How To Analyze Stories


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Slideshow discussing what Analysis is and going through each Story Element.

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How To Analyze Stories

  1. 1.   Prof. lee lee
  2. 2.  Breaking something apart ~ remember the fruits!  Thinking critically about the parts ~ ―elements of a story‖ o Essential Elements o Rhetorical Elements  Discovering overall meaning ~ theme  All writing, including analysis is an argument.
  3. 3.  The causal sequence of events; the "why" for the things that happen in the story  Draws the reader into the character's lives; helps the reader understand the choices that the characters make  Not always chronological (flashbacks)  Must have CONFLICT o Human vs. Human o Human vs. Nature o Human vs. Society o Human vs. Self  Parts of a Plot: o Exposition o Complication o Climax o Resolution
  4. 4.  A fictional personage who acts, appears, or is referred to in a work  Determine characterization: dialogue, actions, interactions & motivation Round characters presented fully, with many sides to their personality Flat characters presented as having few, though sometimes dominant, traits Dynamic complex characters who can grow and change and "surprise convincingly" Static characters who don't change throughout the course of the story Major the character(s) whom we see and learn about the most Minor characters who fill out the story but who do not figure prominently in it Protagonist the main character in a work, whether heroic or not Antagonist a neutral term for a character who opposes the leading character Foil one character that serves as a contrast to another Stock characters in a typical ―role,‖ such as the cruel stepmother, the braggart, and so forth (could display a stereotype on the part of the author)
  5. 5.  Terms to Know: o Realism o Foreshadowing o Situational Irony o Genre o Metaphor o Mood  Reading Connections: o Self o Other Texts o The World  Interactions with Other Elements: o Plot o Character o Symbolism o Tone  The location and time of the action in a story  Conveys an atmosphere—the emotional effect of the setting and events
  6. 6.  The ―voice‖ the author has adopted for their story  The perspective from which the story is told ~ ―narrator‖ o First Person • {More} Intimate • Reliable? o Third Person (Dramatic/Objective) • Objective • Impersonal o Third Person (Omniscient) • Insightful/Comprehensive • Distant o Third Person (Limited) • Introspective • {Less} Intimate
  7. 7.  Literal Language o Word Choice o Sentence Structure • Type • Length o Voice • Diction • Jargon • Dialect • Dialogue o Author Style  Figurative Language o Metaphor o Simile o Allusion o Understatement o Oxymoron o Personification o Paradox o Hyperbole o Irony
  8. 8.  The attitude a writer conveys toward their subject and audience  Called ―voice‖ in Poetry  Is subjective; a lot depends on the reader  Most closely linked to Point of View and Language (word choice)  Irony! humorous, joyous, playful, light, hopeful, brisk, lyrical, admiring, celebratory, laudatory, expectant, wistful, sad, mournful, dreary, tragic, elegiac, solemn, somber, poignant, earnest, apathetic, disillusioned, straightforward, curt, hostile, sarcastic, cynical, ambivalent, ambiguous
  9. 9.  Imagery is anything visual  Images with meaning become ―symbols‖ o Are related to one or more of the other story elements o Are repeated – ―motif‖ o Are archetypal / universal • Phallic • Yonic  Common symbols o Nature o Colors o The Title! If you think it’s a symbol, it probably is…but you still have to support your analysis. So, don’t assume anything!
  10. 10.  Not just for poems!  Often called structure – don’t confuse with ―plot‖  Form + Content = Meaning (?)  Represents a combination of all the other story elements  Easiest to identify; hardest to analyze o What is the structure? o Which elements of the structure are important? o Why?
  11. 11.  Figuring out the WHAT is only half of your job; Analysis is always about figuring out the WHY