Writing About Literature - Sample Essay

The title is very descriptive. It immediately informed me of what to expect in the body of the text. My initial thought was that the text will teach me how to write a poem, short story, novel, or drama. Since the title is Writing About Literature, I also thought too that it will give an example of a literary criticism that was written good. As I was reading the essay, I found out that it did not dwell on how to write literary criticism but rather of the plurality of meanings in a text.

Although the argument of the essay is valid for me, I just think the title and the body are somewhat incongruous. I just think that the title could have changed to “Reading Literature” or “Meaning and Literature. ” From the opening, the brief essay went on to argue that the text doesn’t have one true meaning, that literature has in fact multiple levels of meaning. From the main argument of the essay, the discussion changed into the way on how to interpret literature.

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The essay ended with the conclusion that literary interpretation has to be based on a critical evaluation of the text rather than a factual account of it. I agree with the main thesis of the essay that literature is a site for different meanings. What I appreciate more is the fact that the essay argued that literary reading can NOT just say anything. Although there is no one true meaning of the text, it doesn’t necessarily follow that every interpretation of the text is correct.

I remember my experiences during my previous English classes when we had to discuss a literary text. I have encountered some professors who are quite sure that there is an “official” way of reading the text. After reading the essay, I feel like it clarified a lot of things for me. I now understand that there can be no “official” way of reading a text since we all have different experiences therefore our approach of the text varies.



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