Analysis, Pages 5 (1196 words)
Genres, as systems of classification, are means of strategic control. Within the field of literature, the continuous division of literary works into different genres leads not only to the classification of literary works and texts but also to the imposition of values and ideals to the individuals who adhere to works belonging to a specific genre. Through genre categories [e. g. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Horror etc], those in control of the modes of production control both the reader and the author of the work.
This is evident if one considers that the production of a literary work within a particular genre tends to promise the reader a familiar set of meanings within the literary text. Those who control the modes of production and formation of those meanings may thereby be considered as those who direct the construction of narratives. Within this context, it is possible for the stories that are produced to be a part of a broader form of social classification.
Due to this, there is the construction of a particular set of meanings, which can only be understood within specific systems of classification. Genres in this sense become instruments of control. This is evident if one considers that genres “encode rules that constrain the…production and reception of meanings…communicated through a large number of meta-texts” (Hodge 27). These meta-texts become the basis for the production of knowledge. All knowledge is positioned as knowledge in itself and knowledge produced from and within a body.
As soon as both forms of knowledge are connected to a knowing subject, the subject becomes ensnared to the poststructuralist dictum of the unity and independence of the self, which leads to the formation of the narratives of the self.
Narratives then display the imprint of culture and its institutions on the individual’s sense of identity. Since self and language are mutually implicated in an interdependent system of symbolic behavior, the language that one uses for the creation of literary narratives dictates the creation of identities.
The modern era thereby places the individual in a kind of political double bind as it coerces the individual to conform to normalizing and disciplinary forms of narrative construction. Fantasy, however, as a genre eludes the monopolizing character of genre classification. Fantasy as a genre is at the intersection of various fields as it draws on the elements of popular culture and mainstream literature. Balfe (2004) states, “as a field, Fantasy is protean, encapsulating comics, fiction, games, art and film, and osmotic, with Fantasy, science fiction and mainstream literature impinging upon each other at various points” (77).
For the purpose of this paper, the Fantasy genre will be defined as “a post-Enlightenment prose fiction genre composed of narratives in which an extranatural power plays a fundamental role…that aims to create an illusion of reality” (Eilers 318). The reason for the adaptation of this definition lies in the genre’s reliance on the following factors:
- Existence of magic within the text
- Specification of a moral conflict within the text [i. e. ood versus evil]
- Attainment of magical gifts by the characters within the text, and the
- Existence of mythical creatures within the text (Saricks 38).
The illusion of reality thereby stands as a result of the author’s explicit creation of a different ontology which allows the existence of both magical and mythical elements. This is evident if one considers that it employs a methodology and an approach, which enables the specification of a new set of values through the depiction of a radical form of reality.
In this sense, the Fantasy genre is less of a genre if one is to conceive of a genre as specifying a particular text’s subject matter and approach to themes. In line with this, Fantasy as a genre may thereby be defined by its critical stance towards the normative depictions of reality. What may be considered as the defining characteristic of Fantasy which separates it from other genres characterized by the same non-naturalistic character may be attributed to its emphasis on the human spirit.
The emphasis on the human spirit lies in its use of the various factors which necessitates the reader to develop an open-mind for the various possibilities in human existence. An example of the radical form of reality within the Fantasy genre is evident in Scott Thomas’ “Lt. Privet’s Love Song”. The aforementioned text narrates Lt. Privet’s experiences as a result of his employment of magical methods in order to attain both the love and affection of Hazel. The interesting aspect of the text lies in its attitude towards magic.
At the initial part of the text, Lt. Privet mentions his initial distrust towards magic as a result of the deadly fate of the two sisters, during his youth, who used magical methods in order to perceive the apparition of their future husbands. As a result of their tragic death, Lt. Privet is described as someone who “avoided magic whenever possible” (Thomas 396). Love however had turned him into a desperate man and hence he willingly braved his fear in order to attain the affection of his beloved. However, consistent with Lt. Privet’s initial belief that the use of magic beckons tragedy, his employment of magic led to a number of tragic events [e. g. duel with Captain Moorsparrow]. As was mentioned above, the interesting aspect about the text lies in its attitude towards magic and hence one might state towards texts within the Fantasy genre itself. It is interesting to note that as opposed to the other texts within the genre, the text depicts the moral conflict as something existing not between two opposing individuals representing two opposing ideals but as something existing within a specific individual or within a specific ideal.
Note for example that most of the characters within the text are twins. One is presented with the Deerfield Sisters and the twin princes [Prince Fenny and Prince Treason]. The Deerfield Sisters are described as “Two old…twins… (who) spoke each word simultaneously, as though two mouths shared a single mind” (Thomas 393). The twin prince’s, on the other hand, were described as possessing opposing attributes.
Prince Fenny is depicted as someone who “exuded benevolence… conscientiousness, blessed with his father’s compassion” whereas Prince Treadson is depicted as someone who was “savvy and assertive” (Thomas 402). Together, the twin prince’s were described as embodying the traits that made a man “so effective and endearing” (Thomas 393). Although one may argue that these characters may be said to stand within the opposite sides of the moral compass, it is important to note that by presenting them as twins, the author is placing emphasis on the similarities of their character.
This emphasis is also apparent in the text’s depiction of magic. Although the reader becomes privy to situations wherein magic is used for both good and evil purposes, the emphasis on the similarity of its origin as well as well as on its capability to enable both good and evil shows the existing duplicity in things. “Lt. Privet’s Love Song”, in this sense, may be said to present the view that the concepts ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are attributes which are given to people as a result of their actions.