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Approaches To Literature Essay

1040 words - 5 pages

1) Analyse the beginning of the one of the literary or film texts on the module, using Bennett and Royle, ‘The Beginning’

Typically, the opening couple of pages of a text are used to set the tone and outline the themes that will be present in the rest of the story. In ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ however, J.K.Rowling uses her opening as more of a distancing device for the reader. We are not immediately introduced to our protagonist, but rather to secondary characters that contribute little to the plot. The wizarding world is only alluded to in the opening, and not out right mentioned, although it is the world in which most of the action takes place. Our attention is instead drawn to the ‘muggle’ world and the way its inhabitants come into contact with wizards without being fully aware.

Bennett & Royle’s idea that a story has ‘already begun before’ the start of the book is applicable to Harry Potter, as we are thrown in to Harry’s life ‘in media res’, not knowing how his parent’s died, or why the Dursley’s refuse to associate with the ‘good-for-nothing’ Potters. Clearly, a lot has happened prior to the start of the book, but this information is not revealed until much later on. Rowling declares ‘our story starts’ nearly a whole page into the book, which leads us to wonder why she included the previous words. This reinforces Bennett and Royle’s idea that a narrative can have many beginnings. In this case, we have the beginning of Harry’s life, the beginning of the book itself and the beginning where ‘our story starts’ all in the first page.

Bennett & Royle pose the question ‘Where would we be without a beginning?’ The opening of ‘Harry Potter’ creates the idea that without a mysterious case of events taking place before the book, there would be no justification for anything that happens. We, as readers, need Harry to have had a life before the book starts, as this allows everything that follows to happen for a reason.

Rowling puts a lot of detail into the opening, describing the Dursley’s very specifically and outlining the problems between them and the Potter’s. Bennett and Royle’s statement that ‘the most important aspect of any reading is an imagined meeting of the readers mind with that of the author’ justifies this, as by giving such a description, she enables the reader to picture what she does and understand everything they need to in order to read on.

It could be argued that this opening does actually set the tone for the story, just not in the most obvious and traditional way. Retrospectively however, it is clear that there are ‘promises for what is to come’ as we read further.

2) Analyse a scene of crisis for the protagonist in one of the literary or film texts on the module, using Bennett and Royle, ‘Me’ and/or ‘ideology’

It goes without saying that ‘The Hunger Games’ is a book full of scenes of crisis and it...

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