The fiirst thing that I could say about these two essays is that I am vastly confused by them. The truth of the matter, if I were to reflect upon it, is that this may be as much a commentary on my lack of understanding of communications theory as it is a critique of the writing.
So what, if anything, was my take away from the reading? There was one idea that I felt I really connected with in what I read…the idea that we can never really “know” what a character is feeling or what their motivation was for doing something in a story. It has always been, I guess, a pet peeve when someone (a critic or reviewer) makes this sort of assumption. They take a perhaps obvious viewpoint drawn from literary theory or psychology and apply it to a given situation. My question has always been “How do you know that?” Hey, maybe they are right, but maybe not. I guess what I would prefer is for someone like that to say “Here is what I think is going on…” rather than “This is the way it is!” Admit there are other possibilities, that you just may not have the right idea and I’m cool with your thoughts. Few things are absolute, there is almost always a chance that someone’s interpretation of events misses the mark and I would hope that these supposed scholars could be big enough to admit this.
So, what would I do about this? I think it would be great to be able to pick some popular, often studied modern texts and analyze what the critics have had to say about them and to then go to the authors (hence the reason for choosing modern texts rather than popular classics – can’t interview Dickens or Chaucer can we?) and ask them if the critiques hit or miss what they envision as the motivation for the characters in question. If anyone knows what the characters are thinking or about their motivations they should, after all. My belief is that it would be around a 50/50 split right and wrong. And truthfully that is probably a pretty good average all things considered, more maybe than what my opinions of most critics would allow.