English - text analysis

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  1. theme
    • central idea
    • directs & shapes the subject matter of a story, play or poem
    • author's intention: to give the reader an insight into the life and human experiences of a character
  2. overt theme
    if the theme is clearly stated in the text (we refer to it..)

    btw: in the past, writers used to openly state the theme of their work by e.g. making a character say it or used an omniscient narrator to voice their opinions
  3. implied theme
    hidden in the action, characters, setting and language

    btw:most modern writers prefer to encourage the readers to think and draw their own conclusions, instead of just openly stating the theme(s)
  4. theme versus subject
    • theme ≠ subject of the story!
    • theme = abstract, generalised comment/statement the writer makes about the subject of the story
    • saying what happens in the story is just a summary of the plot
    • answer to "What does the story mean/stand for?"
  5. supporting theme
    • theme should emerge from and be confirmed by the analysis of plot, characters, setting, imagery, sound features and style
    • incomplete/incorrect: if theme leaves certain elements unexplained or if there are aspects of the story that don't support the theme
  6. title (of the work)
    • should always be taken into careful consideration
    • especially when trying to identify the theme
    • often suggests the focus of the work 
    • may provide clues about its meaning (which is not always the case)
  7. multiple themes
    • one work may contain several themes and readers may identify different, even opposing themes in the same work
    • theme should be considered valid as soon as its supported by other elements of the work
  8. formulating theme
    • hasty/abrupt generalisations and chlichés should be avoided
    • sweeping statements about life are rarely enlightening -> writers tend to avoid them
    • are more inclined to explore complex issues and propose tentative answers
  9. protagonist
    • central character
    • w/o him = no story
  10. antagonist
    • character against whom the protagonist struggles
    • could be another character or e.g. the natural environment, illness, death
  11. major/minor characters
    depending on the importance of their roles in developing the plot
  12. round characters
    • = like real people
    • have complex, multidimensional personalities
    • show emotional and intellectual depth
    • are capable of growing/maturing and changing
    • major = usually round
  13. flat characters
    • embody or represent a single characteristic
    • e.g. the miser, the jealous lover, the endless optimist, the bully, etc
    • may be referred to as types / caricatures when distorted for humorous purposes
  14. dynamic characters
    • change through their experiences
    • most obvious examples: in initiation novels (tell stories of young people who grow into adults [Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn])
  15. static characters
    • remain untouched by the events of the story
    • don't learn from their experiences, remain unchanged
  16. How does the author convey characters?
    TELLING: involves direct intervention and commentary by the narrator by interrupting the narrative to comment on the character's thoughts, personality and actions

    SHOWING: narrator steps aside and allows the characters to reveal themselves through what they do and say; reader is asked to infer* character after having read the dialogue and actions

    > modern authors prefer showing over telling, but most writers use a mixture of both

  17. Where to look when analysing a character?
    • dialogue
    • can help to understand basic elements of his personality
    • imp info about origin, education, occupation or social class may be revealed by what he says and how he says it
  18. setting
    • where a story takes place
    • general local and historical time in which a story occours
    • OR
    • a physical location in which an ep or scene takes place

    • some settings are relatively unimportant: simply help the reader to visualise the action & add authenticity
    • other settings are closely linked to the meaning of the work: author either focuses on elements of setting to create atmosphere or mood OR the setting plays a major role in shaping the character's identity and destiny (usually described in greater detail /more poetic language)
  19. setting as a mirror
    may reflect a prevailing/current mood or reinforce the emotions felt by character(s)

    eg: barren landscapes = despair and desperation, stormy weather may provide a backdrop for emotional turmoil
  20. setting as an antagonist
    shapes the characters identities and destinies (= making people what they are)

    eg: sb growing up in a poorer environment has a different outlook and approach to life than sb who has grown up in close contact with nature
  21. setting as a means of reinforcing theme
    phys. setting in which the action takes place may sybolically represent the central ideas

    eg: a solitary house in bleak, hostile surroundings may reinforce the theme of man's struggle against nature
  22. alien setting
    takes place in unfamiliar often hostile places

    eg: characters are ofthen exiles, tourists or expatriates and the setting reinforces the theme of loss of roots and home (is common to much modern fiction)
  23. social setting
    refers to the social environment

    eg: the way characters talk, where/how they live, what they wear, how they eat ALL THAT could hel the reader to identify the soc sett of a novel
  24. narrators & point of view
    author does not address the reader directly, but creates a narrator whose voice we hear as we read the story; it's from [narrator]'s point of view that we see events unfold
  25. first-person narrators
    • are directly involved in the stories they tell
    • refer to themselves as "I"
  26. first-person narrative
    • limited to what the narrator himself knows, experiences, infers or has learned second-hand from others
    • are subjective
    • reader can never expect to see characters & events as they actually are, but only how they appear to the "I" narrator
    • PAY ATTENTION to their [narr] personality! (if they are reliable or if they have biases and prejudices that may influence how they tell the story
    • sometimes the reader can understand more than the narrator himself = that's when narrator is a child or a not very perceptive/alert adult
    • commonly associated with non-fictional literary forms (biography, memoirs, diaries)
    • when used in fictional works it lends authenticity to the story
    • perhaps the most effective form of storytelling for getting the reader intellectually and emotionally involved
  27. third-person narrators
    • are not directly involved in the stories they tell
    • like an observer who has witnessed what has happened BUT plays no part in the events
    • refer to everybody in the third person
  28. omniscient third-person narrator
    • kind of a god
    • knows everything about the fictional world he has created
    • obtrusive: if/when he interrupts the story to speak directly to the reader
    • non-obtrusive: if/when he doesn't address the reader directly
    • obtrusive omniscient third-person narrator: was very popular  in 18th and 19th-century novels
  29. limited omniscient narrators
    • external narrator chooses a character (in the story) and tells it from his/her point of view
    • this character becomes the centre and reader sees events and other characters from his/her point of view
    • BC the story is told from the partial viewpoint of one of the characters, the reader gets the idea that anything can happen ! just like in real life
Card Set
English - text analysis
english test 23/09/15
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