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English and Philosophy Personal Statement

The magic that I have found in both verse and prose has never failed to enthral me; from the desolate moors of Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights', to the Cantos of Dante's 'Inferno'. Metaphor, symbolism and the pure beauty of the written word have fuelled my desire to dedicate my life to the study of a subject I admire and adore.

What appeals to me most about studying English at degree level is that it will give me the opportunity to analyse both traditional and contemporary texts alongside their contextual backgrounds, allowing me to appreciate both writer and work historically and philosophically. Equally I long to discover and truly acknowledge the works of Chaucer, Spencer and Marlowe, establishing a firm grounding in the foundations of literature, while achieving a sense of freedom I feel one cannot obtain simply from A Level study.

Literature incorporates so much of what makes our culture rich, diverse and intrinsically artistic. Whether it be the great tragic lovers of Shakespeare's 'Antony and Cleopatra' or the lives of the bedraggled residents of Pat Barker's stark text 'Union street', the study of literature only advances ones understanding and appreciation of the world in which we live.

My study of Philosophy has been particularly insightful in that it has instilled in me a sense of intrigue as to why and with what motive a piece of literary work is undertaken. I have been introduced to teachings from St Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Nagel and his critical essay 'What is it like to be a bat?' focussing on the mystery of the soul and the enigma of the creative mind. In his essay, Nagel introduces his term 'Qualia', referring to the innate and subjective nature of our conscious experience. After recently reading E M Forster's 'Howards End', I feel I have become more acquainted with Nagel's Qualia as Forster succeeds in transporting his reader into the depths of each of his character's souls, opening a door to his creative contemplation and drawing upon the importance to 'connect' the passion and prose in order to avoid a life of fragmented 'gray'.

The theories of Carl Gustav Jung also interest me immensely, especially those relating to literary influence, criticism and motive. In his essay 'Psychology and Literature' Jung discusses the use of archetypal images and asserts that many texts convey a shadow of the writer's unconscious being, building upon theories such as those of Plato's 'Eternal Forms'. Jung intimates that literature is an outlet by which the primordial images of the unconscious may be expressed and exposed, not only for the reader, but for the author himself. Indeed S.T. Coleridge stated that when writing poetry he sought 'a symbolical language for something within me that already and forever exists' and when analysing use of language within a text, it is this symbolism that I yearn to find and explore.

This year I entered The Vogue Young Writer's Contest, submitting an essay on a personal experience and a polemic concerning the existence of God. I have also enjoyed writing for The Peterhouse Essay Competition, in which I evaluated the change in human character, particularly focusing on the work of Edward Albee and George Orwell.

Outside of my studies I am a keen dramatist and recently played the role of Dorothy in an award winning amateur production 'The Wizard of Oz'. Additionally I have taken LAMDA Examinations up to Grade 5, which have introduced me to a wide range of poetry and prose. This summer, after fundraising for 18 months, I travelled to Ghana as a volunteer, to work with orphans, providing care and English language support. This was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life to date and has only helped to increase my drive to succeed in my educational career; whilst boosting my ambition to make a difference to the world at large, a difference I believe the study of literature can only enhance.

Universities Applied to:

  • University of Cambridge (English) - Interview at King's College - Rejection
  • University of Warwick (Philosophy and Literature) - Rejection
  • University of London (Royal Holloway) (English with Philosophy) - Offer (AAB) Insurance
  • University of Aberdeen (English & Philosophy) - Offer (ABB) Firm
  • Universityof Surrey - Offer (ABB)

Grades Achieved:

  • English Literature (A2 - A*
  • Philosophy (A2) - A
  • History (A2) - B


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