SAT, ACT, Post-Graduate & Professional Certification & Re-Certification Preparation and Tutoring in the Dallas Area

How Should We Teach Literature to Our Students?

May 6th, 2013

E.B. White--beloved writer of children's books--Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan, and Charlotte's Web, plus thirty years of style and humor in The New Yorker--wrote marvelous books by a marvelous writer and human being.

In fact, White's stepson, Roger Angell, wrote a tribute to his beloved late stepfather:

E.B. White was admired and loved by readers of all ages...He got more onto paper in his...lifetime than most writes ever come close to doing.

I love to help students, even those who are not English majors, or even those who have no inclination to read fiction, in spite of how thrilling creative fiction it may be.

Many fictions, such as the ancient Persian Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves describe the story of an impoverished forester who was shrewd enough to follow forty robbers, whom he overheard crying out "Open Sesame!" in front of a dark cave. The dismal recess was illuminated by a bright light to show that the opening was filled with rich gold and silver ingots!

Meanwhile, Ali Baba's son had fallen madly in love with the beautiful and honest Morgiana, who cleverly emptied out the magnificent treasure! She extinguished the lamp, emptied the kettle...but found the forty thieves dead in the oily liquid-filled forty jars.

Morgiana was pleased that her trickery disposed of the forty greedy thieves...and then rescued Ali Baba while the captain of the forty dead criminals saw that all of them were either moribund or dead. She also was intelligent enough to tell Ali Baba, who had followed her, to peer into the jars of oil, where all the thieves were dead...and gone.

Bravely and honestly...and cleverly...Morgiana and Ali Baba took Ali's son to the cave of the robbers. The trio of Ali Bab, his son, and Morgiana gave their fortune to their children years after Morgiana and the son married.

All lived with integrity and great honor.

Although The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark in every way is the most interesting play ever written, apart from the fascination of Hamlet's character, it has a long and intricate history as a drama. The tragedy's text is full of problems; it teems with allusion for present lovers of antiquity. Critics have mulled over competing for the key, or should I say the literary clue to the heart of Hamlet's mystery. Even a psychiatrist has difficulty laboring over the Danish Prince's inhibitions, which were at least seven hundred years old...or more. Before 1589, the drama hit the boards of the now 600-year-old, famed Glob Theater, and even the stage directions sometimes present very interesting but archaic scenes, such as a dumb show, the apparition of the Ghost dressed in something quite like a nightgown or even frilly underwear.

The hero Hamlet delivers five soliloquies, which are not always composed in 21st century, commonsense language. Over 1,500 years, the Devil and the figure of Melancholy appear as Wraiths or ghosts, even though Prince Hamlet has proved his uncle to be guilty, including the alarming evidence uttered by his friends Guildenstern and Rosecrans, telling the Prince that the truth of the midnight evidence of the Ghost as well as Hamlet's concluding words of Act II, "The play's the thing, / Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King" foreshadows the play's pitiful end."

ELISSA SOMMERFIELD is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with an MA in English from SMU. She taught English at SMU and in the Dallas County Community College District. For under 30 years, she has conducted classes in SAT and ACT preparation as well as in graduate school exam instruction and study skills. Additionally, she has tutored extensively in most academic areas, the ISEE, the composition of school entrance essays, and editing books. She has served as an SAT and educational consultant for 29 Texas school districts and has authored four books on SATs plus, with Frances Bailey Wood, co-authored and revised one on how to study efficiently. An educational consultant, as well as graduate school, college, and boarding school counselor, she is a member of Independent Educational Consultants Association and Texas Association for College Admissions Counselors. Sommerfield actively maintains her Certified Educational Planner designation and at UT was a Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year.

this information is used with the expressed permission of Park Cities News