If You Know It, You Should Show It!

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Chapter 3 of the Writing About Literature textbook was very much a review for me of previous literature classes, specifically Introduction to Literature.  Despite the fact that I already knew the information Roberts discusses, there is a difference between knowing something and applying it when examining a piece of literature.  

While I did recognize many of the ideas from the chapter as topics I've discussed and learned in the past, I realized that I don't always think of them or apply them in my work.  If an essay prompt specifically states that I must examine the characters in the piece of literature I'm studying, I do.  However, as I reflect on past papers, I realize that character analysis is rather necessary, regardless of the essay topic.  Examining the use of round or flat characters, or the verisimilitude of a character's actions or statements, as additional points to whatever argument I'm making, could be that extra edge I need to bring my paper closer to perfection.  

This is true of my reading of Glaspell's play, "Trifles."  As I read it, I examined the symbolism of the canary and Minnie's kitchen, but I did not stop to think of the significance of the way Minnie's character was written and established.  Minnie is never actually part of the scene; she is merely referenced by the other characters throughout the play.  Despite only being referenced, she is clearly the protagonist and the only round character of the story.  The fact that she is never physically with the rest of the characters is a rather symbolic fact itself.  Her absence represents how distant she's become since marrying her oppressive husband, so much so that she is never seen around people.  Acknowledging her absence, and scrutinizing it, allows me to better understand Minnie's character and therefore, ideally, write a better paper.

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3 Comments

Brooke Kuehn said:

On Trifles: I never thought about minnie's character that way in that her phyiscal absence in the story parallels her absence for the past 30 years since she married Mr. Wright.
On character Analysis:
I believe that all our years of schooling have lead us to the point where we automatically analyze the characters, plot, setting, etc., but we do not dig deeper unless instructed to do so.

Brooke,

Thanks for your comment! I thought Minnie's absence was interesting and tried to determine a possibly symbolic reason for it. And yes, we have had so many years of school being instructed on what the teacher wants, etc. It's a new experience, being in college, and the professors expect you to do those things on your own automatically. It's just something we have to get used to, and I think we are.

Melissa Schwenk said:

I never thought about the fact that Mrs. Wright is not there as distancing herself from the story. That makes a lot of sense though since she doesn't really seem to care if she gets caught or not. She even seems to laugh it off when asked by Mr. Hale. Nice job!

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