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Literature Paper 3 Fictional Prose ‘Unseen’ How to read a page of literary prose; How individuals are conceived in Fiction;
Literary Response and Stylistic Analysis Skills n This is the candidate’s ability to insightfully and sensitively respond to an unseen text extract; n In doing so, candidates will demonstrate the ability to analyze both the formal and stylistic features of the extract; (i. e. key aspects / elements of its Form and Style) n This skill is assessed in Sections A, B, and C of Paper 1, and also Section A of the Elective Paper 3: ‘The Individual and Society’; n For the Elective Paper, candidates will also need to demonstrate the ability to relate the extract to key / salient features of the topic covered by the Paper;
Re- Paper 1 Reading Literature Transfer of Skills EDITH WHARTON: The Age of Innocence Write a critical commentary on the following passage, relating it to the presentation of form and conventions here, and elsewhere in the novel. Or Write a critical appreciation of the following passage, paying particular attention to the presentation of Newland Archer, here and elsewhere in the novel.
Interaction; Conflicts; Influence n What is the nature of (a) the interaction between the individual and society and (b) the relationship between the individual and society, and its significance? n What is the nature of the conflicts, or lack thereof, between the individual and his sociocultural milieu and physical environment? (Time and Setting / Period and Place) n What are the influencing factors, the nature of the resolution, the outcomes and the significance of the presentation?
Identity; Limitations; Possibilities n How does the individual’s identity, role, purpose and place in society become defined and developed? n What limitations and / or possibilities does the individual face? To what extent does society influence these limitations and possibilities or opportunities? To what extent are these influenced by the individual’s decisions? n To what extent and in what ways does the individual shape society, and vice-versa? Does the individual transcend society?
Individual Relationship Society & Interaction P 3 Thematic Concepts n The Individual; Identity n Societal Expectations and n Alienation; Displacement Social Roles; Society Shapes and defines the individual with the following: n Gender; Class; Race n Views and Values n Tradition; Culture; History n Ideology; Power n Family and Community n Social Stigmas; Mores; Social Environment n n n and Rootedness Isolation and Assimilation Duty and Desire Conformity and Difference Outsider; Otherness Transformation; Change; Pursuit of Individual happiness;
Useful to consider Literary Presentation of n Self, Sovereignty, and Society n The Migrant Experience n Individual Consciousness and Awakening n Multiple narratives n Literal and metaphorical journeys n Settings n Comparisons and Contrasts n Nature of the Conflict or Struggle n Mobility n Public and Private Spheres / Spaces
Modes of Discourse in Prose Fiction and Point of View n Narration (point of view? ) Angle of Narration n Description (Who is describing? ) POV n Report (Who is reporting? ) POV n Dialogue (Who is speaking to whom? ) POV n Epistle (Epistolary mode); POV n Interjection; Commentary; Reflection POV
Hawthorne’s Narrator Characteristic Methods NOTE: Predominant use of Description to present characters, complimented by his Method of Romance; n Narrator tends to be quite straightforward with characterization; n He informs us outright about the good, and the bad traits of the principal characters; n He describes their attributes rather than relying on dialogue or action to convey their personalities and desires;
From Arthur and George by Julian Barnes A child wants to see. It always begins like this, and it began like this then. A child wanted to see. He was able to walk, and could reach up to a door handle. He did this with nothing that could be called a purpose, merely the instinctive tourism of infancy. A door was there to be pushed; he walked in, stopped, looked. There was nobody to observe him; he turned and walked away, carefully shutting the door behind him.
Elements of Narrative Prose Fiction n Narrative Point of View; and Narrator’s Voice Characterization; and Relationships; n Voice and Dialogue n. Setting and Time of the Action; n. Characters’ Diction and Syntax; Gestures; n. Imagery and Symbolism n. Atmosphere and Tone n. Paradox and Irony; n. The Poetry in Prose – Sound Patterning and Rhythmic Movement n. Structural design pattern;
The ‘Unseen’: Understanding and Appreciating Writer’s Choice n To apply your own literary understanding; n To communicate clearly the knowledge, understanding, and insight appropriate to literary study, using appropriate literary terminology and accurate written expression; n To show detailed understanding of the ways in which writers’ choices of form, structure, and language shape meanings / issues; n To know about and appreciate ‘how writers write’, in terms of style and structure; n Techniques of Presentation in narrative prose
Concerns and Methods; Techniques of Presentation Paper 3 Concerns; Individual / Society Relationship? n. Ideas and messages; issues and concerns; What is the text about? Surfacing? n. Look for ideas and issues which are embedded below the surface of the text. n. Think about what are the narrator’s probable aims and purposes; Intentions - Effects; n. Are there any signs of irony or satire? Entry point - How does the choice, form, and structure of language bring to light and shape the ideas, issues / concerns?
Close Reading; Attention to Minutiae of Textual Details; Annotation of Text n Noting narrative Point of View POV + E n Diction; Noting significant word choice D + E n Syntax; Noting form and length Sx + E n Imagery; Noting choice and form Im + E n Symbolism; Noting significant symbols Sy + E n Irony; Ironizing techniques and ironic effects Ir + E n Voice and Tone (to be inferred) V+T n Characterization; Role; Relationships Ch + E n Concerns; Issues; (re- Gender etc) C / G n Design structure; Patterning e. g. verbal patterning; image clusters; Repetition; use of Contrast
Narrative Point of View; Source and Medium n Presentation of character and plot in a novel or short story depends on the narrative Point of View from which it is told n Where does the story come from; narrative sources? n Who is telling the story? n To answer these questions, fiction writers use narrative point of view—the vantage point, angle of narration from which the story is observed and presented; Why is this important? n As in real life, who tells a story, and how the story is told, makes a great difference.
POV / Angle of Narration The narrative source and the narrative medium n affect the selection, the authority, and the attitude towards what is recounted of the narrative; n Who speaks and who sees? n One of the characters may function as the filter through which the world of the novel is to be seen; n Note - the identity, voice, personality and reliability of the narrator n The language, tone, and rhythm of the narrative will reflect the personality of the narrator;
Point of View: First-Person POV and Voice What is the most natural narrative POV? n. The first person singular - Why? Since all stories originate with someone, an “I” witnessing what happens; A classic example (Bronte’s Jane Eyre) n‘I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John and Georgiana Reed. ’
Avoid author and narrator confusion in prose fiction; n The telling of a story usually occurs after the events; in the example, it comes years later. n Although the ‘I’ at that stage was a child, the first person narrator is not. n And therefore tells the story in adult language. (Angle of narration and language) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ n We must also distinguish between the author and the narrator, and between the narrator (as the adult character looking back now) and the character, (as the child she was then).
Internal Monologue Internal Narrative Point of View n Presented - as if addressed to a sympathetic reader – n n positions the reader as if actually present, and listening to the monologue; Where a principal character shares their most intimate thoughts (character’s consciousness) Tends to adopt a form of language much more like speech, and written as if speaking to someone; (writing as if speaking) And hence expressed in the present tense; NOTE: Internal monologue can be integrated to a third person narrative point of view;
Third-Person Narration Omniscient POV Used less frequently in contemporary writing n. The narrator knows everything about all the characters, places and events involved; n. The narrator reports on the action from a God -like altitude or God’s eye view; however nthe omniscient narrator will usually privilege just one or two possible “points of view”. n. Through the point of view of the narrator, we observe from many different angles; n. Provides a broad panoramic perspective;
A Style of Third Person Narration Free Indirect Discourse (FID) A midway point between Direct Speech and Indirect (Reported Speech); it dispenses with the grammar of third-person utterance to present us with a character’s speech, or verbal as well as non-verbal thoughts; A combination of the characteristics of these two n. DD: Hester said, ‘I hate the man. ’ n. ID: Hester said that she hated him. n. FID: Hester hated him. A technique of presenting a character’s voice partly mediated by the voice of the author’s narrator; It allows skilled writers to move backwards and forwards between narrative comment and character consciousness;
Free Indirect Discourse / Free Indirect Style n In FID – the narrator can seem to dip down into a character and reveal to you their inner workings — both through their thoughts and their speech; n In a sense – it is third person masquerading as first person narration; Cui bono? / Effect n It goes a long way to eliminating the distance between - narrator and character – And between reader and character;
Characterization: How characters are presented; Roles and Relationships n n n n Physical description using adjectives, and imagery; Helps readers to visualize, and concretize; Biographical summary; Report by the Narrator; Self-Portrait; the character introduces herself / himself; Portraying the character’s inner thoughts; The Scenic Method; in a scene a character is set in motion; Characters tend to be defined by their Actions; The use of Dialogue; through a character’s conversation; dialogue provides both text and sub -text, allowing readers to observe a range of emotions that characters can feel and display; Combining Techniques of character creation;
Character Portrayal Novelists like Jane Austen tend to create strong individual male and female characters by telling us: What they think; what they have done; and what they plan to do; n Austen also very adept using dialogue to show character; n Note critically significant use of dialogue in Wharton and Hawthorne - to present and establish character; n Character can also be established without physical description; no information given about appearance; n It’s more by the sense suggestively implied by indirectly presenting a character’s behaviour and actions in a dramatic scene - that we come to gain insight about a character’s personality and nature;
Dialogue in Narrative Fiction Use of Dialogue as a method of presentation is a tremendous aid to building character; Dialogue allows us to observe the wide range of emotions that characters feel and display; n Fictional dialogue is shaped through - compression, understatement, and emphasis; (hence a lot more subtext) n Use of emotional dialogue – emotional speech; n Other emotional indicators - character’s frustrations through their visceral reactions – Dimmesdale placing his hand over his heart; To dramatize calm or incoherent thoughts – fiction writers use n Understatement; Interjections; ethnic words; profanity; emphasis
Ways of presenting character Power of Metaphors; ‘Glynis not only worked with metal (or used to); she was metal. Stiff, uncooperative, and inflexible. Hard, refractive, and shining with defiance. ’ from So Much for That by Lionel Shriver n. What techniques are used to present her character? Note Point of View; n. Note the choice and form of imagery, and adjectives, and use of sentence fragments; n. How would you comment on effects?
Setting & Time; Setting the Scene setting is very important to narrative prose n If a novelist wants to convince the reader of a realistically fictional world created; n Physical details of time and place can help to enable the reader to visualize the background against which the action takes place; n Although separate from atmosphere, the setting could be closely linked to the atmosphere and mood the writer wishes to create; n Setting as symbol (Symbolism: When something literal takes on added significance)
Diction: choice of words and form; Le Mot Juste; n To write a novel, a writer depends on word choice as n n n a painter does on the selection of colours of paint; The choice or selection of the appropriate word; nuances of meaning; and Register As writers re-create experience, they reach instinctively for the most appropriate / suitable words that will bring that experience to life; ‘Le mot juste’ – Gustave Flaubert (the right word); Denotation (its dictionary meaning) Connotation; the quality of a word is also determined by its associations; also giving rise to an emotional surcharge; (e. g. the word ‘school’? )
Diction; and Choice of Verb n “Verbs act. Verbs move. Verbs do. Verbs strike, soothe, grin, cry, exasperate, decline, fly, hurt, heal. Verbs make writing go, and they matter more to our language than any other part of speech. ” – Donald Hall n Since verbs act, fiction writers frequently choose to use vigorous verbs: ‘Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth. ’ From Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Diction: Concrete Nouns and Concrete Specificity n Fiction Writers choose to make use of the concrete over the abstract; n Concrete-specific details create a sense of a real world; For example— ‘The blows across her face and throat cut off the blood supply and, though her brain did what it could to make amends, to compensate for the sudden loss of oxygen and glucose, its corridors of life were pinched and crushed. ’ From the novel, Being Dead by Jim Crace
Commenting on Effects Significant word choice? A word that clearly and noticeably stands out in that sentence? n. The verb ‘rioted’ What a strong, action-packed verb! n. Think again of Flaubert’s ‘le mot juste’ n. Think of any part of the world very far back in the beginnings of time; n. Long, long before there were roads and passageways; — strikingly impacting lush vegetation? n. The earth’s vegetation would have indeed forcefully and violently sprung up uncontrollably everywhere—roots and branches of trees in their tropical plenitude
Syntax: Sense and Structure n The structure of a sentence is an integral part of its meaning; n It underpins and emphasizes what is being said; Analytical commentary on Syntax: n To show why the narrator has constructed his / her sentence in that particular way; n To demonstrate an insightful understanding and appreciation of how the sentence structure helps in conveying meaning.
Syntax What purpose do the sentences serve? n. Declarative; n. Interrogative; (? ) n. Imperative; n. Exclamatory ( ! ) n. What effect do they have on the piece of writing concerned?
What effect do they have on a piece of writing? Commenting on Effects n Declarative sentences: Create the effect of a sense of drama; n Interrogative sentences: Produce a questioning, probing effect; n Imperative sentences: Create an attacking, critical, or offhand effect; n Exclamatory sentences: Heighten drama, express shock, or communicate surprise
Sentence Length, and Effects; The Sentence - the Unit of Effect; n Short, simple sentences: May be used to give a sense of action speeding up, or a sense of breathlessness; n Longer, compound sentences: May produce a slowing down effect on the narrative; n Complex, compound-complex sentences Create a contemplative, philosophical mood; Syntax must be evaluated for effects in context
Extract from Kate Braverman’s Tall Tales From the Mekong Delta He fell in step with her. He was short, fat, pale. He had bad teeth. His hair was dirty. [After the man addresses her, the narrative continues]: She didn’t say anything. He was wearing blue jeans, a black leather jacket zipped to his throat, a long red wool scarf around his neck, and a Dodger’s baseball cap. It was too hot a day for the leather jacket and scarf. She didn’t find that detail significant. It caught her attention, she caught it briefly and then let it go. She looked but did not see. They were standing on the curb. The meeting was in a community room across the boulevard. She was not afraid yet.
Commenting on intended effects? A succession of short sentences, is intended to create what effect? n A sense of a hurried pace n A matter of fact voice; Note absence of connectives (effects? ) n All the sentences start directly; without conjunctions (and, but); without introducing auxiliary clauses (although, when, if); n Omission of connectives accelerates the speed of the sentences, and hence the action of the situation being described.
Effect on Voice? Voicing Effects n The syntax creates a sense of shortness of breadth, n Like as if the narrator were running up a hill; n This shortness of breadth is effectively suited to the implied sense of the subject matter—? n A sense of a threat; n Adding to the suspense of the narrative. n Cadences of sentences move us in ways that reinforce and transcend their content.
From the novel, Being Dead (1999) by Jim Crace Celice, a doctor of Zoology, lectures her students: Life’s only, say, up to ninety years for creatures such as you and I. We’re less than turtles. We have to die before they do. We must. It’s programmed that we will. Our births are just the gateway to our deaths. That’s why a baby screams when it is born. Don’t write that in your notes. They who begin to live begin to die. It’s downhill from the womb, from when the sperm locates the egg and latches on.
Some analytical based commentary about Rhythm Crace’s language is eerie and hypnotic. Evident in the diction and syntax of Celice’s speech patterns lecturing her students n What is striking in this passage is that it is written in a kind of broken blank verse. n Its saxonated pithy particularity, and its cumulative, segregating antithetical sentences and their haunting sonorous rhythms - grippingly, unsettlingly, pointedly emphasize our mortal materiality – our transient terrestriallity. Our finitude. Period.
Section A ‘Unseen’ type question n The following extract is the beginning of the novel The Marriage Plot (2011) by Jeffrey Eugenides, wherein the heroine is introduced. n Discuss the ways it presents the central character, Madeleine Hanna, n And relate it more generally to your reading on theme of the ‘Individual and Society. ’
Opening of The Marriage Plot a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides To start with, look at all the books. There were her Edith Wharton novels, arranged not by title but date of publication; there was the complete Modern Library set of Henry James, a gift from her father on her twenty-first birthday; there were the dog-eared paperbacks assigned in her college courses, a lot of Dickens, a smidgen of Trollope, along with good helpings of Austin, George Eliot, and the redoubtable Bronte sisters.
There were a whole lot of black-and-white New Directions paperbacks, mostly poetry by people like H. D. or Denise Levertov. There were the Collette novels she read on the sly. There was the first edition of Couples, belonging to her mother, which Madeleine had surreptitiously dipped into back in sixth grade and which she was using now to provide textual support in her English honors thesis on the marriage plot.
Responding Insightfully to Techniques of Presentation n Eugenides’ third person external narrator introduces the character of Madeline Hanna How? Method of Presentation? Way / Method / Technique of Presentation Angle of Narration? Angle is focused is on…? Narrator’s mode of discourse? Description; description of what…and how? n Through the narrator focusing on and describing her bookshelves, we get to gain an insight into Madeleine Hanna’s character; n Literary-critical significance?
Techniques of Presentation; Literary-critical Engagement The narrator’s angle of narration? (POV) Use of Literary Allusion; use of Enumeratio; The narrator’s Syntax; mode of description n. The cumulative force of the parallel anaphoric declarative existential sentence structures n. Highlighting and emphasizing the physical and bountiful presence, the objective concrete ontological ‘there-ness’ of all these canonical and celebrated literary works, and the revered pride of place and space accorded to them. n. Visual effects? Implicature? n. Reflective of her love and appreciation of reading…
Individual and Society? What to think about n Presentation of Character: Memory, observations, and motivations; n First impressions of Madeleine Hanna? n How does she come across at this point as a character to the reader? n Background? Education? Social Class? n Gender issues? n Representation of Women as individuals in Society? Stereotypical? Atypical?
Conclusion n Showing keen insight and sensitive responsiveness to the subtle manipulation of the language of literary prose fiction, n Critical appreciation of, and personal engagement with choice and form of language n This is the most important skill which the reader of literature must acquire. n Keeping in mind literary language implies more than it states; (Implicature) n Demonstrating keen sensitivity to nuances of meaning;