Playful Interpretations?Have you ever been struck by an interpretation of something literary that you both felt strongly about, but knew would never be taken seriously? Perhaps you felt like you...

Playful Interpretations?

Have you ever been struck by an interpretation of something literary that you both felt strongly about, but knew would never be taken seriously? Perhaps you felt like you were on the right track, but noticed it was a path no one else was on? Or maybe you found something that you couldn't take seriously, but is fun to share.

It is time to come clean. State your confessions here. 

 This is one of mine.

http://www.enotes.com/groups/literature-101/discuss/anti-semitism-1607 

Asked on by jeff-hauge

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linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I guess my confession is not an interpretation of a piece of lit. but criticism of a writer. Is it heretical of me to say that William Faulkner was a horrible writer who had an excellent editor who knew how to put a story together? Is it true that Faulkner used to write ideas on the walls of his house and that Max Perkins would cobble them together?

I guess confession is good for the soul, because I have thought of an interpretation. I despise The Mists of Avalon. It's one thing to retell a story from the woman's perspective and show that woman as powerful, but it's another thing to take a well-known tale, throw it in a blender, and come out with something new. I made my way through the whole book, but not without having to say, "Oh, please," a hundred dozen times!

jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Yes...  I feel this is a good group therapy sessions.

My turn.

I personally have been struck by the two "Claras" in Of Mice and Men. Curley's wife doesn't have a name, but of all the names to choose, he picks to repeat Clara for two side characters. 

... It intrigues me .. IF... Clara and "Aunt" Clara were the same, then Lenny might be the product of a whorehouse which would lead to George's aversion to going for a throw. (Just cards). It would further enhance the theme of the disposability of life.  But the strict reading of the "facts" regarding Lennie's past puts this as unlikely. Yet George could shape Lennie's past as well as he does his future as a means to an end; ie. to passify/control/guilt the giant.

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Yipes...I feel like I'm baring my soul...I do not believe Shakespeare either hated women or Jews! Yes, I suppose that was somewhat cathartic!

Of course, I know there are scholars out there who support these ideas, and yet I can't help but feel (in our climate of political-correctness) that I'm sounding like an anti-Semitic woman-hater when I make that statement.

It's far easier to back up the opinion about women with text - Shakespeare portrayed women in a very strong light, most often having them stronger and more forceful than women probably were allowed to be in his day. I would go into "Shrew," but I know I'd burn out the 800 characters I have remaining, so I'll let that one go for now.

Jews, though, are a bit tougher as I'm really only going with my gut-feeling about "The Merchant of Venice." I know Shylock is shown as evil and horrible, and so many feel like that's how Shakespeare felt about Jews. And yet it didn't hit me that way when I read it; rather Shylock is shown to be reacting to the treatment he's received by Christians (who, I feel, are portrayed far worse). (That also gets back to "Shrew," which I'll mention briefly - Katharina is a shrew because, in my opinion, she's never been accepted as beautiful and wonderful like darling Bianca, and so has grown resentful over the years, to the point that she acts horribly bad - until someone shows her love, however odd it is.)

33 characters left? I guess I'm done confessing! :)

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Playful Interpretations?

Have you ever been struck by an interpretation of something literary that you both felt strongly about, but knew would never be taken seriously? Perhaps you felt like you were on the right track, but noticed it was a path no one else was on? Or maybe you found something that you couldn't take seriously, but is fun to share.

It is time to come clean. State your confessions here. 

 This is one of mine.

http://www.enotes.com/groups/literature-101/discuss/anti-semitism-1607 

It's definitely hard to be a voice in the wilderness but this is what makes literary interpretation exciting.  My dissertation is on John Steinbeck's female characters and how they have been perpetually misunderstood as either whores, Earth Mothers, or goddesses.  Nothing could be farther from the case and I spend hours daily going head to head with seventy years of criticism.  I know I'm on the right track, though, and it keeps me going. 

As I tell my students, there are no bad arguments, just good and bad defenses.  If you cannot back your argument with textual support, you got nuffin'.

On the other hand, sometimes it's lots of fun just to get dander up.  I love Dave Barry's comment:  "If you argue that Moby Dick is not a big white whale but actually the Republic of Ireland, your teacher, who is sick to death of reading papers, will think you are enormously creative.  If you can regularly think up lunatic interpretations of simple stories, you should be an English major." 

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