Literature Then & Now

<br>ADITI ARYAL

July 10, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 06 No.-03 July 06 -2012 (Aashar 22,2069)<BR>

Then …


Keeping in mind the Elizabethan period, we can talk about an era which took the world to the greatest heights of literary accomplishment. This era saw the rise of greatly gifted writers like William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and John Donne, among others. Worth pondering is the fact that as exemplary figures, these gifted writers consisted more of men. This statement in itself does not foster the claim of women being meek or submissive. The only reason to fit in the puzzle could be the lack of encouragement from family or society, which held back their dreams of being successful writers.


The attitudes of men towards their women counterparts can merely be explained through statements given at that time period. Thomas Bacon held the view that women and horses needed to be well-governed. This stereotypical, narrow-mindedness never encouraged women to go to colleges, learn Latin and the elements of grammar and logic. Instead, they were ordered around to stew soup and mend stockings. Even if women could muster enough courage to write a few paragraphs, they had to be careful enough to hide these writings or set them on fire.


People have confidently claimed that even with talents like Shakespeare, any woman could not have been as flourishing as he was and write plays like he did in that time period. Such claims can be confirmed by write-ups like ‘A room of one’s own’ by Virginia Woolf. She wrote up a fictional character, Judith Shakespeare, as sister of William Shakespeare. Then she portrayed her own personal situation into the life of Judith. Woolf wrote about how she was asked to stay at home while her brothers got smarter in college, and how her parents got angry the instant they saw her with a book. Her further expresses how Judith was forced into marriage, and she unhappily took her life. For Woolf, her hypothesis stuck to the fact that William enjoyed his success while equally-talented Judith had to see her dreams shatter before her very eyes and was unable to fare the glory she was capable of.


Now …


All through these literary masterpieces, today we have arrived at an era where writers like Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer stand in equal terms with Sidney Sheldon and Salman Rushdie. We have evolved into an era where women are as much liked by the public as are men. Every list places men and women alphabetically without any discrimination. Women are allowed and encouraged to attend colleges and choose subjects according to their wishes. Moreover, people even argue women as being better equipped in writing than most men. In the field of writing, by no means, can women be undermined.


Taking into consideration the past, which metamorphosed into this day today, this is a great accomplishment indeed. Today, the stories of struggle are equally prevalent for men as much as for women.


A new concern these days is that the youth choose more of pop culture and reject the literary masterpieces. Choosing Harry Potter and Twilight exceeds the opting of The Diary of a Young Girl. All these books have a staple place on shelves in libraries. But what the elders are concerned about is that books, like the latter, collect piles of dust on their surfaces while the former get so much attention and demand. Their questions of the youth forgetting the earlier struggle of girls like Anne Frank without any respect of history start the blame game. However, no one is to blame. The matter plainly is that with time, the choices of books have changed too. What people like to read is different from the historical days of struggle. What we get from these books is a simple, dictionary-free language and a connection with our lives, one way or the other. This way, pop culture is definitely what people choose over what elders want us to.

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