Research Paper Writing Process

I first started my research process by exploring different and diverse topics regarding Christina Rosetti’s “Goblin Market.” I thought the piece would prove effective for a research paper due to its appropriate length and wide array of interpretations. After some investigating, I decided to focus on a feminist exploration of the text, specifically addressing female desire. Fortunately enough, I have found many good resources for my topic. However, I may have found too many. As a result, I’m finding it difficult to find my focus and build a thesis that is neither too narrow nor too broad. In the actual writing of the essay, I’ve had a rough start and am somewhat behind schedule due to my other assignments. Additionally, I am experiencing trouble organizing my thoughts. I know the direction I would like to take with the paper, although I’m having a difficult time finding the concentration and motivation to keep working at it. I plan to continue writing and see where it takes me, without over thinking it as I have been. Then I will readdress my thesis and rework it accordingly. Once I work through this writer’s block, I am confident that I will produce the paper I envisioned. I just have to keep reminding myself to get through this rough draft period, keep an open mind and somewhere along the way more clarity will come.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a familiar story of a girl named Alice that falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a nonsensical fantasy world inhabited by many colorful and peculiar creatures. Ever since the book was published, there have been numerous adaptations made after it, among the most recent being the 2010 Disney film Alice in Wonderland directed by Tim Burton. The Disney film is loosely based on the popular novel as well as its sequel Through the Looking Glass.

2010 Film DVD Cover via Wikipedia

In this postmodern adaptation, a much older, fetching, independent nineteen-year-old Alice, who is troubled by nightmares of ‘Wonderland’ (or as Burton calls it, Underland) returns and embarks on a quest filled with adventure, humor, violence, and even terror. The obvious changes made to the story, combined with the distinct design of Burton, generated a great deal of controversy as critics accused that the version was too significantly untrue to the spirit of the original works. However, while his storyline and stylistic elements diverge from the original tale immensely, Burton addresses many of the same themes as Carroll, although in a different and unique vision/context.

Nevertheless, director Tim Burton makes it clear that this is intentionally a very different sort of Alice from that of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. For example, he primarily focuses on the characters and episodes from Carroll’s darker Through the Looking-Glass rather than the more upbeat Wonderland. Additionally, Burton adds his signature nightmare approach to the film. Rather than staying true to the original text, he uses significant characters borrowed from the Alice books to create an entirely new narrative (or it can be seen as a continuation of the Alice books).

In the film Burton explores the question: What if Alice returned to Wonderland when she was older? As a result, he addresses the struggle of identity, as well as place and meaning in the experience of growing up. The movie’s opening scene takes place at a social garden party, where Alice struggles against the expectations of society. She feels increasingly uncertain about who she is, as she is reshaped according to the wishes of others and is contemplating a marriage proposal to a pretentious, titled young man she does not love.

Alice enters Underland via IMDB

When she must make the decision as to whether she will become engaged to the ridiculous man, she sees the White Rabbit and runs after it. Alice falls down the rabbit hole, in one of the only scenes highly reminiscent of the book, and finds herself not in the bright Wonderland of her dreams, but in the twisted, barren world known as Underland. Thinking she is dreaming, she meets many of the familiar characters such as the Tweedles and the Mad Hatter, who inform her that it has been foretold that an ‘Alice’ will slay the Jabberwocky monster and free Underland from the cruel oppression of the Red Queen. Although initially insisting that she is not “that Alice,” (“You’ve brought us the wrong Alice,” complains the Dormouse; She seems to have lost her “muchness”) she finds herself on a rescue adventure to free the imprisoned Mad Hatter from the Red Queen’s castle, where she slowly becomes convinced that she must in fact be the “right Alice.” Finally, during a conversation with the Blue Caterpillar, named Absalom, Alice realizes that her supposed nightmares are actually memories of a childhood visit to Underland, and that she has returned for the purpose of slaying the Jabberwocky. At the conclusion of the film, a climactic battle scene follows, taking place on a chess board surrounded by the opposing card soldiers of the Red and White Queens (two sisters at odds for the rule of Underland). After slaying the monster and giving the rule of Underland back to the good White Queen, Alice returns to Victorian society a changed woman. She is no longer prepared to accept the life predetermined for her, but sets sail for China to expand her father’s trading company and find new adventures for herself.

The Jabberwocky via IMDB

In Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation, he attempts to offer a darker interpretation, where the riddles, rhymes, and childlike nonsense of Wonderland no longer exist. As such, Burton creates a the desolate and depressing world of Underland, highlighting only the negative undertones of the original stories. Burton’s inclusion of a great mission for Alice is completely absent from the books, and serves to construct a more cohesive narrative with a more clearly defined plot. Moreover, the Jabberwocky itself is only mentioned briefly in a poem in Through the Looking-Glass, while the presence of the Jabberwocky is central to the conflict and progression of the film. As a result, Burton establishes a clear struggle between good and evil that, while it helps the adult Alice mature into the strong young woman, seems disconnected from the nonsensical spirit of the novels. Related to this, Burton’s choice to heighten the evil in Underland deprives the story of its original innocence, creating a more adult world in which pain and suffering are fully acknowledged. Consequently, there appears to be an inverse relationship between Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland due to the overwhelming differences: the more you like the Alice books, the more you’re probably going to dislike Burton’s film adaptation.

Voyant Tools: Garden of Live Flowers

When experimenting with the Voyant Tools website, I focused on a section from the Garden of Live Flowers episode in Through the Looking-Glass. I begin my investigation of the excerpt first by constructing an unedited and unfiltered word cloud. Unsurprisingly, the words “the,” “you,” and “said” occurred the most regularly in the text. I then applied the Taporware list of excluded stop words, and added the three insignificant words to be eliminated as well.

After editing the contents of the cloud, “Alice” (14 times) and “Tiger-Lily” (12 times) became the most common occurrences. This was certainly not an unexpected result, as much of the dialogue in the passage occurs chiefly between the two characters. In comparison to “Tiger-Lily,” “Rose” (8 times) occurs almost as often, whereas “Daisies” (3 times) recurs noticeably less frequently. I found this observation particularly intriguing and useful. As Carroll remarks upon the themes of class and social structure throughout the chapter, the findings assist in reinforcing his views. The higher frequency of the two ornate flowers help to visually accentuate their superiority and dominance, signifying their elevated status over the humble, common and simple second-class daisies.

Additionally, I further examined the interactions and conversation between Alice and Tiger-Lily. As a result, I composed a Word Trend Graph to map their dialogue with one another.  From this, I was able to focus on the two words using the Keywords in Contexts tool. Accordingly, I learned that Alice is described as feeling “criticized” and “astonished” while receiving the unfavorable comments from the flower. In response to this, Alice searches to sooth its ill temper. This helps to suggest that, overall, Carroll deliberately sought to communicate the conflicting views of manners, behavior and knowledge held by individuals of different rank, as well as emphasize the constraining nature of social division.

Surely these tools enabled me to easily navigate through the text, allowing me to choose specific words so that I could investigate their contexts with efficiency, as well as find support through useful visual aids. As a result, the Voyant Tools proved to be relatively valuable and beneficial in performing a close reading analysis. However, the tools do have their limits. While I was able to gather some insights, generate graphic diagrams and swiftly identify trends and passages to strengthen my findings, the observations and interpretations were restricted. As such, the word cloud and its tools provided an inadequate representation of the excerpt, as it failed to sufficiently illustrate several of the significant themes expressed in the passage (e.g. nonsense and wordplay).

Alice in Wonderland: A Mad Tea-Party

Upon reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, I found the famous Mad Tea-Party scene (Chapter 7) to be particularly memorable, interesting and puzzling. More specifically, I was intrigued by the silliness and ludicrousness presented in the witty banter which overwhelms the incident. This led me to I asked myself: why is the Mad Tea-Party is one of the most famous episodes in the book? And what is Carroll trying to communicate through the event?

The chapter opens with Alice approaching “a [large] table set out under a tree in front of the house,” where the “March Hare and the Hatter were having tea…all crowded together” (52). The duo are described as “using it [the Dormouse] as a cushion,” as he sat between them “fast asleep” (52). Automatically, the episode’s description illustrates and introduces an unusual and peculiar scene, which only grows in it’s strangeness as the bizarre gathering progresses. The lunacy of the party, which seems to exist outside the order of time and space, is even further emphasized as the reader is already aware of the “madness” of the soirée’s hosts.

The entertainers are disagreeable and unwelcoming when Alice arrives, insisting that there’s “No room! No room!” at the nearly empty and vast table (52). Although, to justify and persuade them to allow her to join, she employs logic: “There’s plenty of room!” (52). When she takes a seat, the March Hare offers her wine, but, ironically enough, there is none. The “uncivil” and confusing conversation continues, as the Mad Hatter and Hare seek to contradict Alice at every chance, constantly correcting her with riddling arguments of strange logic. For instance:

“I do,” Alice hastily replied, “at leastat least I mean what I saythat’s the same thing, you know.”

A Mad Tea-Party, original illustration. Drawn by John Tenniel. From Wikipedia Images.

A Mad Tea-Party, original illustration. Drawn by John Tenniel. From Wikipedia Images.

“Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “Why, you might was well say that ‘I see what I eat’ is the same thing as ‘I eat what I see’!”

Accordingly, the pair certainly serve as some of the most argumentative creatures/characters that Alice meets in Wonderland. They appear to be intentionally behaving, with scheming purpose, to drive Alice into madness. Or, on the other hand, perhaps they are simply attempting to test her sanity. Nevertheless, their games don’t accomplish either, as Alice grows more confident in her sensibility and reasonability. Consequently, Alice, due to frustration and “great disgust,” resolves to leave: “At any rate I’ll never go there again!…It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was in all my life!” (58).

The convoluted and absurd remarks of the March Hare and Mad Hatter demonstrate Carroll’s talent for creating humorous word games and perplexing logic puzzles. In turn, the illogical conversation functions to comment on the ambiguity of language–revealing inconsistency of sense and nonsense in words (and in life). However, the pair’s ridiculous lunacy and irrationality don’t seem to be presented with a negative connotation but, instead, are presented as being almost freeing and comical. Related to this, the language games serve to highlight the imaginativeness and unpredictability of the fantastical world of Wonderland. With this in mind, Carroll implies that the orderly principles which govern Alice’s world (time, logic, rationality, etc.) are just as arbitrary/nonsensical as the Hatter’s and Hare’s commentaries and, by extension, existence. In conclusion, Carroll communicates, through his use of clever riddles and puns, significant themes of the novel (time, madness, etc.) that ridicule the notions (such as time and reason) in which society takes so seriously. As a result, Carroll conveys, particularly in the episode of the Mad Tea-Party, that these concepts restrain and limit curiosity, the imagination, and the human experience.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Cigarette Case

In the film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, the scene regarding the cigarette case differs significantly from that of its portrayal in the original text. For example, the feature eliminates minute and insignificant segments of dialogue, as well as the presence of Lane (Algy’s housekeeper). Although, most noticeably, the scene in the movie unexpectedly takes place in an entirely different setting. This change in atmosphere certainly alters the tone and mood of the particular event.

The movie version depicts the incident at an elaborate socialite gathering. However, in the written version Jack (Earnest) and Algy address the missing cigarette case’s inscription in the privacy of Algernon’s home. This apparent difference between the two adaptations surely serves a purpose.

The deviating choices the director and actors make allows the scene to be more comedic and tantalizing. Placing the conversation in a public setting, with other socialites gathered around them, helps to emphasize the teasing nature of Algy towards Jack, and, in turn, accentuate the humiliation and discomfort he experiences. While Jack’s character, played by Colin Firth, maintains his assertiveness and poise despite the embarrassment, he undoubtably is uncomfortable and eager to conclude Algy’s pestering questions as soon as possible. This causes the scene to unfold with a sense of swiftness and uneasiness. Additionally, this difference also assists in further underlining and illustrating the nature of Algernon’s character, as he is a witty and charming but is also selfish and manipulative.

In contrast, when examining the written text, the reader pictures and experiences a very different environment. The scene in the text is introduced with the following description:

“Morning-room in Algernon’s flat in Half-Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room.”

Accordingly, the reader is prompted to imagine the scene in a quiet private room while Jack is visiting Algy. Because of this, the written version leaves the impression that the two men discuss the misplaced case, along with its intriguing engraving, in a more serious and intimate manner. Jack “Follows Algernon round the room” and “Moves to him,” as he is not restricted or tormented by the sneering laughs and eyes of an audience. This allows him to react more unreserved and unhesitant, as well as demonstrate less self-consciousness. In turn, he is at ease on the sofa across from Algy, able to defend and explain himself without the hinderance of spectators. Subsequently, the scene seems to move more impulsively and naturally, as Jack does not need to concern himself with causing a disturbance or commotion in the company of others.

With this, the incident of the cigarette case in the film adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest  makes distinct divergences from the text. Its dramatic change in setting helps to create a new dynamic to the scene not experienced in the written version. The publicity exaggerates Jack’s humiliation, as well as amplifies Algy’s character. However, in the text, Algernon’s teasing nature and manipulativeness is indrectly implied rather than outwardly demonstrated. As a result, I personally found the movie’s embellished portrayal to be more effectively impressionable, comical and stirring. The dramatization of the feature aids in communicating these elements to the viewer in a pronounced way, whereas the reader must rely on their own comprehension and analysis to identify them.

Dialogue and Setting in Trifles

In Susan Glaspell’s writing of Trifles, the dialogue, characterization and setting are essential in evolving and enhancing the overall themes of the work. The short one-act play utilizes all of these elements effectively in order to move the plot forward and progress to some sort of climax or realization.

Certainly the dialogue functions not only to advance the storyline, but, more importantly, to develop the characters. More specifically, through the dialogue the reader/audience is able to learn many insights concerning the absent characters (Mrs. and Mr. Wright). For example, in the exchanges of Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, the nature and manner of Mr. Wright is revealed:

Mrs. Peters: […] They say he was a good man.

Mrs. Hale: Yes–good; he didn’t drink, and kept his word as well as most, […] But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him–[Shivers.] Like a raw wind that gets to the bone.

Likewise, Mrs. Perter’s and Mrs. Hale’s conversations also serve to disclose how Mrs. Wright used to be before her isolating marriage.

Mrs. Hale: She–come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself–real sweet and pretty but kind of timid and–fluttery. How–did–she–change. […]

As a result, these discussions between the two wives help to convey the unpleasant realities of Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s joyless, stifling and detached union.

Even further, the two ladies express their deep sympathy and empathy for Mrs. Wright’s predicament, as they relate to her through their own struggles and experiences as wives and women. For instance, Mrs. Hale defends Mrs. Wright against the laughing judgment and criticism of Mr. Henderson, as he remarks upon the messy condition of the house:

County Attorney: […] Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?

Mrs. Hale: [Stiffly.] There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm.

It continues:

Mrs. Hale: […] Men’s hand aren’t always as clean as they might be.

County Attorney: Ah, loyal to your sex, I see. […]

While this particular excerpt serves to indicate the remorse the women feel for Mrs. Wright, it also assists in articulating the condition of the female role during the time the play takes place. Women are looked to as wives who are expected to complete house duties, tend to the children, etc. In this, women lose their sense of individuality and are obligated to identify as being nothing more than a devoted spouse (e.g. “For that matter, a sheriff’s wife is married to the law.”) Additionally, the preoccupations and concerns of women are seen as trivial: “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.”

This key theme of Trifles also is reinforced by the setting. The cluttered and unkept kitchen of the secluded farmhouse, as well as the season parallels the state of the Wrights’ relationship. Their marriage was left neglected and tormented with frigidity, as the warmth of love and affection were absent. Moreover, the isolation of the house further emphasizes the extreme loneliness experienced by Mrs. Wright, which changed her and suppressed her once cheerful spirit. In addition, the disarray of the house, particularly the details of the untidy kitchen, are ultimately what lead Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale to uncovering the motive for the crime. Their attention to these “trifles” are left unnoticed and undetected by the searching men. Consequently, as a result of their observation and intuitiveness they discover the sought after evidence, and resolve, through their feminine bond, to conceal the truth.

Resolution and Independence

As I reflect on Wordsworth’s beautifully written poem, Resolution and Independence, I am inspired by his impressionable imagery, attention to detail and seamless flow. Although the poem consists of twenty stanzas, the construction of the piece, as well as rhyme scheme (ABABBCC), provides a wonderful sense of rhythm and story telling. In his story, Wordsworth journeys the reader through a winding path towards self-realization, self-discovery and contentment, as he reflects upon the inspirational marvels found in nature and the loss of childhood innocence to the torment of age and responsibility.

Written from the perspective of the narrator, in the opening three stanzas the poet is untroubled, as he simply appreciates and reflects upon the beauty that surrounds him. He admires the “sun [as it] is rising calm and bright” and breathes in “the air [that] is filled with pleasant noise of waters.” However, the tone and emotion soon shift when he becomes overwhelmed with “Dim sadness—and blind thoughts.” As such, Wordsworth flawlessly employs contrasting images of nature in order to parallel the evolving attitude of the speaker, as well as comment on the turbulence of life’s course. The imagery utilizes the contrasts of light and dark (day and night), in addition to vivid descriptions of exposure to the elements (wind, rain, etc.) to signify the conflicting and fluctuating emotions of happiness and turmoil in life’s passage. When Wordsworth describes the night, it is overcome with the destructive forces of wind and rain, “roaring” and falling “in floods.” Nevertheless, the raindrops which once poured have made the grass “bright” in the new day. Through this, Wordsworth emphasizes that beauty, joy, peace and serenity can be renewed and redeemed–triumphing over the gloomy shadows of disaster and despair.

Afterwards, Wordsworth illustrates a memorable scene of a “hare running races.” This excerpt particularly stood out to me:

The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.

In this illustration, Wordsworth remarks upon the perfect joy the hare experiences as it runs freely in the “glittering” mist, with words such as “mirth” and “plashy” (onomatopoeia). I found this passage impressionable because, through the language, Wordsworth creates a sense of liberation and liveliness. Certainly, these are the ideal sensations in which the poet desperately seeks, as he feels isolated and distraught with concerns of “Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.”

Realizing his own age, faults and failures, he begins to sink into a moment of crisis, doubting his self-worth and purpose. It is at this time that he meets a poor Leech-gatherer whom is “not alive nor dead; nor all asleep.” For me, I interpreted the old man as symbolizing the collaborative wisdom, clarity and appreciation that can only be acquired from significant life experience.

At this moment in the poem, things seem to slow down and calm during the poet’s encounter with the stranger. All was still and quiet, much like the old man himself who is feeble and tired. Through the stillness, the speaker is influenced by the old man’s faith and determination, as he shares stories of his hardships, perseverance and humble life. It is then that the poet acknowledges his inability to recognize beauty, gain lessens and find gratitude through his shortcomings. As result, he finally realizes the power of the human spirit–as it can continue to endure in the midst of pain through experience and strength. And so, the poet learns that, although exposure to pain is as unavoidable, the experience of living and the enlivening spirit of the imagination are everlasting.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the poem, there were several areas in which I questioned or was confused by. For example, how old is the speaker? Were there any specific experiences the poet had recently endured that caused this sudden doubt in himself? Why did Wordsworth choose to have the stranger be a leech-gatherer of all things? And where did the old man come from? Additionally, there are several instances where the use of “he” was difficult to identify who it was referring to. However, I found that reading the poem aloud certainly helped with some of these concerns, while also enhancing my understanding and appreciation for the extraordinary visual and sensory images Wordsworth creates.

Sonnet 73

1. The use of anaphora in lines 1, 5, and 9, serves to emphasize the images of nature in which the repeated phrases follow. Likewise, it allows the poet to further accentuate their personal connection and acquaintance with the references made. For example, the first image describes the changing autumn trees that are soon to be naked to the frigid cold of winter. Immediately following, the poet goes on to compare them-self to this condition–remarking upon their inevitably dwindling youth. Additionally, the employment of repetition helps to create a sense of progression, as the recurring phrase is refined as the poem develops. This continuing, but slightly altered, pattern provides the impression that the images are operating in order to help the narrator meet some sort of foreseen end (death).

2. Within lines 1-4, Shakespeare uses a descriptive metaphor to parallel and symbolize the transformation that the poet is experiencing, as their once colorful and lustrous life is expiring. Moving on to lines 5-8, he transitions from the seasons of the months, to the hours of day–underlining the shortness of life even further. More specifically, he continues to enhance the imagery through the personification of the empty night. The narrator shares that he has reached the twilight and the “black night” will soon approach to “take [him] away.” In lines 9-12, symbolism is applied through the image of fire. The “glowing” fire signifies the narrator’s dimming youth, as its dull embers will soon expire and turn to “ashes.” While each figure of speech proves to be effective, I prefer the example in 9-12. I particularly liked the descriptive vocabulary, as well as the impressionable portrayal of fire. Moreover, it especially stood out to me that in the third quatrain (lines 9-12) the narrator now realizes and accepts the permanence of death.

3. In lines 3-4, a more complex metaphor is found within the image of the “sweet birds” upon the “boughs.” In the phase “Bare ruined choir,” the word “choir” can refer to two very different meanings: the singing group and the place where the group is seated within the church building. With this, the duality of the word helps to further express the fleeting quality of youth by presenting two different but related connotations. Firstly, the “ruined choir” (the place) can be understood as a vacant, never to seat a joyous crowd again. This parallels the bare branches of winter, free of “sweet birds.”  Approaching the word “choir” as a singing group having been silenced (“ruined”) further emphasizes the lack of spirit and vivacity during the harsh, frigid nakedness of winter, as the “sweet” songs cease to be heard. This duality in definition helps to more effectively accentuate the reality that the liveliness of youth is fleeting and cannot return.

In lines 7-8, I recognized a sort of understatement, as the narrator “implies more by saying less” through his “restrained” characterization of death, which “seals up all the rest” (Howe, p. 19). Through this, the poet expresses a tragic truth in which much of humanity struggles to accept without experiencing, at the very least, significant uneasiness: death is inescapable and separates us from those we love (whether we’re prepared for it or not). Certainly, this use of understatement does not serve to reduce the narrator’s emotion concerning his demise, but instead, helps to “convey more depth” (Howe, p.19).

Banned vs. Popular Books

There appears to be many contradictions when investigating popular, best-selling books in comparison with banned, scrutinized literary works. To exemplify this inconsistency, while exploring the trendy books in the Marymount bookstore, as well as researching the ten most challenged books of 2012, I was not surprised to find a novel located in both categories—Fifty Shades of Grey.

Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy–both widely popular and controversial.

Certainly the novel has received a lot of attention, interest and curiosity since its release—causing an enormous circulation of the series by (mostly female) readers of all ages. I myself attempted to read the opening title of the trilogy but could only stand to get through the first three chapters. Needless to say, I never touched the book again.

So why is it that a novel can be both widely popularized and challenged? Primarily, the reading habits of America is significantly influenced and driven by what the media and pop-culture categorize as stylish, fashionable, current or “hip.” Namely, stories of sex, scandal, romance, adventure, excitement, as well as the erotic and peculiar are often found appealing. However, all the same, these themes and genres are regularly the very reasons for the dispute or opposition toward a particular work.

Titles spanning from award winners, to classic literary staples, to children’s books have been banned over the years and throughout history. There seems to be two distinctly recognizable and related motivations for the disapproval of a book—its content and its intended audience. Many of the works itemized on the banned books list for 2012 are overwhelmingly aimed toward young readers. Consequently, this demonstrates that our society continues to concern itself with censoring, monitoring and regulating the subjects, language and ideas presented to the young readership. In turn, the public deems certain literature as offensive, inappropriate, unsuitable, provocative and controversial for children and teens for numerous reasons (e.g. sexual content, explicit language, violence, homosexuality, and sensitive material related to religion, racism, etc.).

With this, there is absolutely a blurred and indistinct attitude/approach in determining what’s considered admissible and what’s unfitting for specific age groups to be exposed to. Pop-culture is noticeably more tolerant and lenient with “pushing the envelope” and encouraging free thinking/expression for any age. Nevertheless, there still remains a prominent desire for the mature reading audience to create boundaries. However, how effective these boundaries are is unclear, as young readers continue to access popular literature that may be improper so that they too may participate in the latest literary trends and movements. As such, what is popular and what is inappropriate is ever-changing and entirely subjective. Our society is riddled with pop-culture of questionable subject matter—content which is compelling for some and distasteful for others.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I have always loved books, ever since early childhood, as I constantly found myself being immersed in the infinite and inspired world of literature. For this, I credit my mother, as she surrounded my childhood with wonderful books of all genres which captivated and ignited my imagination. Countless novels and writers have profoundly impacted my life, from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. The world of books, of endless possibilities, has allowed me to explore the Mississippi alongside Huck and Jim, reside in Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, and examine the eccentric mind of Holden Caulfield. I have lived these stories. I have identified with their characters–rejoicing in their triumphs and weeping with them in their agonies.

Book Cover–from novel’s Wikipedia page.

So, when I approach the deceivingly simple question of “What’s your favorite book? ” certainly, it is not so easy to select a single work. The answer relentlessly changes, evolves and repeats. I have a favorite book for every occasion, time of year, mood and emotion. However, today, I choose The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

I have read this novel a remarkable fourteen times and each time I fall in love with it more than the last. It’s an engaging, conversational, relatable, intimate and honest novel which offers a unique perspective that is both thought-provoking and inspiring. The novel follows the diary of a young, conflicted boy in an all-together hilarious, devastating and spirited tale of “growing up.” There are endless musical and pop-culture references, as well as riveting stories recounting the turbulence of finding and reinventing oneself in high school–all elements in which we can all identify with.

A famous quote from the novel.

A famous quote from the novel.

I can’t even begin to convey the many ways in which I profoundly relate to the novel’s characters and experiences–especially the main character Charlie. His journey and transformation is one that encourages the reader to cherish, invent and celebrate life’s moments which make us feel “infinite.”

Many of you may have heard of or seen the newly released film adaptation staring iconic leads such as Emma Watson. I was thrilled when I learned that a movie was being produced, but, mostly, I was apprehensive as to whether the portrayal would do the book justice. In the end, I was pleased with the outcome, and I certainly recommend it. However, this book is always better, of course! Give the book a try and I promise you you’ll find a little bit of yourself within!


The DVD cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)