Archives du mot-clé setting

PLOT AND SETTING

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How to analyse a text or a lengthy novel ? where do I start?  The easiest way to do so is to break the whole text down into smaller elements. The parts of a literary text are known as its literary elements. Rather than looking at a whole novel, we can examine its plot, setting, characters, point of view and themes individually.  Let’s break these elements down and view them piece by piece, using the following questions:

what, when, where, who and how.

THE PLOT :What and How

A mere synopsis of the course of events is a summary – we say that this first happens, then that, then that.. It is only when we say how this is related to that and that, and in what ways all these matters are rendered and organised so as to achieve their particular effects, that a synopsis becomes a plot.

Most plots fit into a story arc, which is a visual representation of a story’s shape.

Many short stories begin at the point of the climax itself, and the writer of a drama often captures our attention with a representative incident, close to an event which precipitates the central situation or conflict.

Example:

Hamlet opens with the apparition of the ghost. The rising action begins, after the opening scene and exposition, with the ghost´ s telling Hamlet that he has been murdered by his brother Claudius; it continues with the developing conflict between Hamlet and Claudius, in which Hamlet despite setbacks, succeeds in controlling the course of events. The rising action reaches the climax of the hero´s fortunes with his proof of the King´s guilt by the device of the play within the play (Act III, scene ii). Then comes the crisis, or turning point of the fortunes of the protagonist, in his failure to kill the king while he is at prayer. This inaugurates the falling action, from now on the antagonist, Claudius, largely controls the course of events, until the catastrophe, in which the outcome is decided by the death of the hero, as well as of Claudius, the Queen,  and Laertes.

¨Catastrophe¨ is usually applied to tragedy only. A more general term is denouement- resolution in our drawing.

Setting

Setting is the when and where of a literary text. For example, the novel Gone With the Wind takes place in and around Atlanta, Georgia, and the plot – or action – occurs before, during and after the Civil War.

Although it’s a simple concept, setting is a vital literary element. Try thinking of all the Southern romanticism of Gone With the Wind in New York City during the same time period. It just wouldn’t work.

In some stories, the location itself almost becomes a character.Joyce´s Ulysees is Dublin on June 16, 1901, Paul Uster ´s novels , Brooklyn. The physical setting in writers like Poe, Hardy and Faulkner, is an important element in generating the atmosphere of the novel.Without mentionning the Gothic novel where the setting plays an essential part and defines the genre. Authors of such novels set their stories in a gloomy castle replete with dungeons, secret passages, sliding pannels, aiming to evoke chilling terror.

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ANALYSER UN TEXTE LITTÉRAIRE – HOW AND WHY ?

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To successfully analyze literature, you’ll need to remember that authors make specific choices for particular reasons.  Your comments should point out the author’s choices and attempt to explain their significance.

In order to do so, you´ll need to develop your argument based on any single term (or combination of terms) listed below.

Setting – the place or location of the action.  The setting provides the historical and cultural context for characters. It often can symbolize the emotional state of characters. Example – In Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, the crumbling old mansion reflects the decaying state of both the family and the narrator’s mind.

Characterrepresentation of a person, place, or thing performing traditionally human activities or functions in a work of fiction

  • Protagonist – The character the story revolves around.
  • Antagonist – A character or force that opposes the protagonist.
  • Minor character – Often provides support and illuminates the protagonist.
  • Static character – A character that remains the same.
  • Dynamic character – A character that changes in some important way.
  • Characterization – The choices an author makes to reveal a character’s personality, such as appearance, actions, dialogue, and motivations.

Look for: Connections, links, and clues between and about characters. Ask yourself what the function and significance of each character is. Make this determination based upon the character’s history, what the reader is told (and not told), and what other characters say about themselves and others.

Plot – the arrangement of ideas and/or incidents that make up a story

  • Foreshadowing – When the writer clues the reader in to something that will eventually occur in the story; it may be explicit (obvious) or implied (disguised).
  • Suspense – The tension that the author uses to create a feeling of discomfort about the unknown
  • Conflict – Struggle between opposing forces.
  • Exposition – Background information regarding the setting, characters, plot.
  • Rising Action – The process the story follows as it builds to its main conflict
  • Crisis – A significant turning point in the story that determines how it must end
  • Resolution/Denouement – The way the story turns out.

Point of View – who tells the story and how it is told. The point of view of a story can sometimes indirectly establish the author’s intentions.

  • Narrator – The person telling the story who may or may not be a character in the story.
  • First-person – Narrator participates in action but sometimes has limited knowledge/vision.
  • Second person – Narrator addresses the reader directly as though she is part of the story. (i.e. “You walk into your bedroom.  You see clutter everywhere and…”)
  • Third Person (Objective) – Narrator is unnamed/unidentified (a detached observer). Does not assume character’s perspective and is not a character in the story. The narrator reports on events and lets the reader supply the meaning.
  • Omniscient – All-knowing narrator (multiple perspectives). The narrator knows what each character is thinking and feeling, not just what they are doing throughout the story.  This type of narrator usually jumps around within the text, following one character for a few pages or chapters, and then switching to another character for a few pages, chapters, etc. Omniscient narrators also sometimes step out of a particular character’s mind to evaluate him or her in some meaningful way.

Structure  – The way that the writer arranges the plot of a story.

Look for: Repeated elements in action, gesture, dialogue, description, as well as shifts in direction, focus, time, place, etc.