English/English Literature Personal Statement
Submitted by Fion
I am fascinated by the way literature shapes people and people shape literature. At a Seren Network summer school at Oxford University, I attended a lecture on science fiction and dystopian fiction and how authors reflect upon the problems of society in a futuristic setting. This inspired me to think more deeply about authors’ choices of settings and consider why a futuristic or far away location was used. For example, perhaps ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was set in Verona so that comments could be made on taboo subjects such as lust without offending audiences. I am comparing ‘The Road’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’ for my English coursework and I am exploring how the setting influences the authors’ explorations of certain themes such as gender and societal expectations.
Studying ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ developed my interest in authors commenting on society. The way the characters reflected the expected societal roles of men and women encouraged me to look further into feminist literature. Duffy’s ‘Havisham’ fascinated me as it presents a feminist interpretation of Dickens’s character. The poets Plath and Kaur have intrigued me as they write about similar issues such as the objectification of women in ‘The Applicant’ and ‘The Hurting’ in different ways. Although the poetic voice seems hurt in both pieces, there are many contextual factors that influence the texts and how they might be read. For the Welsh Baccalaureate, I will be writing about the perception of feminist literature for the individual investigation.
One of the things that has encouraged my interest in the influence of context is studying religion. It has highlighted how one’s faith could influence their interpretation of a text and approach certain themes. The Philosophy and Ethics unit introduced me to many of the dilemmas that authors may be addressing through fiction and the influence of religion how people act and think. Studying Hinduism encouraged me to diversify my bookshelf and read more texts from the eastern hemisphere such as ‘The Vegetarian’ and ‘The White Tiger’. I found comparing Adiga to Kafka captivating as they have very different perspectives on corruption and bureaucracy influenced by the author’s own unique experiences and the times in which lived.
Another aspect of literature that excites me is how minute details can completely change the meaning of a piece of writing. This was initially highlighted to me at a Hay Festival lecture on Shakespeare’s Language by Ben and David Crystal. The difference between how the play sounded in original pronunciation and received pronunciation really put an emphasis on how people can influence how a text is perceived. The importance and purpose of meter was also explained. I believe that this is what really ignited my passion for English as I enjoy picking apart the minor details of a text. In addition, I watched a recent production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch; I enjoyed seeing how Shakespeare was adapted for a modern audience without changing the language used.
I am a Scout and a young leader for Cub Scouts. Being part of the world-wide Scouting community gives me a global perspective as it has allowed me to learn about other cultures. Activities such as Jamboree on The Internet have allowed me to speak to Scouts from all over the globe. Recently, I helped to organise an event in memory of Jo Cox (MP). This has helped me to develop skills such as time management, organisation and to how to promote events by writing newspaper articles. I have also participated in debating and MUN competitions and I have developed research skills in addition to learning how to present an argument in a succinct and persuasive way. As part of the DofE scheme, I volunteered at a Free Books Project. This service aims to ensure that everybody has access to books. I also help younger pupils overcome their difficulties with reading through regular support. I find this rewarding as I enjoy passing on my love of books to others.