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Humor: The Pressures Faced by English Teachers


A Village SchoolDear Sir or Madam:

Early on I decided that the career of an English teacher was the vocation for which I was best suited. I read and studied voraciously and tried hard to build my vocabulary and render my grammar impeccable.

In college I was overwhelmed with assigned reading and had to speed through books so fast that I couldn't really enjoy them. They got mixed up because of being read simultaneously. In a course called The Picturesque Novel, I read how Oliver Gulliver travels on the road with friends named Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy, shouts Yahoo after he nibbles a huckleberrry, then recaptures a fugitive black man named Lord Jim, who's afraid of Virginia Woolf and is rooming with Roderick at Random House.

The next year I read about a couple of brothers named Karamazov and their sister Carrie acting in The American Tragedy, the men contracting a disease called Moby-Dick. They all write pustulary scarlet letters to women named Pamela and Clarissa. A Frenchman named A. Tranj falls asleep in his mother's coffin and dreams of being a catcher in the rye, protecting children from a drunken overeater named Gargantua N. Pantagruel.

The sun also rose on Madame Bovary committing crimes and suffering punishment for pulling the wings off doves (one flew over the cuckoo's nest anyway), for which she was stripped of her red badge of courage and left naked and dead. Marcel Proust tossed his cookies when he got a whiff of someone named Madeleine. The hallucinogenic prose/poem "Rhyme of Silas Mariner" by Samuel Eliot Coleridge resonated with memorable lines such as "Water, water everywhere/ Where are my buckets, my buckets!" Coleridge was actually a pen name of Marianne Evans, who was having an affair with Kate Chopin while her French alter ego George Sand engaged in a menage a toit with composer Franz Schindler Liszt and Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin, who was literature's first lady detective and solved the mysteries of Edgar Allan Poe. See This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On my comprehensive exam, responding to a question about archetypal heroes thwarted in their desire for power, and rotating from wheel to whoa, I wrote of Augie's march through a bleak house of seven gables bellowing from there to eternity in a rant filled with sound and fury signifying pride and prejudice, and demanding the return of his native son.
The examiners passed me with high honors and I graduated with great expectorations. I look forward eagerly to the task of awakening and molding young minds to the treasures of whirled literature. Transcripts and completed employment application will follow.

Hoping to join your English faculty, I remain

G. B. Pshaw

Image Credit: Cwmdu school by ceridwen  at Wikimedia

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