Get help now

Essay on The Empty Wardrobe: The Societal Consequences in Disregarding the Classics

Updated August 9, 2022

Download Paper

File format: .pdf, .doc, available for editing

Essay on The Empty Wardrobe: The Societal Consequences in Disregarding the Classics essay

Get help to write your own 100% unique essay

Get custom paper

78 writers are online and ready to chat

This essay has been submitted to us by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our writers.

A little girl sits in the back of church, she is a little bored and is sketching a childish doodle. Look down and one will see what she is drawing: a clumsy picture of a lamp post and something with two legs holding what seems to be an umbrella. Even without telling the reader about the constant games involving Narnia, the escapades rescuing fairies from treasure hoarding dragons, and nights when the parents read Peter Pan and Winnie-the-Pooh, which ended all too quickly, the reader can see the little girl’s love of stories. Not a love of stories that revolved around Barbie and her frilly friends, nor a child’s TV show, but ones that brought real truths and fears to life, that made the little girl think, imagine and invent.

The classics of childhood have turned every child into a knight or explorer and every dull afternoon into a mirage of pirates and play. The classics which inspired such early but life-changing thoughts and development have gone out of style, not only for the children but for every modern Western adolescent and many adults. This absence is not only tragic for Western culture and the developmental progress in a child’s brain and social life, but also for the world of dragons and fairies which once inspired many children. The world of the Wardrobe is dying.

As digital media, pop book culture and obsession with progress grow in America, it devastates the worth of the great Western Classics, at a time when it is increasingly crucial to instill an appreciation and knowledge of the classics in the modern American adolescent.

However, before delving into this problem, a few terms must be defined and a few ideas clearly explained such as: What is a classic? Who wrote the classics? How were they used in education and what is an adolescent?

A classic does not only show a certain style and artistry but also opens the door to imagination and intellectual pondering (Louise Cowan). It shows life in many forms and addresses both the negative and positive sides of society and human attributes, as well as the challenging of human will and spirit(Cowan). Classics also challenge the reader to consider their own self image and identity in many ways (Cowan). Because of this, characters range from the inhumanly despicable to the inhumanly angelic so that the readers are forced to look deep into themselves and their personal character. The classics make themselves understood and appreciated universally and across ages due to their “sense of shared humanity” (Cowan). As well as being readable for both scholars, middle class, and the poorly educated. (Cowan) They may be read in the temples of intellect and chivalry or by the fires of the lowly peasant. The last but perhaps most important quality of a true classic is the breadth of time their stories and philosophies cover (Cowan). Many of the classics come from ancient Greece and Rome dating from 500 BC (Giatto) and are still read and discussed today.

A classic cannot be simply a work of great renown and of great popular interest, a book may be on the New York Times best seller list for twelve years and printed in every conceivable language and still not be considered a true classic. “All the popular acclaim in the world will not make a classic out of the mediocre text,” Writes Louise Cowan, author of the introduction to Invitation to the Classics.

Who wrote the classics? This item is simple enough to answer; anyone who wrote a book according to the above-mentioned criteria. These authors range from Homer to Jane Austen, Shakespeare to Harper Lee. Their books fit the requirements for a classic and will never be considered not a classic. Once a classic author, always a classic author. These authors do not set out to specifically pen a classic, rather they write a beautiful book and later, often after death, they receive this honor.

Third thing to elucidate is the concept of classics being used in education. The classics have a rich history in education but have not always been used the same way in every setting. The classics used in modern high schools in America are books that may include Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet or Antigone were not the ones used in the European Renaissance, the Golden Age of Greece or the Elizabethan era. With every new generation of classics comes another new generation of teaching them. The Elizabethan era Shakespeare was pure entertainment and not once considered a teaching tool, in Greece, Antigone was performed during festivals and Pride and Prejudice read simply for pleasure while in 2018 high schoolers create venn diagrams and analyze Odysseus and Achilles.

This progression of the classics however, by no means discourages them from being taught. As each new generation of classics grows, the previous one begins to be taught. While the plays and philosophies of ancient Greece were considered mainly entertainment in their era, once time progressed they were taught to the wealthy in Elizabethan England (Linda Alchin). The classics have always been a part of the education system in the past, from scribes and monks teaching the paiges of feudal systems to royal tutors instructing the princes of Britain (Linda Alchin).

The classics were not only taught in Europe but also in America by the last generation of Puritans. Many of the founders of the Constitution had a classical education and certainly Thomas Jefferson did at The University of Boston.

“Over the thousands of years when it predominated, classical/liberal education produced some of the greatest minds of all time, including Archimedes, Dante, Da Vinci, Galileo, Newton, Columbus, Shakespeare, Alex de Tocqueville, John Adams, Jane Austen, Winston Churchill, Einstein, and Eudora Welty” Writes the school board of True North Classical Academy and they could not be more correct. Classical education has been the substance of great education for both the educators and the educated since the penning of the first 100 BC classics (Giatto). In fact, although modern education is beginning to shun the classical education method, the word “classical” for many centuries has been education itself.

What is an adolescent. This at least is fairly simple, scientifically adolescents are 11-14 for early adolescence 15-17 for 18-25 for young adulthood (Alexis Curtis).

Now that these main terms are defined and explained clearly, the issue remains: Why are these adolescents not reading the classics? The classics have been what has shaped Western culture and education, (True North Classical Academy) Should it not be a point of great interest to anyone? Sadly, no. For many of America’s teens, an appreciation for classics is void.

For many adolescents the problem starts with reading itself and the dislike of it (Gordon). “I just don’t like reading” “I can’t find the books I like” “I don’t like being forced to read” and 32% of all teens dislike reading in general for various reasons (Gordon).

One reason is that, since from a early age, most children are forced to read. Studies show that children from grades PreK to 5 are more likely to say they enjoy reading than children from grade 6 through college. (Gordon) Why this dramatic change in a love of books in general? The reason is the amount of work correlated with the books. In the younger grades, books are read mostly for pure learning and reading retention with little homework or reports tied in. The teacher may read to the children or have the children read to them but the actual number of worksheets is sparse. (Gordon) After these younger grades however, reading is no longer done for simple pleasures and learning; work is now the main goal of the reading (Gordon). Books are punctuated with reports, posters, plot diagrams and graphs, character, setting analysis, essays, worksheets, quizzes and tests (Gordon). This plethora of forced work involving an other whys enjoyable book, creates the “I hate to read” attitude (Gordon). Being forced to read, and not the books themselves, are often what will turn an adolescent away from literature.

However, there are other explanations for why the American adolescent disregards the value of of the classics. These reasons include pop culture books, digital media and social media and a specious assessment the classics are just for scholars.

Pop books have become a big part of the teen world, both in ideals and in the actual physical pages. The New York Times best seller list is teeming with teen pop (NY Times) and the bookshelves of Barnes and Nobles are heavy with comic books, teen romance and apocalyptic thrillers (Barnes and Nobles). Libraries may have a plethora of comics, NY Times best sellers or the most popular teen reads of the month in full display, set proudly and temptingly on bookshelves for all to see while the classics are hidden away, in embarrassment behind other trendier books. Libraries offer summer reading prizes for all reading but do not specify what type of book they are encouraging. Teens can read anything from Marvel Comics to Crime and Punishment and receive the same chances for a prize. The library better serves it’s purpose by offering prizes for reading specific classics, writing an essay about a certain classic or offering two tickets for those who had read a classic?

“The world of classic books and “pop culture” books are not segregated from one another. Readers can easily cross over between the two worlds and indulge in a wider assortment of books. If we continue to hold the classics to a higher regard, when will society be encouraged to exhibit progression in literature? This notion extends beyond literary books; the rift between the traditional and contemporary ideas will continue to expand and society will remain fixated on the premise that these new ideas are not as valuable as the ones long established” Writes seventeen year old Sabrina Hartono (Sabrina Hartono). This quotation sums up the view of the average American adolescent who might enjoy reading, but does not necessarily enjoy or see the value in anything other than her beloved pop books.

With all the reasons for the American adolescent to dislike reading and especially dislike reading the classics, it is vital to rejuvenate a love for them. The classics are not only books read for their literary merit in classroom, books that do not correlate to reality or modern reality, books that should go out of style for they are no longer relevant; they are so much more.

The classics may be seen by some as ancient and unnecessary, an outdated commedidy for professors and scholars. This could not be farther from the truth. The classics, although written thousands, hundreds or decades ago defined Western Culture and they still do.

The classics are still vital to the American culture and modern history for they shape the very morals American hold dear (Dr.Os Guinness) such as equality, generosity to the poor, democracy, justice for all regardless of wealth or rank, responsibility, hard work, independence, liberty (Cowan & Guinness).

“Practices of moral excellence flesh out the framework of equality, dignity, and self-determination. They tell us what lies beyond the minimal norms of decency” (Albert Borgmann). These ethics on which America stands, which every adolescent is surrounded by and taught, which are expected from a “good citizen” and “moral a person” in the West are derived from the ideas and ideals the classics first spelled out (Cowan). Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice is independent and intelligent, Hector in The Iliad is loyal and brave, Cordelia in “King Lear” is generous and unswerving, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird seeks justice and equality while Oliver Twist is determined against all odds and Silas Marner shows the reader the importance of community and fellowship (Cowan & Guinness). These characters in the classics embody the very traits important to the American adolescent. These role models are vital for anyone but especially those still growing into the world of adulthood. With such shallow and immoral role models presented in the media, it is essential for the next leaders of the country to have such ideals that have buoyed the moral integrity which have kept the nation alive.

The idea that classics are “out of date” and fight against progress (Hartono) could not be farther from fact. The classics, though many of them were written long ago, still are the foundations for the Western ideals and laws. Individualism, liberty, independence, the freedom of expression, and non-shame based-culture are all things the classics have first explored(Cowan) and which adolescence value so highly (Cowan & Borgmann) as well as many other

The classics are also vital in understanding Western culture: Where it came from, what it holds dear, how it fits with other cultures and where it is headed. For anyone, immigrant or native, growing up in the West, it is imperative for them to understand and value the roots of Western culture. (Dr Jennifer L. Hochschild) Many adolescents either native or growing up in the West pay little or no attention to its roots, thinking it unimportant. However, it is critical especially as the immigration rates for the Western countries soar. “The U.S. immigrant population stood at more than 42.4 million, or 13.3 percent, of the total U.S. population of 318.9 million in 2014, according to ACS data. Between 2013 and 2014, the foreign-born population increased by 1 million, or 2.5 percent” (Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova).

It is essential for a culture to keep its roots for it to survive. Many are worried about the immigration problem and the dilemma it poses for the host country (University of Chicago). The immigrants bring their own culture and ideals with them, their own classics and history but must understand the culture they enter for their own good and acclamation. For immigrants to adjust and develop well in a new society, they must understand the roots of that society and why the roots are there

Essay on The Empty Wardrobe: The Societal Consequences in Disregarding the Classics essay

Remember. This is just a sample

You can get your custom paper from our expert writers

Get custom paper

Essay on The Empty Wardrobe: The Societal Consequences in Disregarding the Classics. (2022, Aug 09). Retrieved from