Teaching Literature on Female Friendship in the #MeToo Era

Published in Dawn’s Prism on February 18, 2019


My reason for designing an undergraduate literature course titled Female Friendship in World Literature was initially more personal than strictly literary: I have been shaped, in big ways and small, by the friendship of women in different moments of my life. On the emotional landscape of my personality, my female friendships have always loomed large, teaching me in ways both joyous and occasionally painful some of the most worthwhile lessons that I needed to learn in order to live in this world and in my own skin: how to love and care for another person while also honoring my own self, how to accept kindness and to offer it in turn, how to build a relationship that has enough room for both my own jagged edges as well as the other person’s.  Because I believe that literature should be studied for its ability to lay bare the complexities of life, I wanted to design a course that would look at this important aspect of my (and, I suspected, every other woman’s) life: literature that explored, in all their contradictions and complexities, women’s friendships with one another. 

Continue reading “Teaching Literature on Female Friendship in the #MeToo Era”

Madame Bovary and Realism

In order to understand why Madame Bovary is hailed as an anti-romantic, realist piece of literature, and to what extent such a classification is true, it is first important to understand what realism in literature means. Literary realism is the attempt of literature to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality or elaborate artistic conventions and implausible or supernatural elements. According to the twentieth-century scholar Rene Wellek, the aim of realist literature is “the objective representation of social reality.”[1] The realist novel is concerned with contemporary life and everyday, commonplace scenes. It focuses on characters in a social setting and delves deep into their psyche. In terms of stylistic technique, the realist novel’s approach to its subject matter is straightforward and detached, almost analytic in its description of characters and events.

Continue reading “Madame Bovary and Realism”

The Role of Fate in the Shakespearean Tragedy Julius Ceasar

Shakespearean drama often dealt with the eternal conflict between fate and free will. Whether it was Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed lovers destined to die in their struggle to become united or Macbeth, whose blind ambition made him preordained for evil, fate has a significant presence in most of Shakespeare’s dramas. Through his characters, Shakespeare addressed the universal human struggle between succumbing to fate and exercising free will to overcome your fate. Like in his other works, the characters of Julius Caesar wrestle with this dilemma as well: Does man have the power to change his destiny? Each of the main characters of this play struggle with the important question of whether or not their actions can change the course of fate, and by the end of the play, this conflict is resolved in different ways.

Continue reading “The Role of Fate in the Shakespearean Tragedy Julius Ceasar”

Pride and Prejudice: Austen’s Views on Love and Marriage

In the 200 years since its publication, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has spawned a plethora of sequels, prequels and adaptations, the most recent of them being a popular YouTube series. There can be several reasons for the enduring appeal of Pride and Prejudice – the handsome and rich Darcy, the witty banter the two protagonists engage in, the fairy tale-like happy ending. But an important reason why modern readers continue to relate to the novel may be Austen’s views on love and marriage which are reflected in it, views which are surprisingly aligned with progressive, modern-day sensibilities.

Continue reading “Pride and Prejudice: Austen’s Views on Love and Marriage”