As English majors I’m pretty sure that this is something that we can all agree on, literature is pretty neat (yeah I used neat, get at me). It teaches us a lot about ourselves, social interactions, and basic things about human nature. In addition I think one of the coolest things about it is using literary analysis to search for symbolism and “the deeper meaning” behind a piece of work. It’s just so intriguing to me to dive into a piece of literature and discover its meaning and purpose (I’m probably one of the few people who actually enjoyed principles of literary criticism). However earlier today in one of my classes, after a heated forty-five minute discussion about how the “end of the world” novel we are reading portrays how the screwed up human race is driving ourselves into oblivion, I began to think “is this discussion really happening?” I’m not disagreeing with any part of that theory because the novel portrays things like animal experimentation, excessive drug use, and televised suicides which people watch for fun; but these are major themes in the novel so why do we need to spend a vast majority of our class talking about different ways in which the novel shows this? It made absolutely no sense to me.
You see the thing about literature is there is no one sure fire way to look at a novel, in fact there are way too many to count, and sense everyone’s mind operates in a different way you get different ideas about what a particular piece of work says. I’m sure that part is pretty obvious however people spend so much of their time debating about particular ideas and get so complex in their theories that sometimes, to me at least, it seems a little counterproductive. Maybe it’s just because I’m not a very good literature student but a lot of the time whenever someone says something along the lines of “the author is saying how crappy we are as people through how her ideas in the novel lead the characters to their own destruction, what do you think Andrew?” it takes every ounce of my being to not sarcastically respond with “Or maybe the author just wanted to write a novel about the end of the world.” Like I said when people read they all read for different reasons and for me, even when it’s for school, I read to enjoy the work as much as possible. There are so many different purposes and meanings behind works of literature and while I do think that it is fantastic to explore all of them from as many angles as possible, it’s almost foolish to spend 45 minutes of class trying to debate different sides of the same coin especially when the coin has a large value in the piece of work.