Saturday, January 28, 2012
Just call me Hester Prynne...
I jest, of course. I am not Hester Prynne - nor would I ever commit an act such as she did. However, when I mention her, those of literary merit (or who don't live under a rock) recognize the reference to The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This recognition comes from being well read in LITERATURE as a modality of understanding modern culture, or even pop culture, if you will. While this book is far from the most referenced piece (we'll get to that later), it is well-known. Just recently it was turned into a modern day isolation film entitled easy A depicting the life of poor Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) and her pedantic identity as a whore. She was, of course, not a whore (neither was Hester Prynne - foolish and naive, yes - a whore? No.).
This movie adaptation is far from the list of references to The Scarlet Letter. It has multiple allusions in film, opera, plays, television, and even music. Bands such as Metallica, Casting Crowns, Nirvana, and of course Taylor Swift (with a double hit allusion of Romeo and Juliet) pay homage to the lady that wears the red letter of shame.
But, did you know that new English standards are looking to remove much of literature from our teaching? That rather than reviewing with our students the finer points of Shakespeare, a man who felt writing in iambic pentameter for entire plays was apparently fun, we will now teach more non-fiction and mostly, informational text. Say it with me...What the ???????? Fill in whatever word you need there.
Creative fictional literature is the crux of modern society. Most of what we read now, what we watch on television, what we hear in songs bases its roots in classic tales. Shakespeare is the most referenced work of fiction EVER and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone (and I say this with some confidence but not 100%) who doesn't know who he is. Well written literature is as ingrained in our lives (everywhere - not just America) as food, as oxygen, as water. I am outraged at the shift away from it in public education.
It seems to me they lack a basic understanding of what goes on in a young mind. Well, for them I say "Beware the Ides of March" because their current line of thinking may have them saying "E tu Brutus?" when this generation stabs them in the back (I mean metaphorically, of course, when this group of youngsters doesn't have enough general intelligence to secure an average paying job to feed their multiple children breathing through welfare that will run out most likely before I die and suck what's left of our failing economy completely dry just before America implodes.). Just a thought.