• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Show how concepts of nationhood might be applied to textual analysis

Extracts from this document...


SHOW HOW CONCEPTS OF NATIONHOOD MIGHT BE APPLIED TO TEXTUAL ANALYSIS 'All meanings depend on the key of interpretation'1, so claims Mordecai in George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. Difficulty arises when one question who the holder of the key is; the writer who embodies meaning and ideology into their work, or the reader assimilating the text. The writer is inextricably bound by their personal and social understanding, culture and nationhood, equally is the reader. Every reading is interpreted differently and individually, thus causing confusion of meaning. The writer uses words that fulfil his own ideas and depict to him the images to be conveyed. A writer can construct a text in any number of ways, choosing from the common stock of words those which seem to express the message best. But the reader receiving this text is not confined to any one interpretation. Although restricted by language rules, readings are not strictly dictated by the script itself or therefore by the author. Reading...is a bewildering, labyrinthine, common and yet personal process of reconstruction.2 The concept of nationhood develops from beliefs in human diversity and similarity. That by being born of certain parentage, of certain nation and infinite other variations one automatically becomes definable by these characteristics. Gillian Beer suggests that Darwin's theories of selection explain the continuance of defined nationality, as he set out to 'consider...whether man...is descended from some pre-existing form; secondly, the manner of his development; and thirdly, ...read more.


Eliot did not wish to encourage integration or even muting of the cultures; through her novel she desired to 'rouse the imagination of men and women to a vision of human claims in those races of their fellow-men who most differ from them in customs and beliefs'.8 Eliot shows us the importance of the maintenance of the Jewish lines through the character of Mirah, who insists on the necessity of maintaining her Jewish heritage: 'I will always be a Jewess...I will always cling to my people' (p.362). Eliot is warning against the conversion of Jews to Christianity or assimilate them to Christian culture: despite the deep spiritual linkage between the two religions, they represent distinctive, equal and enduring ways to redemption.9 Eliot's presentation of Daniel as the perfect English gentleman suggests that although Jewish by blood, his culture and the environmental factors that he was raised are equally valuable. Beer proposes that the Jewish and the English are not to be thought of 'dualistic terms'; what Eliot is exploring in the novel are the similarities of the cultures, the common sources. Race, nationhood, ethnicity and culture present certain problems in their definition, especially when relating to the Jewish nation. Judaism is a nationality, but yet also a religion, but no other faith has such status. Their loss of a homeland brings into question the idea of race and nationhood, as it is quite indefinable. ...read more.


The matrilineal nature of Judaism gives the female simultaneously elevation and oppression. She is the bearer of the future generations, the definer of the culture, but is the first to become expelled from the society for adverse behaviour. Daniel's mother rejects her nationhood in order to attain that which would be disallowed; fame as a singer. She rejected more than just motherhood and family, she had to detach and 'bury' a part of her, the part that Daniel regards the highest - her faith and status as a Jew. His mother attempts to break the chain, but it is within him; Daniel is enriched by the multiple past, both genetic and cultural. 'The past here is not one or two generations in a local community, but of transformation from the primary forms of life, and problems of transmission.'12 Literature must address and mediate upon questions of race class and gender, the most complex and urgent questions of personal identity and citizenship.13 The longevity of text, its wide-reaching format, the infinitely debatable nature of meaning that can be derived from a text makes it the perfect medium in which the 'vital consideration of 'who' we are can be reassessed, problematised and perhaps even transformed'.14 Writers may reproduce their understanding, beliefs and experience, offering heightened and stylized versions of themselves and ourselves which we may consciously internalise or actively resist. Daniel Deronda not only examines and explores Jewish culture; it also examines the ideological fabrication of 'Britishness', and inevitably leads to questioning our own nationhood. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Paper-based media studies section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Paper-based media studies essays

  1. My essay will analyse the heroes in the following four texts, The Epic of ...

    Opposed to journeys of exploration and self-sacrifice, his quest is a form of desertion and escapism from the slaughter he witnessed in the Civil War pusillanimously stating, "I'm ruined beyond repair, is what I fear"32 and "four years gone warring, but back now on home ground and I'm no better than a rank stranger here"33.

  2. Mass Medium: The new(TM) versus the Old(TM).

    scheme of 'value systems,' 'negotiated' or 'opposed' in various ways.". One more theorist that should be noted is Roland Barthes. In 1957, Roland Barthes published a book called 'Mythologies'. According to Bignell.J (2002) Barthes used semiotics as the predominate means of analysing aspects of everyday culture.

  1. Reality TV and Culture Industires

    This can be seen to have acted as a catalyst towards the rise of the genre (Turner, 2006). (Cleverly using the Orwell term in the novel '1984', where 'Big Brother' is the authority in a futuristic totalitarian society based on control of thought.)

  2. Jonathan Bignell (1997) argues that the magazine is "just a collection a signs" (Bignell ...

    There are many similar defining paradigmatic and syntagmatic elements on the covers of More! and 19 that would attract a teenage girl to purchase the magazines. These demonstrate effectively the dominant ideology of teenage femininity in the media. Firstly, the titles anchor the texts to the genre of teenage magazines.

  1. 19th Century Slave Narratives: When Literacy doesn't necessarily equal Freedom.

    masters told them, that they were capable of achieving something that was more than just hard, cruel work. In the South, there was "the underlying presumption that the Negro servant, or slave, was of a special inferior status,"4 and it was this assumption that the slaves had to put up with.

  2. What did reconstruction mean to African Americans?

    Similarly, masters were unable to dictate who their slaves married, whilst establishments such as the Freedman's Bureau legitimised unions by providing marriage licences. This marital legitimacy meant that parents were the legal owners of their children. As a consequence, for the first time, parents had some autonomy in deciding how to bring their children up.

  1. The writing of history is never impartial; the authors would inevitably assert their interpretations ...

    For the moment, I could only speculate that she is non-Asian based on her name or pseudonym. I also suspect that she may not be a 'real' person; this textbook may be a team effort. The Well-Connected Publisher The publisher of this textbook is SNP Pan Pacific Publishing Pte Ltd.

  2. This paper examines the influence that media has on adolescent females feelings towards their ...

    This acceptance of the media?s presentation of the ideal body image can result in more than just lowered self-esteem and confidence. Attempts to achieve the media?s vision of the ideal body form can lead to dangerous and health harming actions.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work