Itís Not Real!



When you write about novels, plays or poems, it is very important to make it cleat that you are not writing about real people or real events. Imagine two candidates, one average and one good, writing about Orwellís 1984, this is what the first one might say:


In 1984 society is ruled by Big Brother. There are posters of him everywhere, and pictures of him are frequently shown on the telescreen. Big Brother is a dictator who wants to control everything, even the thoughts inside peopleís heads. One man, Winston Smith, tries to rebel against this society.


What is wrong with this first piece? The answer is that nothing suggests that it is a book that is being written about; Big Brother and Winston Smith could be real people living in a real society. Moreover, the piece is essentially a discussion of plot and elements without any attempts at analysis.



In contrast, this is what a good student might write:


In 1984 Orwell creates a futuristic totalitarian society ruled by Big Brother. In order to emphasise the control Big Brother has, Orwell describes the huge poster of him that seem to be everywhere and the thousands of telescreens on which he so frequently appears. Orwell also shows that Big Brotherís aim is complete control over every aspect of society, even over the thoughts inside peopleís heads, and embodies the readerís outrage at such a society in the character of Winston Smith who tries to rebel against it.


The good candidateís piece recognizes that Orwell has created this fictional society for a purpose and gives a reason why Orwell says that posters of Big Brother and telescreens are everywhere. In the final sentence, the good candidate suggests that Orwell wants the reader to take a very negative attitude to the events and that he accomplishes this purpose by creating Winston Smith, In addition to mentioning plot elements, the writer has also drawn some conclusions about why these elements are important in the novel.


The good candidate has recognized three essential things about a literary work: the events of the work, the author who has created them, and the reader for whom the work is created. In any good essay about literature all three should be mentioned. They are, however, not separable; for the events of a novel are only there because the author has put them there, and they are only recognized as events when read by a reader. The author, of course, is the most important of these elements; the events of the work and the reactions of the reader depend upon what choices he or she has made.