Literary Canon

by Josh Mahan

George Orwell, 1984

George Orwell's 1984 contains themes of deception, violence, lack of privacy, and much more. All these themes seem to intrude on our everyday lives more and more. An understanding of the themes and concepts of 1984 will provide insight into political and social dealings. An understanding of this concepts will allow for great discussion and can be a useful tool when relating similar themes, ideas, and concepts

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The modern day Prometheus, Frankenstein, delves into themes of nature, and man's place in the world. With the book discussing these themes and concepts, it allows for great discussion. The book, with an understanding of its content, will become a useful tool in the classroom. It can be referenced countless times which will provide a great advantage on AP exams and activities in the classroom.

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man delves into the idea of self, a person's identity, all of which are relevant to the teenage students. the theme of self identity has an extreme relevance to teenage students as they are in the middle of finding themselves. They will feel a connection to Invisible Man as they are on the same journey, in a sense, as he is. Sense these concepts are so important and relevant, it will prove a useful tool to use in the classroom for discussion and other classroom activities.
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William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, has a historical and psychological relevance. Rather then focusing of Caesar, the play mainly focuses on Brutus and his struggles with honor, patriotism, and friendship. Brutus's struggle can be a relatable one, especially to teenage students. Having such a relatable character adds a desire to learn more and gain a better understanding for the work and character. The historical relevance adds depth to the work which can be useful when discussing similar works and situations.
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Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls covers and explores themes of death, suicide, and camaraderie which will enhance the readers ability to relate this topic to other text. The historical context behind the piece gives it a uniqueness about it, which is important when reading and studying pieces of literature. Its historical relevance will also add the book to the arsenal of books which can be used on AP test or activities in the classroom.
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J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

The beauty of nature, the devastating affects of war and machines, all are covered in The Hobbit. This work allows for an interesting discussion on machines, and what we gain and lose through their uses. Nature's relevance in the story allows the reader to draw from the text when discussing and relating the work to other pieces, which is useful in the classroom.
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Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is any easy read which discusses great issues. Some issues are even still relevant. Racism is the key in this story. Having such a powerful book, with such a great message and story inside an easy read is a great starter. The book is great to start from and work up in difficulty and concepts.
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William Golding, Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies has great symbolism and relevance to psychology which allows for great discussion on the book. Psychology is always a relevant topic and with its themes being obvious in Lord of the Flies allow for complex and deep discussions from a simple read. The symbolism in the book allow it to be a useful tool in discussion, as the book is riddled with symbolism. This will allow the text to be a useful tool.
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Homer, The Odyssey

A fundamental work in the Western canon, The Odyssey, is one of the oldest pieces of western literature. Being the base for western literature, it is important to have a understanding of the text. References to The Odyssey can be found in other important works, such as Dante's Inferno. The Odyssey is an important piece of literature that is useful in the classroom when one understands it's story, themes, and concepts.
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Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Like Orwell's 1984, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian future. This book has a significance in history and in today's world. It's historical significance comes from its subject, book burning, in which books are burned to suppresses unwanted/different ideas. This book burning shows how horrible this dystopian is and alludes to more then just book burning. As Heinrich Heine famously said "Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people". Today, we keep an eye out for suppression of freedom of speech and allusion are often made to Fahrenheit 451 which concepts have great significance.
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