English Literature Personal Statement

In one sense, life is incredibly simple. We are bound by the inevitability of death from the moment we are born. However, the stories that are born within that time and the way in which our cultures, religions and the complexity of the human condition impact on the way in which we express is what truly defines us. This connection is what I find fascinating about literature. In 2017, I spent three weeks in a primary school in Uganda where I was able to not only further my love for the English language but also witness the way in which their expression and thus writing differed from my own due to their life experiences. I truly believe that we cannot appreciate literature fully without an open mind and an understanding of the world around us.

An article on the ‘The Scarlet Letter’ showed me how the exploration of feminism differs from that of a modern novel such as ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. This sparked an interest in the puritan society which led me to exploring how it was portrayed in ‘The Crucible’. Despite being written one hundred years apart, I found it fascinating how both ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and ‘The Crucible’ utilised the society in which they were set to examine the theme of sin and repentance. I have enjoyed being able to use resources such as The English Review and the E Magazine to not only aid me in fully forming my own views but to also challenge my own opinions through finding conflicting opinions.

The presentation of religion in literature and how this has an impact on expression has influenced me in my EPQ topic on the connection between religion and poetry; I began my research with the poetry of John Milton. Exploring literature from a different perspective than the close reading that the A Level curriculum demands has been interesting as it allows me to view texts differently and appreciate language as a vehicle of change. During my study of English Literature, the question that has consistently arisen for me is: Why do people write the way in which they write? The question I have chosen for my EPQ has allowed for me to begin exploring this question in depth.

The context in which texts are written in fascinates me and an article in ‘English Literature History’ on the link between ‘Wuthering Heights’ and the Liverpool Slave Trade led to me interpreting the novel differently and really begin to appreciate the poetic nature of Victorian English. Bronte has carefully utilised dramatic irony to create the contentious character of Heathcliff.

The casting of Maxine Peake as Hamlet at The Royal Exchange prompted me to explore the gender restraints put on directors by literature from different time periods. I was interested in not only how critics reacted to the controversial casting but also how the text may be interpreted differently with a female lead.

Though my combination of A Level subjects may seem unconventional, I believe that Maths and my AS study in Further Maths have allowed me to engage with texts in a logical way, supporting the understanding of humanity I have gained from English Literature and History.

Through my involvement with dance, I have learnt that expression isn’t necessarily confined to writing and I am currently working towards my intermediate and advanced vocational dance exams. The experience of taking these has taught me the connection between hard work and good results from a young age, which I feel has positively influenced my academic results. My communication and time management have been greatly improved through my part time job as a waitress and my volunteering at The Countess of Chester Hospital fundraising department and local day care centre for the elderly.

I believe that my interest in the world and how this influences my reading of literature makes me suitable for studying English Literature at university. I would like the opportunity to view the world and different time periods through literature and to begin to discover exactly why we communicate through texts the way we do.

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