Presentation on theme: " Literary analysis focuses on an in-depth evaluation and informed interpretation of literature. Ultimately, it is the critical process of dissecting."— Presentation transcript:
Literary analysis focuses on an in-depth evaluation and informed interpretation of literature. Ultimately, it is the critical process of dissecting a piece of literature by examining its stylistic and structural elements, as well as considering HOW and WHY these elements have been constructed by the author in a specific way. To successfully analyze a piece of literature in this class (a short story, media text, play or novel), you will need to be able to accurately comprehend the literary elements, figurative language and writing techniques that shape a written story, in addition to remembering that authors make specific choices for particular reasons/effects.
Your goal for your own literary analysis is to thoughtfully identify the author’s choices, and then attempt to explain their significance (or purpose), as well as their ultimate effect on the literature as a whole, and the reader. You should be familiar with the point/proof/analysis structure for formal writing. Remember that your analysis is also meant to explain why your point (argument) and your proof (evidence) supports your thesis statement (central position). This will be particularly important when writing your persuasive paragraph, textual analysis test, and literary essays.
NOT A mere summary of the details in a piece of writing. DO NOT SIMPLY RETELL THE STORY! THIS IS NOT ANALYSIS; THIS IS MIMICRY! Only identifying a literary element or the specific use of a device without also explaining its greater purpose, effect, and deeper meaning. Connecting the literature to your personal life, and discussing its ultimate meaning to you without using a critical lens/theory to guide your examination. STAY FOCUSED ON THE LITERATURE UNLESS INSTRUCTED OTHERWISE! Assumptions about what COULD HAVE happened in the literature had something different happened is not ANALYSIS. Do not surmise, ANALYZE!
1. Plot 2. Setting 3. Character 4. Theme 5. Narrative Perspective 6. Figurative Language 7. Style (Diction/Tone) 8. Structure (Sentence and Paragraph)
Consider: The traditional plot graph (introduction/exposition, inciting incident/trigger event/crisis, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion/resolution) Foreshadowing (carefully placed hints as to what will happen next in the story) Plot structure (Is it linear or non-linear? Consider the use of flashbacks, “in medias res”, etc.) Conflict (person vs. person, person vs. self, etc.)
Consider: Time (time of day, time of year, time in history) Place (historical, geographical and physical) Atmosphere (consider the overall mood of the setting and how it is supposed to make the characters and the reader feel) Pathetic Fallacy (when the weather reflects the emotional state of the characters) The social climate (unrest, rebellion, peace, dystopia, utopia)
Consider: What a character looks like, says (is what the character says different than what they MEAN), thinks, does, and what other characters say about him/her is IMPORTANT! Also, character motivation can be explored, as well character RELATIONSHIPS! Characterization (description and traits) vs. Character Development (change in character) Static/Flat Characters vs. Dynamic/Round Characters (no change in character vs. change in character) Character Archetypes (a character model – the rebel, the damsel in distress, the fool, etc.) Character foils (characters who share some superficial similarities and one KEY difference)
Consider: Identify the main ideas/central messages of a piece of writing using specific evidence from the text to support your interpretation. A theme should be developed from the beginning of a text to the end (it is not an isolated event in the story; it is a repeated message or idea) Express your chosen theme in MORE than one word – i.e. Instead of saying that the theme of a story is friendship, say that the theme examines the unbreakable bonds of friendship or instead of saying that the theme of a text is love, ask what it is ABOUT love that is being explored? THIS will shape a stronger theme and narrow your focus!
What narration style is being used to tell the story (is it a first person narrator or a third person omniscient narrator?) Who is the narrator and do they have a role in the action in the text? Is the narrator biased and one-sided in their views and delivery of the events in the story? What is the effect of this bias on readers? What are the advantages/disadvantages to having the story told from the chosen perspective? Consider:
How are a variety of figures of speech or non- literal language and comparisons used to enhance the writing style of the literature? Examine the type of device being used (a metaphor, a simile, irony, alliteration, etc.) and then ANALYZE the PURPOSE and EFFECT of that device on the story/poem/novel/play. Consider how these devices help you as the reader VISUALIZE characters, events, and important details in the literature.
Metaphor: A direct comparison between two unlike things in order to suggest a resemblance and enhance or exemplify the characteristics of one or both objects/people being compared. Examples: All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. High school is a prison of which there is no escape. Life is a rollercoaster filled with ups and downs.
Onomatopoeia: A word that imitates a sound The naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it Examples: The hinges on the rusty door creaked loudly. The venomous snake hissed a warning to nearby hikers. The annoying fly buzzed passed William’s sweaty ear amid the dense summer heat.
Personification: A literary device in which an inanimate object or abstract concept is given human qualities or abilities. Examples: The immense oak tree stretched its ancient arms high in the air, so that its twisted fingers could feel the radiant warmth of his close friend, the sun. The serene snow flakes quietly whispered to the people below that winter was on its way. Opportunity knocked boldly on the door, but fear could not bring itself to answer.
Hyperbole: An obvious and purposeful statement of exaggeration used for emphasis, dramatic effect, and to make a clear point. Examples: I told you a million times that this was a bad idea! When I tripped on stage in front of the entire school, I almost died of embarrassment! I am so tired that I think I might sleep for a year!
Situational Irony: The use of words to defy readers’ expectations, when the direct opposite of what is anticipated to happen in a certain situation actually occurs. Examples: A bylaw officer gets his/her license suspended for unpaid parking tickets. An ambulance runs over and kills the person they were attempting to save. What are 2 other forms of irony?
Allusion: A figure of speech that makes reference to recognizable people, places, events, literary works, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication. Examples: After my surgery, my intersecting stiches and my collection of jagged scars made me feel like Frankenstein’s monster. We could never find the right time to be together even though we both secretly knew we could make each other very happy. Every time I was single, he was dating someone. I was beginning to think that we were like Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers; perhaps our love was not meant to be.
1. An example of figurative language that Frost uses in his poem is symbolism, which is conveyed through the two roads that are discussed. Frost uses these two roads to symbolize two different pathways that could be chosen; two different options that the traveller/speaker could choose from. The speaker mentions that there are two pathways, one that is well-worn and another that is less travelled. The pathways can symbolize two different life choices, and the traveller ultimately chooses the more unusual route that has changed his life. In the poem, the speaker says, “Two paths diverged in a wood, and I,/I took the one less travelled by,/And that has made all the difference” (Frost 18-20). The symbolism here is clear to the reader, and is used effectively as it leaves the reader pondering upon the different possibilities that the author could be writing about. It is obvious that Frost is writing about changes, and a choice which has greatly affected his life. GOOD STRUCTURE, BUT AN INCORRECT INTERPRETATION!
1. Robert Frost thoughtfully employs both metaphor and symbolism as examples of figurative language in his poem. Of the two metaphorical roads explored in the poem, the speaker says, “the passing there/Had worn them really about the same” (Frost 9-10). In fact, the speaker also mentions that both roads “that morning equally lay/In leaves no step had trodden black” (12-13). This means that neither of the roads is less traveled by, thus changing the meaning of the poem entirely. Two paths in the woods and forks in roads serve as effective metaphors for a person’s life, specifically its crises and important decisions. Identical forks, in particular, also symbolize the contrast between one’s free will and one’s fate. An individual is free to make a choice, but they often do not really know beforehand what they are choosing between. A person’s life journey is therefore determined by both choice and chance, and it is impossible to separate the two. Consequently, the speaker is not a hero for taking the road less travelled, as the outcome of taking one of two equally trodden roads essentially comes down to a matter of chance, and nothing more. EFFECTIVE STRUCTURE AND A CORRECT INTERPRETATION!
2. A key theme developed through this poem is the theme of self knowledge acquired through nature. This theme is clearly exemplified through the ironic tone of the speaker when he/she says, “I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence” (Frost 16-17). The speaker’s “sigh” is the key here (16). From this it is clear that the speaker anticipates his own future insincerity when discussing his supposedly remarkable decision to take the road less travelled. The speaker predicts his/her own need, later on in life, to rearrange the facts and inject a sense of individuality into the account. He/she knows that he/she will be inaccurate, at best, or hypocritical, at worst, when he/she holds his/her life up as an example of making the less popular choice. This reveals the speaker’s moment of self discovery, resulting from the two paths in the wood, but it is not the knowledge that the reader first anticipates for the speaker based on the poem’s title.
1. The narration in the short story “Just Lather, That’s All” is particularly effective in creating suspense for the reader because the first-person narrator is a barber, who is also a secret rebel, who must shave his enemy, Captain Torres. This character information is delayed at the beginning of the story, and is shockingly revealed when the narrator confesses, “Yes, I was a secret rebel…” and “Torres did not know I was his enemy” (Tellez 2). In addition, suspense is also created through the narrator’s description of his thought-process when deciding whether or not he should murder Torres, as well as the detailed account of him shaving Torres. For example, the narrator says, “One of the tiny pores could be opened up and issue forth its pearl of blood”, which creates an image of blood and killing in the reader’s mind, therefore enhancing the suspense in the story, because the reader is unsure as to whether or not the narrator will go through with the murder (2).
2. In the short story, “Just Lather, That’s All”, diction is used strategically in order to emphasize the narrator’s struggle between his responsibilities as a barber, and his duties as a rebel. The words “rebel” and “barber” are frequently juxtaposed in order to highlight the inner conflict that the narrator faces while he shaves Captain Torres (Tellez 2). Consequently, this creates an uneasy and tense tone throughout the story. This is proven when the narrator states, “Yes, I was secretly a rebel, but I was also a conscientious barber, and proud of the preciseness of my profession” (2). In addition, the narrator repeats many words throughout the story in order to create tension and suspense, as well as to emphasize the uneasy tone of the piece. For example, the narrator repeats the words “razor” and “blood” several times, which ultimately underscores his desire to cut the throat of his enemy, once again pointing out the inner conflict that is presented in the text (2).
Consider: Analyze the diction (word choice) of a piece of writing. Diction can help to identify the setting of a text (historical period and place), as well as reinforcing the mood of a story (consider the cadence of the language). Examine whether or not the language is formal or informal, and what the ultimate purpose of the writing is (this is the VOICE of the writing) – Is it to be persuasive, instructive, reflective, etc.? Also, consider the TONE of the piece (what is the narrator’s attitude toward his/her subject matter?).
Consider: Syntax (how the sentences are constructed) Paragraphing (how the paragraphs are divided) Chapter length and formatting – What is the effect? Page formatting (how the words look on the page) – What is the effect? Are images/charts/diagrams included to highlight the text of the story? What is the effect? Is the text concise or long-winded/detailed? What is the effect?
Look at what you have stated in your analysis and ask yourself, “so what?” Consider: What is the ultimate significance of your point, proof, AND analysis in your particular piece of writing? Explain the deeper meaning behind your argument and supporting quotations. Be insightful – Do not simply state the obvious or repeat/reiterate information from the text (INFER, QUESTION, CONNECT) Keep questioning! The better the questions that you are asking, the better your analysis will be!
Ask yourself, “what is the most important detail or element here?” Examine the CAUSE, EFFECT, and RESULT of events in the text. Explore similarities and differences between elements of the text (characters, plot points, settings, etc.)
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