Formal Literary Canon
What is a Literary Canon?
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Shelley also used Biblical, textual, and mythical allusions to teach life lessons to the audience. Such valuable lessons included: knowledge is power, but too much can be dangerous; nature contains a power that is inexplainable to human beings; and curiosity can lead to trouble. Frankenstein claimed that "the world was to me a secret which I desired to divine," meaning to discover and control. This journey teaches humans of their true weakness and how there is a powerful force outside of the control of man. This forces society to humble themselves and therefore teaches an important religious and moral concept to those reading the text.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby has become known as a literary classic not only for its direct reflection of the author's lifestyle, but because of the portrayal of an extravagant and luxurious lifestyle of the 1920s that is entertaining to any reader today. If you ask any high school student why they enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby it would be because of the riches, flattery, and love that fills every page to the novel. However, the book itself is significantly important to read because of the culture of the tale. It has been known that the book was written as a play on the "American Dream" with the most successful and luxurious members of that dream being deceitful and dishonest (Spargo). This book directly reflects the culture of America, and was not as popular during the time that it was publish because of the bold statement that it was making. Fitzgerald basically frames the naivety and innocence among the liars who live in luxury before being brought down from their pedistool (Spargo). While this text is not important multiculturally, it is important culturally and historically for the United States. By reading this, people have come to realize certain corruption within society and what is truly wrong with the "American Dream" (Spargo). This now becomes a lesson on abundance and selfishness that carries into politics and morality today.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare (The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark)
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
The Odyssey by Homer
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird has become an incredibly famous work in the literary world and continues to be taught year after year in English classrooms. The value of this work comes from the lessons that it teaches and that the audience can connect with. According to Good by Teaching the lessons could include numerous topics including, "discrimination, racism, cruelty, and growing up-all topics that teenagers connect with." This novel evokes rage, sympathy, and desire from the audience through the misunderstood characters and plotline that displays intense social issues. This novel starts to stray away from the fact that literature should focus around white, males, but give some justice and reason to African Americans even though the ending is not entirely pleasant. However, the novel does emphasize the moral lesson of accepting all people into society no matter what they have done or look like. The court case and Boo Radley can both tie into this message. While discrimination is not as much of an issue in today's society like it was when the book was published, there is still a lesson to be taught to the readers on willingness to change, to be accepting, and to stand strong for his or her beliefs. This piece has remained valuable for historical importance, entertainment, and the moral lessons taught that have been applicable to society for years.
1984 by George Orwell
- Celine, W. "The Crucible and Why It Should Be Taught in School." Teen Ink. Emerson Media. Web. 9 May 2016.
- "The Crucible - Book Review." Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media Inc., 2016. Web. 9 May 2016.
-McCrum, Robert. "The 100 Best Novels: No 16- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)." The Guardian. Guardian News, 6 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 May 2016.
-Mitchell, Stephen. "Why You Might Want to Read the Odyssey." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc, 2 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 May 2016.
-Shmoop Editorial Team. "Shmoop: Homework Help, Teacher Resources, Test Prep." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 2016. Web. 10 May 2016.
-Spargo, R. Clifton. "Why Every American Should Read The Great Gatsby, Again." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc, 9 Apr. 2013. Web. 9 May 2016.
-"5 Reasons to Teach To Kill a Mockingbird and 6 Reasons Not To." Goodbyteaching. WordPress, 28 Sept. 2012. Web. 10 May 2016.
(Different blogs and articles were used to see why the books are still taught to other students. Because I had not read some of these texts in over a year or two, dates of publication were google as a quick reference and Shmoop was occasionally used to remember the general plotline before writing the analysis for books such as The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, The Odyssey, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Since this was used to jog my memory, but did not need parenthetic citations directly, I cited it in the works cited.)