English Literature Personal Statement Example 29

Late one night, when I came across a video of Iggy Pop reading Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, I immediately knew what John Keats meant when he encouraged us to be a "thoroughfare for all thoughts". The story, and Poe's writing, were completely foreign to me, and I was oddly enchanted by his nightmarish exploration of the powers of the human mind.

The way the narrator scrambles to rid himself of the "agony" he experiences through his apparent guilt was initially disturbing, although I was entranced by the concept of the human mind and its emotions almost being instruments of torture.

In I Have Dreamed of You So Much, a poem by Robert Desnos, the persona dwells upon his preference for life inside his own mind and is faced with the prospect of becoming nothing but a "shadow". Similarly to Poe, Desnos explores the power of the mind; it has lured him away from reality, controlling him through its image of safety and comfort, and consequently limiting him to the capacity of his own imagination.

This exemplifies how, for me, literature is a "thoroughfare", just as Keats was describing. As I journey along its path, the contemplations and perspicacity of writers such as Poe and Desnos flow through me, facilitating my development both academically and as a person.

Poetry is my first love; I have always been captivated by the "chasmal beauty" in the works of Thomas Hardy and Pablo Neruda. I have made a conscious decision to read Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, only in Spanish. The reasons for this are twofold: partly to aid my A-Level studies, but mainly to foster my interest in etymology and to enable me to better appreciate the subtleties and complexities of his writing in its native language.

I am particularly intrigued by the Spanish word 'alma', frequently used by Neruda in his poetry, as it has multitudinous meanings: the heart, soul, ghost or spirit. This demonstrates the difficulty in effectively translating literature; even minor alterations of words can result in a wholly differing interpretation of a piece of writing. I have found that linguistic subtleties can often get lost when a book goes into translation.

Subtlety is a tremendously powerful tool for a writer, not only through choice of language, but also through leitmotifs and symbolism. In The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood interweaves her story with allegory so intricately that it is often indiscernible, for example, Offred's use of bread dough to replicate the feeling of human flesh. Although Atwood only uses this metaphor once, it brilliantly reinforces the motifs of brutal practicality and loss of intimacy that run through the book.

Over the past year, I have been an 'English Ambassador' at school. Many of the pupils that I worked with were unenthusiastic and bored by literature, an attitude I was shocked to discover that many young teenagers share. I decided to recommend what initiated my own love of reading - young adult, dystopian fiction, in particular the work of Veronica Roth. As we discussed her novels, I mentioned to the students that literature is so much more than just putting text 'under the microscope'; it is about expanding our experiences of the world.

Lately, I have been rediscovering Louisa May Alcott's fine-spun illustration of the expectations of women and their struggle between personal growth and familial responsibility, in her novel Little Women. Reading this alongside my research into femicide in Mexico for my Spanish A-Level, and my study of gender inequality across the world in Geography, has really helped me to understand the frustration and agonies felt by the women in the novel, and also in the world today.

My chosen A-Level studies are holistic and meaningful in modern society; I believe this has enhanced my ability to empathise with characters and their plights.

I am looking forward to continuing my "thoroughfare for all thoughts", and expanding my literary horizons, as I move into the next stage of my life.

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Author's Comments

Hi, so I sent of my UCAS/ personal statement to these unis: Oxford, Nottingham, Exeter, Cardiff and Oxford Brookes. I’ve already received an offer from Exeter!
Let me know what you guys think :)


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