February 19, 2007

Is it Always About Me?

O'Connell, ''Narrative Collusion and Occlusion in Melville's 'Benito Cereno''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Well after reading Iser's essay, I should have known other people were going to say there were more types of writers, I mean it could not have been so simple. Anyways, lets turn our focus to O'Connell...

"Delano is unquestionably muddled and unable to give the reader useful direction. However, the narrative does not push readers to do their own interpreting; in fact it makes it very difficult for them to do so."

It is nice when you sit down and begin reading a book that is very structed and easy to follow, but as the story begins rolling, I would not like for the narrative to "guide" me into thinking a certain way. Yes, information (background,historical, etc.) is useful but with that information I want to make my won decsions. Melville chose to keep the reader in the dark, which is why the ending was spectacular.

I was somewhat confused about O'Connell and I did not totally buy her argument. Towards the end of her essay she talks about Delano and says that the reader may ask, "How is this about me?" I, as a reader, did not know that the text was supposed to relate to every individual reader, but unless I misinterpreted O'Connell's message, I think she's a bit strange for thinking that every reader feels like the story should be about them.

Posted by GinaBurgese at February 19, 2007 4:33 PM | TrackBack

I think that a reader response criticism is going to be about the reader. What I find interesting about this essay is the relationshiop between the narrator and the reader, and how much of an influence the narrator has on the reader. Alright Gina, don't get mad at me, but think of Chaucer's literature. Chaucer was the objective narrator who played such an important role for the reader, but at the same time the reader had to instill their own opinions into the piece of literature. The narrator is the important factor to a story, and in a reader response perspective in "Benito Cereno," Delano is very important to the story because of Melville's use of perspective.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 21, 2007 1:13 PM

To add:

If Delano were not as objective as he was, would our perceptions of the slaves changed? I think that it would. If an author or narrator imposes their own judgments, that some of the reader's opinions would have changed as well, because of the respect for the author. On the other hand, because Delano was so objective, he, himself had caused us to bring out our opinions of the characters and their personas. It's very mixed, but that's what O' Connell and Iser argued.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 22, 2007 11:20 AM
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