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Literary Analysis Instructions
Transcript of Literary Analysis Instructions
"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner
20th Century American Literature
Professor J. Carrier
Department of English Literature
1. Main Character:
The main character is usually either a protagonist or antagonist. These are the people in the story who are most important. A protagonist is a "good guy" and an antagonist is a "bad guy." A story may have one or both.
In your analysis you should describe the main character and the other characters. You should tell why you think the character you chose is the main character.
Who is/are the main character/s in our story?
The "Main Character" Entry in your analysis might look something like this:
The Madman: He says he is not crazy. He claims that he is merely "nervous." But he admits to "hearing all things in the heaven and the earth" (a symptom of schizophrenia) and he admits to murdering his companion because of his "eye."
Supporting Characters: These are characters with less important roles in the story.
Describe the supporting characters in this story.
The "Supporting Character" Entry in your analysis might look something like this:
The setting means the time, place, tone (or genre), and point-of-view* of the story. For your story analysis you may also include props: important objects in the story.
What is the setting of this story?
The "Setting" Entry in your analysis might look something like this:
Place: Unknown, but certainly a large city in the United States. We can guess Baltimore.
Time: Also unknown, but it appears to be roughly contemporary with publication. (1843)
Point-of View: First Person ("I")
Props: The eye, lantern, bedclothes
Point of view describes the voice of the narrator, or the person "telling" the story. This can usually be discovered by looking at the pronouns in the story.
First Person: A person "in" the story is telling the story. First Person narrators will use the pronoun "I". Ex.:
"...but why will you say that I am mad?"
Third Person: A third person narrator is "outside" the story. Never uses "I", only he, she, it, they, etc.
Plot Summary: A summary of the events of the story. It should be detailed and include all of the important action of the story. The plot summary is broken into "scenes," or distinct pieces of action.
What is the plot summary of this story?
The Plot Summary in your stroy analysis might look something like this:
1. Miss Emily's father chases away her suitors. (25)
2. Her father dies. (26-28)
3. Colonel Sartoris "remitted her taxes" in 1894. (3)
3. She meets Homer Barron and begins seeing him. (29-32)
4. She buys the poison. (33-42)
5. The town is scandalized by her behavior and call her cousins to come and restore order. They leave. (43-46)
6. Homer Barron comes back, goes into her house, and disappears. (46-47)
7. The house begins to stink. (15-24)
8. Many years pass. Miss Emily grows fat and gray-haired. Tobe continues to work for her. Nobody enters the house for many years. (48-53)
9. The leaders of the town come to ask her to pay taxes. (3-14)
10. Miss Emily dies. (53)
11. Tobe lets the people into the house and they find Homer's body and the gray hair on the pillow next to the corpse. (54-60)
12. Miss Emily's funeral. (1-2)
The "Plot" entry in your analysis might look something like this:
The narrator says that he is not insane but then begins to describe the way that he became obsessed with the deformed eye of an old man that he lived with, who he then murdered. The guilt that he suffered after the murder led him to believe that he could hear the beating heart of his victim. He confessed his crime to the police when he started to believe that they could hear it too.
Every story has some conflict. This is what makes stories interesting. There are two kinds of conflict that are possible in a story:
What are some possible conflicts in this story?
Human versus Human: The madman is in conflict with the "old man", who's eye seems evil to him.
Human versus Himself: The madman seems to know that his hatred of the old man and desire to kill him is wrong. He even says that he loves the old man and that the old man has never done anything bad to him.
Human versus the Supernatural: The madman believes he hears the heartbeat of the old man. This is either a ghost or a hallucination.
Human versus Society: The madman says that although society thinks he is insane, in fact he is quite sane and rational. It is up to the reader to decide and to define what madness really is.
Symbolism and Metaphorical Language
Symbols: objects, characters, or ideas that may represent something other than themselves.
Metaphor: Language in a text that has more than one interpretation.
What are some important symbols in this story?
Limited vs. Omniscient: A limited narrator may only be able to see what the reader can see. An omniscient ("All-knowing") narrator can see and describe everything, even the thoughts of the characters.
Human versus Human (Characters in the story in conflict)
Human versus Society (For example, a character fighting against injustice or prejudice.)
Human versus Technology
Human versus Nature
Human versus the Supernatural (Humans versus ghosts or God.)
Human versus Himself/Herself.
Write about one internal conflict and one external conflic in the story.
Day class email: joeteacher.donga+F4A1@gmail.com
Night class email: joeteacher.donga+F4B1@gmail.com
[100 words due Saturday at 10pm. If your answer is received late you will not get full credit for the assignment.]
Use specific examples from the story to explain your ideas.
External: Some examples:
Internal: The character vs. himself. If you have ever wanted to do something that you know was wrong then you have experienced internal conflict.
Good vs. Bad
Love vs. Hate
Responsibility vs. Pleasure
Want vs. Need
Selfishness vs. Kindness
How do we interpret or understand literature?
1. Break it down. Summarize the plot.
2. Look at the parts: character, setting, story.
3. Look at the relationships in the story. Do the characters have problems? These are conflicts.
4. Look carefully at the words. Do they have more than one meaning? This is symbolism.
THE OLD MAN
The narrator lives with him.
We do not know the relationship between the narrator and the old man.
The old man has "the eye of a vulture--a pale blue eye, with a film over it." (9.2)
The neighbors hear the scream of the old man and alert the police.
The police come to investigate the screaming and during their visit the madman begins to hear the beating heart and confesses.