Lit and Society
The Worth of My Last Duchess
Worthwhile literature has four basic elements, or characteristics that help to qualify a work as a worthwhile piece of literature. The four characteristics that help determine a piece of literature to be worthy of reading and studying are that it creates a lasting impression, it stretches the reader’s imagination, it is an aesthetically pleasing experience, and finally, it communicates across cultural boundaries. According to this perception of worthwhile literature, if the piece does not achieve these goals, then it would be fair to say that it is not a worthwhile piece of literature. In this essay, the piece of “My Last Duchess” will be explored and it will be determined whether or not this work is a piece of worthwhile literature. The first element, the one of a lasting impression, will be the first idea explored to determine if this criterion is met by the poem. The term “lasting impression” simply means that it is possibly provocative, uncanny, very powerful, or meaningful. The opposite of this would mean that as soon as it was no longer being read, it was also no longer being thought about. Secondly, it must be concluded whether the piece of literature stretches the reader’s imagination and is not predictable, or if it is simply predictable, stale, and old. Next, it must be decided if this poem is aesthetically pleasing, that is the imagery, or the beauty seen in the work. The contrary of being aesthetically pleasing is that of plain, bland sentences and statements, along with virtually no imagery, throughout the piece. And finally, it will be established whether or not this literature can communicate across boundaries. This will be done by deciding if the piece is embedded or stuck in the time and place that it was created in. If it is not stuck, then it can be said that this poem can communicate across cultural boundaries. While reading through “My Last...
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