English Literature Personal Statement
Having read in 'Heart of Darkness' that the "satanic litany" of the Africans bore no resemblance to the human language, it is somewhat ironic that my desire to study English Literature was cemented by Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart'. I love Nigerian literature and the works of Nigerian authors such as Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. What interests me is both Adichie's and Achebe's ability to weave an alluring human narrative with periods of historical significance to Nigeria as evident in their respective novels 'Purple Hibiscus' and 'Things Fall Apart'. Such novels have fed my interest in Nigerian literature as well as its rich and diverse history which I am particularly interested in because of my Nigerian origin. However, I was surprised to see Nigerian authors go beyond the typical topics of war and life in Nigeria, as exhibited by the experimental magic realism of Okri's works like 'Astonishing the Gods'. What captured me was the fact that it was written to be both a modern fable and a philosophical analysis of the human existence and yet felt more like a work of art, perhaps due to the nameless characters and lack of a plot.
As I am the student leader of my school's Shakespeare society, I often lead sessions and prepare presentations on topics relating to Shakespeare's plays. A particular play that bemused me was 'Pericles'. I found that this play bore some similarity to his earlier works such as 'Comedy of Errors' but the former perplexed me due to the almost amateurish way in which it is written. I found that the characters lacked any real depth and almost didn't make much sense thus setting itself apart from his more famous plays. I decided to do some research and found that there is every possibility that 'Pericles' is an example of a 'bad quarto', as are plays like 'Hamlet', 'King Lear' and 'Othello', due to the textual problems which arose when publishers were unable to obtain the original manuscript and so relied on other sources. I have also enjoyed acting as Lodovico in 'Othello' though the production took the unusual step of making Othello white and the rest of the cast black. I believe that this made themes such as the danger of isolation less racially specific thus allowing the audience to concentrate on what I think are the more important issues, such as how military heroism and love can't go together.
Keen to explore poetry beyond the IB syllabus, I have particularly enjoyed reading Victorian poets such as Gerard Manley Hopkins and Robert Browning. Browning's 'Porphyria's Lover' was my first encounter with the poet and captured me due to the madness of the dramatic monologue. This led me to the amusing 'Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister' which, despite there being no historical specificity, gave me an interesting portrait of the possible corruption of the church, much like Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales'. I love how his poems contrast with those of Hopkins' such as 'The Windhover' and 'Spring' whose use of the sprung rhythm struck me as it made the poem mimic the movement of nature, a theme which, when intertwined with Hopkins' often complex use of colour and religious connotations, makes for enjoyable reading. What I believe that these two poets have in common is their ability to break the conventions of Victorian literature and produce poems that were both innovative and thought provoking.
When not arguing in my English classes about the extent to which Joseph Conrad is, as Achebe put it, a "bloody racist" I use my oratory abilities for my school's debating society. When Managing Director of a Young Enterprise company, I found the skills obtained from my English classes to be useful as I often had to make my meetings easy to break down so that my opinions could get across to the rest of my team. This evidently aided our cohesion as we were given the award for "Best Teamwork". Outside of school I do aikido and I also enjoy creative writing, with Achebe and Okri being my biggest influences.
Universities Applied to:
- Cambridge (Q300) - Rejection
- Warwick (Q300) - Offer (38 IB Points) Firm
- York (Q300) - Offer (36 IB Points) Insurance
- Nottingham (Q300) - Offer (34 IB Points)
- Leeds (Q300) - Offer (35 IB Points)
- HL English A1- 7
- HL History - 7
- HL Economics - 6
- SL Spanish (Ab Initio) - 6
- SL Biology - 5
- SL Mathematics - 5
- TOK/EE - 2
- Total IB Points - 38
So yeah this is my PS, as you can probably tell I am very much into my Nigerian literature, as well as Shakespeare. As you can see from my PS, I have talked about prose, poetry and plays. Universities like too see this kind of range so it would be good if you made sure that you don't just focus on prose or poetry or plays.