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Anthony Zheng

Ms. Angert
AP Literature
How To Read Literature Like a Professor: Chapter Notes and Commentary
Chapter 1

Most of the time, an event does not occur for no reason at all. Every

event has an impact on the development of a person.

Something as simple as a kid named Kip trying to clear his acne is a

As long as there are five key elements, it can be considered a quest.
The five key elements are our quester, a place to go, a stated reason to

go there, challenges and trials, and the real reason to go.

Professors will not accept that a simple event is not a quest.
Whenever a character hits a road, we should dive deeper into what he
or she is truly doing. What appears on the surface is usually not the

entire story.
A trip builds the character of a person and gives them their unique

The real reason to go on a quest is never the reason that is stated.

Self-knowledge is the real reason.

Always and never are frequently used in literature, but it should not be
interpreted literally. These words used by one author can easily be
proven wrong by another author.

Chapter 2

A very important rule in literature is that whenever people eat or drink

together, it is considered communion. No exceptions.

These acts of communion do not always have to be religious, and they

arent most of the time.

Eating and drinking together is an act of peace, much like a peace

This sharing allows the peace treaty to occur without disagreement.

People would not accept a dinner with someone if they do not share

this communion with them.

A failed meal usually indicates negative feelings between the feasters

will occur.
The fact remains that people live to eat, and people die eventually.

Meals and communion indicate life and mortality.

Eating signifies the relationship between the people that are eating.

Chapter 3

Classic vampire stories usually have the same plotline: an older man
tries to corrupt younger woman and threaten their innocence and

In a vampire story, there are a series of steps that always occur.
o Older man comes into contact with a younger woman and
usually violates her.
o The vampire leaves a mark on his victim, the younger woman.
This usually comes in the form of a bite, although this bite is a
o The older vampire steals the innocence
o There is sexual attraction between the older man and the
younger woman.
o The older man (the vampire) has values that are old and corrupt,
and no longer apply to modern society.
o The victim loses her grasp on humanity, her youth is loss, and

her energy is depleted.

o The young victim usually dies or becomes completely corrupt.
Selfishness is a concept that occurs frequently in vampire stories.
Exploitation is a common theme in these stories, as the younger

woman are exploited by the older men.

Apparently, all humans are considered vampires, since we drain other
people in one way or another.

Chapter 4
Sonnet is the most common form of poetry

Written since the English Renaissance

Fourteen lines long
Ten syllables per line
Shakespearean Sonnet: ABAB CDCD EDED FF rhyme scheme
Petrarchan Sonnet: First eight lines united by one rhyme scheme and
last six lines united by a different rhyme scheme
Considered to be a square since fourteen lines are usually the length of
ten syllables per line.
Sonnets are divided into two sections, with the two sections
contrasting in meaning.
Blank sonnets do exist, which mean that they do not have a rhyme
scheme, much like a blank verse.
Chapter 5

Patterns, recurrences, and archetypes exist in most poems.

No work of literature is truly unique
o Concepts are derived from other works of literature, other minds,
Future writing will build on todays writing, present writing builds from
writing from the past, past writing builds on writing that came even

Patterns and symbols give life to the similarities among different

Among works, similar symbols and patterns among these works relate

them together.
Literary devices exist in literature to better convey the idea that is

hidden in the novel/poem.

Once the connections among poems are recognized, it becomes much
easier to find similarities among the poems.

Chapter 6

Shakespeare is one of the most famous writers of all time.

People come up with their own version of Shakespeare in a way. Even

though their stories may be different, their ideas are still derived from

Being able to identify Shakespearean aspects in todays writing is the

most important part of literature.

Writers make us question our realm of understanding, if their writing is

truly good.
A persons viewpoint on a piece of writing may be different from the

writers viewpoint on a piece of writing.

When a person invents a piece of writing, they have one idea in mind,
and they try to convey that idea through words. However, when a
reader reads those words, they may come up with a completely

different idea.
Do not deny the fact that Shakespearean aspects do not exist. Look
hard enough and they exist in all literature, no matter what the topic

Chapter 7

If Shakespearean elements truly do not exist in a piece of literature,

then biblical references probably exist in the piece of literature.

Before the 1950s, most writers are expectant of their readers to know

about the stories of the bible and the events that exist in the bible.
The bible is a piece of literature that has been imitated for centuries.
Readers are expected to recognize the allusions.
o I dont catch on most of the time, as I do not know much about

the bible whatsoever.

These allusions are not always direct the ideas are all the same, but

the concrete details may vary

There are a few biblical stories that are commonly referenced in
o These include Garden of Eden, Jonah and the Whale, David and
Goliath, Christian figures, The Flood, Job, The Apocalypse, Forty
Days, Betrayal, Milk and Honey, Tongues of Flames, etc.

Chapter 8
Literature comes from other works of literature
Childrens stories have archetypes that are extremely easy to spot
Authors dont make references that people would not understand.
Authors try to be unique with the references that they use; they try not
to use references that are too clich.
Childrens stories are common places to attain ideas from, as books
such as The Cat in the Hat are commonly heard of in American culture
Fairytales have been heard of or read by most of America, so authors
try to use fairytales commonly.
By using these types of literature, we can easily understand who is
supposed to represent what. There would be no confusion over who is
good and who is evil.
If the piece of literature is too complex, people might misunderstand
the subject. Some people may believe that Romeo is a noble character,
while others may believe that he is childish.
Irony is used commonly to get a point across.
Chapter 9

A myth is defined as the shaping and sustaining power of story and its
o Defines a persons ability to explain themselves
o They are shaped by our culture, but then they can also shape our

There are three types of myths: Shakespearean, Biblical, and Fairy Tale
Myth are strongly used to explain ones self and identity
Although we may not realize it, Roman myths are prominent in our

culture today.
Fall of Icarus is a story about how a younger refused to listen to his

parents, and died as a result

o Youthful freedom leaves to self-destruction
o Adult wisdom and childs recklessness clashes
o Cure is as deadly as the disease
There are multiple types of conflict

o Man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. society, man vs.
supernatural/fate, man vs. nature
Chapter 10

Everything is in a piece of literature for a reason

For example, if rain is in a piece of literature, it will impact the
sequence of events in some way
o Something will either happen because of the rain, or it will be

symbolic of the sadness that will soon occur

Weather is in a piece of literature for four primary purposes
o Plot Device: weather forces the characters into certain situations
which will cause different events to occur
o Atmospherics: It invokes a certain type of mood in the reader, so
the reader might feel differently about the event at hand.
o Misery Factor: It forces the character into a feeling of solitude, of
o Democratic Element: It affects the characters of the novel in

some way or another

Rain can symbolize the agent of new life and restoration
Rain can also symbolize illness and death, as rain gives off a
depressing mood

Chapter 11

Violence is a personal, intimate act that occurs in literature in many

There are multiple functions of violence
o Symbolic, thematic, biblical, Shakespearean, romantic,

allegorical, and transcendent

Violence can symbolize a wide variety of things
o It is always acting as a metaphor
o It may signify that death lurks everywhere
o Hostility is shown through violence
Authors kill off characters for a variety of reasons
o Actions are created
o Plots become more complicated
o Triggers and invokes certain emotions in other characters

Psychological trauma is created in a reader through violence

Chapter 12
If you have to question whether something is a symbol or not, then
yes, it definitely is a symbol
However, the tricky part is figuring out what exactly the symbol
symbolizes. Only possible interpretations are taken into consideration.
It does not always have one definitely meaning; the author may have
one idea in mind, but then the reader may interpret it a completely
different way when he interprets it.
Not only are objects and images symbolic, but actions are as well
Emotional reactions also play a role in symbolizing.
Each persons education, race, gender, class, faith, social involvement,
and philosophy will affect the way they portray an object
River can be symbolized in a variety of different ways
o Death, escape, danger, safety, maturity, division, connection,
corruption, collapse
Chapter 13

Literature is written by people who are biased in many viewpoints; they

are usually interested in the problems that are occurring in our world.

Therefore, literature always has political elements in it.

o Individualism and self-determination against the societal
conformity and stability ideals
o Power structures
o Class relations
o What is truly justified and right
o Interactions between sex, racial, and ethnic groups
There are multiple steps required to understand political angles
o Understand context of the story
o Understand authors background
o Understand authors goal
o Understand the time period of the novel

Chapter 14

Christian figures are prominent throughout all types of works of

If there are wounds in the hands, feet, side, and head, it is often
supposed to be a Christian figure
If a character is in agony, they may be a Christian figure
If a character is good with Christian, he or she might represent a
Christian figure
Good with fishes, water, wine - Christian figure
33 years of age when last seen Christian figure
Feet or donkey as form of transportation Christian figure
If a person is known to have walked on water, they may be a Christian
Chapter 15

Flight can symbolize a variety of things

o Freedom
o Escape from ones life
o Returning home
o A thriving spirit
o Love
If the flight of anything is interrupted, it signifies that their life is being

thwarted, and has a negative connotation.

A temptation of Jesus Christ was to fly
May not be literal

Chapter 16

Female are symbolized by a variety of items, including rolling

landscape, bowls, Holy Grail, chalice, empty vessels, tunnels, fertility

Males are symbolized by blades and tall buildings
Waves indicate sexual intercourse
Wrestling is a sexual act
Sex is usually hidden in metaphors; the author rarely states the idea of
sex directly, but if you read into it, you will truly understand what the
author is implying.

Chapter 17

Authors talk about sex by not talking about sex at all

When sex is actually mentioned, on the other hand, it is used to

symbolize a whole set of other ideas

o Freedom
o Individuality
o Sacrifice
o Resignation
o Submission
o Failure
o Self-Expression
Sex is usually used to symbolize individuals that are freed from

Chapter 18
Baptism signifies death of a person, and the person that died is
rebirthed as a new person through baptism
Drowning on purpose is used to signify a form of rebirth
o Someone choosing to enter a new life
Rain can be symbolic baptism as well, as rain cleanses a person
When a character gives up an old name and is given a new name, this
can signify baptism as well.
Chapter 19

Geography is used to represent the inner self of a person, such as in

the novel Heart of Darkness

Home, family, love, and security is determined by the geographic

location of a person
As love and security can be represented by geography, on the opposite
side of the spectrum, wilderness, danger, and confusion can be

represented by the geographic location of a person as well.

Going south is a metaphor for a person having new interactions with

his or her subconscious

Places that are low in elevation signifies solitude and despair, whereas
those places that are high in elevation signifies happiness and success.

Chapter 20

Season is used to represent the feelings and characteristics of

characters in a piece of literature

Spring represents childhood and youth
Summer represents adulthood and the finding of ones identity
Fall represents the middle age of a person and the start of their decline
Winter represents old age and death
Rather than only demographically, seasons can represent the
emotional aspects of people as well
o Spring: Freshness, youth, rebirth, openness, trust
o Summer: Love, passion
o Fall: Exhaustion, reflective
o Winter: Hatred, Furious, Cynical

Chapter 21
Characters are characterized by their shape, their physical qualities,
and their markings
Physical deformities always signifies something metaphorically,
something twisted, something irregular
Moral deformity is connected with physical deformity
Injury takes away a persons ability to reach their full potential, and is
symbolic of the destruction of possibilities, of the spirit and soul
Not only can characters be marked, but landscapes can be marked as
Chapter 22

Characters of a novel are not blind just to be blind; there is a deeper

meaning into their inability to see

o It represents metaphorical blindness
A persons blindness may indicate that their other senses are

heightened tremendously
Blindness of a character foreshadows future events dealing with the

inability of the person to see the world physically.

Even though they cant see the world physically, they still have a

profound understanding of the world.

Light is represented by sight
Dark is represented by blindness

Chapter 23

A heart is the physical representation of emotion. Nothing else comes

closer to a representation of how a person is feeling other than the

human heart.
If a character has trouble with their heart, this usually signifies that

they have an emotion burden somewhere in their life.

The heart can be symbolized by loyalty, trust, courage, honesty, and

At the heart of things, there is usually something seriously amiss
Heart disease is utilized to signify loneliness, depression, bad love,

cruelty, cowardice, suffering, and much more

When a character in a literary text is said to have a bad heart, that
means that he is evil.

Chapter 24

Illness is used to symbolize some emotional or psychological weakness

of a person.
Illnesses are not created equally. One type of illness varies greatly from
the next, and the magnitude of these illnesses is utilized to represent

the character of a person.

Illnesses are usually mysterious in origin, giving suspense to the text.
Physical paralysis is used to signify a different type of paralysis, such

as emotional, moral, social, spiritual, etc.

Diseases are picturesque.
Diseases must have strong metaphorical idealities.
The plague is used to signify widespread social devastation
Malaria is used to signify hostile opinion, gossip, irregular decisions,

wasting disease
Many issues are addressed through the way a person deals with a
disease; the way the person approaches the disease gives
characterization of a person
o How the person confronts it
o The isolation dealing with the disease
o Randomness of the disease
o Irregularity of the disease

o Desire to cure the disease

Chapter 25

Do not read with your eyes; dont read from your own fixed position.
Rather, a person must enter the reality of the book, and be a part of

one of the characters in the literary text.

A person must read with a perspective that allows him or her to

symbolize with the events and situations occurring in the novel.

Anyone can sympathetically step into the novel and relate with the
characters, even if they are of different social background, race,

nationality, or lifestyle.
Last chance for change stories are prominent; in these stories, it is

suspenseful in the way that we do not know if a person will be saved.

Lessons taught through literature unifies the readers, even if they are

of completely different backgrounds.

Readers must have a ubiquitous viewpoint or else they will
misinterpret the novel.

Chapter 26

Irony is used to describe events that occur when it is not expected to

occur at all
It may not be a complete surprise, but it is used to get a point across.

The author can exaggerate certain events be adding irony to an event.

When irony is utilized, all the points in the other sections of the book

do not apply. Irony negates these rules.

Paths are given to people so that they can travel them. Failure to travel

paths signify the failure of a person to be engaged in life.

Not everyone is able to understand the irony that the author tries to
convey, as we come from different backgrounds.

Chapter 27

As a reader is progressing through the novel, he or she must ask

himself or herself two key questions

o What does the story signify?

o How does it signify this point?
In order to analyze a piece of literature, certain rules must be followed
o A reader must read really carefully
o A reader must be interpretative of the events occurring in the
story, and dive deeper into the meaning of the story rather than
brushing what is on the surface
o Do not be biased in your interpretation, as outside sources

commonly sways our viewpoints in a certain direction

o Take notes as we read
Once the reader understands the obvious points that the author is
trying to convey, he or she will be able to understand the deeper

meanings, the metaphors that are hidden in the story.

Text and logic are required to back up an analysis; though analysis may
vary from person to person, as long as there is evidence, the person is