Conventions of Composition Rule 209
Rule: Avoid claims of authorial intent. What an author, poet, or playwright tried to say doesn't matter for your analysis. Demonstrate what's in the text.
Wrong: Nathaniel Hawthorne was trying to make a statement about the importance redemption.
Better: The Scarlet Letter makes a statement about the importance of redemption.
Wrong: Steinbeck hoped to show that George had a complex personality.
Better: By showing both his gruff side and his care for Lennie, Steinbeck shows George's complex personality.
Practice removing claims of authorial intent:
- Morrison doesn't want Sula and Nel's relationship to be easy for the reader to understand.
- Golding purposefully has Jack and Ralph display opposing characteristics.
- Bronte wanted the reader to have mixed feelings about Heathcliff.
Resources for further explanation of avoiding claims of authorial intent:
UVM's Tips for Close Reading (scroll down or search "authorial intent")
SMU's The Intentional Fallacy