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A moron's guide to literary analysis
Transcript of A moron's guide to literary analysis
By Jeff Guernsey Themes Character The tone of a novel is integral to the comprehension of the reader it gives the sense of time and of class and can desribe incredible details in s single word. Pay particular attention to diction, the imagery and study the particular details given to you by the author. The Tone The mood of a novel is the general atmosphere created by the descriptive words used by the author. This could be as simple as flowers in a garden signifying a happy home or a thunderstorm foreshadowing incoming destruction or horror. Mood The imagery of a piece evokes powerful scenes of incredible places through the use of descriptive words and phrases. To analyse imagery look for the words that create a powerful image in your mind and try to put yourself in the author's shoes to explain why they used that particular word. Imagery Finally there is the theme of a story the main idea that has a simple but powerful meaning that all can understand. There is no single theme in any piece of literature, the message is open to the interpretation of the reader as long as it can be backed up with logical arguments.. The Character's are the driving force behind any novel, the author created this character and tailored him/her to be the deliverer of their ultimate message. To analyse a character you must look at what he/she contributes to the story, the way the author uses his/her speech and mannerisms to give you an idea of his/her surroundings and era. ex. In two words the main character Belisa Crepusculario a poor writer that was born into a family so poor they did not name their children. Belisa is described as a woman with a feral scent, with fiery heat, and sweetmint breath. This is her description given by the author but her true self is in the story hidden in her actions, Belisa has a unique commodity that everyone wants, the power of words. In such a setting as described by Isabelle Allende the ability to communicate fluently and with passion is a diamond in the rough and Belisa could easily take advantage of those that want her services but she charges fair prices and shares her gift with words with the illiterate that need her. This shows a deep caring for the downtrodden and a compassion to help those who need to find a way to express their words in a clear and intelligent way. Setting The setting of a story is crucial to understanding why the story unfolds the way it does. To analyse the setting of a story you must examine how the author describes the environment and the people that live there. In Two words the setting is described as a war torn country with rebels that come into town and frighten the woman so badly that they miscarry, an inhospitable land where some years the rains became avalanches or water that bore everything away before them and others when not a drop fell from the sky and the sun swelled to fill the horizon and the world became a desert. Belisa grew up in this environment it shaped her giving her the necessary tools to survive in her land. In two words Isabel uses the words inhospitable, avalanches, and exhaustion to describe the setting where belisa grew up, she uses 'infinite possibilities' and 'honourable' to describe her profession of word smithing. The rebels are described as a stampeding herd, wrapped in noise, bathed in sweat and leaving a hurricane of fear in their trail. The previous sentence describes the average joe's views on the rebels their fear of the colonel and why he needs belisa to write him a speech that can touch the common man with it's simplicity and honesty. The colonel is described with a voice as well modulated as a proffesor's with dark skin and puma eye's and being immediately apparent as the loneliest man on earth. Isabell used the term puma eyes and well modulated voice to give him the aura of a natural leader and the loneliest man on earth to give us a connection, a pity for the man who is feared by all. Structure The structure of a novel is how the story is presented to the reader, their are many differnet styles with their own merits such as chronological organisation, intro-climax-denouement, in media res and unchronological. The structure in two words is chronologically organized with a single flashback Isabel begins by describing Belisa at work selling her words and then jumps back to her beleaguered childhood and her commission to a priest to teach her how to read and write. She proceeds to be kidnapped by the colonel, writes him a speech and then is released after telling him two special words and embed's herself in his mind with her very presence. The colonel delivers his presidential speech over and over again but is haunted by her two secret words. His aide el Mulato finds her and brings her to him where they proceed to meet. End of story. The mood in two words is set by the people, the sense of fear for the rebels when the entire market place clears out at their approach, the uneducated superstition of the soldiers assuming that her unknown words are a spell and the illiteracy rampant throughout the country all point to a poor war torn country where fear is an every day thing and hope is a fairy tale. In two words the author uses many descriptive words to set her imagery but to me the most powerful image is the colonel in his hammock. He led her to the far end of camp where the most feared man in all the land was lazing in a hammock strung between two trees. She could not see his face, because he lay in the deceptive shadow of the leaves and the indelible shadow of all his years as a bandit. This creates the image of an incredibly powerful man who is completely at ease with his power. These few words can create an incredible image that sets our views of the colonel in stone for the rest of the story. Symbols A symbol in a piece of literature is a recurring item or idea that possess a deeper meaning in the piece. The symbols usually have multiple meanings in multiple situations. In two words the recurring symbol is her words. She uses them to lift melancholy from citizens, to write love letters, legal arguements, insults and delivers news. The main role of her words is the two that she tells the colonel, these mystery words change him from a marauding rebel to a dignified presidential candidate well simultaneously spreading hope through the speech she had written to the masses. The theme in two words is that words have power, the ability to communicate to another human being in a way that is honest and simple that could be understood by someone from any background. Belisa writes a single speech that 'had it not been crafted from glowing and durable words it would have turned to ash as he spoke' due to it's frequent use. There were no variants of the speech it was a singular thing that targeted the people, addressed the working man's problems with realistic goals all with words. These sounds garbled together convinced thousands of people to vote for a man that had terrorized them for years. It had given them hope. In this presentation I will be giving you a guide on how to analyse 8 key literary concepts with helpful examples from Two Words by Isabel Allende. Now that is how I analyse literature but if you want another view here is a short video on how to analyse literature. There it is the absolute horror of literary analysis broken down into easy to follow steps that can be used to analyse any piece of literature. Literary analysis is about finding the hidden meaning in the text and my number 1 tip is to take your time reading your piece because it may not be immediately apparent.