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Top 5 Widely Discussed Literary Classics


Quite a few literature classics have abraded our minds and pushed us to read the works over and over, either because we're captivated by the splendor of its structure and storyline, or because we're trying to seek answers to lingering questions, or even because we're trying to educate ourselves and discover new meanings and interpretations to what we've previously read. Starting from the bottom to the top, below is a list of a few out of a hundred or more works that pique our interests and linger in our consciousness, year after year after year.

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Narrated through the eyes of a youth, this fiction work speaks of the heavy themes of slavery, equality, hypocrisy, and the issues of what was considered just and unjust. What is so different and enticing about this work is that Twain creates an authentic work where he uses humor, in uneducated American dialect, to reflect on the underlying issues that pervaded society at the time. Huckleberry is witty and intelligent, even at his young age, as he wonders how the people around him whom he thought were very kind and normal and spoke about a 'free' and 'equal' society, were all slave-owners. He goes on numerous adventures exploring life and questioning what he was taught and what he was seeing and experiencing. Eventually he learns to follow his heart, listen to his conscience, and develop a moral character.

4. Animal Farm, George Orwell
George Orwell creates an allegorical work in which animals represent humans and the political lives that we dwell in and deal with. Strong themes follow this work, themes that speak loudly of the Russian revolution of 1917 and the political upheaval, hypocrisy and betrayal that transpired during the time. It is also a reflection on politics as it is everywhere, the betrayal that society faces when a candidate that they place in power becomes corrupt and blinded by power and greed, and uses that same power to eliminate his oppositions. He takes on the ways of the previous government that, before he came to power, he had been opposed to. Another strong theme that Orwell raises is the theme of class structure, and how we cannot escape class division, even among those within the same cultural group. There is and will always be issues of equality, however subtle; issues of who is more privileged and deserves more entitlement than the other.

3. Hamlet, Shakespeare
We are intrigued by Hamlet, a puzzling but enigmatic character who is very disturbed by life in general, but more so by the death of his father, whom he believes was murdered by his uncle. He is philosophical as he thinks and broods about everything, involving in private conversations with himself, his commonly-known soliloquies, of which the most popular of them is: "To be or not to be, that is the question." He questions everything, from afterlife to suicide to love, and becomes obsessed with trying to pin his father's death on his uncle and finding ways to reveal the truth. He is disgusted with his mother's relationship with his uncle as she marries him not long after his father's death. He is also disgusted with Ophelia, although he proclaims his love for her in some instances, and insults her at other times. He is almost depicted as 'mad'; a strong but very confused character, who is much too caught up and deeply weighed down with his troubling thoughts to live life fully.

2. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The general themes pervading this exceptional work are the themes of the obsession with knowledge and the invasion of technology. The work speaks of the technological advancement that was rapidly taking place during the Industrial Revolution from the late 1700s, and the frantic quest to go beyond average human capability and try to find what lay behind that door of creativity and creation, and become like God. The message that Shelley portrays is quite clear: You can't be God or outdo God. Ultimately what you so blindly and greedily seek will come after you with a vengeance, and will eventually ruin your life and the lives of those that you love.

1. Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
The theme of love is strong and powerful throughout this drama, and the kind of love that Romeo and Juliet share is not the ordinary romantic love that most romance stories depict. The kind of love that the characters share is almost violent, enigmatic, sharp, intense, painful and almost religious. Their love is forbidden, because of the feud between the characters' parents due to class and power structures, and this adds to the excitement of 'tasting the forbidden fruit', knowing that their love will never be approved by society. Their love is so strong that it leads to their death, and the remorse and regret that their parents feel upon their death leads to another theme that Shakespeare was trying to bring to focus: that of Patriarchal structures. If this hadn't existed, their children would never have hidden their love, and tried to find a way to be together against all odds.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Ije Kanu. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Ije Kanu. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ije Kanu for details.

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