English Personal Statement
Literature is the doorway to experience; it introduces us to what we don't know, and makes us re-evaluate what we do. Its ambiguity and allowance for personal interpretation makes it everlastingly relevant, regardless of when it was written. In the words of William Makepeace Thackery, "the two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, familiar things new".
I enjoy literature written from challenging and alternative perspectives that force the reader to consider a new viewpoint or idea. Works by Sylvia Plath, such as "The Bell Jar", "Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams" and many of her poems have particularly highlighted for me this relationship between reader and author.
Plath communicated the way in which she viewed the world through her writing, and her use of figurative language illustrated to me the way in which readers are then able to understand and start to empathise with the writer. Jane Austen is another author who was able to use her writing to challenge the social values of her time.
Her use of indirect speech allowed her to mock satirically, but not condemn, society, and thus allowed her work to be accepted in what was an established male literary world. I have also enjoyed exploring the innovative writing styles of such authors as Woolf and Hemingway.
The technique of the stream of consciousness, pioneered by Woolf, illuminated the closeness one can get to a fictional character - like "Mrs Dalloway" - as their emotional and psychological processes are explored. Hemingway's sparse, charged style showed me how understatement can make the reader feel more emotion, though sentimentality is not visible in actual words.
As well as reading widely I also feel comfortable expressing my own opinions.
The School Debating Society has assisted me in the art of structured debate and the use of persuasive language. Writing articles for the local town newspaper and the school magazine has been an invaluable experience of writing for an audience.
I am also part of the Creative Zone at my school, which has not only been entertaining, but has benefited my own writing hugely, especially in terms of being encouraged to try new styles and forms out. I am a registered Gifted and Talented student for English, and was also entered into the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth by my secondary school.
This has given me the opportunity to attend a lecture by David Crystal in December, on language acquirement and its origins. This is an area I find very intriguing - I recently read "Genie: A Scientific Tragedy" which told the real-life story of a girl who had been isolated since birth, and explored different theories of language acquirement.
It helped me to appreciate the importance of expression, and also the technicalities of the English language. Singing in the school choir has made me look at communication through a different medium. I recently sang in the chorus of St Matthew's Passion at Exeter Cathedral, and I found the way in which the actual phonetics of the words were part of the music fascinating.
I am passionate about music and have achieved grade 7 on the piano, grade 6 on the saxophone, and also play the flute. I find improving my playing satisfying and therapeutic as an escape from academic work. I love to be part of things, and really enjoy playing in the school's Concert Band and Jazz Band.
Positions as Senior Prefect in both of my schools, mentor to the school's foreign students and waitress outside of school have also helped me to realise the importance of communication within a community.
Studying English Literature thus far has given me a thirst to pursue my education in it, and the prospect of being offered further knowledge and appreciation of the literary world is something I find exceptionally stimulating. I would cherish the opportunity to study the subject at University and believe I have the ability and determination to make the most of it.
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