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The process of reading a literary text is an act of communication between the reader and the author. The success of this act depends both on the author and the reader, his erudition, reading experience and impressionability.
The author's art of exerting his influence upon the reader, making him react to the fictitious events, conflicts depends wholly on his craftsmanship. The reader comes to appreciate or dislike the character. He is unaware of the fact, that he is guided by the author.
Most modern authors prefer an impersonal, seemingly indifferent way of presentation. This requires specific styles, methods, obviously revealed in forms, details, etc.
An image of reality presented by the author is represented through composition, plot, theme, genre, style and image. It is through the image that the author presents his vision of the world, his message (idea). The author may give an ample presentation of events, images, facts or they are incompletely presented. In the course of reading the reader comes to realize that events, images and facts are contra- and juxtaposed, learns the principle of analogy and contrast, comes to know that some facts, events, etc. are constantly reiterated, which aims at creating a certain effect. This is known as the principle of recurrence.
When analyzing a short story a student should bear in mind that there are two types of short stories: a plot (action) short story and a psychological (character) short story. A psychological (character) short story requires much care and precision on the part of the reader. Unlike a plot (action) short story, where the compositional part (the exposition, the story, the climax, the denouement) is almost always transparent, in a psychological short story there is no collision. The action in a character short story may be retarded or left in a state of suspense.
The effect of the impression on the reader's senses is achieved in many wауs: the use of the difference between the literal (denotative) and implied (connotative) meanings of the words; the use of neutral words alongside with those of other stylistic layers; the use of inversion, etc.
1 Principles to Be Observed in the Analysis
There are no hard and fast rules about making a critical review of a story but one is usually expected to dwell on the genre and composition of the story, the ideas expressed, the author's attitude towards his characters and the way in which the artistic effect is achieved. The imaginative writer has at his disposal a wealth of linguistic means to appeal to the reader, to express and convey his thoughts.
We can suggest a plan that a student can follow when analyzing a piece of writing:
1 Some information about the author.
2 The theme (subject) of the story.
3 The idea of the story.
4 Composition and plot (summary).
5 The choice of the point of view and form of speech.
6 Characterization, or character drawing.
7 Stylistic expressive means.
8 The author's likes and dislikes.
9 The analyzer's opinion.
Now, let's decipher what one should know and do to follow this plan.
1.1 It is always favourable to begin your analysis with giving information about the author: the time and place of the author' birth, steps of his literary career, the literary trend he belongs to, what his style is noted by. The student can borrow this information from the introduction to the book or the story.
1.2 The theme (subject) of the story is the basic problem or conflict, which the writer intends to present in his work. It is the general topic, of which the particular story is an illustration. In other words, the theme is usually the issue of life that people have to deal with. The student may simply begin: "The story is devoted to ...".
1.3 The idea of the story is the main conclusion the reader arrives at after reading it; it is sometimes called "the author's message". For example, the idea of R.Gordon's "Doctor in the house” may be formulated as "Students are students everywhere".
1.4 The plot of a literary work is its plan and the structure of the action comprising a series of incidents or system of events. A separate incident helping to unfold the action in a large piece of fiction is called an episode. The student must operate the terms "setting", "exposition", "climax", "denouement", or "unknotting", "ending", "suspense".
The setting is the description of the physical background - the place and time of the story, the significant items surrounding the action and the characters.
The exposition is an introductory part of the story, where the characters are introduced and some explanation of the background is given.
The climax is the decisive point on which the fate of the characters and the final action depend. It is the point at which the forces in the conflict reach the highest intensity.
Denouement, or unknotting, is the final resolution of the plot. It comes after and sometimes coincides with the climax. It is an event or episode that brings the story to its end.
Ending is the manner of bringing a piece of fiction to a close. An unexpected turn of the plot not made clear until the end of the story is called surprise ending.
Suspense is a state of uncertainty, doubt and anxiety produced in the reader by the deliberate development of the plot.
This part of the analysis is presented as the summary of the text. A summary is a clear concise orderly retelling of the contents of a passage or a text and is ordinarily about 1/3 or 1/4 as long as the original.
How should one work?
Read the passage thoroughly, write out clearly in your own words the main points of the selection. Subordinate or eliminate minor points. Retain the paragraphing of the original. Preserve the proportion of the original. Change the direct narration to indirect wherever it is possible, use words instead of word combinations and word combinations instead of sentences. Omit figures of speech, repetitions and most examples. Don't use personal pronouns, use proper names. But don't forget to indicate the exposition, climax and unknotting.
1.5 The story may be told from the point of view of: 1) the author; 2) the chief character of the story; 5) an onlooker who may be some minor participant of the action or some person outside the group of characters. The focus of narration has to do with who tells the story. If it is the "author observer", a story is told in an objective way, without going into the minds of the characters and without his own comments. If it is the "omniscient author", he tells what happens with complete liberty to go into the minds of the characters and to give his own comments. There are, of course, various combinations of the main types of narration.
A story may be told in:
1) direct speech, the characters speaking themselves;
2) indirect speech, the author describing the thoughts and feelings of his characters;
3) non-personal direct speech (see "interior monologue").
The student should remember that any work of fiction consists of relatively independent elements - narration, description, dialogue, interior monologue, digression, etc.
Narration is dynamic, it gives a continuous account of events. Description is static, it is a verbal portraiture of an object, person or scene. It may be detailed and direct or impressionistic, giving few but striking details.
Dialogue gives better opportunities for the characters' portrayal. It brings the action nearer to the reader, makes it seem more swift and more intense.
Interior monologue renders the thoughts and feelings of a character. The most recent development in interior monologue is the so-called stream of consciousness which gives the reader an impression of the unending and uneven flow of ideas, feelings and memories in a person's mind (see also above and on p.10).
Digression consists of an insertion of material that has no immediate relation to the theme or action. A digression may be critical, philosophical, lyrical, etc.
1.6 Characterization, or character drawing, is one of the most important problems of the writer, who is to present his characters to the reader as individual human beings. There are two ways of characterization in stories:
1) direct characterization, when the author or another person defines the character for the reader by describing or explaining it, thus offering his own interpretation of the person;
2) indirect characterization, through the action and conversation, when the author leaves it to the reader to judge the characters by what they do and say.
When characterizing the heroes the author resorts to the wealth of stylistic expressive means, that should be commented on. The student must analyze the use only of those stylistic devices that contribute to the character drawing and creating the general tone of the piece of writing under analysis.
1.7 The purpose of a writer of fiction is to reproduce in the reader his own thoughts and feelings, to make the reader visualize and feel what he wants him to visualize and feel. The choice and arrangement of appropriate words and sentence patterns, the use of various stylistic expressive means to a great extent determine the effect the literary production will have on the reader.
Among stylistic devices used by a writer we distinguish between phonetic, lexical and syntactical expressive means.
Phonetic expressive means are confined mainly to poetry and are not dealt with here.
Lexical expressive means can also be referred to as "figures of speech", or "tropes". We shall mention the most important ones.
An epithet is usually an attributive word or phrase expressing some quality of a person, thing or phenomenon. An e epithet always expresses the author's individual attitude towards what he describes, his personal appraisal of it, and is a powerful means in his hands of conveying his emotions to the reader and in this way securing the desired effect. Example: an unpleasant inevitability; the unpopular oral examination; terrible displeasure.
A simile (образное сравнение) is an expressed imaginative comparison based on the likeness of two objects or ideas belonging to different classes (in contrast to a comparison which compares things belonging to the same class and is not a figure of speech). The comparison is formally expressed by the words "as", "like", "as if", "such as", "seem". Example: To a medical student the final examinations are something like death ...; ... he goes at them like a prize-fighter ...;...we attended all his ward rounds, standing at the front and gazing at him like impressionable music enthusiasts at the solo violinist.
A metaphor is an implied imaginative comparison expressed in one word or in a number of words or sentences (the so-called prolonged, or sustained, metaphor - развернутая метафора). A metaphor expresses our perception of the likeness between two objects or ideas. Examples: "Yes", I croaked. I rallied my thoughts and stumbled through the answer. Little shreds of success collected together and weaved themselves into a triumphal garland (prolonged metaphor).
A metaphor may be expressed by different parts of speech. Note that practically every simile can be compressed into a metaphor and every metaphor can be extended into a simile.
Irony is a figure of speech by means of which a word or words (it may be a situation) express the direct opposite of what their meanings denote, thus we often say "How clever!” when a person says or does something foolish. Irony shows the attitude of the author towards certain facts or events: "... the porters began tearing papers away from the gentlemen"; "...hoping by an incomplete sentence to give the examiners the impression of frustrated brilliance".
Zeugma (зевгма) is a stylistic device, typical of English, in which one word is used in relation to two (or more) other words in a different sense. Example: "...a lively boarding house with a billiard table and low prices; all tennis rackets, trousers, and opinions are held in common".
Oxymoron (оксюморон) is a figure of speech consisting in the use of an attribute the meaning of which is incongruous with the meaning of the word it modifies. Example: "There is rarely any frank cheating in medical examinations..."
Periphrasis (перифраз) is a stylistic device consisting in replacement of one word denoting an object by its description in a roundabout way, which brings out one of its features or qualities. Example: "... inescapable anatomic arrangements".
Euphemism (эвфемизм) is the use of a milder word or phrase instead of the one that seems rough or unpleasant: "opiate oblivion" (alcohol), "unspeakables" (trousers).
Metonymy (метонимия) is a figure of speech by which the name of one object is given to another, not by way of comparison (as in metaphor), but because one suggests the other by some or other association of facts or idea: I know Dickens (Dickens' works); City (people living in the City); Benskin discovered that Malcolm Maxworth was the St. Swithin's representative ... (St. Swithin's Hospital); "Haven't you heard how they mark the tripos at Cambridge?” (Cambridge University); ...like the policemen that flank the dock at the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court, situated in London in the street of the same name).
Personification (олицетворение) is a special kind of metaphor, which represents an inanimate object or an idea as having human characteristics, as capable of thought, action or feeling. Example: "... it was the hand of Fate that doped out a way for me to find her".
Allusion (аллюзия) is an indirect reference, by word or phrase, to a historical, literary, mythological, biblical fact or to a fact of everyday life made in the course of speaking or writing. The primary meaning of the word or phrase which is known serves as a vessel into which new meaning is poured. Example: "But the viva is judgement day".
Syntactical Expressive Means deal with construction of sentences.
The general character of sentences is to be taken into consideration. Sentences may be long or short, simple or complex, each of them having their uses depending on the object of the writer.
Repetition (reiteration) of the same word or phrase in a sentence or sentences usually lends a peculiar emotional force or emphasis to what is being said. It may also make the utterance more rhythmical. Repetition is often used in oratorical style to make the speaker's meaning clear, to lay greater emphasis on his statements so that the listeners could grasp the full significance of what he says. Repetition is classified according to compositional patterns. We shall name some of the most important.
Syntactical parallelism, or a parallel structure, is the repetition of the same syntactical pattern: "... some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity..., some people make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others..."
Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or sentences: "...she persisted in breaking it. She persisted and ..."
Epiphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive phrases, clauses or sentence: "... he swore out a warrant, no doubt signing it with his left hand, and Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken his oath with the only good hand he possesses - his right hand.”
Anadiplosis, or linking, or reduplication (подхват) is the repetition of the last word of a clause at the beginning of the next clause: "... she has merely broken a rigid and time-honored code of our society, a code so severe that…". Sometimes the repeated word may not be the word itself but its derivative: "... in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you ..."
Note that syntactical parallelism and a repetition of the same word often go together.
Antithesis, or contrast (противопоставление), is the stylistic expressive means when parallel patterns are used for the purpose of contrasting two opposed ideas or features thus heightening the effect of the utterance: "Youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold", or in a number of sentences or paragraphs, as in: "...on the assumption that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral, that ... Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie ..., a lie I don't have to point out to you. You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some ...". The parallel constructions combined with the repetition of the same words emphasize the contrast expressed by the words "all" - "some", "lie" - "truth".
Gradation, or climax (нарастание), is the stylistic device when the writer arranges his ideas according to the degree of their importance or emphasis, the most important, from his point of view, coming last. This makes his point plain or shows how vital it is. Example: "This case is not a difficult one, it requires no minute sifting of complicated facts... To begin with, this case should never have come to trial. This case is as simple as black and white". The speaker expounds his point by repeating the same idea in a different way.
There are various ways in which the writer or the speaker can draw the attention of the reader or listener to what he finds important and wants to bring to his notice. Such are:
1) the use of the verb "to do" in affirmative sentences: "... it does require you to be sure ... as to the guilt of the defendant";
2) the use of the interrogative sentences in the character's narrative (question-in-the-narrative). A question in the narrative asked and answered by the same person is often used in oratory. It chains the attention of the listener to the matter the orator is dealing with, gives him the time to absorb what has been said, and prepare for the next point: "What was the evidence of her offense? Tom Robinson, a human being";
3) the structure with the emphatic "it" (it was ... that): " ... it was guilt that motivated her";
4) the emphatic word order (stylistic inversion) aims at attaching logical stress or additional emotional colouring to the meaning of the utterance: "All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall the Negroes were getting to their feet". Here the adverbial modifier is placed at the beginning of the sentence;
5) the use of the negative pronoun "no" instead of the negative particle "not": "... she was no child hiding stolen contraband ...";
These and other similar stylistic devices are commonly used in the characters' direct and non-personal direct speech.
Asyndeton (бессоюзие) is the deliberate avoidance of conjunctions: "No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds. November!".
Polysyndeton (многосоюзие) is a repetition of conjunction in close succession: "They panted and grunted and moaned ..., and Fatty panted and moaned with them". It makes the utterance more rhythmical and shows things isolated.
Non-personal direct speech (half-reported speech, unuttered or inner represented speech, interior monologue) is a style of narration in which the author describes the events, thoughts and feelings from the point of view of his literary character, as if it were the character himself expressing his opinion and estimation of those events, "thinking aloud" as it were. In contrast to direct speech, non-personal direct speech is characterized by the absence of quotation marks, the use of the 3rd person instead of the 1st, and the tense shift required by the rule of the sequence of tenses. One of its main features is also the style peculiar to oral forms of communication. Non-personal direst speech is the point of view of the character incorporated into the structure of the narrative:
"For the moment Walter Streeter felt reassured. A woman, a little mouse-like creature, who had somehow taken a fancy to him! What was there to feel uneasy about in that! It was really rather sweet and touching, and he began to think of her and wonder what she looked like. Did it matter if she was a little mad?"
Framing (обрамление) can be used for antithesis or contrast. The same pattern is repeated at the beginning and at the end of the paragraph: "How did she howl,... . How they will enjoy themselves!"
1.8 The author's likes and dislikes may be presented as the conclusion to pp. 1.5, 1.6, 1.7.
1.9 The analyzer's opinion is the expression of his aesthetic estimation of the piece of writing.
This scheme of the analysis is only a proposition. It is possible that certain points of it may change in order, overlap and even intertwine (pp.5 - 9). But all the points should be covered. An exception can be made onl for p. 1.
Here is the vocabulary that may come in handy for the student.
2.1 About the author and his work
1 appearance of a new trend
2 appreciate a work of art at its full value
3 break ground in an earlier novel for the subject matter
4 bring smth forth in living images
5 craft of writing; craftsmanship
6 derived from personal experience
7 distinguished stylist
8 drawbacks of ...
9 driving aim, force
10 ensnare and capture
11 excel in one's art
12 extremely keen and faithful eye for ...
13 faults of taste
14 foundation of smb's talent lies in ...
15 fundamental characteristics (of a novel, etc.)
16 handle the subject matter magisterially
17 have an immediate success
18 innovations in writing
19 inspired by ...
20 in the field of fiction
21 lacking in imagination
22 lead the reader on quietly
23 light humourist
24 magic of art
25 novel etc. deals primarily with ...
26 one of the foremost novelists of our (his) time
27 one of the novel's, etc. great virtues
28 popularity and fame came ...
29 popularity is founded on ...
30 power of observation, (ironic insight)
31 the reader is spellbound and enthralled
32 receive general recognition
33 receive a number of distinguished awards
34 reveal smb's (one's) considerate talent as a writer
35 sure instinct of a novelist, etc.
36 write fiction
37 writer makes us see
38 writer is successful (unsuccessful)
2.2 About the composition of the work of fiction
1 at the precise сеntre of the book, novel, story, etc.
2 central theme of ...
3 chaotic composition
4 climatic events are packed into ...
5 delay the action
6 episode is symbolic
7 dramatic climax
8 final episode
9 flashback in time
10 form the subject matter of
11 invented scene
12 last, etc. scene shows
13 leading theme of ...
14 main thread of the story
15 make a shift of scene
16 make the most of atmosphere and suggestion
17 novel, story, etc. gains momentum
18 on the background of
19 parallel plot
20 pattern of movement
21 plot develops towards a violently dramatic incident
22 resolution comes quickly
23 scene is static
24 story is narrated by
25 story is simple and uncomplicated
26 structure of conflict
27 subject-matter of ...
28 tension springs from
2.3 About the writer's style
1 artistically effective
2 as if reported by a detached observer
3 become the dominant images
4 cap a comic moment with a final extravagant act
5 capture the essential truth of ...
6 complex narrative
7 detailed examination of ...
8 digress, digression
9 go on to particulars
10 heavy prose
11 humorous and sardonic tone
12 piece of technical virtuosity
13 becomes a powerful symbol
14 prose is clear and simple
15 prose quickens
16 remorseless irony
17 report the speech of ...
18 see smth through the eyes of ...
19 simplicity (complexity) of style
20 skill in narrative
21 speak of one's esthetic sense
22 style may be clear, direct, illuminated by a perfectly unaffected sincerity, sufficiently pointed to carry ...
23 well under control
24 strive to express
25 understatement that runs through ...
2.4 About the characters
1 contrast between the characters of ...
2 dispose the characters around ...
3 figure of strong outline
4 major characters
5 main character
6 minor (secondary) characters
7 vigorous, vivid character
2.5 Mixed Bag
1 abundance of
2 accentuate/point out / admit/ emphasize/ state
3 account of events
4 achieve the effect, the effect is achieved
5 add weight to ...
6 admit/ point out / emphasize/ state/ accentuate
7 affect one's imagination/ intellect/ emotions
9 allow/ give choice to the reader
10 allow the reader an insight into
11 ample characteristics / characterization
12 appeal / entreat/ persuade
13 art /skill / craftsmanship
14 art of making a few phrases / words go far
15 assailed / overwhelmed with feelings / emotions
16 attach to / attribute to
17 attach meaning to
18 attitude (the author's ..., to suggest the ...)
19 attribute to / attach to
20 author's stand / outlook / choice of vocabulary
21 author's message
1 based on
2 begin / initiate / usher
3 belief (erroneous ..., breed a ..., stem from the ,.. that)
4 bitterly criticize
6 blended (... narration / description)
7 blended with .
8 breed a belief that
9 brief description
10 brimful of meaning
1 calm narrative
2 carry the idea / meaning / emotional charge
3 casual (to sound ...)
4 centered upon the image / personality
5 characteristic of economy of words
6 characterization (ample ...)
7 charge (emotional ..., emotive ...)
8 clue to (to give a clue to)
10 comment on / dwell on / speak on / touch on / enlarge on
11 compile a character
12 conditionv / create / make / build
14 connotative meaning
16 contribute to ...
17 conversational (... vocabulary / word-choice)
18 convey much while saying a little
19 co-occur (words of different stylistic layers ...)
20 core of vocabulary (the author's ...)
21 cow (be cowed, uncowed)
22 create an effect
23 craftsmanship / art / skill
2 deduce, be deduced
4 denotative meaning
5 denote / mean
6 depict /describe / portray / present
7 describe / depict / portray / present
9 details (sparingly given ...)
11 direct meaning
12 discern (... right and wrong, ... right from wrong)
13 disclose / unfold
18 dramatic (... monologue / effect)
19 draw an analogy
20 dwell on / speak on / touch on / enlarge on / comment on
1 economy of words (characteristic of ...)
2 effect (stylistic ..., emotional ..., produce an ..., ... achieved, gain an ...)
3 effective (emotionally ..., stylistically ...)
13 emotional charge
14 emotionally coloured
15 emotive charge
16 emotive / stylistic quality
17 employ / use
18 enable the reader to visualize / imagine
19 enlarge on / expand on
20 entreat / appeal / persuade
21 enumerate (... scrupulously)
22 erroneous (... belief)
23 essential / main (... principle)
24 essential issues of life
25 esthetic ( also aesthetic)
26 evil (the ...)
27 exercisev influence (... on the reader)
28 expand on / enlarge on
29 expose / unfold / reveal / mirror
30 extract under discussion / consideration / study
31 extremely effective in conveying
1 face value (take things at their ...)
2 fact (take into consideration the ...)
3 feeling / emotions (be overwhelmed / assailed with)
4 figure of speech
5 flood of thoughts / impressions
6 give smth a dynamic ...)
7 flowery (... word choice / vocabulary)
8 futility / hopelessness
1 gain an effect
3 get aware of / see well enough / realize
4 give a peculiar tint to ...
5 give smth a dynamic flow
6 give the reader choice
7 give details sparingly
8 give ground to / prove
9 give one's grounds
10 gravity / seriousness of the problem / issue
12 gusto (with too much ..., with great ...)
1 hackneyed / trite / off-beaten (... phrase)
2 have a sharp eye for
3 hold a clue to
4 humorous effect
1 illustrative of
3 image of real life
4 impact on the reader
5 impassioned concern
6 implied meaning
7 implication contained
8 imperceptibly blended with
9 impersonal objective quality
10 impose one's personality upon
11 indicative of ...
12 individualize (... an image / portrait / character)
13 inner world of the character / protagonist (create the …)
14 interior monologue
16 interplay of the direct and the implied meanings
17 intricately involved writing
1 keenly concerned with
2 lend colour to /tint
3 lend colouring / nuance to
4 let / permit the reader judge / think / observe / pass his judgement
1 main / essential principle
2 make / create / build
3 make the reader share smb's disgust / sympathy
4 manifesty, manifested
5 manner (reserved ...)
6 marked by simplicity / tenseness / intense objectivity
8 meaning (metaphorical / implied / direct ..., brimful of ...)
9 meditate / speculate / ponder
10 mention in passing / touch on (ant. dwell on / scrupulously enumerate)
11 message (the author's ..., to convey one's ...)
12 metaphorical meaning
13 method of character drawing / depicting
14 mirrorv/ reveal / unfold / expose
15 missing links (permit the reader to supply the …)
17 moral and mental make up
1 narrate, narrated
2 narration of (to do the ...)
3 narration (first / second person / anonymous …)
4 narrativen (calm / pathetic / unaffected / simple ...)
7 novella (pl -lle)
9 nuance / colouring (lend …)
1 observe (let the reader ...
2 obviously expressed
3 opposite / prominent (stand …)
4 optimistic (sound ...)
5 outlook / stand (the author's …)
1 pass one's judgement
2 penetration into the character / character's inner world
4 permit the reader to judge / think / observe / pass his judgement / supply the missing links / visualize the scene
6 persuade / appeal / entreat
8 plain / conversational (... vocabulary / word-choice)
9 plot story / action story
10 point out / admit / emphasize / state / accentuate
11 ponderous / plain / conversational (... vocabulary / word choice)
15 present / depict / portray / describe
16 presented in a non-committal seemingly impersonal objective way
17 principle of incomplete presentation
18 principle of analogy and contrast
19 principle of recurrence
20 problem / issue (gravity / seriousness of the ...)
22 prove / give ground
23 psychological short story / character short story
1 reader is given the choice
2 realize / see well enough / be aware of
6 regard / take into consideration (the reader ... the fact)
7 (in) regards (to)
8 refer to, be referred to
10 reiteration / repetition / scrupulous enumeration
12 remarkable for care and precision
13 reserved manner
14 rest on
17 reveal / expose / unfold / mirror
18 reveal the idea
19 reveal (... the good / beautiful / evil / ugly / just / unjust)
1 scanty / sparingly given (… description)
2 scene (visualize the …)
3 shape / mould
4 sharp eye for (to have a ...)
5 shift / change (... in / of mood)
6 short story (psychological / character or plot / action …)
7 simple (... language)
8 simplicity (marled by ...)
9 skill / art / craftsmanship
11 sophisticated (... language)
12 soundv (... casual / indifferent)
13 sparingly given details
14 speak on / dwell on / touch on / enlarge on / comment on
15 speak volumes
16 speculate / meditate / ponder
17 state / point out / admit / emphasize / accentuate
18 stemv (... form smth)
19 story (psychological / character ..., plot / action ...
20 straightforward / direct (... word / phrase)
21 strike smb / impress smb , be struck
22 study / discussion / consideration (extract / story under...)
23 style (humorous / turgid / lucid / lofty / delightful / florid)
24 stylistic / emotive quality
25 stylistic reference
26 substantiate one's idea
28 suggestive of ...
29 supply the missing links ( permit the reader to ... )
1 take into consideration / regard (… the fact)
2 take sides with
3 take the stand on all essential issues of life
4 take the tradition
5 take things at their face value
6 tint / lend colour to ...
8 trite / hackneyed / off-beaten (... phrase)
2 underlying (... thought)
3 unfold / expose / reveal / mirror / disclose
4 usher / begin / initiate
1 view-point /opinion
2 views (emotionally coloured ...)
3 vocabulary / word-choice (conversational / plain / ponderous / embellished / flowery / less decorative ...)
1 warm humour
2 word-choice / vocabulary (conversational / plain / ponderous / embellished / flowery / less decorative ...)
3 worked up (... suspense)
4 writing (intricately involved ...)
1) the brackets show the most likely combinations;
2) the three dots show the position occupied by the word or phrase under consideration in these combinations;
3) the slant line introduces various combining units, sometimes synonymic.
The vocabulary presented makes up the core of the metalanguage of stylistic analysis, the information given is but rudimentary. For more exhaustive knowledge of making the analysis you must refer to the books listed below.
3 An exemplary analysis of the text “To Kill a Mockingbird” by H. Lee
The subject matter of the extract (fragment) is the exposure of the American system of justice, its outspoken essence of racism and inhumanity. The author wants to bring home to the reader the message of objective and judicial penetration into a cruel reality of a bourgeois court. Tom Robinson, a Negro, against whom a charge is brought, is doomed beforehand.
Harper Lee’s work at its best is realistic and takes the tradition popular in the American social novel, the tradition ushered by Mark Twain.
It is through the eyes of a child that events are presented. It should be stated, that the author does not comment upon her personages: she makes them speak, act, think and lets the reader judge for himself.
In the whole of the novel the author’s voice is imperceptibly blended with the narrator’s. In the present case it is almost inaudible, though an attentive reader may be struck by the language a bit sophisticated for the seven-year old Jean Louise.
The extract under consideration opens with the trial scene. Atticus Finch delivers his speech to the jury. The part of the speech dealing with the evidence is not presented on purpose, for both the jury and Atticus are fulfilling their formal duties, the fact that does not escape attention. The author’s art of making a few phrases go far in enabling the reader not only to visualize all the events is manifested in the following: “ Atticus was speaking easily with a kind of detachment he used when he dictated a letter”, “…the jury seemed to be attentive… and they followed Atticus’s route with what seemed to be appreciation”. Conveying much while saying a little is one of the most essential principles of H. Lee’s art. This is achieved by means of countless little touches insignificant in themselves but brimful of meaning. Jean Louise’s description of her father’s walk, slow, “up and down in front of the jury” affords a very good example: the walk betrays the lawyer’s excitement, nervousness.
In order to depict the character of Atticus Finch, a lawyer, H. Lee grants the latter a great speech. Atticus dwells upon the subject of his concern himself, without the aid of any subsidiary onlooker. The effect of indirect speech characterization attains the degree of great emotional force. Atticus is depicted in all his inner essence through the fragments of his monologue. The transmittance of his advocatory piece into indirect speech would have reduced his utterances to a bare scheme devoid of the logical depth and clear-cut vivacity.
Atticus’s speech is an example of oratorical style and it is characterized by features of this type of speech.
For example, Atticus Finch illustrates his speech with the enumeration of the sin of Negroes in the sense white people understood them – that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around white women. The piling of two homogeneous assertions sound as an evil assumption, Atticus ridicules the narrow-mindedness of social opinion of his time. The reiteration of the sentence “There is not a person in this court-room who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire” helps Finch to make his defender’s speech more effective and square. He wants to lay stress upon the fact that men in general are not saints, nobody in the hall is an angel, human weaknesses are inherent in every person. A cumulative conjunction “and” assists in creating a climax of Finch’s proof. The fact of Tom Robinson’s innocence is emphasized to the utmost. The indictment he is charged with (on) is a trifling matter every male being is subjected to. In the paragraph “I say guilt, gentlemen…” Finch exposes the real nature of Mayella Ewell’s claims. She committed not a crime but an offence unpardonable in her society. That’s the reason of her further action – the urgent desire to put away the daily reminder of her guilt. Finch’s proof is sustained by prolonged syntax. He is very thorough in explaining why it happened so. He follows with precision the logical chain of the girl’s consideration when he brings his listeners to the main point of his conclusion – “She must destroy the evidence of her offence”.
We come across an interesting case of the ordinal numeral “first” used as a noun in the sentence. It’s a vivid example of the usage in individual speech the meaning of which is understandable only for its creator, in our case only for the family of the counsel for the defence. The device enables the writer to spare a good deal of description and to make the moment produce expressiveness.
The extract in epithets, similes, metaphors. Such examples of epithets as “a vivid and time-honoured code”, “a code so severe”, “the cynical confidence”, “the evil assumption” reveal Finch’s own attitude to the items he dwells on. The case of a simile in the text: “His voice has lost its aridity, its detachment, and he was talking to the jury as if they were folks on the post office corner” shows that Atticus knows perfectly well how to behave in his plight, but the importance of the matter he is going to win unnerves him, bewilders his steeled self-control. Metaphors in his speech based on the collision of the direct meaning of the word with its contextual implication produce the effect of a high logical statement which contributes much to the potential salvation of the Negro fellow. When Atticus is determined to make a logical assertion concerning the equality of people he brings forward one genuine truth which is generated by the court system that is supposed to be just to everybody - for this court every human is equal, to erase all the distinction between people in the sense of their equality in a social community they live, Atticus takes polar conceptions and arranges them in parallel constructions following one another. A pauper, the stupid man and the ignorant one stand back from a Rockfeller, Einstein and a college president respectively at one and the same distance. The connotative meanings of metaphors present in Finch’s speech are expressive to the utmost.
Two methods of characterization – direct and indirect ones – interweave in the story. From this angle we distinguish two ways of depiction presented by Atticus Finch at the trial and Jean Louise’s commentaries of it. These two methods combined supplement each other making the story sound more real and convincing. The scrupulous enumeration of Atticus’s actions (“unbuttoned his vest, … collar, loosened his tie…”, etc.) speaks volumes both of utter astonishment of the girl at the sight of the behaviour of her father and the excitement which the lawyer is assailed at the moment: he may be compared with the one who is going to dive into unknown waters.
The passage which precedes the part of the speech in the extract serves as an introduction: slight retardation can be noted here.
Jean Louise’s feeling of genuine compassion with her father is fully made aware of to the reader. He is allowed to realize the meaning of what has happened only together with the narrator, not before her. The sparingly given details permit the reader to supply missing links and visualize the scene. The writer manages to reproduce the flood of her heroine’s impressions in the order they strike her: Atticus nervously unbuttoning his vest and collar…, walking slowly up and down, putting his hands in his pockets, Negroes getting up to their feet at the sight of Atticus leaving the court-hall, etc. The unaffected narration with its fixation on seemingly insignificant details makes the reader realize the atmosphere of mistrust, enmity and prejudice of the South of the USA.
Jean Louise is struck at the sound of her father’s voice which “lost its aridity … and he was talking to the jury” (instead of “speaking”). This detail makes the reader fully understand the burden of responsibility, Atticus shoulders. Atticus is manly and experienced, he is fully aware of the futility of his efforts. Yet he does not sneer at the people who are cowed. He persuades rather than accuses (“he was not a thunderer”), he appeals to the conscience, entreats them to overcome their fear, prejudices. This is made clear by the word “Scout”, Jean Louise’s nickname, as if he were talking to his only daughter. Only to the end of the extract the reader is made aware of the audience, both the white and Negroes, filling the court-hall (each to their own places: Negroes in the balcony, whereas the white occupy the stalls, according to “the rigid and time-honoured code of the society”.
The feeling of genuine gratitude of Negroes to Atticus is opposed to the enmity of the white audience. The well-observed detail of Atticus’s lonely walk to the exit after his speech is eloquent of it. Whereas the excitement of Negroes, filling the balcony is emphasized twice: “They were standing. All around us, and in the balcony on the opposite wall the Negroes were getting to their feet”. The inversion in the second sentence is illustrative of the girl’s warm feeling towards Negroes. Jean Louise’s mind registers the closing of the meeting: her thoughts are reproduced the simplest and the most straightforward form.
Appropriately enough when she speaks of her brother Jem, the reader comes to know that his features are identical with hers – her soft strength, her courage, her compassion. Though a child, she is sharply aware of the complexity of the general situation and her father’s part in it. The endless reiteration of “Atticus paused”, “never”, followed by the scrupulous enumeration of Atticus’s actions (“took out his handkerchief”, “took off his glasses”) conveys the tension of the atmosphere of the court-hall. The phrase “we had never seen”, “he was one of those men< whose faces never perspired” – adds weight to the aforesaid.
The effect is achieved primarily by the very obvious contrast between the tremendous gravity of the problem – and the tone the seven-year old child narrates in. The strain at the back of the narration is felt through the repeated mention of “could be expected”, “watch”, “look”, “handed”.
The climax of the story lies in passing the verdict to Tom Robinson. It is expressed in the short passage “I shut my eyes. Judge Taylor was polling the jury: guilty… guilty… I peeked at Jem: his hands were white from gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if each “guilty” was a separate stab between them.”. Tom Robinson’s censure is appallingly unjust. While rendering the climax the author uses stylistic means of her own. All the preceding sequence of the text kept the reader in suspense giving the moments of utter intensity. A person involved in the action deeply sympathizes with the young Negro, he waits for the sentence to be pronounced with the pulsation of nerves.
The extract closes with a ray of hope shining against the darkness: there is a suggestion that Atticus will time and again fight race prejudice in the minds of his fellow-citizens.
That belief lifts the extract above pessimism. It finds a vivid embodiment in the portrayal of Atticus, defeated but uncowed fighter for men’s happiness going down the aisle to the exit. And the small pathetic figures of his children are meant to demonstrate the constant renewal of life and hope, the promise held out by young generation.
The subject matter of the extract (fragment) is the exposure of the American system of justice, its outspoken essence of racism and inhumanity.
The author wants to bring home to the reader the message of objective and judicial penetration into a cruel reality of a bourgeois court. Tom Robinson, a Negro, against whom a charge is brought, is doomed beforehand.
1. In order to convince the reader in the authenticity of the facts under observation H.Lee resorts to her own individual stylistic structure of the arrangement of belles-letters material under concern.
The story is delivered by a little girl, the daughter of Atticus Finch, a counsel for the defence at this ignominious trial. The conscious choice of the author is caused by the profound considerations of the latter.
The sequence of events is presented through the prism of perception of the child which imparts the deliverance a certain kind of acuteness marked by sharp spiritual pain. Jean Louise’s presentation of the procedure makes the events more vivid, convincing, real, emotional – the qualities which would have been omitted in case the story had been commented by an adult. A person of years would have been deprived of a peculiar infant’s vision. Jean Louise introduces some details in her narration which would be ignored by seniors and which wouldn’t be included in a different case. She turns out to be very attentive. When she mentioned such an insignificant fact as “Tom toying with official papers”, she reveals a deep solicitude of a child for (towards) the defendant, she can’t miss this regardless item unimportant for the rest. Being a child of her own father Jean scrupulously renders the manner of his conduct in the role of an attorney. She describes it in the most objective way undulating into minute particulars. Only for Atticus’s children was it clear to the utmost what their father’s gradual undressing at the trial meant, what kind of consternation it conveyed. Only a child could be so considerate while pointing out such a moment as winking of the pen which reflected Atticus’s nervousness and agitation.
2. In order to depict the character of Atticus Finch, a lawyer, H.Lee grants the latter a great speech. Atticus dwells upon the subject of his concern himself, without the aid of any subsidiary onlooker. The effect of indirect speech characterization attains the degree of great emotional force. Atticus is depicted in all his inner essence through the fragments of his monologue. The transmittance of his advocatory piece into indirect speech would have reduced his utterances to a bare scheme devoid of the logical depth and clear-cut vivacity.
3. Two methods of characterization – direct and indirect ones – interweave in the story. From this angle we distinguish two ways of depiction presented by Atticus Finch at the trial and Jean Louise’s commentaries of it. These two methods combined supplement each other making the story sound more real and convincing.
4. The climax of the story lies in passing the verdict to Tom Robinson. It is expressed in the short passage “I shut my eyes. Judge Taylor was polling the jury: guilty… guilty… I peeked at Jem: his hands were white from gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if each “guilty” was a separate stab between them.”. Tom Robinson’s censure is appallingly unjust. While rendering the climax the author uses stylistic means of her own. All the preceding sequence of the text kept the reader in suspense giving the moments of utter intensity. A person involved in the action deeply sympathizes with the young Negro, he waits for the sentence to be pronounced with the pulsation of nerves.
The language of the preceding sequence is bookish,
8. … fact preconditioned by the position of that “is” at the end of the sentence. The second “guilt’ in the sentence “I say “: guilt’, gentlemen, because it was guilt that motivated her” evidently shows the force of the argument brought by Finch in condemning the girl. In the next sentence we come across the case of syntactical parallelism, where Finch makes out the real nature of Mayella Ewell’s offence. By means of parallelism there is done a distinction between a juridical crime and that one unofficially accepted among people. The noun “code” caught up at a small space creates a stylistic device of anadiplosis where the speaker ascertains the inner essence of social crime. Atticus Finch illustrates his speech with the enumeration of the sin of Negroes in the sense white people understood them – that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around white women. The piling of two homogeneous assertions sound as an evil assumption, Atticus ridicules the narrow-mindedness of social opinion of his time. The reiteration of the sentence “There is not a person in this court-room who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire” helps Finch to make his advocatory speech more effective and square. He wants to lay stress upon the fact that men in general are not saints, nobody in the hall is an angel, human weaknesses are inherent in every person. A cumulative conjunction “and” assists in creating a climax of Finch’s proof. The fact of Tom Robinson’s innocence is emphasized to the utmost. The indictment he is charged with (on) is a trifling matter every male being is subjected to. In the paragraph “I say guilt, gentlemen…” Finch exposes the real nature of Mayella Ewell’s claims. She committed not a crime but an offence unpardonable in her society. That’s the reason of her further action – the urgent desire to put away the daily reminder of her guilt. Finch’s proof is sustained by prolonged syntax. He is very thorough in explaining why it happened so. He follows with precision the logical chain of the girl’s consideration when he brings his listeners to the main point of his conclusion – “She must destroy the evidence of her offence”.
9. In the text we come across an interesting case of the ordinal numeral “first” used as a noun in the sentence. It’s a vivid example of the usage in individual speech the meaning of which is understandable only for its creator, in our case only for the family of the counsel for the defence. The device enables the writer to spare a good deal of description and to make the moment produce expressiveness.
10. The extract of H.Lee abounds in epithets as a peculiar stylistic device. Such examples of epithets as “a vivid and time-honoured code”, “a code so severe”, “the cynical confidence”, “the evil assumption” reveal Finch’s own attitude to the items he dwells on.
All these epithets betray the internals implied in the nature of the phenomena regarded. The latter had sprung up in antique times and preserved their unlawful force up to nowadays. You won’t find any officially recorded articles concerning this code in the chronicles of jurisdiction, they had been invented by the ignorant majority of a sanctimonious set of people, but they turned out to be so forceful that they exercised their influence on the actions and thoughts of modern men. In this way the epithets help to make an excursus into the history of human morals, and so Tom Robinson’s crime can be traced back to the absurdity of the past. “The cynical confidence” throws light upon the testimony of the witnesses, people of low caliber, whose evidence is a mere stuff. On the other hand, such combinations as “corroborative evidence”, “capital punishment”, “complicated facts”, “medical evidence” can’t be upon as suggesting epithets. Here we have simple attribute indicating at a denotative nature of the notion.
There is an interesting case of a simile in the text: “His voice has lost its aridity, its detachment, and he was talking to the jury as if they were folks on the post office corner”. Atticus’s identification of the jury with a common set of people isn’t caused by his disrespect of the persons of the consequence. It happens because of quite an opposite reason. Atticus knows perfectly well how to behave in his plight, but the importance of the matter he is going to win unnerves him, bewilders his steeled self-control. The device of a simile in this case renders an unusual plight of Atticus in the court. Atticus’s speech is very imagery. In order to make his defending speech sound logically and turn to be an adequate proof of the defendant’s innocence he resorts to metaphorical language which imparts his soliloquy the flavour of brightness and profound refinement.
Metaphors in his speech based on the collision of the direct meaning of the word with its contextual implication produce the effect of a high logical statement which contributes much to the potential salvation of the Negro fellow. When Atticus is determined to make a logical assertion concerning the equality of people he brings forward one genuine truth which is generated by the court system that is supposed to be just to everybody - for this court every human is equal, to erase all the distinction between people in the sense of their equality in a social community they live, Atticus takes polar conceptions and arranges them in parallel constructions following one another. A pauper, the stupid man and the ignorant one stand back from a Rockfeller, Einstein and a college president respectively at one and the same distance. The connotative meanings of metaphors present in Finch’s speech are expressive to the utmost. When speaking about the impulses motivating Mayella Ewell’s considerations Atticus derives some fact from the moral code, which are traced back to ancient times. He doesn’t say simply that a person …
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