Your Task: Write a critical essay in which you discuss two works of literature you have read from the particular perspective of the statement that is provided for you in the "critical lens". In your essay, provide a valid interpretation of the statement, agree or disagree with the statement as you have interpreted it, and support your opinion using specific references to appropriate literary elements from the two works.
Critical Lens: "The best literature is about the old universal
truths, such as love, honor, pride, compassion, and sacrifice."
William Faulkner once said, "the best literature is about the old universal truths, such as love, honor, pride, compassion and sacrifice". He couldn't be more right. The reason these truths are necessary is that they evoke emotions of the reader. They develop character. Without these truths involved in one way or another, the story lacks substance. It's difficult to have a protagonist and an antagonist when these truths are completely omitted.
The truths Faulkner talks about can be brought in to a work of literature in one of two ways. The first way is directly in a direct presentation, the plot is about someone’s quest or conflict with one of the truths that claim indirect presentation of truths, the plot may not contain the truths but they might to be used in another aspect such as character development.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, both devices are used. The story line is about a man who wishes to turn back time, and convince his former girlfriend to marry him. The story contains subjects such as love (Jay’s love for Daisy), compassion (Jay’s efforts to get rich and to marry Daisy), and sacrifice (Jay’s willingness to give up his honor and convictions in order to get what he wants). The underlying theme also contains such truths. The theme is about how the twentieth century America is losing it’s honor and righteousness all for wealth. Without the truths Faulkner speaks of, The Great Gatsby would not be much of a story no one would want to read about some rich guy that throws parties in his house every night.
In William Shakespeare's King Lear, truths are also a necessary part of the story. The plot here is about the fall of a king and the changes he undergoes during the fall. In the beginning of the story, Lear lacks every truth . He only wants to hear flattering words and judge his three daughters loyty according the words they say. H e pays no attention and gives no regard to whether the wirds contain truth or not. The reader thinks unfavorably of him at the point. But as the play continues on, Lear gains more truth such as compassion and love. As he does, the reader is led to love Lear and he becomes the tragic hero.
In conclusion, the
truths that faulkner speaks of are necessary to build a story up.
Without them, there is no character development. There is
no plot, either. It is difficult to write a good piece of
literature without exploring the universal truth.