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THE ELEMENTS OF FICTIONLiterature-Based Research
WHAT IS LITERATURE? Compositions which… Tell stories Dramatize situations Express emotions Analyze and advocate ideas Stems from the oral tradition Often set to music Ex: Ballads Depiction of The Decameron (c. 1350)
MODERN FICTION The essence of fiction is narration (storytelling). Rooted in ancient legends and myths. Starting about 800 years ago, storytelling in Western Civilization developed into a fine art by writers such as… Marie de France Giovanni Geoffrey William France 12 th Bocccaccio Chaucer Shakespeare century Italy 1313- England England Poet 1375 c. 1340-1400 1564-1616 The Decameron The Canterbury Poet & Tales Playwright Fiction spread during the 17th and 18th centuries. The rise of the novel as literary form largely credited to late 1600s – early 1700s. Poe created the concept of the short story – early 19th century.
WHY READ FICTION? Literature nourishes our emotional lives. Literature broadens our perspectives on the world. Literature helps us grow personally and intellectually. Literature enhances and sharpens our perceptions. Both the reader and the author create a literary work.
LITERARY GENRES Prose Poetry Fiction Nonfiction Drama Prose
ALICE WALKER (B. 1944) Humanitarian / Novelist / Poet Political Activist Born in 1944 to share- croppers in Eatonton, GA Alice Walker in Gaza 1963 – Participated in the March on Washington "You Confide in Me" 1965 - Graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, NY Pioneered one of the first Women’s Studies courses in the country at Wellesley College 1982 – Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Color Purple Continues to be active in national and international women’s rights
“EVERYDAY USE” (1973) What type of fiction is “Everyday Use”? First reading – basic comprehension of events in story First reading – first impressions, reader reactions & responses Second reading – trace development of ideas, write expanded notes, memorize important or interesting passages, write down questions you have about Lone Star Pieced Quilt Pattern the text
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF FICTION? Verisimilitude & Donnée Theme Plot Symbolism & Point of View Allegory Tone & Style Characters Structure Setting
Fiction is based in realism or verisimilitude: the situations or characters ring true; they are Verisimilitude & similar to those that many Donnée human beings experience or know. Authors establish ground rules for the characters and situations present in their works. Point of View Donnée (something given) is the premise of a story. Setting Plot Allows an author to lead readers into Characters natural, remote, fanciful, magical, or symbolic worlds. Ex: Futuristic or Science Fiction Tone & Style Growth or Apprenticeship story Structure Detective story
ART SPIEGELMAN (1948 - )Cartoonist Graphic Novelist Swedish born What is the correlation Worked professionally between the title Maus and as a cartoonist before the characters? becoming writing the How does this graphic novel Maus. personification of animals as Founded as the story’s the comic c aracter characters magazine function function in the Raw. text text?
The author’s arrangement of incidents in a story Plot The motivation and causalityVerisimilitude of fiction & Donée Point of View Conflict is the major element of plot – opposing forces Tone & Style arouse curiosity, create Setting tension, and produce interest. Characters Without conflict, there is no motivation for the plot or the Structure characters
WILLIAM FAULKNER (1897-1962)Southern Writer Canonical Works Born in Mississippi; lived his entire life in the South Created an imaginary county in Mississippi – many works are based there Won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 Major works include The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Absalom, Absalom! (1936)
“A ROSE FOR EMILY” (1931) What type of narration is at Does it matter that Homer is a work in the text? Northerner? What type of person is Miss Did you feel sympathy for Emily Emily? because of her history of tragic personal events? What information do we learn about her relationship Based on her actions, did you with her father? With anticipate the ending of the Homer Barron? story? What role does the town’s What is the pattern of conflict in southern location play in the the story? Is there any conflict story? resolution?
Refers to the speaker, narrator, persona, or Point of voice of the story and how it View is told The author’s choice of point of view shapes how we feel Verisimilitude & Donée about the events of the story The narrator affects our Structure understanding of the Setting characters’ actions Characters If the narrative voice is changed, the story changes Plot Tone & Style
First- • The I presents the point of view of only one character’s consciousness • The narrator tells about events he or shePerson has personally witnessed.Second- • The narrator is speaking to someone else who is addressed as “you” • The least common and most difficult forPerson authors to manage • Does not appear as a character in theThird- story • Three variants – (1) dramatic orPerson objective, (2) omniscient, and (3) limited omniscient
NARRATIVE PRESENCE Dramatic or Objective Unreliable narrator point of view Interprets events differently Does not allow the narrator from the way those events are to see inside the mind of any suggested by the author character Limited to only what is said and what happens Naïve narrator Lacks the sophistication Omniscient point of view to interpret events All-knowing, can take the accurately reader inside the minds of each character Limited or Limited Stream of Consciousness Omniscient point of view Allows the reader to see the Focuses on the thoughts and flow of thoughts from a deeds of one major character character
SHERMAN ALEXIE (1966 - ) Writer / Poet Screenwriter / Director Native American of the The Lone Ranger and Tonto Spokane Coeur d’ Fistfight in Heaven (1993) Alene Nation. Smoke Signals (1998) Educated on the The Absolutely True Diary of a reservation & at Part-Time Indian (2007) Washington State U. War Dances (2009) Success as a writer was virtually immediate Has won numerous awards
“THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO SAYPHOENIX, ARIZONA” (1993) What point of view is at Is the narrator work in this text? knowledgeable, 1st - 2nd - 3rd unreliable, naïve What type of narrative presence is suggested? Dramatic or Objective Omniscient Limited or Limited Omniscient
Plot and characterization are interrelated Characters Characters are usually, although not always, human The Protagonist or hero /Verisimilitude & Donée heroine is the central character who engages our Structure interest and sympathy Setting The Antagonist is the force Point of View that opposes the protagonist Characters exhibit traits = qualities of mind or habitual Plot Tone & Style behaviors that are evident in both positive and negative ways.
CHARACTERIZATION Authors sometimes Likewise, an What’s in a put much time and effort into selecting Names can suggest a character’s nature unnamed character lacks an individual Name? names for their or qualities identity characters Authors reveal Characters reveal Characters are their characters by themselves indirectly through revealed directly through what the appearance, their background, their showing and what they writer tells us about thoughts, their say, do, and think them … attitudes telling Characters can Dynamic characters Static characters The reader knows be dynamic or change throughout stay the same with no significant much about round characters – but the text – for better static, flat or or worse realizations or very little about flat personality change characters round We may be able to Characters identify with the We do not But we should should be characters or see necessarily need to understand their ourselves or others like the characters, motivation convincing in them
WHAT IS A STOCK CHARACTER? Usually considered flat characters Prominent in certain types of literature: Cowboy stories Police investigation stories Private eye stories In these instances, character is lively and engaging although he or she does not undergo significant change during the story Because they have common traits, stock characters are representative of their particular group.
T. CORGHESSAN (T.C.) BOYLE (1948 - )Novelist / Short-Story Writer Professor of English Born in New York Descent of Man (1979) Professor of English at Greasy Lake and Other University of Southern Stories (1985) California Talk, Talk (2006) Has won The Women numerous (2009) awards, includin • BIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL g 6 O. OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT‘S LIFE AS Henry Awards TOLD THROUGH HIS RELATIONSHIPS WITH FOUR WOMEN
“GREASY LAKE” (1985) How would you characterize each of the main characters from the story?
Setting is the “natural, manufactured, political , cultural, and temporal Setting environment, including everything that characters know, own, and otherwise experience” (Roberts 224). The major elements: Verisimilitude & Donée Time Structure Place (both public and private spaces) Characters Social Environment that frames Point of View the characters (cultural or historic) Used to evoke a mood or Tone & Style atmosphere for what is to Plot come, or to contradict the action.
THE LITERARY USES OF SETTING Authors use setting to create meaning: Usually essential and vital in a story Enhances a work’s realism and credibility Accentuates qualities of character Underscores the influence of place, circumstance, and time on human growth and change Shapes the structure of a work Framing or Enclosing Setting – the work opens and closes in the same setting Provides symbolic meaning Creates atmosphere or mood Underscores a work’s irony
CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN (1860-1935) Women’s Rights Activist Lecturer / Author Began writing after the birth “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) of her daughter and a Women and Economics (1898) nervous breakdown in the 1880s. Concerning Children (1900) Left her husband in 1890 to Human Work (1904) seek her independence. His Religion and Hers (1923) Distinguished career as an advocate for women’s rights Championed the need for women’s financial independence In 1930s, became incurably ill – took her own life in 1935
THE “REST CURE” Gilman was a patient of Philadelphia physician, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell and his famous “rest cure.” Prescribed almost exclusively to women, the rest cure enforced (1) isolation, (2) rest, and (3) feeding, with electrotherapy and massage to counteract muscle atrophy – patients were made infant-like. Treatment included strict limits on “brain work” which he felt interfered with “womanly duties.” After writing the story, Gilman sent a copy to him as criticism. Dr. Mitchell later modified his methods.
“THE YELLOW WALLPAPER” (1892) How is setting used to evoke the mood or atmosphere? How much time elapses? How does the passage of time explain what is happening to the narrator? How does setting accentuate the main character? What change occurs as a result of setting in the story? What is the narrator’s connection to the wallpaper? Discuss the narrator’s feelings regarding the room (private) vs. gardens, paths, (public) settings she encounters. Do her feelings change? Can a case be made that the “rest cure” the narrator receives is actually the cause of her mental disturbance?
Structure = the Organization Structure of Stories Formal Categories of Structure: The Exposition Verisimilitude Provides materials necessary to put the & Donée plot into operation Provides background information the Setting reader needs to make sense of theCharacters Point of story View The Complication Marks the beginning and the growth of Tone & the conflict Style Conflict - the necessary struggle that Plot the characters undergo, can be external or internal
Rising Action - the plot gains momentum through a complication that intensifies the situation The Crisis Marks the decisions made to end the conflict The Climax The moment of greatest emotional tension in the story The conclusion of the conflict The Resolution (Dénouement) The victory or resolution of the conflict Finishes the work and releases the tension
CREATING INTEREST WITH STRUCTURE Writers use various techniques to create interest: Chronological order Flashback In medias res (in the middle of the action) Non-linear (back-and-forth, not chronological) Foreshadowing = a sometimes subtle suggestion of what is to come Suspense = anxiety built over the outcome
JOYCE CAROL OATES (1938 -) Novelist / Literary Critic Poet / Short Story Writer Attended a one-room school Has written 30+ novels, as a child short story collections, Currently is Distinguished poetry, and criticisms Professor in the Humanities Solstice (1985) at Princeton University. Foxfire (1993) Missing Mom (2005) Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, O. Henry Award, National Book Award, and 3 nominations for the Pulitzer Prize
“WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVEYOU BEEN? (1970) Public Space vs. Private What is Connie’s connection with Space: music that permeates the story? In public, Connie is How does it play into the ostentatious, out- structure? going, flirtatious, sexually What happens in that odd scene curious, adult-like, feels in when Connie goes to make a control phone call? In private, Connie is Why does she leave with Arnold cynical, withdrawn, child- Friend? like, feels out of control Interesting then that Arnold Friend comes to her home to “get her” Inspiration for the story was serial killer Charles Schmid, who abducted and killed 3 young women near Tuscon, AZ.
Style. Tone & The distinctive manner in Style which a writer arranges words to achieve particular effects… Including individual word choices, the length of Verisimilitude & Donée sentences, sentence structure Setting and tone, and the use of irony. Diction refers to a writer’sCharacters Point of choice of words. View Levels of Diction Plot Concrete & Abstract Language Structure
Tone. Irony. Style reveals tone, the Verbal Irony occurs when someone says one thing but author’s implicit attitude toward means another…think the people, places, and events sarcasm in a story. Situational Irony occurs when Because there is no voice to what is expected to happen differs from what actually put with the words, we must happens rely on the context in which a Dramatic Irony occurs when statement appears to the author gives the reader determine its meaning. more information about a situation than a character Denotation = the actual, literal knows meaning of a word Double Entendre = double Connotation = the meaning of meaning a word as it includes cultural meanings Humor. Slapstick, Dark, Adult
KATE CHOPIN (1851-1904) Short-Story Writer Novelist Born in St. Bayou Folk (1894) Louis, Missouri, lived in Night in Acadie (1897) LA The Awakening (1899) Began to write after her husband’s death Published just 2 collections of short stories and 1 novel Criticism drove her to stop writing
“THE STORY OF AN HOUR” (1894) How would you characterize Chopin’s style of writing? What would you say is the tone at work on this story? Consider Tone and Irony? Is it present? If so, what type? Which lines indicate irony best? Consider Tone and Humor? Is it present? If so, what type? Which lines indicate humor best?
A symbol is a person, object, or event that suggests more than its Symbolism literal meaning & Allegory Cultural symbols reinforce meanings because their symbolic meaning is widely known Derived from our cultural and historical knowledge Verisimilitude Contextual / Literary symbols & Donée Setting can be a setting, character, action, object, na me, or anything else in a work that maintains its literal significance Point of while suggesting other meanings – View can have multiple meanings Only symbolic in individual worksTone & Style Characters An allegory broadens meaning like symbolism, but is more sustained Structure than symbolism Often concerned with morality, especially religion
FABLE, PARABLE, & MYTH Closely related to symbolism and allegory Fable = a short tale with a pointed moral Ex: Aesop’s Fables, The Brothers Grimm, fairytales Parable = a short narrative illustrating a religious concept Ex: “The Prodigal Son,” “The Good Samaritan” Myth = a tale with social, political, religious, or philosophical meanings Usually the protagonists are heroes, gods, and demigods Some are based in historical truth Ex: Adventures of the Greek Gods, urban myths
ALLUSION Cultural or universal symbols and allegories often allude to other works: from our cultural heritage, the Bible ancient history and literature, works of the British and American traditions current politics current events
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (1804-1864) Novelist Psychological Writer Born in Salem, Mass. to a Puritan family proud of practical, legal, commercial accomplishments Creates complex characters who suffer from inner conflicts caused by sin, pride, secrecy, guilt, passio n, isolation, etc. Plots are ambiguous, especially the endings – suggests there is no simple solution to some problems Works include: The Scarlet Letter (1850), The House of the Seven Gables (1851), The Blithedale Romance (1852)
“YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN” (1835) What cultural or universal symbols can you discover in names, objects, places, situations, or actions in the story? The character Faith, the woods, the walking stick What contextual symbolism can be found in the work? What is being symbolized? Is the symbolism necessary to the work? How clearly does the author point you toward an allegorical reading? Through names and allusions?
The central idea or meaning of a story Theme Provides a unifying point around which the Characters plot, characters, setting, poi nt of view, symbols, and other elements of a story are Symbolism & Allegory Setting organized Is not always easy to detect The subject is not always Point of View the theme Theme is not always Tone & Style discovered until a second or third reading Structure
SEARCHING FOR THE THEME Pay attention to the title of a story. It often provides a lead to the theme of the work. Look for details in the story that have potential for symbolic meanings – these can lead to the theme. Decide whether the protagonist develops some important insight as a result of the action. Study the: authorial voice. first-person speaker. statements made by characters. work’s figurative language. way that characters stand for ideas. work itself as an embodiment of ideas.
EXPRESSING THEMEMake sure that your expression of thetheme is a generalized statement and notoverly specific to a particular plot point. Be wary of using clichés as a way of stating theme. Be aware that some stories emphasize theme less than others – don’t try to force what just isn’t there.
EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849) Poet, Novelist, Writer Literary Critic Inventor of the Detective Story Pioneer of Science Fiction Master of the Psychological Horror Story America’s First Great Literary Critic Museum of Edgar Allan Poe Poe’s use of Literary Devices
“THE BLACK CAT” (1843) Common Themes in Poe’s Works Include… Love and Hate Self vs. Alter-Ego The power of the dead over the living Murder as a fundamentally animalistic, inhuman act Eyes as the essence of human identity vs. the curse of the Evil Eye