The Role of Good Literary Scholarship

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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The role of good literary scholarship is for the critic to usher one on their own journey to truth and meaning. It is therefore that literary scholarship best serves us when tracking social influence, establishing the canon of major writers in literary periods, and clarifying historical context and allusions within texts. Some critics believe Shakespeare and his wishes need to be respected and his plays should be read accordingly. Other critics, much like Northrop Frye, believe that the "text is King" and that the brilliance lies solely in Shakespeare's plays being actable and theatrical first.

These being the schools of thought in literary scholarship of Shakespeare; it is common that common that classic works can be read as, or interpreted as being fairly different. A. C. Bradley, a figure in classic Shakespeare critique, believed that the play is to be read and acted as Shakespeare wished. Frye, believed that the poetry was the central focus of all the plays.

He wrote, "…there is never anything outside his plays that he wants to 'say' or talk about in his plays."(Frye, p. 3) He also states, very importantly about literature that, "…it's often conditioned by the assumptions of its age, as we are by ours" (Frye, p. 4). This is especially prevalent in modern times with the groups such as the feminists, the post-modernists and post-structuralism. In contemporary times, groups like these try to change Shakespeare to make it what they wish it to be. An example is some plays are viewed as sexist for example in Arizona State University where feminists wanted to change Shakespeare. Here, the classical school of though in that Shakespeare's wishes should be respected applies heavily.

Should Shakespeare be interpreted to relate? An example is Baz Luhrman's version of Romeo and Juliet. It is very...