While many writers employ strategies such as color symbolism and stream-of-consciousness to give their work organicity and definition, there are many other techniques an author can make use of to become a better writer. One of them-reading-is efficacious because it helps expand your frame of reference and can increase the likelihood that the work you produce reflects a more profound and comprehensive understanding of the world around you.
That reading works that contain ideas one was formerly unfamiliar with can positively affects the way you write is plain. Although I have seen it happen in many ways and on many occasions, the most salient representation of this principle that I can offer probably concerns the research I reviewed upon completing my thesis. Although I had read several Shakespearean plays and had been exposed to a bit of theory regarding the implications of his work prior to my season of research and writing, the journey towards completing the thesis was one marked by a steadily expanding awareness of how the author’s oeuvre has been interpreted. And while the plethora of commentaries and theories posited in reference to his work were almost always substantive and significant, one essay-written by John C. Bean-stood stood out as particularly insightful. Bean’s assertions regarding the familial world as an orderly kingdom provided me with information that-because it stood in diametric opposition to my own theoretical framework-made me challenge my proclivity for categorizing patriarchal paradigms as indigenously pejorative and parochial. In his own assessment of what I perceived to be a patriarchal relationship between Petruchio and Kate in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Bean argued that “because she now appreciates her own powers, Kate is able to envision the family as an ordered kingdom in which the subject’s obedience is a response not to the king’s will but to the king’s love” (116). This claim is valid and it challenged my view that romantic unions in which men take a dominant role are predicated on the male will to rule. Rather, as Bean argued, one could state that unions between men and women in which the latter obey the former are predicated on love rather than the desire to dominate. Although I argued against this view and still believe it is not the truest reading of the text, it was a substantive argument which I included in my thesis.
As indicated above, reading offers writers the opportunity to expand their framework of knowledge in a manner that makes the work they produce richer and more well-informed. This is why I encourage those seeking to create such works to read diversely and pay special attention to ideas that do not parallel one’s own. Doing so increases the likelihood that your writings reflect a more exhaustive-rather than ideologically insulated-world view.
Bean, John C. “Romantic Comedy Humanizes the Heroine.” Readings on the Taming of the Shrew. Ed. by Laura Marvel. Michigan: Greenhaven Press, 2000. 113-121. (accessed January 30, 2013 from http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=honors_theses).
Jocelyn Crawley holds B.A. degrees in both English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Four and Twenty, Dead Beats and Haggard and Halloo. Other stories are forthcoming in Faces of Feminism and Calliope.
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