please read this update... i posted this essay but forgot to say i dont need the grammar and sentence structure fixing, i can do that myself with help from academic support in the morning. This is my rough draft, its the content i am concerned with, whether i am answering the question correctly and i have enough content for it.
Hi, My essay is not finished it is just a rough draft so far and i still have another 3 pages to write for it, but just so i know i am answering the question correctly, please could someone review it (preferably an English teacher.)
Universal themes transcend time period, genres, and individual authors; they surface throughout history in literature, art, philosophy, religion, and politics. Your final assignment is to focus on one of the themes we have covered in this course and, in a paper that is a minimum of 8 pages, explore the origins, significance, and applicability of this theme. You must exemplify and explore your chosen theme in relation to at least two specific works for each genre we have covered; fiction, poetry and drama.
My essay so far...
Overcoming Adversity –
An Exploration of Universal Struggles throughout History
Throughout the history of all literary movements, the fundamental essence of virtually all literature has been the universal struggle to overcome adversity in some form. Literature is filled with themes in which we are tested by struggles and compelled to learn the lessons of our own mistakes, as well as the lessons of those who came before us. Through literature, we are able to better understand and empathize with others and their experiences, enabling us develop a higher sense of learning and pass it along to those who will follow us in history. Through the portrayal of struggles in literature, we are able to understand many more points of view that our own, which in turn enables us to convey our perspective in a more concise and enduring way.
Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” is perhaps one of the most compelling stories about oppression and adversity for African Americans, women and for sexual expression of the late 20th century. In this piece of literature, we follow the lives a dynamic group of individuals as they interact and impact each other’s lives in a wide variety of ways.
As we see the lives of these women unfold, we are witness to unthinkable hardship and suffering. Through the portrayal of man’s inhumanity to man, we see how terrible people, especially men, can be. We also see how strong these characters are while facing the adversity that is in front of them. “The Color Purple” strikes a chord in the reader like no other book of its kind, partly because it shows that even in the face of great adversity, we can overcome any obstacle. We are also reminded that our ability to overcome the struggles in life is not completely found within ourselves, but also in those around us. This shows us that the power of human bonds and individual strength can overcome inhumanity and through perseverance lead to triumph.
The literary classic “The Taming of the Shrew” is an excellent example of literature in which women were subjected to adversity and struggle. While many of the topics involved in the work are of a serious nature for the day, we are shown repeatedly how efforts to overcome obstacles can become valuable life experiences. Though there are several engaging story lines to follow in this masterpiece, the primary focus, as the title would suggest, is the “taming” of Katherina Minola.
Katherina, better known as “the shrew”, is well known for her temper in a time during which women were expected to be proper and obedient. This temper builds a wall isolating her from potential suitors. After Petruchio is convinced to marry Katherina, he begins a regiment of reverse psychological conditioning to improve her disposition. By tactics of starving her, sleep deprivation and denying all things of comfort to her, Petruchio slowly begins to change his wife’s demeanor. Eventually Katherina comes to understand Petruchio’s methods and agrees to become compliant to his will. This shift in her demeanor ultimately wins Petruchio a wager and acts as a lesson for all other women who would be less than compliant.
While by modern day standard we might not consider this a happy ending, during the time it was written it would have been considered so and it solidified of the adversity of a woman’s place in society. The same concept has been updated and converted into stage shows and movies such as “Kiss Me Kate” and “10 Things I Hate about You” with a more empowering twist making it still relevant today.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents us with a story about a woman who is admitted into what was called at the time “total relaxation” as treatment for “temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency” during the brink of the 1900’s. This treatment entailed complete isolation and restriction of all forms of communication or entertainment, and the outcome, as we discover in the story, is total insanity.
Gilman herself experienced first hand this form of “therapy”, which ironically empowers her to tell the tale of the less fortunate woman in a way that is both effective and resonating. The story begs the question: Do other people truly know what is best for us as individuals? If the adversity and ultimate outcome of the woman in the yellow wallpapered room is any indication, it is clear that the answer is no.
By depicting the struggles of a woman faced with a situation in which she has no control – which leads to a slow and tedious crack in her psyche – Charlotte Perkins Gilman was able to make a powerful statement about women’s rights and autonomy, a statement that was echoed many times after this work’s publication in 1892.
In the beginning Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House the central character, Nora, perceives her relationship with Torvald, her husband, as one based on the mutual understanding that she is allowed to act like a child as long as he is able to treat her as such. As her actions, including the loan she acquired without her husband’s awareness or permission, begin to change the dynamics of her relationship, she is faced with the reality that her marriage has been a self-delusional charade by both parties. Her original views of Torvald as a loving and protective husband change with the realization that he is only interested in his own self-image and projecting the perception of being a good husband rather than actually being a true loving one.
When put to the test, Torvald’s actions fall short of the ideals Nora had placed on him. These shortcomings begin a fundamental shift in Nora’s views on life and her role, which causes her to leave her husband and launch a quest of self-discovery. She makes the decision to live on her own so that she may find out who she really is rather than continuing to live as a plaything in a doll’s house.
Without adversity, what would our collective literary experience be? As we have seen in even this small sampling of literary works, the root of literature is based in the struggle to overcome adversity.
From “The Color Purple”, we experienced the impact that a strong mentor could have on a young woman struggling to overcome her history of physical abuse and racial oppression. We witnessed the perceptions of oppressed women, both in America and Africa. The story took us on a journey through several lives so that we could learn from them and gain a better understanding of their particular brand of struggles.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” taught us that the struggles we face are both imposed on us as well as self-induced. We are given a shocking glimpse at how fragile the human mind is and, perhaps even more shockingly, the capacity for others to decide what is right for our sanity. Through experience, the writer gives us her perspective on what the confined woman endured, leaving a lasting impression on the reader that causes us to question society’s definition of “normal”.
Both “The Taming of the Shrew” and “A Doll’s House” show us the struggles of women in a time where women’s rights were not yet even a whispered thought. While these works show opposing views of a women’s personal development, they are both a solid testament of the times and the adversities that women faced and, in many cases, continue to face today.
Adversity, and the challenge it promotes, is and always has been the fundamental premise of all powerful works of literature.