You know how each writer has their own creative and unique way to put thoughts into words, the English literature classics had the same, only with a spice of extreme ‘politeness’ added.
Whether they were expressing love, hate, support or anger – they have these famous shall, thou, thee – a terminology that makes us feel like we’re living in the Victorian era, while we’re reading their books.
Having read a few of these books myself, here is a list of books you definitely must read, if you consider yourself an English Literature passionate.
1984 – George Orwell
Have you heard of expressions like “big brother is watching you”?
Does Room 101 sound familiar? Both these references were initially used in this powerful book.
The book was published in 1984 and follows the life of Winston Smith, who was a member of “The Party”.
The story takes place in London and “The Big Brother” is controlling everyone. There is no privacy, you are not allowed to live and think freely.
To prevent political rebellion, “The party starts creating a new language by not adding words that are related to rebellious actions. In this book, even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal.
Thought crime is the worst! How will Winston express his rebellious thoughts, in a world where thoughts can be punished?
Sounds thrilling right? So read the book to get the answer, do not google it!
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Yes, Orwell again because the English literature loves him. If you liked the plot of 1984 by George Orwell, “Animal Farm” should be next on your classics reading list.
The narrative of the book starts with a dream. And this is not a usual dream, it is a dream where all the animals are free of human control.
A dream that the Old Mayor – one of the main characters, wants to share with other animals in the farm. Thus, he calls a meeting and gathers up all fellow animals.
Together, they get inspired from the dream and decide to kick their master, Farmer Jones, a human.
They successfully achieve their mission and turns out that life in the farm gets good for a while.
- Everything was going smoothly through these seven commandments:
1. Two-legged animals are our enemies;
2. Four-legged being are allies and friends;
3. Animals shall never wear clothes;
4. Animals shall never drink alcohol;
5. Animals shall never kill animals;
6. Animals shall never sleep in beds;
7. ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
Do animals obey these commandments? And will they stay the same? The plot is amazing.
And if you think that there is no metaphor included in this book, think again. In fact, Animal Farm by George Orwell is a parallel symbolic history of events of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Through the animal rebellion, Orwell also elaborates on the ideas of freedom, rebellion and power relations that concern us humans too.
Jane Austen novels
I know I should have mentioned only one of her books, however I have failed to do so and I am free of guilt as Jane Austen’s legacy has educated so many generations, especially women!
Her novels are filled with very interesting stories and characters you can so easily fall in love with.
Of course you have heard and probably even seen her books turned into movies: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Lady Susan; you choose!
Interestingly enough, the one common thing you will find after reading Jane Austen’s books is, women trying to get outside of the box, ignoring the 18th Century traditions and discovering the freedom in the modern world.
And who does not love books about rebellious girls? I know I do!
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
We know that patriarchy, oppression and classes are still issues we deal with in modern society.
These are exactly Jane’s battles with which she struggles ever since her childhood, through this book.
Jane is a well-mannered, well read and educated young girl, but so it happens that she is born in times of aristocracy where she works as a governess.
Being a servant of a rich family, she does not get the respect, treatment and equality which she deserves.
And that is how her fight begins. Jane herself is the one who tells the story from her perspective in the narrative of the book.
While reading the novel, you will notice how her morals will be tested quite a lot, considering the situations she finds herself in. Jane struggles to find the balance between moral duty, pleasure and spirituality.
Jane being the governess, is the most important part of the novel, as she practices her occupation under the orders of master Edward. Is there a love story there?
Why, its classical English literature, of course there is. But that’s not where your main focus should be!
Jude The Obscure – Thomas Hardy
If you’re a nihilist person by nature, maybe this is not the right book for you to read. Just as the title reveals it, Jude, the main character of this book has a very obscure and gloomy life. “Jude the obscure” is considered to be the best and last finished novel of Hardy`s.
Our out-of-luck Jude is an orphan who is raised by his aunt. Growing up, he dreams of being educated in prestigious universities, famous for their qualitative ways of teaching.
Tragically, none of that comes to realisation and everything changes for this young boy as soon as he falls in love with his cousin Sue.
Problems such as money, life, gender inequality, religion, the class system have all gathered around to ruin Jude’s life.
Do you want to follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen or George Orwell? We have some great opportunities right here to enter free writing competitions.
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