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  • Writer's pictureAnqi Teng

Full mark Mod C reflection from a 99.95 Ruse grad 😎

Shravan Suri: Ocean Vuong fan, Princeton law student to be and 2021 Ruse graduate who 99.95-ed with a HSIE-heavy subject load (we're talking Latin extension here).

He has shared his take on the 10 mark reflection piece for Module C with us, and we're sharing it (with his permission ofc) with you!

It's around 500 words, and focused on Margaret Atwood's discurisve: Spotty-Handed Villainesses.

We'll upload an annotated copy soon; in the meantime, happy reading!

My discursive piece, “Redefining Originality,” subverts the common interpretation of originality by suggesting that it is not achieved with unique ideas, but instead with unique ways of exploiting common ideas. Whilst writing, I drew inspiration from Margaret Atwood’s “Spotty-Handed Villainesses,” which details the constraints imposed on her by a narrow, shortsighted feminist agenda. I instead explore the constraint of writers who have become fixated on the need to be original today, and use the stimulus as an extended metaphor to represent how writers can overcome this constraint when they redefine originality for themselves.

Atwood uses a personal anecdote that draws on her encounter with a nursery rhyme as a child to introduce the concept of the Angel/Whore split and how characters are only interesting when they have flaws. Drawing on how this anecdote foregrounds the focus of her discursive, I begin with an anecdote, “the exact concept I had thought of,” to establish the central persona’s own struggles with trying to be original as a writer in our world today, as unique ideas become increasingly difficult to find.

Atwood mentions endless breakfast as an extended metaphor for the meaninglessness of writing that has no driving forces within it, because “if we are going to… wade through two or three hundred pages of a book, we certainly expect something more than breakfast.” I drew inspiration from this by incorporating this stimulus as an extended metaphor for the constraint imposed upon writers by themselves in an effort to stay original. The rhetorical question, “After all, some writers have been able to venture beyond the wired fence of the canvas we have collectively created, have they not?” depicts that whilst the restraint writers may feel is prevalent, it can be overcome by recognising that originality does not arise from the production of niche ideas.

I was also inspired by Atwood’s deliberate use of rhetorical questions which provoke readers to question the purpose of literature. After asking, “what is a novel, anyway?” Atwood claims that novels are not “sociological textbooks… political tracts… or how-to books,” to reinforce that novels are multi-faceted. Drawing on this, I deliberately asked the rhetorical question, “who can be free from influence or preconception?” to initially suggest that originality does not truly exist. However, by incorporating an extended metaphor of a pool as a collection of ideas, I subvert this initial view to reveal how “the solution is to dive right into it instead,” implying that originality comes from embracing common ideas and moulding them in unique ways.

As Atwood alludes to Pride and Prejudice and Emily Dickinson to support her argument that novels are multi-faceted, I use intertextual references to support the claim that originality is not about a “new idea.” By discussing the parallel plotlines of Hamlet and The Lion King, I reveal how two works can be perceived as wildly different and original, despite having similar ideas, as they have been executed uniquely.

Drawing on Atwood’s work, my piece poses the possibility of redefining originality to encompass the unique execution of ideas, rather than unique ideas themselves.

Well? Do you feel more grounded for your reflection?

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