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Praise, Blame and Interpretation in Literature

Description and analysis are the initial stages of learning the content of a literary work. Notional selection for analysis of one side of the whole text and identification of its place and meaning in the system allows an understanding of its general meaning in a new way. However, singling out one side without reference to the general context can be unreliable. Artistic images of characters generate various interpretations, as if they contain an infinite number of ideas, allowing for an infinite number of interpretations. Interestingly, the choice of some interpretations leads to the exclusion of others. In this essay, questions about how different interpretations of characters’ guilt can affect the disclosure of the plot will be considered.

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It should be started with one of Shakespeare’s most dramatic and famous works, “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.” Hamlet is an active defender of the idea of humanity and justice. He overcomes his shortcomings and weaknesses to grab a sword and deliver a fatal blow to the offender. Basically, “Hamlet” is primarily a tragedy of bloody revenge, the story of how the Danish Prince took revenge on the treacherous murderer of his father, the thief of the throne. However, it is worth noting that the young man was assigned an impossible task. It is challenging to live for someone who has learned a criminal secret, especially if the criminal is invested with an ascendancy. He is surrounded by the enemies superior to him in strength and guile. In the end, he accounts for many people’s lives, but it does not cause intense feelings of disgust and resentment, while Claudius is responsible for the death of only one person and does not appeal to the reader at all. Despite the unforgivable act, the reader can understand Hamlet, imbued with his inner conflict. Nevertheless, it should not be neglected that Hamlet committed many murders, and whatever his excuses, they will not cease to be less malicious acts. This example reflects the essence of the question of the reader’s preference.

In the story of the American writer Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Hard to Find” a large and, at first glance, happy family is seen. They are going on a journey that will become a tragedy for them. The grandmother is depicted not always from the best side. Initially, this is a woman who does not want to leave her native home and gives children instructions to love their small homeland and their parents. However, in the course of the story, she lies, manipulates her family, and commits several thoughtless acts without thinking about the possible consequences. Children are accused of dislike and lack of respect for their elders. In the course of the story, the image of a friendly family is destroyed. In the end, pouring out his soul, Misfit, the bandit, knows that this will not change anything, and the death of the grandmother is only a matter of time. After the last shot is fired, the last phrase said by Misfit is heard: “It is no real pleasure in life” (O’Connor). Indeed, all the biblical covenants are broken, heaven and hell are mixed up. In this story, the question of whether only the particular characters can be guilty of anything is clearly traced. For completeness of understanding, it is necessary to take into account all aspects of the situation. Otherwise, the formed view will be one-sided, which is unfair. For example, it is unclear where children can take a role model, and why should they love their parents, if they, in turn, do not treat their grandmother in the best way. It is also confusing how Misfit can calmly discuss the mission of Jesus while holding a gun. Each of these instants requires analysis for a reliable and fair interpretation.

“Good country people” by Flannery O’Connor is a story, in particular, about the dangers of taking platitudes for original ideas. This story features three characters whose lives are governed by platitudes that they accept or reject. Hulga likes to imagine herself above her mother’s banalities, but she reacts so systematically against her mother’s beliefs that begin to seem as thoughtless and banal as her mother’s utterances. They are both so convinced of the superiority of their views that they do not realize that the Bible seller is deceiving them. When the Bible salesman arrives, he becomes a living example of Mrs. Hopewell’s utterances. He manages to pique her and reads Hulga as easily as Mrs. Hopewell. Using this work as an example, it is possible to see how the search for a single guilty character can narrow down considerations regarding the work interpretation. It would seem that the seller of Bibles is a fraud, but if judging only by this category, another moral of the story escapes. After all, his confidence in his beliefs reflects those of Mrs. Hopewell and Hulga. This, in turn, only proves that one-sided analysis is not sufficient and is not able to reveal the full potential of the story written.

Interpretation of a literary work, as a rule, has a specific orientation, comprehending the author’s concepts. However, there must be a kind of creative interpretation to develop social thought and continue the literary development of a particular area of life. Most people use their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, which undoubtedly affects the conclusion as perceptions vary. Thus, on the example of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” it is possible to ascertain that Hamlet’s guilt may not be as unambiguous as it seems at first glance, but the guilt itself is irrefutable. Consequently, the burden of work interpretation rests on the reader’s shoulders, and their mission is to be able to see the work in all its versatility.

Works Cited

O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Hard to Find. Faber & Faber, 2016.

—. The Complete Stories. McClelland & Stewart, 2019.

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Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Independently Published, 2020.

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