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The Theme of Self-Interest in ”The Merchant of Venice” and ”The Crucible”

November19

IB English

‘’Do you think human relationships are based on self-interest? How do William Shakespeare and Arthur Miller respond to this question in their literary works: The Merchant of Venice and The Crucible?’’

Self-interest forms the basis of every relationship, whether it is related to friendship, marriage or trade. Although human beings ostensibly love and care for each other, in reality they expect some sort of benefit from every relationship. Both William Shakespeare and Arthur Miller depict the role of self-interest in human relationships in their literary works: The Merchant of Venice and The Crucible respectively. They emphasize this thesis through examples of love, friendship, power and Christianity.

Even though love and friendship are regarded as two forms of relationships where no one seeks any pragmatic purpose, in fact they covertly embody different sorts of self-interest. The triangular relationship among Antonio, Bassanio and Portia in The Merchant of Venice and the friendship between Abigail Williams and the girls in The Crucible are both based on selfish motives. Bassanio asks Antonio for money in order to marry Portia. However, his motive for this marriage consists of not solely his love for Portia but mostly his desire to have Portia’s wealth and be able to pay his debts. He reveals this motive in Act 1, Scene 1 when he tells Antonio that he will be able to pay his debts when he marries Portia. Also Bassanio’s asking his friend, Antonio, for money contributes to the claim that friendship can be used for self-seeking economic purposes. Similarly, the indirect relationship between Portia and Antonio serves to an analogous purpose. Since Portia knows that her husband, Bassanio, has an affection for Antonio, she endeavors to save Antonio from Shylock’s malice so that Bassanio does not leave her, grieving over his friend’s self-sacrifice. Through her powerful actions, most obvious in the trial scene in Act 5, Scene 1 when she is in disguise of a lawyer and saves Antonio’s life, Portia resembles an astute woman figure who transcends women’s standards of her time and fulfills her purpose of not losing her husband.

In The Crucible, although Abigail Williams and the girls seem to be loyal friends, why they are actually bound to each other so tightly is that they fear that one of them might reveal their pretense. In fact, the reason of their unity is their common interest of being seen as ‘’the victims’’ instead of ‘’the witches’’. In Act 1, particularly Abigail intimidates the girls, threatening them that she will not let go anyone who reveals ‘’the other things’’ they did in the forest, including Abigail’s drinking blood to kill Elizabeth Proctor. Therefore their friendship is vastly based on self-interest combined with an immense fear of exposure.

Power and Christianity are two concepts illustrated by both Shakespeare and Miller where self-interest can be observed more clearly than in love and friendship. Revenge, probably the most obvious form of self-interest, is prevalent in both works, portrayed through Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Mr.Putnam in The Crucible. As a Jew who is constantly persecuted by Christians including Antonio, Shylock seeks revenge. Thus, when Antonio wants to make a bond in Act 1, he immediately seizes the opportunity to take revenge and asks for a pound of Antonio’s flesh if he forfeits the bond. In the following acts, it gets more clear that Shylock’s self motive of his bond with Antonio is not money but revenge; that’s why when he is offered three times the loan, he refuses it and insists on his ‘’pound of flesh’’. The conflict between Shylock and Antonio is simply a matter of power display, resembled by Shylock’s money and Antonio’s Christianity. Shylock attempts to take Antonio’s life to fulfill his self-interest; to quench his yen for revenge. However in the trial, his attempt turns out to be against his favor and Antonio becomes the one who is in charge of Shylock’s verdict. As a Christian who disparages Shylock because of his religion, Antonio uses this advantage to his self-interest and demands two things from Shylock, one of which is converting to Christianity. Antonio’s motive for asking Shylock to give up his religion is his desire to take revenge from the malicious Jew rather than his piety, resembling that of a missionary. Although Antonio seems to be the one who shows mercy on the Jew, he actually adds insult to injury by taking the last thing Shylock owns: his religion and this is Antonio’s ultimate revenge.

In The Crucible, Thomas Putnam’s landlust is a great example of revenge as a form of self-interest. Mr.Putnam along with his wife and his daughter accuses many innocent people of witchcraft in order to have their land. Among the victims of Thomas Putnam’s landlust are Rebecca Nurse, Francis Nurse and George Jacobs. The reason that Mr.Putnam targets exclusively the Nurse family is that he holds a grudge against their immense amount of land and reputable social status. Thus Mr.Putnam aims to possess economical and social power by taking their land and destroying their reputation.

Reverend Parris is a calculating character whom Arthur Miller created as a person who values his name and reputation more than anything else. He protects his niece Abigail and the other girls and helps them as they accuse innocent people so that his reputation as a pious Christian, a devoted reverend, is never associated with witchcraft. On the one hand he seems like the righteous leader of the church of Salem; however behind the scenes he is a scheming, selfish man who does not reveal the girls’ fraud in order to keep his good reputation and watches silently as many innocent people are executed. As a leader who is supposed to be an exemplary Christian role model, he prefers lies to honesty and uses Christianity as a tool to serve his self-interest.

The settings of The Merchant of Venice and The Crucible play a significant role in creating the theme of self-interest. The Merchant of Venice takes place in Venice in the sixteenth century. At those times Venice used to be a city of merchandise where capitalism began to thrive. This economic system allowed people to buy and sell goods and services with the incentive to gain interest and maximize their profits. It is no coincidence that Shakespeare had chosen such a setting where self-interest –mostly in the form of economic profit- was gradually becoming the sole purpose of the life of every individual in the society. Even the Court of Venice that is supposed to be a place of justice and equality, serves to the self-interest of the powerful class in the society: the Christians. The diction The Duke of Venice uses when he addresses Shylock; the way he overtly categorizes Shylock as a merciless, malicious Jew and Antonio as ‘’a poor merchant’’ reveal his bias in favor of Christians and his prejudice towards Jews. Just like the Court of Venice, the Court of Salem in The Crucible serves to the self-interest of certain groups of people, distorting its function as a court of ‘’justice’’ and causing many people’s unjust executions. Salem, the setting of The Crucible, is a town established only a few decades before the Salem witch trials. The church of Salem embodies Puritan beliefs and tries to maintain its authority in the recently founded town of Salem. The people of Salem are European immigrants who are trying to settle down and share the land of Salem. In such a disheveled society that is prone to any kind of chaos and where people are blinded by greed of land and power, it is very likely that a mass hysteria will take place where everyone will strive to maintain his or her own self-interest. Thus, though very different from Venice, Salem forms a perfect setting in order to portray the selfish motives of individuals.

Both Miller and Shakespeare convey different kinds of self-interest through various narrative points of view. Since both works are plays, they are not limited by one perspective but they show the reader many points of view. In The Merchant of Venice, the reader is given the self motives of disparate characters; a Jew’s revenge, a Christian’s religious domination, a woman’s fear of losing her husband and a man’s desire to gain wealth through marriage. Likewise in The Crucible, a greedy man’s landlust, a pretentious reverend’s fear of bad reputation and a scheming girl’s fear of exposure are reflected throughout the play. Therefore, both works enable the reader to see multifaceted relationships that are built upon the same basis: self-interest.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare and The Crucible by Arthur Miller both accentuate the thesis that every relationship is motivated by self-interest. Both authors prove this thesis through multifaceted characters, intricate settings and various perspectives, using the themes of love, friendship, power and Christianity. Though having very different plots and structures; The Merchant of Venice as a tragic-comedy whereas The Crucible as a historical play, they both make the reader realize that no matter what kind of bond it possesses, every relationship harbors some sort of self-interest and it is inevitable for conflicts to arise when these interests contradict at some point.

Sevde Kaldıroğlu

May 13, 2012

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Commentary on Waiting for the Barbarians – Chapters 1 & 2

October20

In Chapter 1 and 2 of Waiting for the Barbarians, although J.M.Coetzee seems to juxtapose two utterly disparate worlds; the ‘’primitive’’ one of ‘’the barbarians’’ and the ‘’civilized’’ one of ‘’the Empire’’, he actually examines much deeper dilemmas of human nature such as indifference vs. compassion and cruelty vs. civility. Through intense imagery and candid narration, the author exposes the social and psychological cul-de-sac of a magistrate who cannot belong to either world.

Waiting for the Barbarians consists of many symbols which subtly resemble the juxtapositions Coetzee tries to convey. For instance, the lantern is a tool that illuminates the truths of imperialism. By the help of the lantern, the narrator sees the tortures innocent prisoners endure; he witnesses the injustice and viciousness of the so-called civilized Empire. Up to that point, he had ignored the cruelty of the Empire, he had tried to focus on his joyful life but now that he has been exposed to the truth, he cannot pretend to ignore it anymore. ‘’The joy has gone from my life’’ he admits: Being exposed to the ugly truths of imperialism had left him joyless, since his conscience does not let him continue his joyful ignorance and indifference.

Another metaphor Coetzee uses is the hunter and the animal. He constantly contrasts the barbarians and the men of the Empire through the chapters, yet the most striking analogy he makes about the barbarians is the comparison of barbarians to the animals. As the narrator depicts their manners as ‘’their strange gabbling, their vast appetites, their animal shamelessness, their volatile tempers’’, he overtly likens them to animals. It is ironic, though, that his going back and forth between his disgust towards their ‘’uncivilized’’ behaviors and his pity towards them being tortured indicates his own ‘’volatile tempers’’; how he can’t choose a particular side and how he does not possess the courage to defend his side. Nevertheless, sometimes subtly sometimes not, he continues this comparison and furthermore he uses the metaphor of hunting for imperialism. The imagery he uses in describing the hunt makes the roles of each side clear; the role of the Empire as the hunter is to kill and the role of the barbarians as the animals is to run desperately, yet die at the end. The girl with the broken ankle whom the narrator lives with tells him: ‘’You should not go hunting if you do not enjoy it’’, implying that he doesn’t have to obey the orders of the Empire and continue to witness it fulfilling its vicious missions; that he should not continue ‘’hunting’’ the barbarians if he doesn’t want to. However in the first two chapters of the novel, the narrator doesn’t have the courage and the determination to leave his job and give up his current life for the sake of his conscience.

June 2011 – 11th grade

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Tutoring at Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey

October17

In the beginning of my junior year, in other words my first year in IB, I became a volunteer at a non-governmental organization called TEGV (Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey). TEGV is a foundation in Turkey that has the mission of encouraging and contributing to the education and social development among children aged 7-16. By being a volunteer at TEGV, I had a three day seminar along with other volunteers. During the seminars, we were trained on how to communicate with children, how to create an effective and entertaining learning environment and which teaching methods we should or shouldn’t use. This concentrated training made me feel like I was going to be a teacher; up to that point of my life I had always been the student, I had behaved like a student, I had been treated like a student. Yet I began to realize that I was actually going to use the things I had learned at school to educate little children: I was finally going to be the teacher.

Along with realization came anxiety and the challenge of having a responsibility. I didn’t know how it was to be the teacher, to convey information and to maintain an interactive and enjoyable environment at the same time. Nevertheless I started to go to TEGV every Saturday in order to tutor second graders on mathematics. Although at first it was hard to get used to spending a few hours every week for tutoring, the experience was worthwhile. I had many difficulties; it was hard and sometimes tiring to prevent the children from chatting during the lesson or to make them do worksheets while it was sunny outside. I also noticed that every child had a different way and pace of learning; some liked writing, some liked talking, some were incredibly energetic and loquacious that even I couldn’t keep up with them, whereas some were silent and taciturn. Getting to know their different characteristics taught me that not two of them were the same, each of them was unique and worth the challenging work I had to cope with.

These obstacles did not let me down, instead they gave me hints on the future challenges of my life and they enabled me to empathize with my teachers. Witnessing the learning process of the children, seeing their enthusiasm and the gratuitous happiness in their eyes made me realize that the time and effort I spent at TEGV had taught me definitely one of the most important lessons of my life: Being the teacher or the student did not matter; beyond status, age or culture, learning was universal and ubiquitous.

June 3, 2012 – 11th grade

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Comparative Analysis of ‘’Liberty Leading the People’’ and ‘’The New Colossus’’

October8

IB English

Text and Image Analysis

‘’LIBERTY LEADING THE PEOPLE’’ BY EUGENE DELACROIX

‘’THE NEW COLOSSUS’’ BY EMMA LAZARUS

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ‘’THE LIBERTY LEADING THE PEOPLE’’ BY EUGENE DELACROIX AND ‘’THE NEW COLOSSUS’’ BY EMMA LAZARUS

Eugene Delacroix’s painting, ‘’Liberty Leading The People’’, and Emma Lazarus’s poem, ‘’The New Colossus’’, both highlight the concept of liberty and equality in an enthusiastic and emphatic way. Both portray an era where people shift from unquestioning obedience to a rebellious revolution, or more simply, from absolute monarchy to independence and democracy.

Both pieces belong to the same era: 19th century. Thus they both reflect the concepts that had spread through the world by the French Revolution of 1789; liberty, democracy and equality. In ‘’Liberty Leading The People’’, Delacroix depicts the July Revolution of 1830 in France. The flag of France in the hands of the woman figure resembles the concept of nationalism that prevails in the whole picture.The guns, swords and the corpses imply that there has been a battle and this was how July Revolution of 1830 actually happened. As depicted in the painting, people fought for freedom and equality with the power of their patriotism; therefore the mass of people in the picture died for this purpose and as the triumphant way the woman holds the flag suggests, their goal has been accomplished. In ‘’The New Colossus’’, Emma Lazarus personifies The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, USA. Through illustrating that statue, she uses the phrase ‘’world-wide welcome’’ which conveys the message that USA is the country of liberty that welcomes everyone from every nation. The lines ‘’Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’’ imply that the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of USA, calls upon every nation who fights for its independence and promises to help them ‘’breathe free’’. Unlike Delacroix’s painting, it does not imply any nationalistic messages; it destroys the concept of nationalism by calling upon every nation and inviting them to USA, encouraging immigration.

Both Delacroix’s painting and Lazarus’s poem include a major woman figure, a goddess from mythology. ‘’Liberty Leading the People’’ portrays liberty as a half-goddess and half-human warrior. Although her muscular arms and neck along with the gun in her hand almost give her some kind of masculinity, they also highlight her strength and determination to win the war of freedom, an unheralded triumph of a woman. Her breasts being exposed, an unexpected feature of a virtuous woman, points out the permanent change that is about to come; that every secret of the monarchy will be exposed to the society and everyone will be free and equal. Her bare breasts also give her a goddess-like look, an almost supernatural gift to accomplish her goal: liberty. Similarly ‘’The New Colossus’’ symbolizes liberty by personifying the Statue of Liberty who is a depiction of the Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas. The lines ‘’A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning’’ portray the woman figure as ‘’a mighty woman’’ who possesses great power to give freedom to every nation. Her ‘’flame’’ is a symbol of her impressive determination and power as a goddess of freedom.

Both pieces refer to every individual without distinguishing between social status or gender which strengthens the idea of equality and democracy. In ‘’Liberty Leading the People’’, the man with a derby hat and a gun symbolizes the noblemen, implying that people from different status or gender fought for the revolution, ignoring the social differences set by the regime of monarchy. Thus, everyone fighting for the same purpose removes the social differences, emphasizing equality and the regime where it is possible: democracy. In Lazarus’s short sonnet, although the words equality and democracy are not directly mentioned, they are the major themes of the poem. The Roman goddess of freedom,Libertas, calls upon every nation without discrimination, promising them liberty along with democracy in USA. Therefore the French revolutionary people depicted in Delacroix’s painting are included in Libertas’s target group.

Eugene Delacroix’s painting, ‘’Liberty Leading The People’’, and Emma Lazarus’s poem, ‘’The New Colossus’’, both emphasize the concepts of freedom, equality and democracy through goddess-like figures as symbols of liberty. Delacroix’s painting portrays strong imagery whereas Lazarus’s sonnet presents an allegorical language full of similes, oxymorons and metaphors.

 11th grade – 2012

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What is an Ideal Woman: A Beauty Queen or a Strong, Successful Woman?

October7

IB English 

Image Analysis

Appearance has much more significance on women than on men. It is not because a woman cares about what she looks like but she is expected to, by the whole society; both women and men. Yet, as women became more equal to men through modernization, they began to reach men on every aspect of life; as women became as strong as men, they began to lose their feminine appearances and possess physically masculine qualities. Thus the woman of today is stuck between the modern, strong woman identity she’d like to possess and the ideal, attractive model she’s expected to fit in.

In the images, Marilyn Monroe, a beauty queen, and Tiffeny Milbrett, a successful, woman soccer player, are portrayed as two contrasting figures of woman in the society. On the one hand, Marilyn Monroe displays her beautiful, curvaceous body in a revealing dress and high heel shoes, adorning it with heavy make-up, sumptuous earrings and a seductive laugh. On the other hand, Tiffeny Milbrett represents the successful and strong woman figure of the modern world, revealing her strength with her muscular body; her ambition with her resolute, hard looks. Unlike Monroe, she has no curves, no make-up and no fancy dress; she does not embody the physical qualities particular to femininity. Nevertheless, there is a distinction between the two: The figure of Milbrett portrays how strong and successful a woman can be –independent of her appearance- in the society. She is the embodiment of the idea; ’’Equality between men and women is achievable’’, whereas the figure of Monroe, beyond defending gender equality, gives women and men evidently different roles: ‘’Women must possess a beautiful and well-groomed physical appearance and reveal her beauty to attract and gain the admiration of men.’’

Today, many women feel the obligation to be physically attractive and well-groomed; a result of the public pressure brought on by the ideal figure of Marilyn Monroe. Many women also try to reach success, be powerful and achieve equality to men. However the expectations of the society on women’s physical attributes are so deep-rooted and strong that women have to struggle to go beyond these standards and reach success and equality.

11th grade – 2011

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Comparative Textual Analysis of “Shooting An Elephant” and “The Damned Human Race”

October7

IB English

George Orwell in ‘’Shooting an Elephant’’ and Mark Twain in ‘’The Damned Human Race’’ both explore the cruelty of human nature. Twain conveys his opinions through a scientific tone, which he calls “scientific method”, while Orwell narrates a memoir of his own.

Twain begins his essay by mentioning the Darwinian theory of the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals and with an unhesitant and unambigous tone he suggests that the Darwinian theory must be modified into a “new and truer one to be named the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals”. He presents his hypothesis, ‘Men descended from the Higher Animals, thus man is the lowest animal alive’, and supports it with the actions of human-beings through history, “Prince Napoleon… in the Zulu war”, and hypothetical experiments,“In another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary and… I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen”. Twain presumably acts as an objective scientist through use of “scientific method”. Nevertheless through his specific examples of the evil nature of human-beings, he makes lots of generalizations such as “Man is incurably foolish”, trying to impose his own tenets on the reader,this suggests that in fact Twain is strongly biased and considers only the evil side of human nature, dismissing the civilized and peaceable actions of humans.

Orwell conveys his memoir in a very candid way, revealing his confusion between his opposition to imperialism and his hate for Burmese people who hated him when he was a police officer in Lower Burma, “All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible”. In fact, he’s stuck between his British identity and his allegiance to anti-imperialism. He then begins the story that gave him a better glimpse of “the real nature of imperialism”; the story of how he shot an innocent elephant ,”The elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow”, because of the pressure brought by the public. The elephant is a metaphor for people who live in colonized countries, who are the victims of imperialism. He, as the one who victimizes the elephant, is “ the puppet” of imperialist powers which are, in this case, the crowd that force him to do so, “Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd- seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind”. Orwell effectively uses imagery to make an impact on the reader, “At the second shot he did not collapse but climbed with desperate slowness to his feet and stood weakly upright, with legs sagging and head drooping”. The frankness of the way he narrates the story exposes the evil nature and the ugly truths of imperialism.

Imperialism, one of the evil actions of humans, portrayed in Orwell’s memoir supports Twain’s thesis of men being mean and evil. However, Orwell explores the motives that cause such actions which Twain never mentions. Orwell frankly tells that the motives for shooting the elephant were the pressure brought by the crowd, “the will of those yellow faces behind”, and his avoidance of humiliation, “The crowd would laugh at me”. Orwell connects those immoral actions with the subversion caused by public whereas Twain considers them as intrinsic characteristics of human kind, “He (man) is constitutionally afflicted with a Defect which must make such approach (to the level of Higher Animals) forever impossible, for it is manifest that this defect is permanent in him, indestructible, ineradicable”. Twain and Orwell both agree that whatever humans do, they do it consciously. Twain suggests that unlike ‘’Higher animals’’ man acts consciously, ‘’Man in his descent from the cat, has brought the cat’s looseness with him but has left the unconsciousness behind’’. Orwell, in his memoir, confirms Twain’s thesis by declaring that he ‘’knew with perfect certainty that he/I ought not to shoot the elephant’’.

Both Twain and Orwell illustrate different ways of violence caused by humans in their essays, expressing them through candid words. Orwell mentions the violence perpetrated by imperialist powers, “The wretched prisoners… the scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with bamboos”, and violence against children, “an old woman with a switch in her hand… violently shooing away a crowd of naked children”, but he mainly focuses on the unfair violence on the elephant which is again a symbol of imperialist actions. Twain depicts the same picture through harsh, yet realistic words, “force, bloodshed, wars”, and gives the example of an historical event, “a Buffalo hunt for the entertainment of an English earl”, to show the violence perpetrated on “Higher animals” by humans as “Lower animals”.

Twain juxtaposes human kind and other animals in a cynical and sarcastic tone, “The cat is innocent, man is not”. He uses irony while stating his arguments, “He (man) blandly sets himself up as the head animal of the lot; whereas by his own standarts he is the bottom one”, to accentuate the contrast between humans and animals. His cynical point of view when arguing that humans are the lowest animals reveals his misanthropic personality and his shame for being a part of this mass of evil creatures. Twain also uses syntax effectively, he uses capital letters to highlight the immoral characteristics of human kind, “Patriot, Slave”.

In “Shooting an Elephant” and “The Damned Human Race”, whilst George Orwell and Mark Twain both expose the barbarous and evil actions of human-beings, they differ in explaining the causes behind them. An intense and candid diction is prevalent in both essays, providing the reader a realistic view of the issues discussed.
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Self-criticism :) : This was my first textual analysis in the IB English class in my junior year; so it may not be a perfect IB English essay, considering the untidiness of the quotes and the vague introduction and conclusion paragraphs.

Sevde Kaldiroglu

11/04/11

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Chick Lit

October7

I will begin by posting the essays I wrote during high school so that I can see my progress through years easily. Below is probably the first academic essay I wrote in my life.

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Have you ever heard of chick lit? Or let me ask it this way; have you ever read a pink and fancy covered book? Or is there a book you’ve read that made you laugh out loud and caused surprised gazes from people around you? If you are a girl and said yes to at least one of these questions, then you’ve definitely read a chick lit book. If you’re surprised, then you’ve read a chick lit without even knowing its genre. Well, no problem, because here is the answer to what chick lit is. Chick lit or ‘’chicken literature’’ is a subgenre of women’s fiction that usually tells the stories of women experiencing daily life issues; such as love, friendships, shopping addictions, weight issues and much more, in a light, personal and humorous way. Today, the bestseller sections of bookstores are full of chick lit novels some of which are really great masterpieces while some are full of clichés which are mainly the reason of the bad stereotypes about the genre.

Although chick lit is a modern popular genre, it actually predates twentieth century. Since the plot of the genre is based on ‘women standing on their own feet’; Jane Eyre(1847) by Charlotte Bronte and many of Jane Austen’s novels, first heroine-centered novels, are also considered as the first samples of chick lit. However the first example of modern chick lit is known as Bridget Jones’s Diary(1996) by Helen Fielding.

One of the main things that make chick lit attract female readers is that it mirrors the women of today. Chick lit is not an extraordinary story of imaginary characters, it is simple and realistic and fun at the same time. Women read those novels and empathize with the protagonist immediately because the protagonist, itself represents the reader while the novel reflects the real life. Beyond being fun and easy-to-read, chick lit captures the issues women face in the society, including challenges of single or married life, office politics and economical difficulties. It is often written in an outspoken way which tells every thought that comes to the mind of the protagonist, making the novel even more realistic and usually giving the reader the feeling of déjà vu.

Some literary critics and readers dislike chick lit, blaming it for being frivolous, too light-hearted or even ridiculous. However there are a few reasons that cause these prejudices against chick lit. Since the genre has captured so many readers at a surprisingly short time and chick lit novels became international bestsellers all over the world, the number of chick lit authors has exploded, especially for the last few years. Just like in every literature genre, some bad samples of chick lit have been written as well as the good ones. Some original characterizations such as shopaholic protagonist created by one particular author had attracted so many readers that they were imitated by many so-called chick lit authors and this caused chick lit to be known as a genre telling the same story with same standard characters all over again. Thus the imitation of original plots and characters which actually belonged to great chick lit writers, led to stereotypes about the genre.

Despite all the critics and bad samples of chick lit, it is a fact that the genre continues to grow and attract more readers day after day, creating literarily well-regarded authors such as Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes and taking a permanent place in women’s literature. It seems that as chick lit develops and derives many sub-genres like mom&baby lit, it will be appreciated by the literary critics as well as the readers.

06/27/11

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