Friday, March 21, 2014

Dancing In The Dark

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.
This is my working thesis and a two page draft of my thoughts up to this point. It's much less of a draft and more of my pre-write. I like to think of it as my thoughts and outline in paragraph form, which has made it very easy to start conceptualizing my paper. These ideas are all incomplete and are to be fleshed out in greater detail, but they should provide enough direction to know where I'm going with my topic. That being said, I'd like to get some more direction and feedback. I have a lot of good comparison to make, but does my paper really offer anything to the academic community? To find the answer to that question, I want ask a couple more.

1. What other direction/angle could I take in addition to the biographical approach?

2. How can I present the literary comparison based on biographical background in such a way as to make it interesting to my audience and provide real stakes of argumentation?

Adams and Carroll: Two of a Kind?

Everyday, individuals all over the world are experiencing new things. These experiences shape the way these individuals think, and contribute largely to who they are. The same is especially true of writers. A writer's environment plays a major role in the perspective he takes when writing a novel. As seen in the examples of Richard Adams and Lewis Carroll, the similarity in their country of origin, family background, and social status all play a significant role in the similar themes and ideas these writers convey to their audiences, as evident throughout each of their texts.

A major similarity between these two writers is the way their novels are constructed. In Alice in Wonderland as in Watership Down, the chapters were taken from individual stories that the authors originally told to younger children that were compiled into book form later on (Source to be included). This format for writing comes from the love that both authors have for story telling and contributes to the rich feeling of the fantasy one gets from reading these books which is one reason they appeal to people of all ages despite their having been written for children.

Another structural element in addition to the element of storytelling is the similarity between the extensive list of characters. Many written works contain a small handful of characters that progress the storyline. Both Alice in Wonderland has a character list of over 50 and Watership Down has a character list of over 100. Each of the characters in both of these books have speaking parts and are usually fairly well developed. This allows each of their stories a greater complexity than they would otherwise have. It's possible that Adams and Carroll created such complex stories because they themselves lived such complex lives (Biographical Comparison and citation to be included).

An interesting similarity between the two stories that may have biographical connections to their authors is the theme of very weak protagonists overcoming impossible odds to defeat a strong antagonist. Alice is a very small girl in a very abstract and foreign land full of creatures who seem smarter than she is, yet she is able to adapt and survive. Similarly, the rabbits from Watership Down are able to overcome the oppressive totalitarian leader General Woundwart and gain their freedom. These fictional elements may be reflection of hardships the authors faced as they were young men, in the same symbolical position as both mentioned protagonists. Carroll lost both of his parents when he was a vulnerable young child and Adams faced the horrors of a World War as a developing young man.

Another very unique similarity between the two stories is the inclusion of frame stories within the larger plot line. Several characters Alice encounters along her way (such as the mock turtle) break off and tell a side story. Similarly, there are several instances in Watership Down when the rabbits will call upon one of their company to entertain them with a story. Not only do these stories give the reader a break from the main plot by refreshing his imagination, they also grant these books greater depth. The myth and lore that are included serve as a means of making the characters seem more real because it gives them history and background. It makes them appear to have a culture and tradition that extends far beyond the point in which the reader begins reading the story.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you identified that the lives of the authors affect the literature they write. This is something that is quite possibly laced throw all aspects of both novels, and it will be cool to research and discover. My favorite part of your analysis was when you related the hard experiences the authors had as youths to their use of young protagonists in much more powerful environments. What life experiences did the authors have that influenced them using frame stories in their works?