CLASS: SENIOR FOUR
UNIT 1: REVIEW THE KEY ASPECTS OF PROSE
UNIT 2: INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN LITERARY TRADITIONS
UNIT 3: LITERARY TECHNIQUES IN NOVELS
UNIT 4: THEMES AND MESSAGES IN A NOVEL
UNIT 5: HAIKU AND TANKA
UNIT 6: SONNET AND RHYME
UNIT 7: EPIGRAMS
UNIT 8: DIFFERENT FORMS OF DRAMA
UNIT 9: KEY ASPECTS OF DRAMA
UNIT 10: PERIODS OF AFRICAN DRAMA
UNIT III: LITERARY TECHNIQUES IN NOVELS
As we know, the novel is one the major genres of prose fiction. It is defined as a long work of narrative fiction normally in prose, and typically published as a book. The one who writes a novel is a novelist. The goal of a novelist is to communicate a given message and to express this in a beautiful way. In order to achieve beauty, novelists use language in a unique manner to make their works artistically rich. This unique use of language is referred to as style in literature. Style is the quality that gives a work of literature its individual personality. It entails the use of various literary techniques, which include figurative language, symbolism, irony, contrast and dialogue.
III.1. REVIEW OF LITERARY TECHNIQUES
Literary devices or literary techniques (narrative techniques) are the methods the writers use to convey/deliver their messages properly. They are the typical structures used by writers in their works to convey their messages in a simple manner to their readers. Literary techniques are also structures, usually words or phrases in literary texts that writers employ to not only achieve artistic ends but also help readers to have a greater understanding and appreciation of their literary works. This is what we refer to style.
The literary techniques help the readers to visualize what an author is saying. When employed properly, the different literary devices help readers to appreciate, interpret and analyze a literary work. They include repetition, imagery, simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, metonymy, synecdoche, paradox, oxymoron and onomatopoeia.
It is the repeating of a word, a phrase, sentence or idea within a story. It is used to add more emphasis to an idea and make it clearer and more memorable. Due to this definition, repetition is a common technique used by orators. There are many types of repetition both used in prose and poetry.
- If you think you can do it, you can do it.
- The boy was a good footballer, because his father was a footballer, and his grandfather was a footballer.
- The bird said, “I don’t sing because I am happy, I am happy because I sing.”
- The politician declared, “We will fight come what may, we will fight on all fronts, we will fight for a thousand years.”
- The judge commanded, stamping his mallet on the table, “Order in the court, order in the court.”
- The refugees were crossing into the neighboring country when they saw blood all around — blood on the passageways, blood on the fields, blood on the
- When they came out of the cinema hall, they all agreed, the film was a waste of money, it was a waste of time and energy.
- The boy was terrified when he was taken to the hospital; he shuddered at the least sound, and he shuddered at the least breath of air into the room.
- The president said, “Work, work, and work,” are the keys to success.
- The orator said, “Good morning to the old, good morning to the young, good morning to each and every one present.”
- The team captain reiterated his resolve to win the match, win the tournament, and win the hearts of his people.
- The general said to his army, “Men — You must fight for the life of your people, your family, and your ”
- The boss repeated his routine advice, “Don’t come late, don’t leave early, and don’t delay your work.”
- The students chanted to raise the spirits of their team during the match, “We will win, we will win.”
- The new boss says: “In this organization, the wrong person was appointed for the wrong job, following the wrong procedure, but this will not happen again.”
Examples 2:1940 Speech to House of Commons by Winston Churchill
“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”
Examples3: I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
“ I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification – one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
Imagery entails the use of words that create mental pictures in the reader’s mind. It helps the reader to visualize more realistically the author’s writings. This makes use of particular words that create visual representation of ideas in our minds. Imagery enables us to see, taste, hear, smell and touch what the author says – in our minds. This one needs the aid of simile, metaphor, personification, allusion, hyperbole and onomatopoeia in order to appeal to the bodily senses.
Imagery consists of descriptive language that function as a way for the reader to better imagine the world of a literary work. This means that it can pertain to details about movement or a sense of body in motion or the emotions/sensations of a person such as fear or hunger. The use of imagery helps the reader to develop a more fully realized understanding of the imaginary world that the author has created.
In A Man of the People (by Chinua Achebe):
- The descriptions of Chief Nanga’s house with seven self-contained rooms, water closets each, private doors, the gate, double beds, beautiful furniture, gleaming bathrooms, etc.
- Description of the ministerial vehicle, Odo’s house, Josiah’s evil/action towards Azoge,…
In The Pearl (by John Steinbeck):
- There are descriptions of the morning, Kino’s house, their village and the city. The narrator has described the city, beach, the pearls and their formation under water, the nights, the forests, the mountains, the sky…
In the novella Animal Farm (by George Orwell):
- Moses the raven describes Sugarcandy Mountain: It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges.
- The night was black as ever, but bright stars lit up the sky in beautiful and varied constellations which were sprinkled across the astronomical landscape.
- Silence was broken by the peal of piano keys as Shannon began practicing her concerto.
- She smelled the scent of sweet hibiscus wafting through the air, its tropical smell a reminder that she was on vacation in a beautiful place.
- The candy melted in her mouth and swirls of bittersweet chocolate and slightly sweet but salty caramel blended together on her tongue.
- After the long run, he collapsed in the grass with tired and burning muscles. The grass tickled his skin and sweat cooled on his brow.
It is a comparison between two unlike things by using the words ‘like’, ‘as’ or ‘than’. It is also a figure of speech which uses the words ‘like’, ‘as’, ‘than,’ or ‘as if’ to show the resemblance between two things which are different. Sometimes the verbs ‘appear’, ‘resemble’ or ‘seem’ are also used to compare.
- Xuma looked around. He had never seen a place like that before.
- Okonkwo’s fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan.
- He was as slippery as a fish in water.
- She is beautiful like an angel.
- He swims like a fish in the lake.
- We have changed the plan as it was instructed.
- It was a morning like other mornings.
- He is as strong as a lion.
- The earth was like iron, and nothing could be done in the fields.
- They work as hard as their parents.
- All that year the animals worked like slaves.
- He hisses at her like a snake.
- I felt like a fish out of water.
- Kino edged like a slow lizard down the smooth.
- It shines bright like a diamond.
- Coyotito was reading from a book as large as a house, with letters as big as a dog.
Metaphor is a figure of speech which compares two unlike thinks without using ‘as’, ‘like’ or ‘than’. It says that one thing is another. It is a comparison that show how two things, that are not alike, in most ways, are similar in one important way.
The metaphor consists of two parts: the tenor and vehicle. The tenor is the subject to which attributes are ascribed. The vehicle is the subject from which the attributes are borrowed. For example: in “Amalinze the Cat” Amalinze is the tenor on which qualities of a cat are attributed.
A metaphor can either be implicit or explicit.
Explicit metaphor: It is a metaphor which is clear about the two things being compared.
- The stars were diamonds in the sky.
- Agnes’s smile was a ray of sunshine.
- His strength, his movement and his speed were a machine
- They couldn’t stand because their legs were rubber.
- The coming election would be a life and death fight.
- He is a night owl.
- Jamal was a pig at dinner
- The snow is a white blanket
- You are my sunshine
- The sun is a golden ball.
- Books are the keys to your imagination
Implicit/implied metaphor: It is a metaphor which compares two unlike things without mentioning one of them.
- Andrew’s anger grew until it erupted. (compares anger to a volcano)
- John barked at the girl. (compares John to a dog)
- She flies at him. (compares her to a bird)
- The ants orbited the snail before attacking it. (they are being compared to planets)
- The boy hisses to his young brother. (he is compared to a snake)
The use of metaphors makes the writing vivid. We are made to see what is being described as if it is a picture. Metaphors reveal aspects of people, objects and situations. Generally, a metaphor describes one subject as being equal to a second object.
Both similes and metaphors are forms of comparison. The difference between a simile and a metaphor is that similes allow the two ideas to remain distinct in spite of the similarity. But metaphors equate two ideas despite their difference.
It is a literary device which gives human traits or qualities to animals or things. It is when the non-humans are given human characteristics. By here a thing, an idea or an animal is given human attributes. The non-human objects are portrayed in such a way that we feel they have the ability to act like human beings.
- The leaves waved in the wind.
- The town lay on a broad estuary, its old yellow plastered building hugging the beach.
- The door protested as it opened slowly.
- The moon played hide and seek with the clouds.
- A town has a nervous system and a head and shoulders and feet.
- The wind of the morning ruffled the water of the estuary and whispered through the mangroves.
- The car complained as the key was roughly turned in its ignition.
- My alarm clock yells at me to get out of bed every morning.
- The evil was hidden behind the brush fence.
- A wounded boat does not heal.
- The sky was brushed clean by the wind.
- The approaching car’s headlights winked at me.
- The camera loves her since she is so pretty.
- The stairs groaned as we walked on them.
- The coyotes cried and laughed in the forest.
- Beware of the tree that bleeds!
- My flowers were begging for water.
- The thunder was grumbling in the distance.
- The wildfire ran through the forest at an amazing speed.
- The moon smiled at the stars in the sky.
- Tears stood in his eyes.
It is a deliberate exaggeration which is not intended to deceive but rather to create a special effect. It involves the exaggeration of ideas in order to express strong emotions or create a comic effect. Hyperbole is used to create a strong impression and add emphasis.
- An engineer claimed to have built Kigali City Tower within one night.
- My teacher has given me a million of questions.
- He can run faster than a cheetah.
- The girl told the people that she can leave Kigali and arrive in New York within one minute.
- The man told the King that he could move the mountain from one place to another.
- All the people around the world have come to watch the match.
- He’s as thin as a needle.
- I ate so much on Christmas that I weighed more than a whale.
- His stomach is a bottomless pit.
- If my father doesn’t buy me a smartphone, I will die.
- My mom is going to kill me once she finds out.
- These shoes are killing me.
- It was so cold I saw polar bears wearing jackets.
- I will always stay by your side.
- It feels like my birthday will never come.
- I had a ton of chores to do.
- I’m so hungry that I could eat a horse.
- When I was sick, you could knock me down with a feather.
- The church was decorated with a billion flowers.
- His heart stopped beating the whole day.
- He said that he has never eaten food since childhood. He lives on drinking beer.
- That grandmother is older than dirt.
- My dad is always working.
- When Okonkwo slept, his wives and children in their houses could hear him breathe.
- The crowd raised a deafening shout of welcome.
- It is a mammoth crowd
It is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something which is closely associated with that thing or concept. It is a figure of language where instead of using the actual name of something, we use the name of something else which is closely related to it or which resembles it. A metonymy is simply a substitution where a word or phrase is used in place of another word or phrase.
- “The pen is mightier than the sword.” “Pen” stands for “the written word and “sword” substitutes violence or military force.
- Crown – in place of a royal person /government/authority.
- The White House or The Oval Office – used in place of the American President or White House staff.
- Suits – in place of business people
- Heart – to refer to love or emotion
- Washington – to refer to the US government
- Ears – for giving attention, listening
- Hand – for help
- Tongue – used in place of language.
- Hollywood – to refer to the film industry
- New blood – used in place of new people, fresh ideas
- The chair has called of the meeting. Chair=person
- The bench usually refers to the judges
- Dish to refer to an entire plate of food
- The big house – to refer to prison
- Silicon Valley – to refer to the technology industry
It is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to refer to the whole thing or the whole thing is used to refer to the part of that thing. This means that the part of something represents the whole or the whole is used to represent the part. Synecdoche may also use smaller groups to stand for larger ones or vice versa.
A synecdoche may use part of something to represent the entire whole.
Ex: Bread can be used to represent food in general or money.
Sails is often used to refer to a whole ship.
Hired hands can be used to refer to workmen.
Wheels refers to a vehicle.
It may use an entire whole thing to represent a part of it.
Ex: The “world” is not treating you well-some people.
The word “society” is often referred to a specific sector of society.
“Police” can be used to represent one or several officers.
“Rwanda” attended the UN conference in New York. Rwanda: president
Synecdoche and metonymy resemble one another because they both use a word or phrase to represent something else. They are both considered as forms of metaphor. Either metaphor, or metonymy or synecdoche involves the substitution of one word for another that requires conceptual link. Synecdoche can also be a form of personification when the non-human thing substitutes a human element.
The main difference is that synecdoche uses the part of the thing it represents or the whole thing to mean its part. On the other hand, metonymy doesn’t use the part for the whole or the whole for the part, but rather uses a term that is related to the thing it means.
Oxymoron is derived from the Greek oksús which means “sharp, keen, pointed” and mōros which means “dull, stupid, foolish”. Once those meanings are put together, they can be “sharp-dull”, “keenly stupid”, or “pointedly foolish”.
Oxymoron is then a figure of speech in which two words or phrases with opposing meanings are used together for effect. Most of them are made by adjectives preceding nouns with contrasting meanings. Oxymoron allows the author to use contradictory, contrasting concepts put together in a manner that actually ends up making sense in a strange, and slightly complex way. Sometimes the contrasting words or phrases are not always put together, which means that the contrasting ideas may be spaced out in a sentence.
- Fireless fireplaces.
- Sad joy
- Dark light
- Clearly confused
- Wise fool
- Cruel kindness
- Open secret
- Foolish wisdom
- Small crowd
- Plastic glasses
- Sad smile
- Tragic comedy
- Original copies
- Hell’s angels
- Living dead
- Free trade
- Nice death
- Student teacher
- Seriously funny
- Found missing
- Cold fire
- Sweet sorrow
- Smart idiot
- There was a love-hate relationship between those neighbours.
- Paid volunteers were working for the company.
- During the last meeting, some of the politicians agreed to disagree.
- There was a deafening silence in the village.
- The radio station is broadcasting the old news.
- In friendly fire, many soldiers have died.
- Some of my employees have been regularly irregular.
- Since he was not interested in their conversations, he was alone in a crowd.
- The heads of state gathered to determine an approximate solution to the war.
- The drivers were asked to give their unbiased opinion on the transport issue.
- When the people found out that he had invited unpopular celebrities, they started to leave.
In literature, oxymoron is used for many reasons. At times an oxymoron may call attention to the dual nature of an object or concept; and may also be used to create a humorous effect.
The term paradox is from Middle French paradoxe. It also comes from the Greek word paradoxon which means “contrary to expectations, existing belief, or perceived opinion”, and directly from Latin paradoxum “paradox, statement seemingly absurd yet really true,”
Paradox is a phrase/statement that appears to be self-contradictory or absurd, but which is actually expressing some truth when it is closely examined. It is a statement which seems untrue at first sight but proves valid on closer inspection. The uniqueness of paradoxes lies in the fact that a real and deeper meaning and significance is not revealed at first glance, but when it crystallizes, it provides astonishing insight.
- You can save money by spending it.
- Truth is honey, which is bitter.
- I close my eyes so that I can see.
- They have congratulated them for losing the match.
- This is the beginning of the end.
- People eat too much while they are poor.
- Your enemy’s friend is your enemy.
- Here are the rules: Ignore all rules.
- I only message those who do not message.
- He was glad to finally be punished for his crimes.
- War is peace.
- Freedom is slavery.
- Ignorance is strength.
- “It’s weird not to be weird”-John Lennon
- Love puts in when friendship is gone.
- It was the best mistake he ever made.
- Good fences make good neighbours.
- I am nobody.
- The child is father of the man.
- I know one thing: that I know nothing. –Socrates
- “I can resist anything but temptation.” – Oscar Wilde
- “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it very important that you do it”. –Mahatma Ghandhi.
- “The most corrected copies are commonly the least correct”. – Francis Bacon.
- “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” – in George Orwell ’s Animal Farm.
In literature, paradox is used to attract attention by making a reader think over an idea in innovative way. It is also used to give pleasure and enjoyment to readers. This is because readers enjoy more when they extract the hidden meanings out of the writing rather than something presented clearly to them.
The difference between an oxymoron and a paradox is that a paradox may consist of a sentence or a group of sentences while an oxymoron is a combination of two contradictory/opposite words. A paradox seems absurd and contradicts itself, but contains a hidden truth. An oxymoron, however, may produce a dramatic effect, but does not make literal sense.
The word onomatopoeia comes from two Greek words: onoma, meaning “name,” and poiein, meaning “to make”, so onomatopoeia means “to make a name/or a sound”.
Onomatopoeia as a literary device includes words that imitate, resemble or suggest the sound of the things they describe. It is referred to a word which imitates/duplicates or sounds like the natural sounds of objects. Onomatopoeia words help the readers to hear the sounds of the words they reflect, and the writers use them to bring their stories to life in the readers’ minds.
Categories of onomatopoeic words
Sounds of animals: Meow, moo, tweet, oink, baa, arf, bleat, bark, buzz, coo, click, cuckoo, cock-a-doodle-doo, croak, growl, gibber, hiss, howl, hum, maa, neigh, quack, trumpet, roar, snort, snarl, shriek, squeal, squawk, squeak, tweet, whistle, whine, whimper, woof, yowl, …
Sounds made by people: achoo, ahem, argh, bawl, blab, blurt, brrr, burp, chomp, chortle, chuckle, chatter, cough, clap, eek, gag, gargle, gasp, giggle, guffaw, groan, grumble, growl, grunt, ha-ha, hiccup, huh, hum, hush, humph, munch, murmur, mutter, mumble, moan, mmm, phew, slurp, snore, snort, sob squeal sniff, tsk, whisper, yawn,..
Sounds of things: of water such as -plop, splash, gush, sprinkle, drizzle, drip. Sounds of wind include swish, swoosh, whiff, whoosh, whizz, whisper. Others are bam, bang, beep, boom, bubble, bump, clang, clash, clatter, click, clink, crash, croak, ding dong, drip, flick, honk, jingle, poof, pop, pow, puff, ring, rumble, slap, smash, splatter, squish, sputter, thud, thump, thwack, tick, tock, vroom, whack, wham, whip, whir, whiz, whoop, zap, zip, zoom,…
- They can hear the buzzing as they live near the hives.
- Ssh! I told you to keep quiet.
- I couldn’t hear the words; he just murmured a lot.
- “I’m getting married in the morning! Ding dong! The bells are going to chime.”
- Ahem! I can hear everything you are saying about me.
- The snakes in the pit hissed
- The loud boom of the fireworks scares many people.
- I couldn’t sleep. All I could hear was the drip, drip, drip of the faulty faucet.
- The sack fell into the river with a splash.
- The books fell on the table with a loud thump.
- He looked at the roaring
- The water gushed down the stream to the waterfall.
- We heard the tlot –tlot of the horse’s hooves.
- The robbers’ car screeched around the corner as they attempted to escape the police.
- The rustling leaves kept me awake.
- I was awoken by the cock-a-doodle-do of the neighbouring rooster.
- You scared me when you shouted, “boo.”
- Drink some water to help stop your hiccups.
- Ticktock, ticktock … the sound of the clock was all that could be heard in the hospital waiting room.
- I knew we had finally left the city when I heard the moo of the cows in the field.
- Ding, dong, there was someone at the door.
- Ouch! You just stepped on my toe.
- I didn’t see the warning sign and bumped my head on the low doorframe.
- The lion let out a loud roar as the ringmaster cracked his whip.
- Quack, quack went the ducks as we threw them our stale bread.
- The dog barked as the postman approached the gate.
- Shh! No talking in the library please.
- Zip! My dress was fastened and I was finally ready for the wedding.
- I squashed the snail when I stood on it by accident.
- The wolf howled at the moon.
- My teeth were chattering as we waited in the freezing cold for the bus to arrive.
- Tsk, tsk, tsk, you shouldn’t be shouting in class.
- Please do not beep your horn after dark.
- The pig squealed.
- I trembled as the door slowly creaked
It is the attitude or feelings of a writer towards the subject matter or the audience- how the author approaches what he or she is talking about. It is also the manner of writing about the subject, characters and theme by careful choice of words. Tone is conveyed through diction, sentence structure, point of view, figurative language and the level of formality in your writing. Therefore, it is the way the author expresses his/her attitude through his/her writing.
Tone in writing is not really different from the tone of your voice. Sometimes, it is not what you say but how you say it. This means that the tone can change very quickly or may remain the same throughout the story.
Tone may be described as being formal, informal, cheerful, sentimental, approving, appreciative, sad, comic, abusive, mocking, condescending, sarcastic, critical, happy, romantic, sorrowful, lamenting, ridiculous, serious, sympathetic, bitter, melancholic, ironic, humorous, arrogant, solemn, optimistic, pessimistic, threatening among others.
Some types of tone
Formal tone: It is the tone which is factual and objective. The words are written as you would find in textbooks and academic writing. This tone shows the writer’s respect for the audience; and it is the one that is used by educated people while communicating.
Informal tone: It is the casual/familiar/occasional/irregular/accidental tone. This is more personal as if you are talking directly to your audience. It is characterized by the use of slang, pidgin, proverbs, abbreviations, contracted words, short sentences, ellipsis, …
Comic tone involves the use of a funny or humorous voice in a literary text.
Sad tone: This involves the use of words that trigger feelings of sadness in the reader.
III.3. FURTHER LITERARY DEVICES
We have seen that literary techniques are structures, usually words or phrases in literary texts that writers employ to not only achieve artistic ends but also help readers to have a greater understanding and appreciation of their literary works. Further literary devices are irony, satire and symbolism.
The word “irony” comes from a Greek comic character Eiron, a clever underdog who by his wit repeatedly triumphs over the boastful character Alazon. Eiron was weaker and used his wit to overcome a stronger character. This word therefore means “hypocrisy”, “deception”, or “feigned ignorance”.
Therefore, irony is the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to create a humorous effect, or it is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words.
In irony, there is a difference between what one says or does and what one means. For example: A man is found by a woman, urinating in public and the woman says, “You are such an intelligent man.”
There are three types of irony: verbal irony, dramatic irony and situational irony.
Verbal irony refers to a situation where an author says one thing and means something else. In other words, verbal irony is saying something different from what you mean.
- In A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe, when Nanga says: “teaching is a very noble profession. Here he meant otherwise
- When Chief Nanga tells Odili that “if someone wants to make you a minister run away” He meant the opposite.
- When Chief Nanga calls Odili his friend, he meant its opposite.
- “I can swear to God that I am not as happy as when I was a teacher”.
- In response to a foolish idea, he says: “What a great idea!”
- The doctor is as kind hearted as a wolf.
- His friend’s hand was as soft as a rock.
- The student was given ‘excellent’ on getting zero in the exam.
- The roasted chicken was as tender as a leather boot.
- He was in such a harried state that he drove the entire way at 20 miles per hour.
- My friend’s children get along like cats and dogs.
- Their new boss was as civilized as a shark.
- The new manager is as friendly as a rattlesnake.
- A vehicle was parked right in front of the no-parking sign.
- The CEO of a big tobacco company said he did not smoke.
Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows something that is going on in a situation but the characters are unaware of what is going on. This means that the audience has more information than one or more characters in a work of literature. Simply, it is when the audience knows something that the characters don’t. We have the dramatic irony when the writer allows a reader to know more about a situation than a character does. This creates a discrepancy between what the character says and thinks and what the reader knows is true.
- A woman thinks her boyfriend is acting strangely because he’s about to propose, but the audience knows that he is planning to run away with another woman, intensifying emotions.
- In a scary story, the character goes into a house he thinks is empty, but the audience knows the killer is in the house. This increases the suspense.
- In the novella Animal Farm, the reader knows that the pigs are up to no good when they take extra rations, but the common animals believe that the pigs are trying to do good.
- Sometimes a person is in disguise and the other character talks with him as if he is someone else. Since this is known by the audience, it adds to the humor of the dialogue.
- The Greek myth of Oedipus, as told in Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex, King Oedipus wants to expose the killer of the former king, Laius. The audience knows that Oedipus is the killer, but Oedipus does not realize that he killed the king.
- In Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, we know that the old woman bringing the apple is the wicked queen who wants to kill Snow White, but she does not. She purchases the apple, takes a bite, and falls.
Situational irony is detected where there is contradiction between the expected result and actual results, or what appears and what is true. It involves a situation in which actions have an effect that is opposite from what was intended, so that the outcome is contrary to what was expected. Therefore, it is a situation in which the outcome is very different than what was expected.
- In Animal Farm when the animals overthrow Mr Jones we think that they are going to be free but their freedom has become do no freedom.
- In the same novel, the reader may suspect that the second time the animals build the windmill will be successful, but in the end, it was destroyed by humans.
- In The Pearl by John Steinbeck, when a poor man Kino finds the Pearl of the World he expects that the life is going to be better, but instead the life ends up being very worse.
- In Peter Abraham’s Mine Boy, Though the reader is led to believe that Leah has taken the necessary precautions to avoid arrest, the Fox and his police force catch her red-handed as she and the others are burying the barrels of beer in her yard. Both Leah’s and the reader’s expectations are undermined.
- While Odili is at Chief Nanga’s house, he notices that the Minister’s personal library is incredibly sparse. Additionally, the library only features works of American literature. This is ironic because as the Minister of Culture, it is Chief Nanga’s job to embrace and support works that support and bolster his nation’s art scene. Although Chief Nanga ostensibly fights against Western influence in an effort to preserve African cultural autonomy, we find that he does not “practice what he preaches.”
- Odili and Elsie accompany Chief Nanga to the Writers’ Society to hear him give the speech at a book exhibition for the novel The Song of the Black Bird.Odili realizes that he knows the author from his time at the University. Soon, Odili also realizes that the Minister of Culture is ignorant of the author and his body of work. Chief Nanga quickly starts criticizing the author for his flippant attitude and unusual physical appearance. During his speech, Chief Nanga forgets the name of the author’s book. However, the audience cannot believe that the Minister of Culture would make such a mistake, and his error is treated as an intended joke. Through these situations, it becomes clear that Nanga is unfit for his position.
- In “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry, the husband sells his watch to buy his wife combs for her hair and the wife sells her hair to buy her husband a chain for his watch.
- In the Rime of the Ancient Marinerby Coleridge, the men are surrounded by an ocean of water, but they are dying of thirst (“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”)
- “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin tells of a wife who learns that her husband is dead. She feels a sense of freedom as she thinks about a life without restriction. Then, he returns (he wasn’t dead after all) and she dies of shock.
- In “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, a woman borrows what she thinks is a costly necklace from a friend and loses it. She and her husband sacrifice to replace it, only to learn years later that the necklace was a fake.
Satire is the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. It is a presentation of human folly (weaknesses) in a light, humourous or ridiculous way. Satire involves the treatment of serious societal issues in a comical way.
Satire is also a technique employed by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society, by using humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule. It intends to improve humanity by criticizing its follies and foibles. A writer in a satire uses fictional characters, which stand for real people, to expose and condemn their corruption or foolishness. It is expected that as the reader or audience laughs, they can learn something and correct the wrong. This means that the writer provokes the readers into changing their opinions. By attacking what they see as human folly, satirists usually imply their own opinions on how the thing being attacked can be remedied.
A writer may point a satire toward a person, a country, or even the entire world. Usually, a satire is a comical piece of writing which makes fun of an individual or a society, to expose its stupidity and shortcomings. In addition, he hopes that those he criticizes will improve their characters by overcoming their weaknesses.
For instance, the narrator in Things Fall Apart says: “He always said that whenever he saw a dead man’s mouth, he saw the folly of not eating what one had in one’s lifetime.” This is a rebuke to the lazy. We laugh as we read because we know Unoka was a debtor, therefore he and his family never had enough to eat. This is clearly stated in Chapter One, thus: “He was poor and his wife and children had barely enough to eat.” Achebe is basically saying that if you want the good life you must work hard and earn it.
Another example of satire is Animal Farm. It is a satirical novel in which Orwell attacks what he saw as some of the prominent follies of his time, like communism in Russian under Stalin’s rule.
Other examples from A man of the People by Chinua Achebe
- When Chief Nanga admits that he does not know the meaning of book exhibition, as in: “Book exhibition?
- When Chief Nanga tells Odili that he can bring him six girls and Odili will have sex with them till he gets tired, as in: “If you like can bring you six girls this evening”
- When Odili rides a bicycle (with Edna) and fail to breathe properly so when he is told something he puffs out the question, why?
- When Chief Nanga says Julio has composed a song instead of a book, as in: “I believe Mr. Julio himself has composed a brilliant song called…erm… what is it called again?”
- When Chief Koko discovers that the coffee was not poisonous and Chief Nanga starts teasing him, as in: “But S.I you fear death…”
A symbol is a sign, a colour, a figure or object that is used to signify something else. Symbolism therefore is the use of symbols in stories to represent ideas, qualities or concepts. A literary symbol (a thing/event/character/quality/relationship…) is something that stands for something else other than itself. This symbol does not exist for itself but rather points to something different from itself. Symbolism involves the use of something to stand for/represent something else.
A literary symbol functions in two ways: -as itself
-as a sign of something else
Ex: “blood” may mean just that (as itself), but it may also mean war (as a sign of something else).
- When Unoka died, he had taken no title. A title in this case is a symbol of achievement.
- The dove is a symbol of peace
- The cross symbolizes Christianity.
- A ring on a finger can mean marriage.
- A red rose stands for love/romance.
- White represents life and purity.
- Black is a symbol of evil or death
- Red can symbolize blood, danger, …
- A chain may mean union or imprisonment
- A broken mirror may symbolize separation
- Smile symbolizes happiness.
Examples from different literary texts
In the novella Animal Farm by George Orwell:
- Manor Farm/Animal Farm symbolizes Russia and Soviet Union under Communist Party rule.
- The pigs symbolize the government
- The dogs symbolize security force (police and army)
- The Windmill symbolizes industrialization, technology, development and the pigs’ manipulation of other animals for their own interests.
- The Battle of the Cowshed represents Russian Civil War.
- The Battle of the Windmill represents World War II, specifically Stalingrad Battle.
In The Pearl by John Steinbeck:
- The pearl firstly symbolizes wealth, hope and a better future, but as the novella progresses it symbolizes evil, greed, corruption and death.
- The scorpion is a symbol of the evil that is yet to come into Kino’s life.
- Kino’s canoe symbolizes means of making a living—both pearls and food.
- The rifle that Kino said that he would buy symbolizes protection.
- Juana’s shawl symbolizes Juana’s femininity.
In A Man of the People written by Chinua Achebe:
- Chief Nanga symbolizes selfish persons and irresponsible leaders.
- Cadillac, gold chains: symbolize wealth
- Guns and gunpowder: symbolize power and intimidation
- Money: symbolizes wealth and influence
- Azoge’s walking stick: symbolizes small remained resources or properties of the poor people which is stolen or exploited by the rich one
- Odili’s marriage with Edna: represents victory of good against evil
- Maxwell’s death: represents the beginning of liberation
- Love between Chief Nanga and Elsie: symbolizes immoral behaviour
- The refusal of the villagers to buy things in Josiah’s shop: symbolizes unity.
- The journey to the hospital on a bicycle stands for struggle.
III.4. FURTHER ASPECTS OF PROSE
We know that plot refers to the unfolding of events in a piece of prose. It 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/events in a story. This means that one thing causes the other, and this one causes the other. The result of the cause and effect is what creates conflict and as the main character tries to solve the conflict, the story moves forward.
If you read Chapter Two and Chapter Three of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, you will see what causes Okonkwo to become who he is. However, in Chapter One, we can see that Okonkwo became famous because he defeated Amalinze in a wrestling match. On the other hand, Unoka died poor without a title because he was lazy.
Dramatic/progressive plot: This is a chronological structure which establishes firstly the setting and conflict, then follows the rising action towards a climax, and concludes with a denouement. Most of the book is spent establishing settings, characters, and conflicts. One main conflict and one main rising action dominate, and the characters ride this action to the climax; after comes the denouement, then the writer closes the story.
Episodic plot: This plot also follows a chronological structure, but consists of a series of loosely related incidents/events, usually chapter-by-chapter, tied together by a common theme and/or character. Episodic plots work best when the writer wishes to explore the personalities of the characters, the nature of their existence, and the flavor of an era. This means that the writer wants to show many different angles of an event, place, time, idea or even characters.
The plot in Things Fall Apart is made up of episodes. An episode is a single event or a group of related events. For example, Chapter One opens with the wrestling action, which introduces Okonkwo to the reader and explains why he, Okonkwo, was famous. This flows into the next episode, which introduces Unoka and gives reasons Okonkwo was impatient with him.
Some military fictions use episodic plots. Each chapter highlights a different member in the military, tackling a different aspect of the battle or war. Finally, these stories join to show a much larger understanding of the conflict.
Parallel plot: It is a plot structure by which the author weaves multiple dramatic plots (usually two or three), and run them at the same time. Those dramatic plots/narratives are usually linked by a common character or a similar theme. With parallel plots, all the multiple arcs usually crash together at the climax. Because the reader has followed multiple rising actions, they might be more emotionally involved in the climactic moment. Parallel stories enrich a work and have been used by novelists and playwrights for centuries.
The essential characteristic of a novel with parallel stories is that it is nonlinear. A linear plotline follows one or more protagonists from the introduction of a conflict to its resolution in chronological order. A nonlinear plotline jumps around, skipping between timelines and protagonists. The specific pattern will vary depending on the purpose of the parallel narratives, which may include building tension, creating dramatic irony, unraveling a mystery, revealing character motivation, or showing multiple perspectives.
The episodes in Things Fall Apart are parallel. Parallel episodes are events that have something in common. For example, we are introduced to Okonkwo the famous man in the first episode. Thereafter, we are introduced to Unoka – the father to Okonkwo – who is a lazy man.
Flashback: This structure conveys information about events that occurred earlier. It allows authors to begin the story in the middle of a high point of the action, but later insert in the background information that lead up to full understanding of the present events. By here, the writer gives the reader all the backstory and then moves them back to the high-action moment. Flashbacks can occur more than once and in different parts of a story.
Character refers to traits or manners and at the same time to the fictional human being, animal or thing in a story. For instance, Okonkwo is a character in Things Fall Apart. At the same time, Okonkwo exhibits a certain character – he behaves in a particular way. Characterization refers to the author’s creation, representation and development of characters in the story. Remember that character traits can be presented directly or indirectly.
Direct or explicit presentation/characterization: It is where the author or other character within the story describes or reveals traits of a character through the use of descriptive words. In other words, it is when the author displays the character’s traits straightforwardly, or through the comments made by another character involved with him/her in the story. For example, the character of Unoka: “In his day he was lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow.” In Animal Farm written by George Orwell, Old Major is described: “He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance”
Indirect or implicit presentation/characterization: It is when we get hints that make us think about a character and make conclusions about his/her character. It is when the writer shows the character’s personality through his/her speech, thoughts, actions, appearance and interaction with other characters. For instance, “Having spoken plainly so far, Okoye said the next half a dozen sentences in proverbs.” This makes the reader think of Okoye as being persuasive. Another example is “After working for one hour, he left others by saying that he is tired.” This can show the readers that the character is lazy.”
In order to identify the character, 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 society.
- The actions of a character in his/her interactions with other characters.
- What other characters in the story say about him/her.
- The character’s thoughts, desires, dreams and wishes.
Characters are usually described by single adjectives such as loving, cruel, intelligent, naïve, hardworking, lazy, humorous and so on. This means that one does not say character A cares about people but rather, character A is caring. One should also avoid ambiguous words when describing a character. For example, rather than say character B is not disciplined, one should be more specific and say he or she is rude or dishonest. Characters can have both positive and negative traits.
Purpose refers to the reason for writing a novel. The reason can be to inform, entertain, explain, educate or persuade. In literature, purpose refers to the motives that make the author write a fictional work. It is the objective of a writer while writing a piece of work.
We can have:
Persuasive purpose: It is used to convince, or persuade the reader that the opinion, or assertion, or claim, of a writer is correct or valid. Persuasive writing is primarily concerned with convincing the reader at any cost. Due to its goal, persuasive purpose is the main purpose in a piece of writing.
Manipulative purpose: This intends to push, move or influence readers’ minds, so that they take a certain move or action
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