English Literature Personal Statement

Literature presents us with the impossible task of concealing the complexity of life within a subtle narrative, writers being tasked with embracing ambiguity when addressing the human condition. However, the human condition is not a simple topic to approach. It embraces the conflict that new views create and shuns the conformity that traditional views emphasise. The human condition is an evolving concept and has caused literature to evolve by proxy. The once authoritative nature of literature has been challenged by an increasingly introspective audience. Literature has become the art of creating a subjective experience, and it is this shift into subjectivity that intrigues me.
I’ve found that studying English Literature at A Level has served to foster my interest in literature’s subjectivity in the first place, mainly through the course’s emphasis upon context and critical viewpoints. Whether it be through Webster’s challenge of traditional gender stereotypes in The Duchess of Malfi, through Shakespeare’s exploration of societal views towards mortality and morality within Hamlet or through Atwood’s study on woman’s perverted image within a fundamentalist society in The Handmaid’s Tale, it became apparent that these writers were acting in the interests of an evolving society. Their writing was moulded by world around them, and they in turn challenged that mould, presenting the audience with a moral dilemma and disputing the validity of traditional viewpoints.
This focus on alternative viewpoints within society also links nicely with my study of Sociology. Through the study of both structuralist macro theories such as Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism as well as interactionist micro theories, my own understanding of contextual factors within literature has dramatically increased. Take Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for example. Through the perspective of Marlow, the reader is shown the capitalist nature of European colonialism, Conrad taking a Marxist approach towards colonialism by describing the exploitation of what is seen to be a lesser culture through capitalism and the integration of a hierarchical religion. In contrast with this, Achebe adopts several Functionalist ideas, presenting a Millenarian African society which is not inferior to Europe, but is merely seen as being so due to its polytheistic religion which emphasises totemism. Through applying this sociological knowledge, the contextual factors of each novel become increasingly complex and profound, and in my opinion a more immersive and subjective experience is created for the reader.
In addition to my A Level courses, I have pursued multiple interests both in and out of school. For example, I am currently working towards achieving my Grade VII jazz qualification for the saxophone. I find that jazz has a good balance of cooperation and individualism, players having to be able to effectively communicate with each other and soloists being required to take the pressure of the performance upon themselves and embrace a leading role. Music has helped to improve my confidence and has helped me learn to communicate with others in a constructive manner. I also participate in a variety of team sports such as rugby and American football which serve the same purpose, just with the added incentive of bodily harm.
My part time job as a Sports Centre Assistant has helped to further my communicative skills, requiring nine continuous hours of customer interaction and forcing me to take ownership for my actions and the actions of others. My job has allowed me to mature more as an adult and has helped me learn how to conduct myself in a professional and approachable manner.
In conclusion, I consider myself to be a dedicated and self-disciplined student both in and out of my studies, and I hope to apply that same mentality towards an English lit degree.

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Author's Comments

Hiya, I found this website really usesful when I was writing my personal statement so I decided to upload mine too. Sorry for it sounding protentious af, most of this statement was written at 3am on the day it was due in soooo... yeah. Anyways, hope this helps all my fellow sleep-deprived peeps out there. Peace.

P.S. These are the unis I've applied to:
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Glasgow
- University of St Andrews
- University of Warwick
- University of Leicester

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