Here they are: the four, polished essays that are the product of careful consideration and revision, and represent my best work as a literary critic. They are the shining jewels in my crown, the feathers in my cap, the twinkle in my eye—too much?
Each of these essays showcase a different critical skill that I have cultivated and developed over the course of this semester:
“A Hypocritical Treatment of Hierarchy in The Tempest“ highlights my ability to make an argument through only a close-reading of The Tempest. While simple in number of the analytical skills employed, the claim presented in this essay is clear, concise, and thoroughly evidenced. By only using close-reading, clear organization, and sound logic to validate my argument, this essay illustrates my most fundamental grasp of the execution of literary criticism, which provides the solid foundation on which each of my following essays are built.
My essay “Masked Meanings: the Historical Importance of Masques and their Role in The Tempest“ is the most sophisticated in my simultaneous use of several literary skills. This essay historically contextualizes The Tempest with another contemporary performative art form—the masque—to make sense of the confusing nature of Prospero’s engagement masque. I move my claim into conversation with the work of two other literary critics, taking the work out of a solely classroom context. The multi-faceted nature of this essay warranted it second place in the critical essay category of the 2017 St. Norbert College Literary Awards.
“Mommy Issues” ushers in an entirely new skill—reading Hamlet through a specific methodology, in this case, psychoanalysis. I find this essay to be particularly satisfying to the part of me that always asks why. Why does Hamlet mistreat Ophelia so badly? For an answer that is not blatantly given to us I use the subconscious schema set forth by Freud, analyzing more of what is not shown than what is to draw conclusions about the intimately connected trio, Hamlet, Gertrude, and Ophelia.
“God: an Absent Presence in the House of Denmark” is the last essay I wrote in this semester, and showcases my ability to analyze a text—Hamlet—through the methodology of poststructuralist linguist Roland Barthes. The focus of this essay on the language of the play begins to move the argument into deconstructionist territory and illustrates my capacity to speak about abstract concepts. This essay underwent heavy revisions in its organization from when it received professorial feedback to its presentation here, and as such is my most improved essay and a good place finish the presentation of my skills as a literary critic.
So please enjoy these forays into the tangled world of Shakespeare and literary criticism, and know that they come to you honestly and authentically, the product of hard work and the ambition to improve.