CLASS: SENIOR FIVE
UNIT 1: EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS 1
UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING PROSE
UNIT 3: THEMES IN AFRICAN NOVELS
UNIT 4: EPIC POETRY
UNIT 5: ODES
UNIT 6: RHYTHM IN AFRICAN POETRY
UNIT 7: DEVELOPMENT OF EUROPEAN DRAMA
UNIT 8: LANGUAGE USE IN DRAMAS
UNIT I: EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS I
I.1. EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS
A literary tradition refers to some common features or characteristics that define literature of a group of people at a certain period of time. These features relate to form and meaning of the literature of the given place or time period.
Literary tradition can also be referred to the passing down of stories which give meaning to human experience, according to literary articles. It may be also a sharing of stories between generations. Every linguistic group has a literary tradition which is transmitted either orally or through writing.
European literary traditions are the literature written in the context of Western culture in the languages of Europe, including the ones belonging to the family as well as several geographically or historically related languages such as Basque and Hungarian. Western literature is considered one of the defining elements of Western civilization.
A literary text from one literary tradition will differ in themes and features from a text of a different literary tradition. Literary traditions differ from one place to another and they keep on changing across time. For example: Rwandan literature is different in themes from Ugandan literature; African literature is different from European literature, Asian literary traditions are different from American literary traditions. African literature was primarily oral while European was mainly written.
Scholars of European literary traditions divided them in six different periods corresponding to specific types of literature: Classical ancient Greek and Latin literature, Medieval literature, Renaissance literature, Baroque literature, Classical literature, Enlightenment literature.
The European literary traditions have their origins in the East rather than in the West. They originated from 4500 B.C to 2000 B.C in Sumeria, Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria as well as in China and India, all of which have been considered by westerners as Eastern countries. The main stream of Western civilization is not as old as of that Eastern civilization. European literary tradition is said to have their sources in Palestine and in Greece.
1.1. Classical ancient Greek and Latin literature
Ancient Greek literature refers to literature written in the Ancient Greek language from the earliest texts until the time of the Byzantine Empire.
The earliest surviving works of ancient Greek literature are the two epic poems of Homer: The Iliad and The Odyssey, set in the Mycenaean era along with the Homeric Hymns and the two poems of Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days, comprised the major foundations of the Greek literary tradition that would continue into the Classical.
Sophocles is famous for his tragedies about Oedipus, particularly Oedipus the King and Antigone. Euripides is known for his plays which often pushed the boundaries of the tragic genre. The comedic playwright Aristophanes wrote in the genre of Old Comedy, while the later playwright Menander was an early pioneer of New Comedy. The philosopher Plato wrote dialogues, usually centered around his teacher Socrates, dealing with various philosophical subjects, whereas his student Aristotle wrote numerous treatises, which later became highly influential. Homer is regarded as the greatest of all the Greek writers. This period is divided into the Pre-classical, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Ancient Latin literature began as translation from the Greek. Latin authors used earlier writers as sources of stock themes and motifs, at their best using their relationship to tradition to produce a new species of originality. They were more distinguished as verbal artists than as thinkers; the finest of them have concrete detail and vivid illustration. Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings written in the Latin language. Beginning around the 3rd century BC, it took two centuries to become a dominant literature of ancient Rome with many educated Romans still reading and writing in Ancient Greek.
Generally, Latin literature refers to the body of writings in Latin, primarily produced during the Roman Empire when Latin was a spoken language. Latin Literature includes not only Roman authors like Cicero, Virgil, Ovid and Horace but also includes European writers after the fall of Empire, like Aquinas, Francis, Baruch Spinoza…
Cicero has traditionally been considered the master of Latin prose. Cicero’s many works can be divided into four groups: letters, rhetorical treatises, philosophical works, and orations. His letters provide a vivid picture of the public and private life among the Roman governing class. Cicero’s works on oratory are our most valuable Latin sources for ancient theories on education and rhetoric. His philosophical works were the basis of moral philosophy during the Middle Ages. His speeches inspired many European political leaders and the founders of the United States.
1.2. Medieval (Middle Ages) literature
The Medieval Period, or the Middle Ages, extends roughly from the 5th to the 15th Century. The early part of this period is sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages because of the scarcity of achievements in culture and learning. The Western countries produced a large quantity of verse and prose during this period of time.
Medieval literature is a broad subject encompassing all written works available in Europe and beyond during the Middle ages. The literature of this time was composed of religious writings as well as well as secular works and Latin language was a common language for medieval writings.
Many medieval works are anonymous. Medieval Europe became the cradle of new developing genres. It brought ballads, allegorical poetry, Latin hymns, sacred songs, lullabies, fabliaux, debates, court epics, popular epics, beast epics, tale cycles, chivalric romances, mystery plays, miracle plays, and morality plays. As many of these literary types suggest, a great deal of medieval literature is folk literature. Such literature is linkable to the oral tradition of bards, jongleurs and troubadours.
Main writers of this period are Christina de Pizan, Geoffrey Chauser, John Anthony Burrow, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Chretien de Troyes, Marie de France, Jacobus de Voragine, William Langland, Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, …
1.3. Renaissance literature
Renaissance basically means rebirth or revival. Renaissance literature is the revival of European art and literature under the influence of classical models in the 14th–16th centuries. Renaissance literature refers to European literature which was influenced by intellectual and cultural tendencies associated with Renaissance. It was written during the general movement of the Renaissance which arose in 14th century in the Italy and continued until the 16th century.
The characteristics of Renaissance were humanism, nationalism, a new approach to life, and a new spirit in art, architecture, literature and learning, the growth of the vernaculars, and scientific investigation. Renaissance was a time of rediscovery. More Europeans had access to ancient Greek and Roman learning. Another thing that accelerated this learning was the fall of Constantinople in 1453. As more Greek and Roman scholars moved to West, more people were curious to learn about ancient’s times. The influential writer of Renaissance was Willian Shakespeare. Other main writers include Geoffrey Chaucer, Nicholas Machiavelli, Miguel de Cervantes, Edmund Spenser, Giovanni Boccaccio, Francesco Petrarch, John Milton, Sir Thomas More, Sir Francis Bacon…
1.4. Baroque literature
The era of literature known as the Baroque period in Spain occurred during a particularly difficult time in the country’s history. Most works during this period, the 17th Century, dealt with human struggle and the reality of the miserable conditions many were enduring. At the time, Spain was dealing with many issues surrounding their economy and political system, such as their loss of control over owned land and territories and poor leadership from the country’s rulers.
Spanish baroque coincides with the Golden Age of Spanish literature, called that way because of the great number of excellent literary productions that appeared in the period. Miguel de Cervantes is without doubt, the ultimate Baroque author.
His masterpiece, the adventures of the mad knight Don Quixote, is considered the most important book of the Spanish literature.
Baroque literature is the 17th Century prose that is known for its dramatic elements and use of Allegory (a story in which people, things or happenings have the symbolic meaning. Aesop’s fables are an example of Allegory).
Literature in Baroque period was full of metaphor, emblem, symbols and hyperbole. Some baroque writers include Lope de Vega, Luis de Gongora, Andreas Gryphius and Paul Fleming.
1.5. Classical literature
Classicism is a specific genre of philosophy, expressing itself in literature, architecture, art, and music, which has Ancient Greek and Roman sources and an emphasis on society. It was particularly expressed in the Neoclassicism of the Age of Enlightenment with the classicism. Literary critics of this period influenced in upholding classical standards both in French and English literature. A book on classical principles, Longinus constitutes the key source of aesthetic of romanticism.
The Age of Enlightenment identified itself with a vision of antiquity which, while continuous of the previous century, was shaken by the Physics of Sir Isaac Newton, the improvements in machinery and measurement, and a sense of liberation which they saw as being present in the Greek civilization.
Some of the writers of classicism include Nicolas Boileau-Despéaux, Molière, Nicolas Poussin…
1.6. Enlightenment literature
Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during 18th century. It was characterized by reason, nature, happiness, progress and liberty.
Enlightenment is referred to as the Age of Reason. It was a confluence of ideas and activities that took place throughout the 18th Century. Scientific rationalism and use of scientific method were the hallmark of everything related to the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers believed in advances of science, egalitarianism and the progress of humankind.
- Middle class had more money and free time to spend on reading.
- Shift towards prose and realistic experiences – Rise of Journalism
Neoclassic literature aimed at elite; often used sarcasm and satire. Example: Franklin in Loseleon by David Martin.
The main writers of Enlightenment include Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, John Locke, Denis Diderot, Montesquieu (1689-1755), Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, Francis Bacon, Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Alexander Hamilton, Antoine Lavoisier, Voltaire…
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.
Context can also be referred to the circumstances forming the background of an event, idea or statement, in a such a way as to enable the audience (readers, listeners, spectators) understand the narrative or a literary piece. Generally, context refers to the whole situation, background or environment relevant to a literary work.
The types of context include:
It refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. It is also 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.
It refers to the moods, attitudes and conditions that existed in a certain time. Historical context is also 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.
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. It looks at the society in which characters live in and how their culture can affect their behaviours and their opportunities.
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. It is also referred to the disposition of decision makers surrounding an event or idea.
UNIT II: UNDERSTANDING PROSE
Prose is the usual or the normal form of written, or spoken language that follows regular grammatical conventions and has no metrical pattern. It applies a natural flow of speech that is built on sentences, paragraphs, and ordinary grammatical structure, rather than rhythmic structure as it is often the case in poetry. It is also 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 which is usually straightforward and may utilize figurative language. This is what we see in novels, novellas, and short stories. Each of this is made up of a setting, a plot, characters, themes and stylistic devices.
Prose is written in paragraphs and does not rhyme. Other examples of prose include journals, diaries, letters, essays, letters, editorials, travelogues, biographies, autobiographies, fairy tales, fables, and speeches.
Literary critics divide prose into fiction and non-fiction.
Fiction refers to literature which is created out of imagination. In a fictional work; the places do not necessarily exist in the real life as they are imagined or originate in the writer’s mind. It includes novels, novella, short stories, fairy tales…
Non-fiction refers to literature based on fact/reality. It is based on true accounts of the people, events and places. This one includes all writings based on true events, and real people existing in the real places. This one involves essays, letters, biographies, autobiographies, speeches…
II.1. REVIEW OF THE KEY ASPECTS OF PROSE
Key aspects of prose are the basic elements on which the story is built upon. Those key aspects of prose include plot, setting, characters, point of view, subject, themes, messages, audience, atmosphere and purpose.
Plot is how a novella, short story or novel progresses. It is also the succession/order/sequence or arrangement of events in a story. Plot is a literary term used to describe the events that make up a story, or the main part of a story. These events relate to each other in a pattern or a sequence. The structure of a novel depends on the organization of events in the plot of the story.
Plot is known as the foundation of a novel or story, around which the characters and settings are built. It is meant to organize information and events in a logical manner. While writing the plot of a piece of literature, the author has to be careful that it does not dominate the other parts of the story.
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. The plot is a planned, logical series of events having a beginning, middle, and an end.
The plot development is the succession of events/actions in the story. It is a literary term used to describe the events that make up a story. These events relate to each other in a sequence. The structure of a story depends on the organization of the events in the plot. The events of a story are not always arranged in a straight line.
Linear/chronological plot: It is when the story is in chronological order and does not skew from that order. It is constructed logically. A linear plot is a plot which starts from a certain point and ends at another point. The events in the story flow a chronological/sequential order, from the beginning, to the middle and then to the end. 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. Although the starting and the ending points are the same, the character(s) undergo a transformation, affected by the story’s events. In a circular plot the solution to a conflict/problem is never reached.
A circular plot is also a non-linear plot that progresses more or less chronological and ends with its protagonist returning to a situation similar to the one at the beginning of the story. The characters in a given story end up in the same place that they were at the beginning of the story.
Non-linear plot: At this time the events do not flow a chronological order. Nonlinear plot uses flashbacks or flashforward.
The parts/elements of a plot
The elements of a plot are also referred to as the plot development/progression/organization. Every plot is made up of series of incidents that are related to one another. There are five essential parts of plot: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. The plot starts with the beginning/exposition of the problem and goes on with the rising of the problem. It then reaches to the climax. Then, the climax is the part in the novella, short story or novel that everything leads up to. The story comes down to reach the resolution.
Exposition/introduction: It is the opening/beginning of a story where the author provides the background information, establishes the setting and the primary characters’ names, mood and time. Sometimes the main conflict or problem is also introduced.
Rising action: This is where the events in the story become complex. The conflict is revealed at this stage. The first important thing happens; and causes or leads to the central conflict. Rising action occurs when a series of events build up to the conflict. It includes all the events that lead to the climax, including character development. The main characters are established by the time the rising action of a plot occurs, and at the same time, events begin to get complicated. It is during this part of a story that excitement, tension, or crisis is encountered.
The rising moment may come before the exposition. Some writers like to open the story with the rising action to attract the reader’s attention.
Climax: It is the highest point of interest, emotion, tension and suspense and also; the turning point of the story where the reader wonders what is going to happen next. It is the decisive moment at which the rising action turns around toward to the falling action. This is the peak of the story, where a major event occurs: either the main character faces a major enemy, fear, challenge, or other source of conflict.
Falling action: Falling action, or the winding up of the story, occurs when the events and conflicts/complications begin to resolve. It includes everything that happens as a result of the climax, including wrapping-up of plot points, questions being answered and character development. Events show the results of how the characters begin to resolve the conflict. The result of the actions of the main characters are put forward.
Resolution/ denouement: It is the part of the plot that concludes the falling action by revealing or suggesting the outcome of the conflict. The resolution is not always happy, but it does complete the story. It can leave a reader with questions, answers, frustration or satisfaction. Simply, it is the end of the story which may occur with either a happy or a tragic ending.
Plots, also known as storylines, include the most significant events of the story and how the characters and their problems change over the time.
Recognizing plot devices
Devices are very important in the story, some of them are:
Suspense: Suspense is a technique that authors use to keep their readers’ interest alive throughout the work. It is a feeling of anticipation that something risky or dangerous is going to happen.
Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing is a technique in which a writer gives an advance hint or clue of what is to come later in the story. It often appears at the beginning of the story or chapter and helps the reader develop expectations about coming events in a story. Foreshadowing in fiction creates an atmosphere of suspense in a story which makes the readers be interested to know more. It is generally used to build anticipation in the mind of readers about what might happen next.
Moreover, foreshadowing can make extraordinary and bizarre events appear credible as the events are predicted beforehand so that readers are mentally prepared for them. Generally, it is the use of clues or hints to suggest what will happen later in a literature.
Flashback: The flashback (analepsis) occurs when the writer breaks away from the current action of a story to recount events that happened earlier. It is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point. It is also the interruption of the normal flow of events to the events that happened earlier. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events to fill in crucial backstory. In literature, internal analepsis is a flashback to an earlier point in the narrative while external analepsis is a flashback to a time before the narrative started.
Flashback is used when:
- The narrator tells another character about past events
- The narrator has a dream about past events
- The narrator thinks back to past events, revealing the information only to the reader
- The narrator reads a letter that prompts back to an earlier time
The difference between a memory and a flashback is that a memory is brief and does not interrupt the normal flow of a story.
Flash-forward (or prolepsis), on the other hand reveals events that will occur in the future. This means that it is an insertion of a later event into the chronological structure of a story. It is a sudden jump forward in time; which involves the scene that interrupts the present action of plot to shift into the future. Flashforward is also a scene that takes the narrative forward in time from current point of the story in literature.
Both flashback and flashforward are used to cohere a story, develop a character, or add structure to the narrative.
The difference between flash-forward and foreshadowing is that foreshadowing uses clues or hints of the possible outcome in the future, without any interruption. Flash-forward, on the other hand, is an interjected/inserted scene in a narrative, which takes the narrative forward in time. The events presented in a flash-forward are bound/likely/obliged to happen in the story. Foreshadowing predicts the future events, but those events do not necessarily take place in the future.
Surprise ending: This one occurs when something unexpected happens at the end of a story. The story has a surprise ending.
Setting refers to the place, time and the social environment at which a novel, novella or short story is represented as happening. It is the historical period, geographical place and social-cultural context in which the events of a story occur. Setting is simply the place and time of a story. It answers the questions of where and when. The time and place can be real or fictional, or a combination of both real and fictional elements.
The setting may include the environment of the story which can be made up of physical location, climate, weather, or social and cultural surroundings.
Place: – the geographical place where the events of a story take place like inside the house, in the valley, on the mountain, in a garden, in the village, in a sea, in an ocean, in Kigali city, in Rwanda, in Nyungwe Forest, at school, in a prison, in Africa, in China…
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, in Middle Ages, precolonial era, colonial era, postcolonial era, post-independence period, post genocide period, during the Cold War or the computer age.
Weather conditions: In the story, the weather can be rainy, sunny or stormy.
The social-cultural environment: This refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which characters live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the characters’ social interactions, culture, beliefs, among others. Therefore, the story can be set in a traditional society, in urban or rural environment.
The setting can be identified through the names of places, people or items. Some events are also historical and can guide in identifying the time setting of the story. For example, chiefdom was practised in traditional African communities. This can be used to analyze the setting of the story.
The types of setting
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, village…
The historical setting: It is the specific time in which the events in a story happen. Ex: Before Christ, pre/post-colonial era, colonial period, during WW II, …
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…
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.
All prose texts contain characters. A character refers to the person, animal or an object that the writer of a story or a play uses to advance the plot or theme. He/she is a 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.
Authors use different types of characters to tell stories. Some of them are:
Main/major/central characters: They are the leading characters in the story. This means that they play a big role in the story. They form the core of the story and the theme is based on them. Most of the actions in the story happen around these characters. They are central figures in the story and the plot and resolution of the conflict revolves around them.
Protagonist: A protagonist is a main character who is faced with problem/conflict he/she must resolve. All action revolves around him/her and he/she is the one that resolves the conflict or problem in the story. The protagonist is also a main character who has good behaviours. He/she is considered as a hero
Antagonist: An antagonist is a main character who usually challenges, opposes or tests the protagonist. He/she is a main character who has bad behaviours. He/she is also considered as a villain.
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.
Characters can also be categorized as:
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 wicked, cruel, brutal, lazy, revengeful….
Dynamic character is a character who changes over time. He/she portrays different emotions and traits. He/she/it grows or changes his/her/its personality, attitudes, behaviours as the story continues. He/she/it changes according to circumstances; and these changes in character are permanent.
Static character is a character that remains the same throughout the story. He/she doesn’t show changes in the story. The events in the story do not change his/her outlook, perceptions, habits, personality, or motivations.
Round/complex character is a character that has a complex personality. He /she is the one that has a mixture of traits (good and bad) that come from both nature and experience. This character is fully developed and described than a flat one. He/she is viewed as a conflicted and a contradictory character. A round character is a major character in a story and we may relate to this kind of character as a human being since we come to know so much about him or her.
Flat/simple character is a character that shows one or two main 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.
Stock characters is a type of flat character that appears so often in fiction and is recognized by more readers. This one doesn’t undergo any development in the story; and he/she represents specific stereotypes. He/she is the type and not individual.
Characterization refers to the author’s representation and development of characters in the story. It is also the act of creating and describing characters in literature. It includes descriptions of a character’s physical attributes, personality, actions and thoughts.
How to identify characters
In studying a short story, novel or novella, 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, humble, brave, courageous, serious, stubborn, loyal, gullible, selfish, generous, self-confident, respectful, brilliant, considerate, intelligent, mischievous, daring, patriotic, successful, loving, mysterious, hopeful, lucky, ambitious, curious, witty, determined, calm, foolish, miserable, wise, timid, faithful,…
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.
D. POINT OF VIEW
Point of view is the narrator’s position in relation to the story being told. It refers to the angle an author uses to tell the reader about the happenings in a literary text. It is also the method the author uses to narrate the story. Simply, it is who is telling the story.
There are three kinds of point of view:
The first-person narrator
The author tells the story from the I, me, we, us perspective. The narrator is one of the characters in the story. In this instance, the author narrates the story as one of the characters and in this case, he/she takes part in the actions that take place in the story.
Ex: I sat down on the cold floor – lost in thought but very alert to my surrounding – if you could call the small hole of a prison a surrounding. This was going to be my home for the next five years. Every day I regretted disobeying my parents’ warnings. My mother had been especially adamant that she did not like Harriet – the girl I was hanging out with and who I thought was an angel.
The second-person narrator
It is a type of narration that is told from the you, your perspective. It is not a common way of narration but when it is used, the author wants to draw the attention of the reader to the story by bringing him/her closer to the text and make him/her feel he/she is part of the events happening in the story.
Ex: You are quietly working on your assignments. Your classmates are chatting and shouting. You are trying really hard to concentrate and you wish something would happen to shut the noise out. Then suddenly the class is quiet. You look around to find out why the class is quiet but you see nothing unusual. You notice everybody is seated at their desk pretending to be busy. You are perturbed and scan the class – your eyes meet with Mr Ndayikunda’s – the disciplinary master. He is watching the class from the back window. You hurriedly go back to your assignment and do it by yourself.
The third person narrator
The story is narrated from a he/she, they or it perspective. The author refers to the characters in third person using the pronouns ‘he’, ‘she’, or by their names.
We have two types:
*Objective narrator is a third-person narrator that describes characters from the outside only, never revealing their thoughts. The narrator is an observer who describes the character’s appearance, speech and actions in a way that enables us to infer their thoughts. He/she does not know more about the character than what they choose to show. He is also called “a dramatic character”.
*Omniscient narrator is also a third-person narrator who knows what the character thinks and what is happening everywhere. This narrator is like the super hero or eye of God because he/she knows everything. He/she knows every move made by characters, their motives, thoughts and feelings; and he/she is not restricted by time or space. Omniscient narrator can jump from a character’s head to another’s, from a character to another, from scene to scene, from one place to another because he is all knowing.
A subject or subject matter is a topic which acts as a foundation for a literary work. It is the subject which makes a writer writes something, or what something is about. Subject is also the inspiration that makes you write anything, or something that is being written about, discussed, or shown. Simply, it is what a work refers to.
This is the central idea in a literary work. It refers to the suggestions the story makes about the life that it depicts. A theme is what the author is trying to convey or reveal in relation to the subject of the story. In other words, themes are insights of life that the story exposes to the reader. Short stories have one or few themes while novellas and novels have many. To find the theme in the story, we must ask the question: What is the purpose of the story and what is it all about? You can also check how much an idea is repeated in the story.
In few words, a theme can be explained as:
- a central/ main idea of the story.
- an opinion expressed on the subject.
- what a writer is saying about a certain subject.
- a writer’s opinion or perspective about a certain issue in society.
- a controlling idea which is continuously developed throughout the story.
- a central and unifying concept of a story.
- a main or an underlying meaning of a literary work.
Minor theme: It is an idea that appears in a story briefly or an idea that appears once in a while in a story. It is less important and may appear for a part of the narrative to be replaced by another. It doesn’t cover the whole story.
Major theme: It refers to an idea that a writer repeats in his/her work making it the most significant idea in a literary work. The whole literary work revolves around it.
Examples of themes may include compassion, courage, friendship, love, good vs bad, honesty, loyalty, loneliness, grief, perseverance, benefits of hardworking, importance of family…
This is the lesson that the author hopes the reader will get after reading a literary work.
In few words, a message can be explained as:
- a lesson the writer wishes to convey to the society through his/her story.
- what an author wants the society to learn from his/her literary work.
- a kind of a lesson that the reader learns after reading the story.
- a moral in the story.
- something the story aims to teach the reader.
- a lesson the writer wishes the society to learn from his/her literary work.
Messages can be about respecting elders, not fighting, caring for your loved ones, cooperating …
TYPES OF THEMES AND MESSAGES
The two types of themes and messages are: – Implicit/implied, – Explicit
Implicit themes or messages are the ones which are hidden. They are implied or communicated indirectly or suggested. To get them, the reader has to use his/her intelligence and analysis. They are also called hidden messages/ themes.
These are the themes or messages which are stated or communicated directly or clearly. The reader does not have to analyze the story to find them. They are fully and clearly expressed leaving nothing implied. They are also called fully stated messages/themes.
Audience is the number of people or particular group of people who watch, read or listen to the same thing. This could be the group of people who have gathered to watch or listen to something (a play, a concert, somebody speaking…). For books, audience refers to people who read that book.
In literature, audience refers to the person for whom a writer writes, or a composer composes. We modify what we say and how we say it depending on who our audience is. Our content, tone and language changes according to what we know about our audience. In writing, audience is whom you are writing for.
In few words, audience refers to the spectators, listeners and intended readers of a writing, performance or speech.
Target audience refers to the person or group of people a piece of writing is meant for. It is whom the writer is writing to, or the person whom the author expects will read the book. The audience targeted influences the tone, theme, style, language, and the choice of characters to be used in a story. Therefore, before an author writes a story, he or she considers the age, education level and culture, expectations among other factors of that audience. A target audience could be children, the youth, adults, women or men.
Intended audience of a literary work refers to anyone who will be reached by that work. Intended audience of a book are all categories of people who will read that book. They can be of different ages, regions, culture, sex, races among others.
It is the attitude or feelings of a writer towards the subject matter or the audience. It is also the manner of writing about the subject, characters and theme by careful choice of words. Tone is expressed by 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 attitude through his 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.
It is the feeling that a story evokes. This is how you feel after reading a story. Atmosphere refers to the emotions invoked/applied in the readers as he/she reads a piece of writing. It is also the feeling, emotion or mood a writer conveys to a reader through the description of setting and objects. Though the atmosphere is established very quickly but, it can change throughout the whole text.
Although mood and atmosphere are used interchangeably, there is a small difference. Mood is narrow as it concerns with the internal feelings of individual(s), without incorporating the feelings/emotions radiating throughout the venue. On the other hand, atmosphere is usually those feelings/emotions felt by more people or applied to a certain spot or venue.
The feeling could be gloomy, happy, tense, sad, romantic, amused, critical, humorous, cynical, pessimistic, hostile, loving, hopeless, anxious, cheerful, reflective, sorrowful, disgusting, fearful, sarcastic, hopeful, sleepy, sympathetic, peaceful, disappointed, curious, ashamed …
Some types of atmosphere/mood
- Gloomy mood: It is an atmosphere of great unhappiness/sorrow and loss of hope.
- Happy mood is an atmosphere of joy/happiness.
- Tense mood is an atmosphere of anxiety. You feel nervous/not relaxed because you are worried about what is going to happen.
In composition, the term purpose refers to a person’s reason for writing, such as to inform, entertain, explain, educate or persuade. In literature, purpose refers to the reasons/motives that make the author write a fictional work. It is the objective of a writer while writing a piece of work. In order to identify the purpose of a writer, we should ask ourselves why a story was written.
The purpose may be:
To inform: The author aims to enlighten the reader or provide him/her with information about a topic. He gives facts or information about something
To explain: The author may write to justify/clarify the reason why things are the way they are by providing details or facts.
To entertain: The author aims to provide with amusement/pleasure or enjoyment.
II.2. REVIEW OF LITERARY DEVICES
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. In a simile, a comparison is made between two objects of different kinds which have however at least one point in common.
- the righteous shall flourish as the palm tree.
- “Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.”-Alexander Pope.
- The gate to the pool banged away in the wind like some crazy person.
- 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 camel is the ship of the desert.
- The news is a dream.
- Richard was a lion in the fight.
- 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 (inanimates) 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
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 means that it evokes a range of additional meanings; and these meanings are usually central to the story. 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.
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
- Beautiful liar
- Best mistake.
- 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
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…”
II. 3. CREATIVE WRITING PROCESS
The process of writing involves four major stages. In prewriting stage, you plan the work to be done. In the drafting stage, you get your ideas down on paper. In revising stage, you rework your written draft. In the proofreading stage, you check your final draft for errors in spelling and grammar.
Stage 1: Planning for writing
Before planning, you have to analyse the writing situation. The analysis of the situation in the process of writing takes into accounts the following points:
- Topic: the subject you will be writing about.
- Purpose: what you want your writing to accomplish.
- Audience: the people for whom you are writing to.
- Voice: the way the writing will sound to the reader. What tone should your writing have?
- Content: what will you have to find out?
- Form: the shape the writing will take including its length and organization.
After analysing the above points, you plan to do some research in library or elsewhere to gather content information. After gathering the information, you organise it in a logical way. Then you may want to make a rough outline.
Stage 2: Writing
Once you have found a topic, taken notes, and organised them, you are ready to write a preliminary version of your paper. Keep the following points in mind as you are writing:
- Write in a way that feels comfortable to you.
- Do not aim for perfection in the draft.
- Keep your notes beside you as you write, and keep the purpose and audience in mind.
- As you write, feel free to change the original plan. Remember that writing is a form of thinking. If you think of the new ideas, add them. If some points seem not to work, eliminate them.
Stage 3: Revision
Once you have completed your first version, you can begin revising it. This is the time during which you work seriously on your version to make it as good as possible. Some draft may need little revision; others require major reworking. When you revise a work, check punctuation marks, spelling and grammar.
Checklist for revision
Topic and Purpose
- Is my main idea clear?
- Does the writing achieve its purpose?
Content and Development
- Have I developed the main idea completely?
- Have I provided examples or details that support the statements I have made?
- Are my sources of information unbiased, up-to-date?
- Have I avoided including unnecessary or unrelated ideas?
- If I have used quotations, are these quotations exact?
- Have I followed a logical method of organization?
- Have I used transitions to make the connections between ideas clear?
- Does the writing have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion?
- Will my audience understand what I have said?
- Will my audience find the writing interesting?
- Will my audience respond in the way I have intended?
Voice and word choice
- Does the writing convey the impression I have intended it to convey?
- Is my language appropriate?
- Have I avoided vague, undefined terms?
- Have I used vivid, specific nouns, verbs, and adjectives?
- Have I avoided jargon?
- Have I avoided clichés slang, euphemisms?
- Did I have the main characters and supporting characters?
- Did I pick them in real life?
- Are all events well arranged?
- Did I give the conclusion or a moral less?
Inference is a logical guess about a story or character based on your own experience and the evidence or ideas you find in the story. It refers to the process of using observation and background knowledge to determine a conclusion that makes sense. Inference is also explained as conclusions which can be drawn by the reader based upon limited clues or facts presented by the author; the reader is encouraged to discover things for him/herself without being directed by the author
- When Muhire comes back home after forgetting his office’s keys; he finds that his son is still lying in a bed while he should be at school at that time. Muhire can infer that his son is sick.
- Teddy arrives at home at 8:00 p.m. and sees that the lights are off in their house. Teddy can infer that her parents are not yet home.
- After Kabera receives a call from her neighbour telling him that she is coming to visit him; he hears the ringing on his gate. Kabera can infer that her neighbour has arrived.
- The house floor is covered in shreds of newspaper, a child has a small piece of newspaper in his hand. It can be inferred that the child has torn the newspaper.
- When the phone rang and Liz picked it up, she smiled. It can be inferred that she was pleased to receive the phone call.
- A man tries a new fruit and makes a disgusted face. His wife can infer that he does not like the taste of the fruit.
- The cars have stopped in the road. Another car behind them is honking and waving. You can infer that the driver of the car wants the other cars to move.
- Lilian comes home from her date, runs to her bedroom, and slams the door. You can infer that her date did not go well.
The difference between an observation and an inference is that an observation is something you notice, witness, or see while an inference is something you conclude by putting together different pieces of evidence.
Suspense is the intense feeling that an audience goes through while waiting for the outcome of certain events. It basically leaves the reader holding their breath and wanting more information. It is also a literary device that authors use to keep their readers’ interest alive throughout the work. This is a feeling of anticipation that something risky or dangerous is about to happen. The purpose of using suspense in literature is to make readers more concerned about the characters, and to form sympathetic association with them. Therefore, authors create scenarios that could force readers to understand, and to want to read on so as to see what their beloved characters face the next.
When the plane was flying from one country to another arrived in the sky, it encountered thunderstorm. This made the plane have some technical problems and it started going down while the pilot tries to put it on order. By here, the reader has intense feelings of whether the plane crashed down or the pilot survived or whether he resolved the problem.
UNIT III: THEMES IN AFRICAN NOVELS
III.0. REVIEW OF THEME
A theme is a central or main idea in a literary work. It a view about life that is expressed in the story. A theme is what the author is trying to convey or reveal in relation to the subject of the story. In other words, themes are insights of life that the story exposes to the reader. Short stories have one or few themes while novellas and novels have many. To find the theme in the story, we must ask the question: What is the purpose of the story and what is it all about? You can also check how much an idea is repeated in the story.
In few words, a theme can be explained as:
- a central/ main idea of the story.
- an opinion expressed on the subject.
- what a writer is saying about a certain subject.
- a writer’s opinion or perspective about a certain issue in society.
- a controlling idea which is continuously developed throughout the story.
- a central and unifying concept of a story.
- a main or an underlying meaning of a literary work.
The themes in novels may be major or minor. A major theme refers to an idea that an author repeats in his/her novel; making it the most significant idea of the novel. The whole literary novel revolves around it. A minor theme on the other hand is an idea that appears in a novel briefly or appears once in a while in the novel. This one is less important and may appear for a part of the novel to be replaced by another. It doesn’t cover the whole novel.
A theme may be expressed explicitly. This is when the writer states it openly and clearly. It could be also implied. This is when it is not stated directly. To find out a theme in a novel, a reader needs to deduce evidence from the novel. He/she must identify a cross section of examples from the extract to support his/her interpretation. He/she can interpret a book with political elements, historical elements, social elements, economic elements and cultural elements found in a book. There are themes that are common or universal like love, betrayal, suffering(calamities) and hope.
III.1. MAJOR THEMES IN AFRICAN NOVELS
Historical theme means historical events that motivate the writer to write. The elements of historical theme may be war, independence, genocide, famine, migration, drought, natural calamities, and volcano eruptions. Historical themes include independence, war, colonialism, apartheid etc.
In historical fiction, setting is the most important literary element. Because the author is writing about a particular time in history, the information about the time period must be accurate, authentic, or both. To create accurate and authentic settings in their books, authors must research the time period thoroughly.
A political theme means political situation that are depicted in a story. It is composed with some elements that highlight good governance, corruption, unity and reconciliation in a story. Political themes include good governance, corruption, patriotism, embezzlement of public funds, unity and reconciliation, apartheid or racial discrimination, oppression, etc.
An economic theme is a description of economic situation in the prose narrative. This theme is characterised by poverty, development, growth, economic integration, monetary union, economic growth, inflation, debts that are depicted in a novel. Economic themes include poverty, development, unemployment, suffering etc.
Cultural themes are cultural elements that are described in a narrative prose. They are traditions (polygamy, charms, witchery, rituals, superstitions, kubandwa, guterekera and kuraguza). Cultural themes include traditions, modernization, polygamy, marginalization of women, superstition, masculinity, clash of culture, fate and free will, culture, religion, etc.
By social theme, we understand the social interaction between people in their daily life. The elements of social themes are the way the society is organized in family, state, in social groups, institutions, roles, social relationship, societal values, religions, classification of social group etc. Social themes include conflicts, violence and revenge, social classes, love, hate, friendship, social transformation, etc.
UNIT IV: EPIC POETRY
(To be continued…)