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While the curriculum for English majors varies among colleges and universities, there are some common books you'll find in the programs. These books include the following.
Beowulf is a hero who defeats the terrifying monster Grendel and his vengeful mother and saves King Hrothgar's kingdom. Afterwards he is rewarded with gifts for his bravery. The story concludes fifty years later when Beowulf is an old man and King. He saves his land from a destructive dragon, and discovers a treasure the creature was guarding.
Beowulf is an epic poem with more than 3,000 lines. The story is set in sixth century Scandinavia. The author is unknown, and it's believed the story was handed down orally until eventually a manuscript was written around the 10th century.
Huck Finn made his debut in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as Tom's best friend. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the story is about Huck and his friend Jim. Jim is a slave who is about to be sold and separated from his wife and children. Jim decides to runs away, and Huck goes with him. They travel on a raft down the Mississippi River. Their destination is Ohio where Jim can find freedom. Along the way the pair meet many disreputable and violent people.
Mark Twain's novel is a satirical look at the Antebellum South. He relates the racist, religious and social attitudes of the time. Over the years many schools and libraries have banned it, because Twain's story is considered controversial and racist. However, literary critics regard it as a masterpiece of American literature.
The Awakening is a story about Edna Pontellier, a wealthy married nineteenth century woman. During a vacation to the Grand Isle near her home in New Orleans, Edna falls in love with another man and discovers that she no longer wants to live under the constraints and responsibilities of society. Once she returns to New Orleans, she leaves her husband and children. The novel continues with Edna living a bohemian life, and facing the consequences of her radical decision.
When Kate Chopin's book was published in 1899, reviewers denounced it for the sensual content and the portrayal of an adulterous main character. Chopin wrote many short stories and another novel At Fault. The majority of her fiction was set in Louisiana where she lived until her husband's death. Today Chopin is viewed as a feminist writer.
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have five daughters and are concerned about their prospects for marriage. This story centers on Elizabeth Bennet and her relationship with Fitzwilliam Darcy. Mr. Darcy is a friend of Mr. Bingley, who moves into the Netherfield estate, near where the Bennets live. Jane Bennet decides he would make a good husband. Elizabeth and her sisters initially don't like the proud Darcy.
The novel examines preconceived judgments, misinformation, dishonesty, and family bonds. Austen is also known for her other books Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park.
The scarlet letter is Hester Prynne's punishment for adultery. She must wear it on her chest and endure public harassment, because she won't identify the father of her child Pearl. Hester's missing husband, Roger Chillingworth, finally arrives in the settlement and starts causing trouble for the minister, Arthur Dimmesdale. Meanwhile, Hester worries that the Puritan community leaders will take Pearl away from her.
Nathaniel Hawthorne is known for using allegory and symbolism in his stories. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne addresses the themes of evil, sin, and identity. Hawthorne's other famous novel is The House of Seven Gables.
As an English major, you must read a certain number of books selected by your school's English department in order to meet your course requirements. The table below shows a sample of additional books an English major may be expected to read.
|Title||Author||Literary Time Period|
|Don Quixote||Miguel de Cervantes||Spanish 17th Century|
|Gulliver's Travels||Jonathan Swift||British 18th Century|
|Bleak House||Charles Dickens||British 19th Century|
|Robinson Crusoe||Daniel Defoe||19th Century|
|Tess of the D'Ubervilles||Thomas Hardy||British 19th Century|
|Moby Dick||Herman Melville||American 19th Century|
|Portrait of a Lady||Henry James||American 19th Century|
|The Last of the Mohicans||James Fenimore Cooper||American 19th Century|
|Anna Karenina||Leo Tolstoy||Russian 19th Century|
|Madame Bovary||Gustave Flaubert||French 19th Century|
|A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man||James Joyce||British 20th Century|
|Heart of Darkness||Joesph Conrad||British 20th Century|
|Invisible Man||Ralph Ellison||American 20th Century|
|Mrs. Dalloway||Virginia Wolf||British 20th Century|
|Native Son||Richard Wright||American 20th Century|
|The Souls of Black Folk||W.E.B. Du Bois||American 20th Century|
|The Sound and the Fury||William Faulkner||American 20th Century|
If you're thinking about majoring in English, you must be familiar with the classic literature typically taught in high school. The following are books you should consider reading before starting college.
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13 chapters | 250 lessons