Junior Honorable Mention
Literary Explorations III
Dr. Michael Hancock
Recognizing our faults and failures is no voluntary task. We are cautious, almost reluctant, to do so as those shortcomings cast a shadow over the ideal lives we would like to have. Our inability to confront our problems leads us to follow the lives of characters in books and stories whose flaws are apparent to us – characters who struggle valiantly against or fall miserably to the challenges they face. From the epic Beowulf, where the god-like hero Beowulf fights glorious battles, to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, where common folk embark on a pilgrimage, we are fascinated by the exposure of the characters’ flaws and vulnerabilities. This disclosure, shared by both stories of humans with unimaginable abilities and smarts and those of characters that are as ordinary as ourselves, allows us to indulge in self-assurance in the midst of our lives’ own difficulties. Though we initially read stories of these seemingly different personalities for their characteristic qualities, our underlying motive is our desire for self-assurance in the midst of our lives’ own difficulties.
Wang, Stephanie '14, "Self-Assurance and Literature" (2012). 2012 Fall Semester. 6.