Oh social critique, how you wound me. My social critique essay is the black sheep of the bunch and the only essay in no way represented in my presentation portfolio. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad essay, but it didn’t really succeed in using a social methodology: analyzing Hamlet based on class and authority relationships. You might remember me telling you that I love historical contextualization; well, that love turned into an obsession in this essay.
We had choices to read the work of Marx and Foucault, but the methodology and subsequent source that I decided to use as the base of this essay comes from Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the Carnivalesque. However, instead of focusing on the social theory in my essay, I focused more on where that social theory came from. Bakhtin rooted his theory in the literary work of Rabelais, known for his writings of the folk carnival celebrations, such as Mardi Gras. While this essay made some poignant observations on the parallels but ultimate difference of Hamlet’s orchestration of The Mousetrap to the lower class’ carnivals, those connections were made in respect to the historical events of the carnival and not the universal notion of the Carnivalesque.
Incorporating the methodology into this essay was difficult, but even getting to the topic was like pulling teeth. I found all of the readings in the Social Critique unit to be difficult to sift through, so I really had to buckle down to even glean what I could out of Bakhtin’s essay. You’ll see in my outline and first draft that my ideas were pretty scattered, mostly because I was trying to comprehend and write at the same time.
I did find my peer review feedback to be helpful in the flow and transitions of my essay, so I was feeling pretty good when I submitted my revised draft, but it wasn’t until I got feedback from my professor that I truly understood what my social critique essay should look like and be accomplishing.
I could have gone back and made the revisions to focus this essay more on the Carnivalesque, but after the headache I had developing this essay I really just wanted to be done with it.
This essay really defined for me my virtues and my vices if you will. I learned that I have an extreme passion for historical contextualization, but that passion came at the price of the quality of my social critique. It does bother me a little bit that social critique doesn’t come as easily to me as other methodologies and skills, and it was hard for me to let that go and move on to the next essay with a fresh start.
I don’t consider this essay a failure because it taught me where I can improve as a literary critic, I just find it the least successful. Like my professor said in my feedback, this was “a great start at a very perceptive study.” However, one great thing I can say about this essay is that it birthed my favorite title of this semester: “Hamlet, a Party Pooper.” I’m just sorry that this essay pooped on my party.