Prose Written Before Nineteen Hundred Essay
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This assessment objective requires students to respond to the question with views informed by the interpretations of others. By others is meant fellow students, teachers and, more obviously, professional critics. Others can also refer to cultural perspectives adopted from varying standpoints: religious, political, class, age or gender based. The requirement can be looked at in two ways: (i) as a request that we include the views of critics to illuminate a point, support an argument or as claims that needs to be challenged.
Remember that external critical opinions need to be acknowledged ( and referenced where possible) in order to pre-empt accusations of plagiarism. (ii) as an invite to demonstrate awareness that we tend, as individuals, to interpret texts from within sets of personal and cultural frameworks: gender, age, class, race, nationality, creed, historical era and psychological make-up. For example, your sympathy or otherwise Henry Fleming in The Red Badge of Courage may be influenced your gender age, class and political affiliation, creed, psychological make-up and the era in which you are rooted.
General McClurg’s famous diatribe on the novel clearly relates to his upbringing, military experience and status and particular brand of patriotism. Other, more appreciative views of the work may have been constructed from within a different, more humanistic sphere. Coriolanus has been interpreted in different places and eras as military hero, fascist strongman and tyrannical opponent of democracy. It is obvious that at the present day one’s sympathy or otherwise for Coriolanus could relate to one’s politics.
The question of whether King Lear implies the existence of an after life and an ultimate moral order may be determined by whether or not the reader possesses a religious sensibility. Whereas a Christian might see the plot as having a ‘redemptive pattern’, an atheist might view the conclusion as patently pessimistic. Again, attitudes to the sisters in the play could relate, at least partially, to the reader’s views on feminism and attitude to patriarchy.