Endures The Test Of Time

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Endures the test of time According to the 18th-century scholar, author, and critic Samuel Johnson, "Nothing can please many, and please long, but just representations of general nature" ("Preface to Shakespeare," p. 210). By this Johnson means that no literature will endure the test of time except that which reveals and explores situations and characteristics that are recognizable, that most of us share, that are common to people across boundaries of time and (to some extent) place. I have chosen two short stories, one to relate to the quote by Johnson and another to challenge this quote. The first story, “Chrysanthemums,” by John Steinbeck exhibits this quality well; and the second is “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, it on the other hand is least representative of common experience. Although it may not be a common experience, the story is still effective to the reader. “The Chrysanthemums,” is a perfect example of a short story that exhibits this quality of being a “just representation of general nature.” The main character Elisa Allen struggles with herself to become something more than her current life. During the time period of when this story was written, marriage limited a women’s potential far more than in today’s society. When a traveling salesman came to her home, she asked about his life and responded by saying, “It must be very nice. I wish women could do such things.” (Steinbeck 231) Elisa wants excitement and adventure in her life; she wants to feel important in the world. Everyday is the same for Elisa, “It was a hard-swept looking little house with hard-polished windows, and a clean mud-mat on the front steps.” (Steinbeck 227) Elisa has the ability to produce beautiful things; she wishes to use that ability on something other than her flowers. “You’ve got a gift with things,” Her husband said about her flowers. “I wish you’d work out in the orchard
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