Shallow men believe in luck or circumstance but strong men believe in cause and effect.

For those of you who may not know, I have been selected to present research at Purdue University Calumet at their 23rd Annual Clement S. Stacy Undergraduate Research Conference.

For those of who do know, I sound like a broken record. However, it’s not everyday that I have the possibility to get my papers published (maybe)!

That being said, I’ve been reading through my paper to edit it and get it speech-worthy. I figured I’d offer you just a snippet of the topic: Literary Darwinism. This is just the basic introduction of how I’m applying this literary criticism to my book of choice (The Count of Monte Cristo — one of my personal favorites, by the way). Feedback anyone?

“In order to evaluate the developmental process of creating quality characters, the characters themselves should be assessed as if they were human beings – that is, living and breathing human beings. Since the author was inspired by real people and real interactions during the creation of these characters, it makes sense to treat them as such. In this way, it will be easy to apply the principles of Literary Darwinism to explain their behavior. By introducing theories such as “survival of the fittest” and “natural selection,” this type of criticism has a way of explaining how naturally the characters act.

But is it possible to implement too many of these principles and overwhelm the reader with meanings of the actions of the characters based on science? Since literary Darwinist criticism blends the fields of literature and science, it could be a concern that certain concepts could overextend their applicability. According to Joseph Carroll, one of the lead supporters of the literary Darwinist theory and author of the book Literary Darwinism, this will not impact the quality of the criticism. In fact, looking at literature from this lens is enlightening. Carroll says that the only way that one could incorrectly perform this criticism is by “not combing a sufficient number of analytic elements from an evolutionary view of human nature and by not considering sufficiently the way the elements of human nature interact with environmental conditions, including cultural conditions” (DiSalvo, 2009).

The founder of this criticism, E.O. Wilson would agree – although not in so many words. Wilson co-authored the book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process in order to explain how society has just as strong of an influence on behavior as biology. By working out the math behind the concept of cultural impact on behavior, Wilson created the idea of “sociobiology” (DiSalvo, 2009). Sociobiology is exactly what the name would imply: a mixture of societal and biological influences on human nature. While the principles of “survival of the fittest,” “natural selection,” and dominance behaviors all have an impact on the process of searching for meaning in human nature, sociobiology is the driving science behind this criticism.”

This is my work. Please don’t copy or paste this work anywhere else without giving me due credit (see APA citation below). Also, it’s super exciting to have my name in a citation now!

Sheltz, S. (2014). Several Literary Criticisms of Character Development in The Count of Monte Cristo. pp 3-4. Print.

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