I doth not understandeth wherefore these texts needeth to beest so difficult. There are many reasons one can be completely clueless in class but as an English Literature major, it can often be because you have little to no idea of what’s happening in the overlong, overcomplicated, and overwhelming text you’re reading that was written approximately 400 years ago.
Wait so this is actually happening?
In the modernist era, characters are sometimes thinking things and sometimes saying them out loud but the authors won’t tell you which is which because what’s the fun in that. Here you apply all the logic and reason you possess to figure out whether what you’re reading is actually happening or the equivalent of a dream sequence in a Bollywood movie where the actor and actress dance in an exotic location only for one of them to wake up and for you to realise only in their dream could they afford to dance in Switzerland. It’s that, but with pretty grim subject matter.
Is this person alive?
Some texts have so many back and forth jumps in their timeline that if you read the text when you’re sleepy you’ll wonder why a character who tragically died two chapters ago is talking again at the dinnertable. You then proceed to realise you misinterpreted which timeline you’re on. And if you’re reading Wuthering Heights then it’s Paranormal Activity 8 because now you need to figure out whether you’re listening to a ghost or a real, breathing person talk. Most wondrous of luck to thee.
Poems poems poems
Me: I thought all poems were supposed to rhyme?
Poetry Elite: Oh no.
Me: But all poems are at least written from just one person’s perspective or they’re at least going to tell us when a different person starts talking?
Poetry Elite: Again, no.
Me: Wait, all of the voices speaking do belong to real people and not to abstract concepts such as water or death?
Poetry Elite: You mortal fool.
Why are there so many characters? You’d think the author could make whatever point they were trying to make by capping the number of characters at thirty. If you thought your campus cafeteria has a population problem welcome to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales where the prologue has 26 characters, each of whom tell stories with multiple characters in them. Let the odds ever be in your favour if you are reading a Russian text because the names will be long and suspiciously similar sounding as if the author is testing you from their grave.
How was this socially acceptable?
I am terrified by all the things yond w’re socially acceptable longeth ago. People being held against their will? Happens all the time. Women were crazy if they wanted to read, write or exhibit any type of talent? Well of course they were. How dare they? Were you completely logical in believing something as long as you could prove that a great Roman senator said the same thing centuries ago in a completely different society? That’s perfect logic.
And the whole thing wouldst beest writ in this simple easy to readeth language. I can’t waiteth.
Mrittika Anan Rahman is a daydreamer trying hard not to run into things while walking.
Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org