Classic or Outdated

Brooke Peckman, Staff Writer

It’s 9:30 at night and I’m fending off sleep valiantly while the copy of Pride and Prejudice lay limply between my fingers. It’s not that the book is boring, but more so that it had been a long day of school and my mind wasn’t up for the task of deciphering the text. As much as I enjoy reading about an arranged marriage with a pretentious cousin, I am unable to summon the brain power necessary to figure out what the characters are truly saying. 

In general, getting assigned a book to read for school makes it significantly less appealing since the freedom aspect of it has gone away. When the opportunity presents itself, leisurely reading is a hoot. When the book is for school, it becomes slightly less enjoyable, but typically still doable. When it is a nineteenth century novel written about the hardships of finding the correct man to marry—or in the case of Dickens, the struggles of the Industrial Revolution—it is significantly more difficult to grasp the concept. 

The current generation struggles with classic literature not only due to its lack of relatability, but also due to the fact that it uses complex, archaic language which we are not used to. Where Shakespeare is concerned, it is exceedingly difficult to power through all of the “thou doths,” mostly because that is not the way of speaking that is still in use today. 

Another issue that arises within classic novels is the viewpoint that some authors express due to the fact that they lived in a different era where different ideals were accepted. It varies depending on who the author is, but many of the mainstream classics are laced with racism and misogyny, which adds to the weight of the piece of literature as well. Although it is important for students to be well read and understand what the past was like with these role model texts, modern novels convey situations that we can relate to as well as understand without a brain cell threatening to combust. 

If classic novels are constantly being thrown at students, all of their valuable factors suddenly get lost in translation. If teachers were to incorporate modern day literature into the curriculum, even if it is just as a comparison to historical literature, it would make all the difference. 

But who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be the captain of a whaling ship, and your high school knowledge of Moby Dick might just come in handy.