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"Was it a Dream?" By Guy de Maupassant
Transcript of "Was it a Dream?" By Guy de Maupassant
Coherence and Unity
Furthermore, coherence and unity are both successfully achieved in this short story through the use of a clear order, repetition, and parallelism, providing for an immersive and enjoyable reading experience.
This narration begins with the narrator describing his love towards a woman who was deceased. The grief which overwhelmed him was very evident through the narrator’s recollection of past memories of her.
“Was it a Dream?” is a story written by 19th century French writer, Guy de Maupassant.
It is a narration that questions one’s judgment and emotions and instills doubt within the reader.
It follows the story of a man who spends all his spare time mourning over his lover’s grave.
Throughout this story, the main characters, as well as his lover remain unnamed.
Guy de Maupassant was able to incorporate enriched structural devices such as form, subject, thesis and figures of speech as well as provide excellent qualities of unity, coherence and emphasis.
The theme of this short story is the blind flattery of a person and the glorification of their image out of ignorance or naivety thus resulting in the loss of truth.
In English literature, emphasis can be defined as an idea that is given special importance or significance.
One example of emphasis in “Was it a Dream” is, “I stopped short in front of that looking glass in which she had so often been reflected – so often, so often, so often, that it must have retained her reflection” (150). This quote is significant because the author adds emphasis in repeating "so often," showing how often the woman deceived her partner, which is revealed to be the true story behind her death in the end.
Furthermore, Maupassant emphasizes the influence the woman had in the man’s life by portraying the woman as the moon and without the moon there is no light to guide him in life, this can be found in the line: . “I read the names with my fingers. I could not find her again! There was no moon. What a night!” (151).
“They were all writing at the same time, on the threshold of their eternal abode, the truth, the terrible and the holy truth of which everybody was ignorant, or pretended to be ignorant, while they were alive” (153). In this quote, Maupassant implies that the supreme truth is ultimately revealed in the end, surpassing death.
Figures of speech
To further enhance the descriptions interlaced in the story, Guy de Maupassant utilized reoccurring figures of speech such as symbolism, similes, juxtaposition and repetition.
Intro of story
In his grief, he visits the cemetery where the woman he loved was buried and there he experiences great sorrow in his mourning, and the fear of loneliness in his solitude when he wanders off and discovers that he is lost, unable to re-find where his loved one was buried.
The climax of this story is reached when the dead emerge out of their graves and replace the depicted messages engraved on their gravestones with confessions of the truth.
The grief and sorrow felt by the man enhanced when he found his loved one also out of her grave, writing the truth behind her death; the painful confession of her betrayal and deception against the narrator. “Having gone out in the rain one day, in order to deceive her lover, she caught cold and died” (153).
At the end of the story, the narrator is found lying on the grave of his loved one, unconscious. This is an implication made by the author to indicate that truth cannot be buried or hidden and that everything we see or sense is only the preserved reality and not true reality.
Grief-stricken by the sudden death of his lover, the narrator spends almost a third of the story lamenting over how he missed his lover’s everything and how her presence was retained by all the objects that was graced with her attention, but not once did he mourn the loss of anything she did for him, which would lead one to believe that she did not display openly any affection towards the narrator.
Her attention was always affixed on something else, such as her own reflection in the mirror which the narrator describes as “possessing her as much as I” (151).
Nonetheless, regardless of this one-sided relationship they seemed to have had, the narrator never suspected that anything was wrong.
When he read the engraving on her gravestone which said: “She loved, was loved, and died” (151), he did not refute it, instead, accepting it wholeheartedly, he wept over it.
The narrator was completely blind to the fact that there lacked the support for the first declaration.
By omission of this detail, the narrator had shown that while he did pick up on the hints, he never connected the dots.
This bias he has towards her allows him to overlook all of her faults and offenses.
This theme is also reflected in the inscriptions on the other gravestones in the cemetery.
Flowery, superfluous words designed to build the image of a virtuous person is used to describe each and every one of the deceased.
For example, Jacques Olivant's epitaph.
For example, in the line “ I passed by the large glass in the hall, which she had put there so that she might look at herself everyday from head to foot […]” (150) , the author exploits the mirror in such a way that would allow the reader to make a connection between the mirror and the main character’s lover, thus the mirror becomes a symbol.
“There was no moon.” (151). Typically in literature, specifically in love stories, moons are used as symbols for romanticism.
There being a lack of it in this story is significant because it suggests that although the main character had loved the deceased woman, she had not loved him in return.
Similes are also reoccurring in many parts of this story, for instance the line “I waited, clinging to the stem, like a shipwrecked man does to a plank.” (151), which serves as an indication to the main character’s sense of helplessness and vulnerability.
Further supporting the depiction of his overwhelming grief is a simile used in the line “I groped about like a blind man finding his way; I felt the stones, the crosses, the iron railings […]” (151).
Juxtaposition in the line “I saw it quite clearly, although the night was so dark.”(151) is significant because it relates back to the overall theme of the story. Used in this particular context, it suggests that the truth is always evident and that deceitful lies or false realities cannot be hidden.
. Repetition is also used in many parts of the story to
certain aspects of it.
The order used to display the plot line is chronological.
It goes from the narrator’s lamentation in the morning to his adventure at the cemetery in the evening, lastly ending with a brief line about the morning after.
This clear, easily understood order often employed by authors of all kinds allows the reader to easily latch onto the plot and be absorbed in it without getting interrupted by confusing time skips.
The author has also demonstrated the order of simple to complex, as well as repetition in the first two paragraphs.
The first two paragraphs of the short story only served to expand and repeat in a more comprehensive way the first sentence of the story, “I had loved her madly!” (150). The long expansion of such a simple idea serves not only to create emphasis on the obsessive love the narrator harbored towards his lover, but also to engross the reader in the melancholy and sorrow he felt.
Additionally, parallelism is also extensively used to further enhance reading experience.
For example, the use of parallelism in his descriptions of how her every detail is retained in their shared apartment create great emphasis on how he obsessively remembers her every detail without being repetitive.
It is through parallelism like this that the readers are able to most experience and feel the passion the narrator holds towards his late lover.
Other instances of parallelism, such as when he was lost in the cemetery at night and was searching for his lover’s grave: “I went on with extended arms, knocking against the tombs with my hands, my feet, my chest, even with my head […] I groped about like a blind man; I felt the stones, the crosses, the iron railing, and the wreaths of faded flowers[…]” (151), instills a sense of franticness and desperation within the reader that the narrator was feeling at that very moment. There are many other instances of parallelism in this short story, but their purpose remains the same, to create emphasis and sympathy between the narrator and the reader.
“Was it a Dream?” is a refreshing, ironic twist on the classical love story.
It depicts several elements of human nature.
The story's theme of the false glorification of a person and the veiling of the truth can be seen through his applications and incorporation of supplemental literary devices such as form, subject and figures of speech as well as the intertwining aspects of emphasis and the excellent qualities of unity and coherence.