Flowers in The Attic: Literary Analysis Essay Example

  • Category: Literature, Novels,
  • Words: 1723 Pages: 7
  • Published: 11 July 2020
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Literature, what is Literature? According to Dictionary.com, “Literature contains a series of writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays.” Are all novels considered literature? That answer would most likely be no, and if so, how are some novels not considered literature and others are, I would assume that would be determined based on the definition from above. 

Some of the most popular books in history are considered to be canonical and to be literature, and there are some that are not. My definition of literature would be basically anything that has a theme, plot, point of view and any symbolisms. There could be many reasons as to why some critics consider some novels to be literature and some not to be literature. In this literary analysis, I will explain a popular novel that isn’t considered to be literature and how it isn’t taken as seriously enough to be considered literature. I will also explain how Flowers in The Attic isn’t considered to be canonical, but how it should most definitely be considered to be literature             

Flowers in The Attic, by V. C. Andrews can and should be included into the literary canon. Its content throughout and the dialogue should be key facts of how the novel should be included into the literary canon. Though this novel isn’t poem or a typical essay, there is just so much throughout this novel that would and should be considered as literature, despite what any popular critic or anyone in general has to say about not considering it to be any form of literature. 

Flowers in The Attic tells the story of four children: Chris, Cathy and twins Corey and Carrie who are locked away in an attic in the hands of their ruthless Grandmother. The story begins with the family living happily in their Pennsylvania home. The children were very energetic and always at play, and the father was the breadwinner for the family while the mother stayed home. Tragedy comes as the father is killed in a car accident and in the months following his untimely death, the family begins to suffer financially, and they eventually lose their house. There is one other place for the family to go, which is their wealthy Grandparents’ mansion in Virginia. Their Grandfather is terminally ill and doesn’t have long to live, so when he dies, Corrine gets to inherit her fathers’ fortune. Corrine’s father disowned her when she was 18 for marrying her half-uncle, which is why her relationship with her parents was so estranged. 

Corrine promises that the children would be living in the attic temporarily, but turns out they ended up living there for two years. To make this long summary short, the childrens’ happy living lives were quickly shattered as they suffered constant abuse and starvation from their grandmother. The Children were locked away in the attic so the grandfather wouldn’t know that Corrine had children from her previous marriage because if it was ever found out she did, she would lose her father’s inheritance. Corrine often said she loved her children, but if she really loved them, one would guess why she decided to lock them in an attic as if they were prisoners, and why the grandmother hated them and punish them for their mother’s actions, these are just one of the few questions I often ask myself as I’ve read the book as well as watched both the original film and the remake on Lifetime.  

When the novel Flowers in The Attic was released in 1979, it was one of the most popular reads among young adults at that time, but comes with it was a lot of controversy. According to Book Journey.com, “Flowers in The Attic was on the list of banned books many times due to topics of incest.” This is probably something I would understand a little bit, considering its touchy topic of but if the book was extremely popular, I don’t see how anyone would want it to be banned, unless it just so happens to be even more controversial than what was originally made out to be. Maybe if this novel was like any other suspense novel without the incest topic being involved in it, then maybe critics would consider this to be in the literary canon.

It is almost like this novel would be considered to be a part of the biblical canon rather than the literary canon because, I would assume that some would consider this novel to be somewhat “explicit”, and closed, but more than likely I would consider this novel to be very open and implicit, but there would be more details to come later on. According to New World Encyclopedia.org, “The term biblical canon refers to a definitive list of inspired, authoritative that constitute the recognized and accepted body of sacred scripture found in the religions of Judaism and Christianity.” It would be almost impossible for this novel to be in the biblical canon because in other words, there would have to be bible verses and scriptures mentioned throughout, which there wasn’t in this novel.

Having that type of perspective because of one controversial topic is something that would be considered wrong and misguided because of the simple fact that this novel contains much more than that. This novel also talks about betrayal as well. The fact that Corrine says she loves her children so much, but decides to lock them away secretly in an upper room for a fortune shows complete betrayal, because if you really loved them like you said you did, you wouldn’t have done something so inhumane or even trying to kill them so they could still be a secret. This type of plot would be very effective because it goes along with on of the theme in the novel, which is a betrayal. 

In addition, other novels have themes, and Flowers in The Attic is no exception to them either. I believe that critics should’ve dived deeper into the different themes and symbolisms throughout Flowers in the Attic. One of the main themes here are the flowers. They  symbolize, that one day the children would leave the attic and go back to their happy lives. Unfortunately, not as happy as they were before their father passed away. They also use the flowers to bring colors and positive energy to the attic as well. Another theme, but more of a motif would be dark clothing.

The Grandmother often wore dark clothing, and this could really signify her being portrayed as a mean and cruel person. The biggest theme, and one of the reasons why critics don’t consider this to be a part of the literary canon is incest. Although Chris and Cathy are teenagers, as the book progresses, they begin to have a growing affection for one another, and soon follow in their parent’s footsteps. Flowers in The Attic should be in the literary canon because it stands the test of time. I believe V.C. Andrews wanted to write something that would really get many readers’ attention and in fact, she did just that. 

There are many major points that critics are missing out on and they don’t consider to be a part of the literary canon for Flowers in The Attic. Critics are missing the fact that the storyline is very implicit and open-minded. Flowers in The Attic didn’t just focus on one topic. There were several themes and symbolisms throughout, that would sum up the functions of the literary canon. One other function of the literary canon is to shock readers, and of course Flowers in The Attic is no exception to that. This is why ultimately it became so popular, because readers want something that will stand out to them, and they also wanted something controversial. There were plenty of plot lines to shock readers, considering that most novels in the canon have had impressive effects on many readers

Critics need to dive deeper into the other themes and symbolisms of Flowers in The Attic. I believe if more critics would focus on the other themes, symbolism and overall plot of the story, then more than likely this popular novel would’ve been considered to be a part of the literary canon. Critics should also consider the fact that there were other popular novels that dealt with controversy as well.  Somehow those novels were still considered to be a part of the literary canon for example: To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Catcher in The Rye.

These two novels dealt with heavy topics and were also banned as well, but many critics had great reviews on them despite them being banned. Flowers in The Attic was one of the most popular books at that time when it was released, but somehow, it still isn’t a part of the literary canon, nor is it even taken seriously to be considered literature. Critics should also take into consideration that Flowers in The Attic is fiction, and of course literature often does consists of fiction. 

Not only does Flowers in The Attic consist of fiction, but like any other novel or short story it contains a plot, setting, theme, and point of view. These are other key factors critics should consider as well in deciding what should go into the literary canon. If it were up to readers to decide if this novel should be canonical, most likely a large number of people would argue yes. Not only because of the fact that it was so popular, but because this novel simply contains all of the criteria needed in order for it to be canonical. Flowers in The Attic was open literature that contains many implicit information and it shouldn’t just be considered a regular gothic “love” story. 

In conclusion, Flowers in The Attic, a popular Young Adult novel released in 1979, should be considered as Literature. Flowers in The Attic should also be in the literary canon, because its “Literature” consists of the setting, plot, point of view, theme, etc. It could be very easy to not consider this novel to be literature when you think about the heavy topic that was mentioned in the novel. If critics were more focused on the overall outline of the story, maybe Flowers in The Attic would be a part of the literary canon. Considering how popular it was, as well as the fact that several other sequels were released following this novel.

The controversial  and well put -together plot and theme is what critics should really consider in order to put this novel into the canon. Most likely if were up to readers and people who are really interested in gothic novels, then most likely Flowers in The Attic would be in the literary canon. Would it be too late for this novel to be a part of the literary canon? I highly suggest that people look into the deeper subject of what’s canonical and what isn’t, and what criteria is needed in order for a novel to be canonical and Flowers in The Attic fits all of the criteria.

 

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