What is the MEANING- You might want to read this

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"'What is the meaning of 'Men wash their hands, in blood, as best they can'? It can mean: Since my own hands are bloody, I have no right to condemn the rest. It can mean: I know that man can love justice, even though his hands are bloody, for there is blood on mine. It can mean: Men are essentially decent: they try to keep their hands clean even if they have only blood in which to wash them'" (Brooks 91).

I'm sorry for listing such a long quote, but I believe that it is important since we have just written two papers on author's intent.

Hamilton defined irony as "the broadest class of figures of thought that depend on presenting a deliberate contrast between two levels of meaning" (44).

Now, after reading the quote from Brooks and the definition of irony from Hamilton everyone has a different opinion or understands something in a different way.

It seems as though the irony is created through the reader. Take yourself for instance when reading and trying to understand a quote or text. Your personal perception and knowledge create that understanding or meaning.

So what does this have to do with author's intent? While let me try to explain. When a reader tries to understand the author’s intent in literature then they usually look to the history or background of the author. This provides a "level of meaning" between the text and the reader. If you think that a text means something without looking to a secondary source then you may be right. WHO is to say you’re wrong or right? It is your understanding of the text that provides you and other people with the meaning.

Everyone's meaning of a text contributes to the greater good or most likely final meaning. As a class, we discuss what a text is trying to mean and we take each other's answers and combine them together to establish an educated and meaningful meaning.

Do you think that there is only one meaning to a text and it is what the author intended it to be? Then again how do we know the author's intent or meaning of a text if they are not living?

Click here for the web page devoted to Brooks.

1 Comment

I think that the importance lies in how it's interpreted, the reader's intent, unless that would be completely apalling to the writer. if I have learned anything in my literature classes it is that literature seems to exist for debate. There are almost always multiple meanings. Some are better than others, but there is nothing better than curling up with a good book or watching a good movie and coming away thinking you have found something that specifically applies to you. It is nice to feel that connection to the text. But as for the intent if the author is dead, the world may never know...

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on February 14, 2009 6:06 PM.

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