Wednesday, February 25, 2009

God Created Stories; Idiots Created Metaphors

Being an English major, I've come across a wide variety of characters in the classroom. Some of the characters I've liked, some of them a little loopy, and some of them that just get on my nerves. It's not only the students either. This includes the whole spectrum: Professors, students, books, you name it.

I know what you're going to say: " You're an English major and you don't like books?"

That's not it at all. The reason I became an English major, is because I like the creative aspect of writing. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy reading what other people have to offer. However, it gets to a point to where Literature is absolutely drained of all its quality and main purpose (to entertain) when people downright over analyze every bit of a story!

I remember one time in high school, I was so proud of myself when my sixth grade English teacher read a story I wrote about overcoming my fear of roller coasters. She started reading it and my self-esteem was at a high point, when all of a sudden, she decided to put a few "closing statements" on my paper. Instead of praising my actual story, she started to praise "secret" messages in the story that I wasn't even aware of putting. According to Mrs. Big Bird (we'll call her), when I screamed at the very top of the roller coaster, I was releasing all my anxiety and freedom through my vocal cords. Hmm... and all this time I thought I screamed because I was scared out of my mind. Thank you for clarifying that I had freedom vocal cords Mrs. Big Bird, I'll keep that in mind the next time I write my next story.

Coming back to this day and age, I start looking around the classroom and realize that the students are just as bad as the professors! I have two literature classes in a row, and I have to read stories about teenage boys beating a hare for supper, in Phyllis Bottome's A Mortal Storm and at the same time listen to people in class say "The hare represents the downfall of their society!" Hmm... Yes it's true that their lives weren't that grand, but could it be a possibility that the young boys were beating the crap out of this rabbit because they were hungry and couldn't afford food?

The over analyzing gets better. In my next class on regionalism and American imperialism in Literature, we have to read and listen to a gamut of articles written by more people over analyzing a book and discuss it in class. In addition to these crazy articles, you have the "classic" literature characters jumping out of their seats all enthusiastic about the articles and agreeing with them. For example, we just finished reading: The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett. Now... I don't know if anyone knows a little bit about Sarah Orne Jewett, but people claimed that she was a lesbian. Back in the day, it wasn't called that. Instead, her and her partner were involved in a "Boston Marriage". So because of her acclaimed preferance in lifestyle, a lot of people (within the class and in these articles) claim that her work has "hidden lesbian agendas". Without knowing her history, I wouldn't have even looked at the novel in that way. Instead, I would have just seen it as two women bonding and telling stories. But no... In the eyes of other people, they have to over analyze the whole "relationship" and say that these women were together all the time because they're "gay". "Oh look! They're holding hands, and all their husbands are dead! So that must mean Sarah Orne Jewett wants us to join the lesbian fan club..."

Unfortunately, due to professors and students over analyzing these stories and jumping to unnecessary conclusions, I often times feel lost in the actual plot. So my advice? Just relax a tad bit. Yes, there's a possibility the author wanted a secret meaning or symbolism in his/her work, but I don't think he/she wants to take away from the actual pleasure of reading a good book.