English Language & Literature Personal Statement Example (Oxford University)
What is more powerful than ardent love or the overwhelming intensity of human emotion? What is more powerful than a nuclear force, a fatal weapon, an instrument designed to destruct and destroy? Language and literature are the strongest forms of weaponry to exist. The alignment of each letter, the meticulous assortment of the vowels and consonants to produce a word, the hard phonetic quality of the 'ger' sound in the word anger and the soft lulling 'l' in love induce an emotional human response. My daily exposure to words, whether it be in the media or on a page in a novel; each word and the omnipotence it carries, is what informs my everyday decisions, influences the way I feel and affects me as a human.
My enthrallment with a writer’s ability to shape a reader's mind through a thought-provoking work of literature was notable during my studies of the ‘Ariel’ anthology by Sylvia Plath - a collection of poetry with a broad expression of themes such as female liberation and gender. Studying how Plath urged people to consider their own society through the profuse allusion to patriarchalism embedded in her writing style, encouraged me to research other works that challenged people's conceptions of society. I was able to explore this further in my Extended Project Qualification, an opportunity presented to me to plunge into the radical world of Angela Carter by exploring the question: "In what way does Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’ present Victorian societal issues?". This subversive tale proved to be an excellent example of pushing the boundaries of 20th century literature and is recognised for its avant-garde style. My involvement with this project has enabled me to venture beyond the curriculum, continuing the development of my interest for gender inequality in literature and exposing me to an extensive variety of feminist theory.
I further broadened my interest in Victorian gender issues and the Gothic presented in Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' by reading Bram Stoker's ‘Dracula’, which effectively captures contrasting portrayals of women and supports the New Woman movement in the Victorian Fin de Siècle through its emulation of unconventional female representations as in Carter's ‘The Bloody Chamber.’ I then used my initiative to seek new interpretations of the novel by reading an article from The British Library "Daughters of Decadence" by Greg Buzwell, which interprets the novelist Stoker as having an aversion to the sexualised rebellion embodied in 'The New Woman', represented by his character Lucy Westernra, whom he presents in a sexually decadent light and kills off as punishment for her "sexual licentiousness"; while the adverse characterisation of Mina Murray is depicted as admirable and more traditional. I believe this view aligns well with the double standards of Victorian society which is a civilisation where a woman's sexual freedom is reprimanded while a male’s is overlooked. Critical works have not only stretched me to consider a multitude of new interpretations, but have also provoked me to find my own which is to be developed on degree course.
Through my appointment as a Head Student, my creative writing and public speaking skills have prospered greatly with the new responsibilities the role entails, which should enhance my ability to deliver presentations and lectures with ease and confidence on a course level. I have shown enthusiasm for writing through my entry to an Oxford University Modern Languages French film writing competition for which I was awarded a special commendation. My passion for the arts and my experience of being a performer, dedicating 7 hours of my week to dance lessons in ballet, jazz, tap, musical theatre and modern, featuring in two TV commercials and being a young performer in the Reading Christmas pantomime, is certain to enhance my ability to blossom in the study of literature; I believe that writing and the art of performance are a perfect enhancement of each other as they encompass the practices of creative expression and storytelling which mould the foundations to an ardent and successful writer. I have had the experience of being a Drama scholar and an English, Humanities and Languages scholar which in themselves are reflections of my academic excelling and intellectual curiosity in both fields of study.
My ideal career as a journalist encompasses analytical and communication skills which I believe this course will equip me with, but also requires passion and fulsome interest for writing which I have an abundance of and wish to build upon and take to a much higher and advanced level through the completion of an English Language and Literature degree.
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