Today, I happened to be re-enforced that everything is not always as it seems, especially in literature. Just once glance and one read over of a text barely gives you the breadth of what you are reading. It takes not 1, not 2, but multiple read overs, and much analyzing to even capture the true meaning of a small sentence in a giant paragraph. Have you ever read a book multiple times, and you’re still finding new things you haven’t discovered before every time you read the book? (That happens to me a lot, quite frankly)
Especially in Harry Potter, specific character names, places, and artifacts are strategically placed to cross back to the central theme of humanity and love. JK Rowling just doesn’t have Snape ask Harry on his first day of potions class, “Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” According to Victorian language of flora and fauna, asphodel is a type of lily meaning ‘my regrets follow you to the grave,’ and wormwoood means ‘absence’ and symbolizes bitter sorrow. His question literally means, “I bitterly regret Lily’s death.”
This led me to think about recipes. You see, as a baker, when we write certain, small, finite details in a long and lengthy recipe, we don’t just do it for anything. For example, on my chocolate chip cookie recipe, I don’t just tell you to refrigerate the cookie dough for nothing. You refrigerate the cookie dough to preserve the cookie size and keep it’s fluffiness. When making macarons, I don’t emphasize the point not to overmix just because I want to be annoying. I tell you not to overmix because then it will result in a hard and definitely not appetizing cookie.
In the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens just doesn’t compare two opposing forces in an run on sentence just because he’s one of America’s timeless authors so therefore he can do whatever he wants. He does this because he is synthesizing the different lives of two contrasting cities during the French Revolution, and how maybe their stories do intertwine someway, and somehow. Going to the title, what if Charles Dickens instead, wrote, “A Story of Two Cities?” Now, by context, one would assume the story should be different.
As the overused quote by many teenage girls, “everything happens for a reason.” I think that this applies especially in books and literature, and only the most clever shall figure out a sliver of a piece to the great jigsaw puzzle the author is attaching together in a novel.