CLASS: SENIOR TWO
UNIT I: KEY ASPECTS OF PROSE
UNIT II: SUBJECT, THEMES AND MESSAGES
UNIT III: LITERARY DEVICES AND AUDIENCE
UNIT IV: BALLADS
UNIT V: POETIC DEVICES
UNIT VI: SUBJECT, THEME AND CONTEXT
UNIT VII: DRAMATIC TECHNIQUES
UNIT VIII: SUBJECT MATTER, THEME AND MESSAGE
UNIT I: KEY ASPECTS OF PROSE
I.1. DEFINITION OF PROSE
Prose refers to the ordinary or the normal form of written or spoken language. It has no metrical pattern and is the style of writing that is employed in novels, novellas and short stories.
Prose is a form of writing that is natural and uses grammatical structure. Most forms of writing and speaking are done in prose. It is the most common form of writing. It is usually straightforward and may utilize figurative language.
I.2. FURTHER ASPECTS OF PROSE
Key aspects of prose are the basic elements on which the story is built upon. They give answers to the following questions:
- Who is the story about?
- Where is the story taking place?
- What is the main problem of the story?
Those key elements of prose are:
Plot refers to the way events or actions of a story are arranged, especially the way they relate to each other in a cause and effect manner. In short, plot is the cause and effect arrangement of the actions or events in a story.
Plot can also be: -The order of events in a story.
-The sequence of events in a story.
-The succession of events in a story.
-The arrangement of events in a story.
The plot is a planned, logical series of events having a beginning, middle, and an end.
The parts/elements of a plot
Exposition/introduction: It is the opening/beginning of a story where the characters and setting are revealed. Sometimes the main conflict is also introduced here.
Rising action: This is where the events in the story become complex. The conflict is revealed at this stage (events between introduction and climax).
Climax: It is the highest point of interest, tension and suspense. It is the turning point of the story where the reader questions what will happen next.
Falling action: At this stage the events and conflicts/complications begin to resolve. Events show the results of how the characters begin to resolve the conflict.
Resolution/ denouement: The part of the plot that concludes the falling action by revealing or suggesting the outcome of the conflict. It is the end of the story.
The types of plot
- Linear plot: It is a plot which starts from a certain point and ends at another point. The events in the story flow a chronological/sequential order. At the end of a linear plot, the main character finds a solution to his problems or not.
- Circular plot: It is the plot which ends at the same place where it began. It is the unfolding of events that begin and end in the same place. It is when the story starts with the end and then jumps back in time, to the beginning. In a circular plot the solution to a conflict/problem is never reached.
Setting refers to the historical period, geographical place and social-cultural context in which the events of a story occur. It is the place and time of a story. It answers the questions of where and when. The time and place can be real or imaginary.
Time: –the actual time in which the events of a story occur, like at 5h00’ A.M, during the night, on Monday, in August, in 2019….
–the historical period in which the events of a story occur, as Before Christ, precolonial period, colonial period, post-colonial period, post-independence era, post genocide period…
Place: – the geographical place where the events of a story take place like inside the house, on the hill, in a garden, in a sea, at Muyumbu, in Rwanda, in Nyungwe Forest, at school, in a prison….
The socio-cultural context in which the events of a story are set like in urban or rural environment or in a traditional society…
The types of setting
a. The social setting: It refers to the physical environment in which the events of a story happen. Ex: In a town, a slum, a suburb, upcountry…
b. The historical setting: It is the specific time in which the events in a story happen.
Ex: Before Christ, pre-colonial era, colonial period, post-colonial era, computer age…
c. Cultural setting: It includes the patterns of behaviours and beliefs that dominate the society in which the characters live. It includes the family relations, moral values, gender roles, customs, beliefs…
d. Political setting: It refers to the prevailing political situation around which a story revolves. A story could condemn bad governance or unequal distribution of national resources.
Context refers to the whole situation, background or environment relevant to a particular event. It also refers to the social, cultural, and historical circumstances and setting at which the author is writing. Therefore, context refers to the background information surrounding a subject.
a. Social context: It refers to the reflection of how the characters’ actions and attitudes are affected by events occurring around the time and place where they live. It involves the characters’ interactions in all levels of life.
b. Historical context: This refers to the time period in which a story occurs. Both historical events (like wars) can influence the story. It is an aspect of setting that pertains to when events and when characters live and interact.
c. Cultural context: It can be described as the sustained conditions, collective expectations and prevailing norms among a group of people or a social network. It includes the values of a society, their beliefs social and moral norms as well as the meanings people give to the human actions and behaviours.
d. Political context: This deals with the leadership characteristics and dynamics of a society. It includes the types of leadership (like democracy, monarchy, kingdom, chiefdom), the role of people in determining their leadership, freedoms and rights…
A character refers to the fictional human being, animal or thing in a story. The character is any person, animal or figure represented in a literary work. Characters are central figures on which the action of the plot happens.
Types of characters
a. Main/major/central characters: They are characters that play a big role in the story. Most of the actions in the story happen around these characters. The plot and resolution of the conflict revolves around them.
Protagonist: A protagonist is a main character who is faced with problem/conflict he must resolve. He is a main character who has good behaviours. He is considered as a hero.
Antagonist: An antagonist is a main character who usually challenges the protagonist or tests him/her. He/she is a main character who has bad behaviours. He/she is also considered as a villain.
Main characters are well developed which makes us to know more about them and we can relate to them.
b. Minor characters: They are characters that do not play a big role in the story. They are characters that support/help or serve to complement the main ones and help move the plot events forward.
–Positive characters: They are characters that show positive /good qualities or behaviours. They can be brave, hardworking, caring, humble, peaceful,…
–Negative characters: They are characters that show negative/bad qualities/behaviours. They can be cruel, wicked, brutal, lazy, revengeful,…..
Other types of characters
- Dynamic character is a character who changes over time. This kind of character goes through some sorts of change. He/she/it grows or changes his/her/its personality, attitudes, behaviours.
- Static character is a character who doesn’t change over time. This remains the same throughout a story.
- Round/complex character is a character that has a complex personality. He/she is a character that has a mixture of traits that come from both nature and experience. This character is fully developed and described that a flat one. He/she is viewed as a conflicted and a contradictory character. A round character is a major character in a story.
- Flat/simple character is a character that shows one or two personality traits in a story. He/she can’t be a main character. That character is neither conflicted nor contradictory. He/she doesn’t change and the story doesn’t reveal much about him.
Characterization refers to the author’s representation and development of characters in the story.
How to identify characters
In studying a short story, novel,…we need to identify and know the characters very well. In order to identify them we look at:
- The physical description of a character in terms of size, colour, and general appearance.
- What the character says about him/herself and about other issues affecting the society.
- The character’s actions in his/her interactions with other characters in the society.
- What other characters in the story say about him/her.
- The character’s thoughts, desires, dreams and wishes.
How to identify characters and explain their behaviours
In order to describe characters, we use adjectives. A character may be described in many ways such as: Good, bad, funny, lazy, ugly, rude, hardworking, polite, beautiful, kind, careless, honest, etc.
The author creates different characters and has to show what makes a character behave the way he/she does or why he/she behaves in that way and how his/her behaviours affect others.