Literature Essay Samples

[...] Transgression in Jeanette Winterson's The Passion.
The fact that Winterson uses two narrators shows the ambivalence of history. According to the author there is no unified, single history but an infinite number of histories. Villanelle's opening description of Venice supports this, with the maze-like city as a metaphor for history. The concept of finding your way in it questions the existence of this right way at all (p. 49). This analogy seems to suggest that there is no predestined exact route, like the route-ways of Venice - history flows and changes. There are no pre-ordained boundaries or paths that must be taken. If the true events of history are that same place we strive to attain, then our present attempt to recreate them "never go by the same route" (p. 49).
The traditional view of history, a history of the ruling classes sees the past as it would view Venice - as something we can locate on a map. A landscape in which, if you use the correct compass and ask the right people, you will find the right way. For Winterson, though, history is like Venice, a mercurial city, where "all things are possible" (p. 49). [...]

[...] The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan consists of four separate stories, each telling a story of a member of a ladies' club located in Chinatown, San Francisco. All four women attending the club have something in common - they all have daughters of approximately the same age and background. All children, Chinese by heritage, were born in the US and have adopted American culture. The mothers find it hard to find common language with their modernized daughters while doing their best to instill in each of them Chinese culture and values. Each mother had gone through lots of hardships in their previous lives in China, and each of them chooses her own way to handle the situation. Even thought the book is not unified by the time, place or character, it is filled with flashback - the memories of Chinese mothers who look back at their lives in China, the serene beauty of this Eastern country, marred by the violence of war.
In 1348-9 Chaucer and his parents were fortunate to escape infection during the Black Death. The history of this pandemic begins with the arrival from the Middle East of a boat full of dying sailors in Sicily in October 1347. The plague, spread mainly by the fleas carried by infected rats, arrived in coastal towns of England in June 1348, and reached London early in 1349. Within eight months, some 2 million of England's 5 million inhabitants were dead. Some villages lost all their inhabitants, in many places more than half died, yet remarkably enough the normal functioning of society was not seriously interrupted. After this, there were regular outbreaks of the plague during Chaucer's lifetime and for centuries after, until the last Great Plague ravaged London in 1665. Most of Alice Chaucer's family died in the Black Death.
Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a novel that deals with a broad range of issues, the author tries to make his audience think about various aspects of humanity as a whole by portraying the lives and adventures of his characters. Conrad elaborates on colonialism, imperialism and racism, and although some critics believe that his novel is written from a rather racist point of view, in fact it does not support racism, but rather tries to show that it is wrong and society should do something about it. Conrad uses a lot of techniques and methods to make his readers interested in his work, the novel is intense enough to make most of the readers willing to read it through from the first time. [...]

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