Published in 1951, J. D. Salinger’s debut novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was one of the most controversial novels of its time. The book received many criticisms, good and bad. While Smith felt the book should be “read more than once” (13), Goodman said the “book is disappointing” (21). All eight of the critics had both good and bad impressions of the work. Overall, the book did not reflect Salinger’s ability due to the excessive vulgarity used and the monotony that Holden imposed upon the reader.
Agreeing with Smith was Stern, saying “the book should be read again.” There are many reasons for accepting this comment. Peterson, for example, felt that Holden Caulfield’s “spirit is intact,” while Stern enjoyed Phoebe’s good personality. Phoebe was important because she “preserve[d] Holden’s innocence” (Jones). In the end, she keeps Holden at home with his family – after all, who knows what Holden could be up to, living by himself? He has been “trying to live up to his height, to drink with men, to understand mature sex and why he is still a virgin at his age” (Smith 13). It is because of this personality, that Salinger is able to “make the reader chuckle” (Breit). Phoebe is also important to Holden because he “finds a human warmth in [her]” (Engle).
Despite all these positives, many critics felt the book was lacking a great deal. There were many reasons given for not liking The Catcher in the Rye: the vulgarity, the monotony, and the immature personality of the protagonist. To put it bluntly, “one expects something more” out of Salinger (Goodman 21).
All through the book, Holden, as well as his “friends”, uses vulgar language. Because of this, Longstreth feels the book is “not fit for children.” Although vulgar language is used in the real world, it was very rarely encountered in literature. Other critics agreed with Longstreth, Peterson said the book was “obscene,” while Smith warned readers “be advised to let the book alone” if they are bothered by this language. It is Jones’ feeling that this language could only be mouthed by a “disturbed adolescent,” and that Holden is “immoral and perverted” (Longstreth).
The language was only part of the problem. The book, in many critics’ eyes, was monotonous.
An Explication of Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott
An Explication of Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott
Children often grow up listening to fairy tales. Repunsel is one fairy tale about a girl cursed to live a life of isolation in a tower. She longs to break free from seclusion and become part of the outside world. She eventually finds her one true love and risks her life to be with him. “The Lady of Shalott” by Lord Alfred Tennyson relates to Repunsel in many ways. In this poem, Tennyson tells a story of isolation. The woman in this ballad is also doomed to remain on her sheltered island eternally. If she even looks out at Camelot, she will die. She finally sees her “red-cross knight” (line 78). The Lady of Shalott escapes from her “silent isle imbower[ed],” yet dies a tragic death before she even meets Lnacelot (17). In reality, many people do not experience this extreme form of seclusion, although it is very common for someone to change his/her life or even risk it to be with the person he/she loves.
Tennyson starts out with the total seclusion of the beautiful, young Lady of Shalott surrounded by “Four gray walls, and four gray towers” (15). She knows nothing of the humanity outside of her chambers. Her only knowledge of reality is the shadows she sees through her “mirror clear” (46) and the web she “weaves by night and day” (37). At this point in the ballad, the reader does not know whether the Lady of Shalott is forced to be in this situation or chooses to live a life of complete isolation. She seems quite content with her present surroundings. Looking through her crystal mirror is all she needs to sing her “song that echoes cheerly” (30). The lady has no desire to leave her private world because she is unaware of any other kind o…
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…ever given to justify her being forced to remain in the chamber by an outside source. Also, why did she have to die in the end? Is it possible she eventually committed suicide because she realized her love for Lancelot was futile? These are questions that may stay on your mind after reading Tennyson’s poem. Even today it is possible to feel the infinite struggle the Lady of Shalott had to face. Tennyson shows the development of a young lady who is dealing with one of the most difficult times in life, growing up in a world full of rules and restrictions while becoming a woman. His subtle description of a girl’s problems is slightly exaggerated, yet even valid today.
Tennyson, Lord Alfred. “The Lady of Shalott.” Literature of Britain. Elements of Literature 6th Course. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., 1993. 784-788.