English Personal Statement
Submitted by Carly
Literature is a way to express, escape, and enjoy. It is an integral part of all cultures, the epitome of what language is supposed to be. From studying 'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Elizabeth Perkins-Gilman, written in an anti-feminist era, the exaggerated archetype of the hysterical woman became very interesting to me; it stimulated my interest in the role of women in the 19th century and their emotional expression through literature, and thus, my further interest in this literary period. The notion of a Victorian writer depicting, arguably, 21st century attitudes towards literature in her mirroring of feminist motives fascinated me. This idea of a modern perspective within literary work is embodied in the work of Shakespeare, particularly in 'Macbeth', where Shakespeare demonstrates a woman's capacity for cruelty and manipulation, equating her with the characteristics of a powerful man of that era. This subject choice is the catalyst for my growing interest in the impact of literary periods on literature whereby the attitudes and motifs for poetry and novels will change inevitably as society does. In 2015 I visited Stratford Upon-Avon, where I was able to visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and experience 'Othello' and all its stage directions, giving a new viewpoint on the written version.
To expand my knowledge of literature, I have extended my reading from popular fiction to a deeper exploration of classical and modern texts. In studying 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov for my A Level NEA, I became perplexed with the notion of such a heinous novel being able to invoke comedy explicitly, and hold a plethora of interpretation. From 'Lolita', stemmed my interest in the role of women in literature in reaction to their degradation. In 'Cranford' by Elizabeth Gaskell, she portrays an antithetical view of an inferior woman, yet concurs to the archetype of a woman as a domestic figure. Victorian literature, the time in which 'Cranford' was written, was a time of progressive thinking for most women, which undeniably presents the gradual amelioration of women. Yet, it is not only the portrayal of women and relationships through literature, as I am also intrigued in modernist poetry and the symbolism it employs for a rhetorical, yet inventive effect.
In a residential I attended at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge earlier this year, I attended an English lecture which discussed Dylan Thomas' 'The Hunchback in the Park'. This lecture enabled me to experience the format of learning in smaller groups which university often employs. I was able to engage in a discussion debate and confer my ideas with other students, revealing a range of perspectives on the poem. The influential impact of the poem motivated my further reading into modernist poetry and novels. In Susan Hill's 'Strange Meeting', the atrocities of war are inevitably captured within the first page, and it is this ability to evaluate such intricate feelings so simply which enthrals me to study English at university level.
I have played netball for 5 years now and it has provided me with the ability to work as a team, motivate myself to improve and demonstrate commitment to training sessions and tournaments. I am enchanted by the broadness of choice given on a Literature course, and the chance to study the diverse time periods and their impact on modern literature. More specifically, the opportunity to explore lyric and American Literature in depth as well as other compelling modules is particularly exciting. The impact of writing, reading, and words alone, whilst having an impressive influence on different movements and progression in our modern world, have always brought me immense gratification, and have suitably prepared me intellectually for the undergraduate environment.