This Is a Masterpiece: Prior Expectations of Literary Masterpieces Kelli Norris
June 17, 2013
This Is a Masterpiece: Prior Expectations of Literary Masterpieces
According to Oxford dictionaries, a masterpiece is a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship (Masterpiece, 2013). This, in one’s personal opinion, is only a partial definition and leaves many unanswered questions. What makes a literary work outstanding in skill and artistry? How is it written? Is it a pleasure to read or is it painful? Is the piece humorous or serious? On what characteristics can one expect a literary masterpiece to focus? Answering these questions gives one the true definition of a masterpiece. Literary masterpieces are works of outstanding artistry and skill because their themes transcend time, as well as genre, and resonate with all people regardless of gender, race, or creed.
One expects a literary masterpiece, not only to be well written, but also to serve as an example of the best possible writing. Depending on genre, form, and style one expects different things from a masterpiece of literature. If one reads Homer’s ancient master works the Iliad and Odyssey, one expects to find epic poetic verse filled with ornate language and divine context. If on the other hand, one reads Melville’s Moby Dick or Stevenson’s Treasure Island, one expects high adventure rife with danger and intrigue. Alternately, if one reads Shelley’s Frankenstein or Stoker’s Dracula, one expects a chilling depiction of horror that presents vexing moral and ethical dilemmas. Regardless of genre, there are certain expectations that are common to all masterpieces. One expects a masterpiece to be thought provoking and address important issues. Likewise, one supposes a masterpiece to feature extraordinary characters in unusual circumstances that teach valuable lessons. In addition, the most fundamental expectation one has for a masterpiece is this....
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