Personal Statement - English and Philosophy 2

English and Philosophy Personal Statement 2

Philosophical concepts and ethical theory have always been best expressed in analogy and story; they are easily observed in the works of many of the greatest philosophers from Plato to Jesus to Dostoevsky. The purpose concealed within literature has helped shape history. It is these philosophies, and the artistic forms in which they are expressed, that I find so intriguing and wish to pursue further.

I find the ‘ironic implication concealed beneath the elegant velvet glove of style’ extremely amusing and am passionate about works of social satire. I particularly enjoy the novels of Charles Dickens, Martin Amis and Jane Austen. My interest has influenced me to write a dissertation for the Extended Project Qualification on ‘Utilitarianism in the Dystopian Novel’, which will consider the effect of such dystopian novels as Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood. The dystopian genre is one of the most complex and enthralling of social satires since it observes the faults of contemporary society by making them manifest as the extremes of the future. My essay examines the credibility of ‘the greater good’, contrasting Bentham’s Act Utilitarianism with Mill’s Rule, or Ideal, version.

Just as Mill and Dickens helped society to see itself in a new way, so my concern with politics has come from my interest in satire and sympathy with social reform. I have a great fervour for writing and I have felt compelled to use my editorial position on the school magazine to express my ideas in print, most recently a piece criticising the Catholic Church’s hypocritical stance on homosexuality. This was seen as controversial since I attend a Benedictine school. Though I suspected myself a gadfly, like Socrates, I did not drink the hemlock and was pleasantly surprised by the reception.

Having a Catholic upbringing, and attending a school founded upon the ideals of Saint Benedict, I have, ironically, come to question belief in a divine creator. I have particular affinities with Kant’s Moral Argument and The Teleological Argument, which are both founded upon the sensible Aristotelian theory of purpose. My belief, therefore, of a divinity within Nature, has caused my great interest in the literary Romantic Movement. I very much admire the revolutionary poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge that revolted against neo-classicism, vilified in The Preface to ‘Lyrical Ballads’, and, in particular, Wordsworth’s metaphorical Matthew poems; these show a remarkable similarity with the debate between Platonic and Aristotelian philosophies.

I greatly enjoy poetry, balladry being my preference, especially Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of The Ancient Mariner’ and ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ by Oscar Wilde. The verse of Byron and Keats is particularly enthralling. Modern poets like Hughes and Betjeman provide a lighter read, but are no less intriguing. My enjoyment of beautiful poetry traverses to theatre in the form of The Bard. I find Shakespeare’s tragedies more absorbing than his comedies; I regard ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to be his most entertaining work due to its poetic merit and contemporary relevance. My interests, however, are not confined to the literary world. I am fond of Art, particularly Post-Impressionist painting by Gauguin, whose work provided a fascinating exhibition at the Tate Modern, and also his inspiration, Monet. Music is a gratifying pastime too, and I regularly attend live acts with friends.

My subjects; English, Philosophy & Ethics, History and Maths, provide a solid base for the study of Philosophy and Literature, including contextual knowledge and an element of logical reasoning from the two less formally associated with the course. I believe that I am well suited to studying Philosophy and English at University level and look forward to being liberated from the confined course of the A-Level, to venture from the realm of shadows, and into the enlightening world of higher education.

Universities Applied to:

  • University of York (English and Philosophy, QV52) - Offer (AAB) Insurance
  • University of Leeds (English and Philosophy, QV52) - Offer (AAA)
  • University of Bristol (English and Philosophy, QV52) - Offer (AAB) Firm
  • Durham University (English and Philosophy, QV52) - Rejection
  • University of Warwick (Philosophy and Literature, VQ52) - Offer (AAB and a B at AS)

Grades Achieved:

  • English (A2) - A*
  • Philosophy and Ethics (A2) - A*
  • History (A2) - A
  • Mathematics (AS) - C


General Comments:

A top notch personal statement right there!