The poststructural essay was the last essay to be written in the semester. Poststructural is a bit of an umbrella term to refer to methodologies that critique observable structures structures in the world. We had a choice between a gender critique and a deconstructionist critique.
Feeling that I had already dealt with gender in some of my essays on The Tempest I wanted to take on a new challenge, so I chose deconstruction, just to see if I could do it. Deconstruction—a form of literary analysis and critique emphasizing how the language of a text itself creates conflicting meanings—was an entirely new concept to me, so I wanted to try my hand at it. I consider what ensued to be a great accomplishment not only at a first attempt at deconstruction—which can be very confusing—but also in revision.
Choosing to take on deconstruction was one story, but actually applying that to a focuses literary critique of Hamlet was something else entirely. I had an extremely difficult time settling on an essay topic, but found footing when I asked myself where I found the language funny in the play. You see, deconstruction at its core is funny and about showmanship, often dealing with a lot of puns. Instantly, the witty humor of the gravediggers jumped into my mind.
I originally wanted to focus my essay on how the gravedigger’s fumbling yet ultimate command of language broke down the barrier between the lower and upper classes, but I think I was just still salty about social critique. After some brainstorming with Dr. Scheler I decided to take a more theological approach to my essay, looking at the moments where God is present in the language of the characters.
Normally I would have done a free write and outline before I drafted the essay for peer review, but instead I was only able to get an outline for that time due to an allergic reaction and the chaos of my other classes, a prime example of how the writings of this course were not created in a vacuum. Because the outline wasn’t that detailed, my partner in the review workshop and I discussed my essay together in person, making up for the lack of words on the page. Bless her heart, she saw the potential in my essay, and you can take a look at her feedback to see for yourself.
From there I produced a full draft to turn into my professor for his feedback. The draft I turned in was pretty good, and had “moments of brilliance” according to my professor, but I knew I could work to improve it since he also said I was “skirting around some bold arguments.”
What I’m really proud of in this process is the final revised draft I produced based on my professor’s feedback. This draft was almost a complete overhaul of my first draft. I kept most of the evidence I used, but added a new piece, and the organization of my essay completely changed. I was also able to focus my essay more concretely, my professor helping me find the term to describe God in Hamlet that I was tip-toeing around: an “absent presence.” Because of these extensive revisions, I consider this essay to be most improved and that’s what secured its place in my presentation portfolio. A more detailed description of the argument of this essay can be found there.