The Criteria for Good Literature

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Keishera Aldonza
August 30, 2011
English Honors
The Criteria for Good Literature
A good book us just that, a book. Yes, it may be enjoyable. Yes, it may have an intriguing plot. However, it still stands separate from the works titled as “good literature.” In order to be considered good literature, the piece of writing must meet specific criteria. First, it must have strong characterization and they must fully develop throughout the plot. It is important for the characters to explore themselves, as we humans often seek to find ourselves. Characters should have motivation, passion, and values, all qualities that makes us relate to them more. They should feel very real alive and not just words on paper. A good piece of literature should have the capability to make us connect to our own world and ponder the cogency of our morals, and even our existence. It should have the reader searching inside oneself for answers to mysteries and questions brought by the author’s craftsmanship, and searching for means of understanding it. A work of good literature should also have neither time nor place. Themes portrayed in the piece can be conveyed no matter what era or place the reader is in. The ideas should be universal and can be applied to any circumstance. The piece of writing should also be fluid and vivid. It should mimic the liking of a Picasso, in the field writing. Its plot should be distinctive, captivating the minds of its reader. It should have articulate, elaborate details that paint lively, picturesque scenes in the reader’s mind. Lastly, the level of enjoyment determines the quality of the piece in question. A good book can be read, enjoyed but later forgotten about. A good piece of literature is read and enthralls both the mind and heart. It makes the reader yearn for it and once more read it. Only then is it considered an excellent piece of literature. Based on the above definition of good literature, 1984 by George Orwell meets several of the criteria and can be classified as good literature. First, Orwell develops his characters in a strong powerful way, that as a reader I am able to fully understand them and at time connect to them, but still ponder their varying personalities, values, and ideals. O’Brien, for example is characterized so well he seems to un-develop as the story goes on. At first, both the reader and Winston are convinced in believing that O’Brien is a member of the opposition, the Brotherhood, while being in part of the Inner Party. It seemed liked betrayal to the Party at its best but as the plot later reveals, we are the ones who seemed to get betrayed by O’Brien after he abuses and brainwashes Winston. The more the plot unfolds, the more questions are raised about O’Brien than are answered. The reader is constantly left questioning him and trying to dissect his character. It also leaves one wondering whether or not O’Brien was previously rebellious as he implied when he stated “They got me long ago” (238) and if the Brotherhood truly exists or is merely another tactic the Party utilizes to find and trap people that have gone astray and to give the people a common enemy and someone to hate. Orwell succeeds in writing a novel that has truly questioning the thought of our very existence. Winston brings up the thought, “The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind,” (266) solipsism, and immediately the reader’s racing and pondering this very truth, or fallacy. The mind is now confused as it tries to both reason out this theory and disprove it all at once. There is no way of demonstrating neither its falsehood nor its validity, which does nothing but keep Orwell a step ahead of us and locked into his novel. What is absolutely lovely about 1984 is even though it was written in 1949 depicting a terrifying futuristic world; it can be connected and portrayed in any time period or place. For example, the theme of the dangers of totalitarian can be connected to the regimes in Spain and Russia,...
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