fluctuate in severity, and Mulan goes through the hardships of attempting to make it through the camp and getting on people’s good sides while fighting this war. Eventually, Mulan’s true identity is uncovered after being wounded by an arrow, she would’ve been killed however she had saved the captain’s life before, leaving him no choice but to spare her. When she goes home, time passes and she ends up helping the army defeat the Huns either way. Mulan ends up being honored by the emperor and returns to her family. In the end, the true reason that Mulan had taken that quest was honor in the end. In the beginning, she was a disgrace to her ancestors, through self-discovery and bravery, she is then honored by the emperor and finally lives up to her own expectations.

Chapter 4: Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?

Intertextuality is the dialogue between old texts and new, an ongoing interaction between poems or stories. All literary works are connected in some way. An example of intertextuality that has helped me, was when I had read Anthem, written by Ayn Rand, before reading Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley. Both literary works take place in a dystopian society and involve someone, in this case the protagonist, to become self aware in a sense that they do not want to be equal. In Anthem, the main character Equality 7-2521, believes in individuality and not being apart of the collective society, he is self-aware and gains intelligence. In Brave New World, main character, Bernard Marx has always been left out of his collective society and acts out because he knows he is an outcast. He only behaves this way because his intelligence allows him to be spiteful in a sense; society can’t treat him differently because he has done it first. Reading Anthem prior to Brave New World had allowed me to make the connection of individuality. Another example of intertextuality can be made between the Bible and the Hunger Games series. In the bible, Jesus sacrifices himself to be crucified by the Romans. When Jesus died, he is placed in a tomb and is layed there for three days being resurrected Jesus returns to his disciples to say he has returned to them. 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, God sends down the flame of the holy spirit to be given to the disciples, which allowed them to spread the word of God in any language. In the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers as tribute to be inplace of her sister. After Katniss was being sent off to the game, she eventually wins the games and returns to her family then is forced back to the capital to play another round of the hunger games. After returning from the capital and coming home, Katniss starts a revolution and gives power back to the people. A third example of intertextuality would be between Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Very similarly between the two literary works, there are two groups. In The Outsiders, it’s the Greasers and Socs, while in Romeo and Juliet, its Montagues and Capulets. There has always been a continuous feud and that never ends until both parties understand that their families are important.

Chapter 5: When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare

A work that I have read that alludes to or reflects Shakespeare is the book The Outsiders, in the Outsiders, there’s a feud between two groups, the Greasers and the Socs. Very similar to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the groups can be loosely based on Montagues and Capulets and their ongoing feud. In both works, the groups always seem to ignite brawls whenever they come across each other and the fights and brawls were never resolved until someone was seriously injured or killed. The themes in both of the stories can be presented as learning how to overcome hatred and protecting family. In S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Ponyboy, Sodapop, and Darry had lost Johnny, they realized family was the most important thing in their lives. In Romeo and Juliet, Montagues and Capulets finally end their feud when both families had lost family members, in the scene where Romeo believes Juliet is dead and he kills himself, then Juliet seeing Romeo dead leads her to kill herself. Another connection between the two literary works is that in The Outsiders, Ponyboy, Johnny, Cherry, and Marcia had became friends though they were in the two different groups, this can be connected to Romeo and Juliet having their secret relationship as their families wouldn’t allow it.

Chapter 8: It’s Greek to Me

No less than fame nor fortune,
The pride of oneself determines his fate.
Creatures in the rough possessed the seas,
Ruined by his own war fought in his mind,
The priorities have shifted,
No longer kin, but greed.
Though enlightened by choice,
The realization was forced,
Disguised within the greed,
Nobility arose.
Based on Odysseus on the course of self discovery and his journey to see his family.

Chapter 9: It’s More Than Just Rain or Snow

In the dystopian novel, The Giver, everyone is treated as equals. At a coming of age ceremony, young adults are assigned their life long career. The protagonist, Jonas, is selected to become the receiver of memory. This occupation allows him to experience everything that those in the society would not. He experiences emotions such as hatred, devastation and happiness. He also experiences color, music and more creative aspects of human nature. Near the end of his training, he decides to run away from the society. He is considered a threat by society and must find a new home. He brings along with him an infant named Gabriel who has similar abilities as Jonas did as he was a child. Awhile after the two leave, he arrives at a snowy area. Due to Jonas bringing Gabriel along, Gabriel hasn’t experienced the trauma that Jonas had gone through therefore Gabriel has an aura of innocence that can be represented by the white of the snow.

Chapter 19: Geography Matters

Foster would categorize geography as a setting that heavily influences the plot of a story or a setting that represents themes and concepts of a work. In the literary work Lord of The Flies by William Golding, boys from a British prep school were flying in a plane when it got shot down during a war, they crashed on an island. Two different aspects the work would have to be the actual environment, it was very much overgrown and untamed. That is significant because it represents how some of the boys turned into savages and turned depended on it to their sanity. I would also like to mention the fact that they were on an island was the main focus of the plot. They’re trying to be rescued, but many hardships get in their way and there ends up being two sides, civil and savage. Eventually, a fire is involved and burning of the island takes place, they get rescued to the best of their ability eventually but the whole plot wouldn’t have occured if they didn’t crash onto an island.

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