CLASS: SENIOR SIX
TABLE OF CONTENTS
UNIT I: EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS 2
UNIT II: STRUCTURE IN MODERN PROSE
UNIT III: ELEGY AND EPITAPH
UNIT IV: LIMERICKS- RHYTHM AND RHYME
UNIT V: FREE VERSE
UNIT VI: THEATRE OF THE ABSURD
UNIT VII: RADIO AND TELEVISION DRAMA
UNIT VIII: PERFORMING DRAMA
TOPIC AREA: PROSE
UNIT I: EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS 2
I.1. REVIEW THE EARLIER PERIODS OF THE EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS
Literary traditions refer 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.
Literature 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.
Classical ancient Greek
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 went beyond 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.
The Iliad: It is a famous story about the Trojan War. It is a pure tragedy which centers on the person of Achilles who embodied the Greek heroic ideal.
Odyssey: It is a mixture of tragedy and comedy. It is an account of the adventures of Odysseus, one of the warriors at Troy. After ten year, fighting the war he spends other ten years sailing back home (to Ithaca) to his wife/family. He looses his comrades and ships and Penelope was considered as the ideal female based on her commitment, modesty, purity and respect during her marriage with Odysseus.
Works and Days: It is a faithful depiction of the poverty-stricken country life and it sets forth principles and the rules for farmers.
Theogony is a systematic account of creation and of the gods. It vividly describes the ages of mankind beginning with a long-past Golden age.
Latin literature refers to the body of writings in Latin, primarily produced during the Roman Empire when Latin was a spoken language. 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. 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.
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 and Isaac Newton.
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.
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.
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.
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. A great deal of medieval literature is folk literature. Such literature is linkable to the oral tradition of bards, jongleurs and troubadours. Main writers 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,…
Renaissance basically means rebirth or revival. 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.
Renaissance is the revival of European art and literature under the influence of classical models in the 14th –16th centuries. 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,…
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 17thCentury, 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.
Enlightenment is referred to as the Age of Reason. It was a confluence of ideas and activities that took place throughout the 18thCentury. 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
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. 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…
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-Despréaux, Molière, Nicolas Poussin…
I.2. EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS 2
Etymologically, the word romanticism is derived from “Roman” in the various European languages, such as “romance” and Romanesque. By the middle of the 18th century, two words “romantic” in English and; romantique’ in French were universally used as adjectives of praise for natural phenomena such as views and sunsets, in a sense close to modern English usage but without the amorous connotation.
Romanticism was a movement of arts and ideas which showed deep interest both in nature and in thoughts and in the feelings of individual. In many ways, Romantic thinkers and writers reacted against the ideals class. They turned from reason to emotion, from society to nature. Nationalism also fired the Romantic imagination. For example, a fighter for freedom in Greece, Lord Byron, ranked as one of the leading Romantic poets of the time.
Romanticism is a movement in the arts and literature which originated in the late 18th century. It is also called romantic period or era which was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement in Europe.
The idea of Romanticism emotion, sometimes wild emotions, was a key element of Romanticism. Nevertheless, Romanticism went beyond feelings. It expressed a wide range of ideas and attitudes.
In general, Romanticism thinkers and artists:
- Emphasized inner feelings, emotions, imagination.
- Focused on the mysterious and the supernatural; they also on the odd, exotic, and grotesque or horrifying
- Loved the beauties of untamed nature
- Idealised the past as a simpler and nobler time
- Glorified heroes and heroic actions
- Cherished folk traditions, music and stories
- Valued the common people and the individual
- Promoted radical change and democracy
It was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. All components of modernity embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature. Its major impact on historiography, education, social sciences, and natural sciences had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.
The authors of this period include:
- William Wordsworth (a poet)
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (a poet)
- Lord Byron (a poet)
- John Keats (a poet)
- William Blake (a poet)
- Marry Shelley (a poet)
- Edgar Allan Poe
- Walter Scott (a novelist)
Realism was an artistic movement that began in France in the 1850s, after the 1848 revolution. It rejected Romanticism which dominated French literature and art since the late of 18th century.
Realism revolted against the exotic subject matter and exaggerated emotionalism and drama of Romantic movement. Instead it sought to portray real and typical contemporary people and situations with truth and accuracy and not avoiding unpleasant and sordid aspects of life.
Realism in literature is defined as an approach that attempts to describe life without idealization or Romantic subjectivity. It is also an attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements.
Realism was introduced in England by William Dean Howells. In French we have novelist like Flaubert and Balzac. Other major writers include George Eliot (1819-1880), Edith Wharton (1862-1937), Mark Twain (1835-1910), Henry James, (1843-1916), etc… Realism as an art movement was led by Gustave Courbet.
Realism was born in a chaotic era marked by revolution and social change. It revolutionised painting and expanding conceptions of arts. Dramatically, it changed the life of Europe because of the introduction of machine within Industrial Revolution in Europe.
Modernism can be defined as a style or movement in the art that aimed to depart significantly from classical and traditional forms, in accordance with modern ideas, especially in the Catholic Church in the later of 19th early 20th centuries mainly in Europe and North America.
Modernism was characterised by a very self-conscious break with traditional ways of both prose and poetry, fictions. This break includes a strong reaction against religious, political and social views. Sigmund Freud and Ernst Mach’s theories influenced early modernist literature.
Among the factors that shaped modernism was the development of modern industrial society, rapid growth of cities, which were followed by the harrowing reaction to World War I. It rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking and religious belief. It was characterized by self-consciousness and irony concerning literary and social traditions, which often led to experiments with forms, along with the use of techniques that drew attention to the process and materials used in creating painting, poems, buildings, etc…
In literature, modernism was a diverse movement that spanned Europe, America, and even parts of Africa and Asia. In England, it took hold in the first decade of the 20th century. As the economic, political, and social structure of Britain began to crumble in those years, British writers began to experiment with ways that would question the basic elements of literature of a poem or the narrative elements of a fictional story.
A main figure in the modernist movement was James Joyce (1982-1941), whose novels, short stories, and poetry were anything but traditional. The 1922 publication of his work Ulysses marked the peak of the modernist movement in fiction. Other modernist writers include Virginia Woolf, J Con Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Ernst Hemingway, George Orwell (1903-1950), Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), Robert Frost (1874-1963), Boris Pasternak, W.B. Yeats, T.S Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, …
Post-modernism is late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.
It is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In mind, it shoots from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality.
Some of the common characteristics are aligned like: truth is relative; consumerism is all, transformation of the mix, disillusionment with the idea of progress, uncertainty, fragmentation of social life, incessant choice, globalization and the impact of ICT. It has been enlightened by irony, playfulness, black humour, pastiche, inter-sexuality, meta-fiction, temporal distortion, techno-culture and hyper-reality, a sense of paranoia, maximalism and minimalism, fiction and tabulations, magic realism and scepticism toward all sort of meta narratives.
The main writers of post-modernism include Samuel Beckett, Tom McCarthy, Cormac McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, …
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.
A novella: ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
About the author
Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903-21st January 1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic.
George Orwell was born in Motihari (India) and died of tuberculosis in University College Hospital (London/England) when he was 46 years old.
Orwell was a man of strong opinions who addressed some of the major political movements of his times including imperialism, fascism and communism. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism and outspoken support of democratic socialism.
His notable (main) works include:
- Animal Farm (1945) allegorical novella.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) dystopian novel.
- The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) documenting his experience of working-class life in the North of England.
- Homage to Catalonia (1938): an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
- Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)
His essays are “Politics and the English Language” published in April 1946 in the British literary magazine called “Horizon” and “Shooting an Elephant” published n the literary magazine “New Writing” in 1936 which discusses his time as a police officer in Burma (Myanmar).
About the book
Animal Farm by George Orwell is a short novel or novella published in 1945. It is an allegory and satire about the Russian revolution from its roots in the theories of Karl Marx to actualization by Leon Trotsky and Stalin.
On the surface it is an animal story about animal freeing themselves from the dictatorship of human beings. After gaining the freedom that they were fighting for, that freedom changed to no freedom due to greed, corruption and myopia.
In other words, Animal Farm is a condemnation of Stalin and all other Soviet Union leaders who betrayed what everyone was fighting for-Socialism. After seizing power, those leaders (especially Stalin=Napoleon) monopolized power and thus introduced a ‘totalitarian’ system in which they killed anyone who did not follow their way.
After Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, falls asleep in a drunken stupor, all of his animals meet in the big barn at the request of old Major, a 12-year-old pig. Major tells the animals that humans are their enemies as they exploit them for their own interests only. He adds that they must overthrow the human race. Old Major mentions a strange dream of his in which he saw a vision of the Earth without humans. He then teaches the animals a song (Beasts of England) which they sing repeatedly until they awaken Mr Jones, who fires his gun from his bedroom window to the barn’s wall thinking there is a fox in the yard. Frightened by the shot, the animals disperse and go to sleep.
Three nights after his speech, Old Major dies in his sleep. Animals spend their days secretly planning the rebellion, although they are unsure when it will occur. Because of their intelligence Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer come up with a philosophy of “Animalism” which is a complete system of thoughts from Old Major’s teachings. Despite Mollie’s concern with ribbons and Moses’ tales of a place called Sugarcandy Mountain, the pigs are successful in conveying the principles of Animalism to the others.
One night when Mr Jones was drunk and had forgot to feed the animals, they broke into the store-shed in search of a meal. When Jones and his men arrive, they begin whipping the animals but soon find themselves being attacked and chased off the farm. The triumphant animals then destroy all traces of Jones but leave his house as a museum. Snowball then changes the sign reading “Manor Farm” to “Animal Farm” and paints the Seven Commandments of Animalism on the wall of the barn. The cows then give five buckets of milk, which Napoleon steals.
Despite the initial difficulties of using human farming tools, the animals cooperate to finish with a great harvest, and do so in less time than it had taken Jones and his men to do the same. Boxer distinguishes himself as a hard worker with his motto “I will work hard”. The pigs become the supervisors and directors of other animals and every Sunday the animals meet in the big barn to listen to Snowball and Napoleon debate a number of topics on which they seem never to agree. Snowball forms a number of Animal Committees, all of which fail except one which was about bringing literacy to the animals. He also reduces the Seven Commandments to a single slogan: “Four legs good, two legs bad.”
Napoleon, meanwhile, focuses his energy on educating the youth and takes the infant pups of Jessie and Bluebell away from their mothers, presumably for educational purposes. The animals learn that the cows’ milk and windfallen apples are mixed every day into the pigs’ mash by which Squealer explains that the pigs need the milk and apples to sustain themselves as they work for the benefit of all the other animals.
As summer ends and news of the rebellion has spread to other farms by way of pigeons released by Snowball and Napoleon. They also tell those pigeons to urge those animals to do the same. Mr Jones spends most of his time in Red Lion Pub, complaining about his troubles to two neighbouring farmers: Mr Pilkington and Mr Frederick.
In October, Mr Jones and a group of men come back at Animal Farm and attempt to seize control of it. Snowball with extraordinary tactics and, with the help of the other animals, drives Jones and his men away. The animals then celebrate their victory and call that battle “The Battle of the Cowshed.”
Winter comes, and Mollie works less and less. Eventually, Clover discovers that Mollie is being bribed off Animal Farm by one of Pilkington’s men, who eventually wins her loyalties. Mollie disappears, and the pigeons report seeing her standing outside a pub, sporting one of the ribbons that she always coveted.
Snowball and Napoleon continue their debates. Snowball proposes to build a windmill by which Napoleon opposes. Napoleon then sends nine dogs to chase Snowball off the farm. Three weeks after Snowball’s escape, Napoleon announces that the windmill will be built and Squealer explains that it was Napoleon’s idea but stolen by Snowball.
During the following year, the animals work harder than before. and Boxer proves himself a model of physical strength. and dedication. Napoleon announces that Animal Farm will begin trading with neighbouring farms and hires Mr. Whymper, a solicitor, to act as his agent. Other humans meet in pubs and discuss their theories that the windmill will collapse and that Animal Farm will go bankrupt. Mr. Jones moves to another part of the county and the pigs move into the farmhouse and begin sleeping in beds which Squealer excuses on the grounds that the pigs need their rest after the daily strain of running the farm.
One morning in November, they awoke and find the almost finished windmill in ruins. Even though there had been a violent windstorm the night before, Napoleon blames it on Snowball. He also says that he will reward any animal who kills Snowball or brings him back alive and then declares that the windmill be built that very morning till it is finished.
Despite the bitter winter the animals work hard to rebuild the windmill. In January there was food shortage and Napoleon made a deal with Mr. Whymper that he would give him four hundred eggs in exchange of grain and food until summer came. The animals are led to believe that Snowball snuck into the farm at night and cause mischief on the farm
One day in spring, Napoleon calls a meeting of all the animals, in which he forces confessions from all questioned animals. These ones include four pigs and three hens. After confessing to crimes that they claim were instigated by Snowball, the dogs kill them. Minimus, Napoleon’s pig-poet composes a new song to replace “Beasts of England”.
The following year brings more work on the windmill and less food for the workers, despite Squealer’s false lists proving that food production has increased dramatically under Napoleon’s rule. As Napoleon grows more powerful, he is seen in public less often. More executions occur while Napoleon schemes to sell a pile of timber to Frederick.
After the completion of the new windmill in August, Napoleon sells the pile of timber to Frederick, who tries to pay with a check. Napoleon, however, demands cash, which he receives and then later Whymper learns that those banknotes are forgeries, and Napoleon pronounces the death sentence to Mr. Frederick.
The next morning, Mr. Frederick and his men come at Animal Farm and destroy the windmill. This enrages the animals and drive the men from the farm. They call the battle “The Battle of the Windmill” and the pigs get drunk which make them change the fifth commandment from “No animal shall drink alcohol to “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.”
After celebrating their so-called victory against Frederick, the animals begin building a new windmill. Despite Boxer’s hoof problem, he insists on working harder and getting the windmill started before he retires. Animals rations are reduced while the pigs continue to grow fatter. Animal Farm is proclaimed as a Republic, and Napoleon is elected as a president.
Boxer falls down due to the lung that was bothering him and instead of being taken to the hospital; the van takes him to a knacker, or glue boiler and dies there which Squealer explains that Boxer was taken to the veterinarian. The grocer’s van delivers a crate of whisky to the pigs, who drink it all and do not arise until after noon the following day.
Many years pass, and the only remaining animals from the Rebellion are Clover, Benjamin, Moses and a number of pigs. All the animals continue their hardworking with little food except of course, for the pigs. One evening the pigs emerge walking on hind legs, led by Napoleon with a whip in his trotter. The seventh commandment is replaced by “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
Neighbouring farmers are given a tour of the farm after which they meet in a dining-room with Napoleon and other pigs. Humans share a drink with pigs while playing cards. Napoleon announces that the flag will be changed, and Sunday meetings are also suppressed. He also declares that Animal Farm will again be called Manor Farm. They continue playing cards in which Napoleon and Pilkington each try to play the ace of spades which make them quarrel violently. As the other animals watch them through the dining-room window, they are unable to differentiate the humans from the pigs.
Characters and characterization
There are many characters in the book who are based on real people. They are grouped into pigs, horses, humans and other animals.
Old Major: A prize-winning pig who inspires all the animals to rebel against the humans. He is 12 years old. The character is based on Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, the communist leader of the Russian Revolution. Lenin died during the Soviet Union’s early years, leaving Trotsky (Snowball) and Stalin (Napoleon) to vie for his leadership position.
Napoleon: A large boar who becomes the leader of Animal Farm after the Rebellion. Napoleon expelled Snowball from the farm and takes over. He modifies his opinions and policies and rewrites history continually to benefit the pigs. He is the main villain of the story who secures his power through fear. This character proves more treacherous than his counterpart, Snowball. Napoleon represents the type of dictator/tyrant with greed for power. Orwell reflects Napoleon’s greed for power with a name that invokes Napoleon Bonaparte, the very successful French leader who became “Emperor”. But Napoleon the pig more directly represents Stalin in his constantly changing policies and actions, his secret activities, his intentional deception and manipulation of the populace, and his use of fear tactics and atrocities.
Snowball: He is the pig who challenges Napoleon for controlling Animal Farm after the Rebellion. He easily wins the loyalty of most of the animals. He is mainly based on Leon Trotsky, but also has some characteristics taken from Lenin. He is intelligent, passionate than his counterpart, Napoleon He is later framed of doing false crimes, and is banned from the farm.
Squealer: A small white fat porker who serves as Napoleon’s second in command and minister of propaganda. He is also “a brilliant talker” who is talented in the art of argument. He twists the truth and abuses language to excuse and justify Napoleon’s actions. He is based on Vyacheslav Molotov.
Minimus: A poet who writes the second and third national anthems of Animal Farm, after “Beasts of England” is banned. He also creates poems and songs praising Napoleon. he represents the Soviet Union’s artists, who were forced to use their talents to glorify communism rather than express their personal feelings or beliefs.
The young pigs: Four pigs who complain about Napoleon’s takeover of the farm but are quickly silenced and later executed (Grigori Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev…)
The piglets: Hinted to be the children of Napoleon and are the first generation of animals subjugated to the idea of animal inequality.
Pinkeye: A minor pig who is mentioned once as the pig that tastes Napoleon’s food.
Horses and donkeys
Boxer: A loyal, kind and dedicated, extremely strong, respectable and hardworking cart-horse. He is quite gullible as he believes naively the pigs to make all decisions for him. His two mottos are “I will work harder “and “Napoleon is always right”. He and his companion Clover represent the working class during the Russian Revolution. He gets weak towards the end and is sent to the slaughter house by Napoleon who fooled the other animals into believing that he is getting sent to the hospital.
Clover: A motherly mare approaching middle age. She is Boxer’s companion, and she takes care of him. Like Boxer, she works as a cart-horse on Manor Farm. During the book she has doubts about the pigs’ behaviour, but repeatedly blames herself for not remembering correctly the commandments. Clover represents those people who remember a time before the Revolution and therefore half-realize that the government is lying about its success and adherence to its principles, but are helpless to change anything.
Mollie: A foolish, pretty and vain young white mare. She likes sugar so much that when eating of sugar is banned, she smuggles some into the farm. When it is discovered, she leaves the farm to go to another farm. She is last seen being caressed by a man. The character represents the class of nobles who were happy with their life under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II, unwilling to conform to the new regime, and left Russia a year after the Revolution.
Benjamin: An old donkey one of the oldest and also one of the smartest animals on the farm. He can read properly. He is also a very loyal friend of Boxer and him and Clover look after Boxer. He believes that life will remain unpleasant no matter who is in charge. He is thought to represent the older generation wise enough to see through the lies of Stalin, but keeps silent and do nothing to try to stop them.
Mr. Jones: The owner of Manor Farm and a drunkard. His animals revolt against him because he does not feed them, take care of them, and whips them. They overthrow him in the Rebellion and when he tries to recapture his property, they defeat him, steal his gun, and drive him off again. Mr. Jones dies in a home for alcoholics in another part of the country. He represents the kind of corrupt and fatally flawed government that results in discontent and revolution among the populace. Mr. Jones represents the latter days of imperial Russia and its last leader, the wealthy but ineffective Czar Nicholas II.
Mr. Pilkington: The farmer of Foxwood, a large unkempt neighbouring farm to Manor Farm. He is a wealthier man who prefers pursuing his hobbies to maintaining his land. At the book’s end, Mr. Pilkington offers a toast to the future cooperation between human farmers and Animal Farm. He also says he plans to imitate Animal Farm’s low rations and long work hours. Pilkington can be seen to represent the allied countries (capitalists) explored the possibility of trade with the Soviet Union towards World War II but kept a watchful distance. Pilkington’s unwillingness to save Animal Farm from Frederick and his men parodies the Allies’ initial hesitance to enter the War. Napoleon’s and Pilkington’s poker game at the end of the book suggests the beginning of a power struggle that would later become the Cold War.
Mr. Frederick: The tough owner of Pinchfield, a small but well-kept neighbouring farm. He briefly enters into an alliance with Napoleon. He cheats the animals out of their timber by paying for it with fake banknotes. Animals of Animal Farm are terrified of him as he is thought to abuse and entertains with cockfighting-the horror stories emerging from Nazi Germany. He symbolises Adolf Hitler. Frederick’s agreement to buy the timber represents the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression treaty, and his subsequent betrayal of the agreement and invasion of Animal Farm represents the Nazi’s invasion of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Whymper: A solicitor in Willingdon who acts as Animal Farm’s intermediary to the human world. He is “a sly-looking little man with side whiskers” who visits the farm every Monday to get his orders and is paid in commissions. Mr. Whymper’s business-minded attitude towards Animal Farm, which allows him to ignore the injustices and extreme cruelties committed there, make him a parody of nations that conducted business with the Soviet Union while turning a blind eye to its internal affairs.
Muriel: A wise old white goat who is a friend with all of the animals on the farm. Muriel can read fairly well and helps Clover decipher the alterations to the Seven Commandments. Muriel is not opinionated, but she represents a subtle, revelatory influence because of her willingness to help bring things to light (as opposed to Benjamin).
Moses: A tame raven that is Mr. Jones’s special pet. He is a spy, a gossip, and a “clever talker” He is also the only animal not present for Old Major’s meeting. Moses disappears for several years during Napoleon’s rule and when he returns, he still insists on the existence of Sugarcandy Mountain, where all animals go when they die. He represents religion, which gives people hope of a better life in heaven. The pigs dislike his stories, just as the Soviet government opposed religion, not wanting its people to subscribe to a system of belief outside of communism. Though the Soviet government suppressed religion aggressively, the pigs on Animal Farm let Moses come and go as he pleases and even give him a ration of beer when he returns from his long absence.
Bluebell and Jessie: A mated pair of dogs whose children are taken away from them by Napoleon at birth and raised by Napoleon to be his fierce, elitist bodyguards.
The Dogs: Nine puppies, which Napoleon confiscates and secludes in a loft. Napoleon rears them into fierce, elitist dogs that act as his security guards. The dogs are the only animals other than the pigs that are given special privileges. They also act as executioners, tearing out the throats of animals that confess to treachery. They represent the NKVD and more specifically the KGB, agencies Joseph Stalin fostered and used to terrorize and commit atrocities upon the Soviet Union’s populace.
The Sheep: The sheep are loyal to the tenets of Animal Farm, often breaking into a chorus of “Four legs good, two legs bad” and later, “Four legs good, two legs better!” The sheep-true to the typical symbolic meaning of “sheep”-represent those people who have little understanding of their situation and thus are willing to follow their government blindly.
The Cows: In the Revolution, cows were promised that their milk will not be taken away but raise their calves. That milk is then stolen by the pigs, that learn to milk them. It is also stirred into the pigs’ food every day while the other animals are not allowed to have any.
The Hens: The hens are among the first to rebel against Napoleon who asked them through Squealer to give their eggs. After denying that request, they were starved till nine among them die.
The Cat: The cat is the animal that never does any work, but she is forgiven because her excuses are so convincing. She has no interest in the politics of the farm. She is lazy and indifferent.
Manor Farm is a small farm in England run by the harsh and often drunk Mr. Jones. One night, a boar named Old Major gathers all the animals of Manor Farm together. Knowing that he will soon die, Old Major gives a speech in which he reveals to the animals that men cause all the misery that animals endure. Old Major says that all animals are equal and urges them to join together to rebel. He teaches them a revolutionary song called “Beasts of England.” Old Major dies soon after, but two pigs named Snowball and Napoleon adapt his ideas into the philosophy of Animalism. Three months later, the animals defeat Jones in an unplanned uprising. The farm is renamed “Animal Farm.”
The ingenuity of the pigs, the immense strength of a horse named Boxer, and the absence of parasitical humans makes Animal Farm prosperous. The animals post the Seven Commandments of Animalism on the side of the barn. The commandments state that all animals are equal and no animal may act like a human by sleeping in a bed, walking on two legs, killing other animals, drinking alcohol, and so on.
A fight for power soon develops between the two pigs Snowball and Napoleon. The rivalry comes to a head over Snowball’s idea to build a windmill. At the final debate about the windmill, Napoleon summons dogs he has secretly reared to be his own vicious servants and has them chase Snowball from Animal Farm. Napoleon tells the other animals that Snowball was a “bad influence,” eliminates the animals’ right to vote, and takes “the burden” of leadership on himself. He sends around a pig named Squealer, who persuades the animals that Napoleon has their best interests at heart.
Three weeks later Napoleon decides they should build the windmill after all. The animals set to work, with Boxer leading. Focusing on the windmill reduces the productivity of the farm, and all the animals but the pigs get less to eat. The pigs begin to trade with other farms, move into Mr. Jones’s farmhouse, and start to sleep in beds. This confuses the animals who considered this forbidden behaviour. But when they check the Commandment about beds, it reads: “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.”
Over the next few years, Animal Farm battles with its human neighbours. The windmill gets destroyed first by a storm and then by a human attack. Napoleon blames all catastrophes on the “traitor” Snowball, and uses fear tactics, information control, and deadly purges of anyone he considers an enemy to strengthen his power over the farm. Meanwhile, the pigs secretly continue to rewrite the Commandments and all of Animal Farm’s history to support their lies. They give the animals less food and demand more work, while eating more and working less themselves. The other animals, duped by the pigs’ misinformation, continue to consider themselves part of a great revolution. When Boxer, the most devoted worker on the farm, is no longer able to work, the pigs sell him to a glue factory and use the proceeds to buy whiskey.
Years pass. Now only a few of the remaining animals on the farm experienced the revolution. Even fewer remember its goals. The pigs teach themselves to walk on two legs and begin carrying whips. When the animals look at the Seven Commandments, they have been replaced by the statement: “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.” The pigs make peace with their human neighbours and have a feast. The other animals are shocked to discover that they can no longer tell the pigs from the humans.
As is the case of most fables, Animal Farm is set in an unspecified time period and largely free from historical references that would the reader date the action precisely. Orwell means the fable to be contemporaneous with the object of its satire, The Russian Revolution (1917-1945). This story is also set in an imaginary farm in England.
The corruption of socialist ideals in the Soviet Union
Animal Farm which criticizes the Russian Revolution, retells the story of the emergence and development of Soviet communism in the form of an animal fable. It allegorizes the rise to power of the dictator Joseph Stalin.
In the novella, the overthrow of the human oppressor Mr. Jones/Nicholas II gives way to the consolidation of power among the pigs/Soviet intelligentsia. After gaining power, the rivalry emerges between Trotsky and Stalin (Snowball and Napoleon), and then Trotsky is expelled from the revolutionary state. From then, many purges, show trials, executions take place so as to solidify Stalin/Napoleon’s power. He with his government abandon the founding principles of the Russian Revolution and turn to a violent government and adopt the traits and behaviours of their original oppressors.
The societal tendency toward class stratification
Animal Farm offers commentary on the development of class tyranny and the human tendency to maintain and re-establish class structures even in societies that allegedly stand for total equality. The novella illustrates how classes that are initially unified in the face of a common enemy, as the animals are against the humans, may become internally divided when that enemy is eliminated. From when the animals have overthrown Mr Jones, the pigs have elevated above as the leaders of other animals. They start to control and supervise others. Under the leadership of Napoleon, this gap becomes big as the pigs consider themselves as brainworkers while other animals are considered as workers who must be exploited for the benefits of the pigs.
The danger of a naïve working class
Animal Farm not only portrays the figures in power but also the oppressed ones. The story is not told from the perspective of any particular animal but, from the perspective of the common animals as a whole. Gullible, loyal, and hardworking, these animals are not only oppressed by their bad leaders but also by their naïvety. Some are uneducated while others lack critical thinking and portray the inability or unwillingness to question authority which results in their suffering. For instance, Boxer who is the most hardworking among others sacrificed everything for the good of the farm doesn’t get a reward of his deeds. Despite being loyal and always believing that Napoleon is always right, he is betrayed by Napoleon.
The abuse of language as instrumental to the abuse of power
One of Orwell’s central concerns in Animal Farm, is the way in which language can be manipulated as an instrument of control. In this book, the pigs gradually twist and distort a rhetoric of socialist revolution to justify their behaviours and to keep the other animals in the dark. The animals heartily embrace Major’s visionary ideal of socialism, but after Major dies, the pigs gradually twist the meaning of his words especially through Squealer. As a result, the other animals seem unable to oppose the pigs without also opposing the ideals of the Rebellion.
Totalitarianism is a form of government in which the state seeks to control every facet of life, from economics and politics to each individual’s ideas and beliefs. For instance, Mr. Jones runs Manor Farm based on the idea that human domination of animals is the natural order of things, while Napoleon and the pigs run Animal Farm with the claim that they are fighting for animals against evil humans.
Orwell’s underlying point is that all totalitarian regimes are the same, whether communist, fascist, or capitalist, is founded on oppression of the individual and the lower class. Those who hold power in totalitarian regimes care only about maintaining their power by any means necessary.
Broadly speaking, Animal Farm satirizes politicians, specifically their rhetoric, ability to manipulate others, and their lust for power. In this novella, Napoleon is presented as the epitome of a power-hungry individual who masks all of his actions with the excuse that they are doing for the betterment of the farm. He runs Snowball off the farm calling him a traitor, he kills several animals by saying that they collaborate with traitors and also blames every farm failure on Snowball.
Allegiance refers to the loyalty to some cause, nation or ruler. It is also fidelity. This theme is portrayed in the way through which people proclaim their allegiance to each other, and later betray what they agreed upon.
Firstly, the pigs betrayed the ideals of Animalism. Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick were only listening to Mr. Jones in the Red Lion because they secretly hope to gain something from his misery. Similarly, Frederick’s buying the timber from Napoleon seems to form an alliance that is shattered when the pig learns of Frederick’s forged banknotes.
At the novella’s final scene, despite all the friendly talk and flattery that passes between Mr. Pilkington and Napoleon, each is still trying to cheat the other.
In the beginning, they tell us how the animals are forced to work and slaughtered. After the violent rebellion under Napoleon rule, more executions took place. This theme is also portrayed to the The Battle of the Windmill which took more lives of animals.
Role of the populace
Orwell, however, does not imply that Napoleon is the only cause for Animal Farm’s decline. He also satirizes the different kinds of people whose attitudes allow rulers like Napoleon to succeed. Mollie who is materialistic, Boxer who is the most hardworking and the sheep which are ignorant lack any political sense or understanding of what is happening around them.
Satire is defined as art that ridicules a specific topic in order to provoke readers into changing their opinion of it. By attacking what they see as human folly, satirists usually imply their own opinions on how the thing being attacked can be remedied. Animal Farm is a satirical novel in which Orwell attacks what he saw as some of the prominent follies of his time, like communism in Russian.
Abuse of power and ideas
In the novella, Napoleon abused his own power and put it into the wrong use. He used his power to command the animals to work for his own benefit, rather than the whole group. Later on, Napoleon twisted the system of power from a communism to a dictatorship. He exiled Snowball using his power of the dogs. Throughout the story, Napoleon changes Old Major’s Commandments to his own profits, and gradually changed Old Major’s vision . If any other animals at the time would have rebelled, it would seem like they went against Old Major’s teachings. Napoleon did this to make the animals agree with what he is doing, claiming it to be Old Major’s ideas.
Other themes include: Abuse of Religion, the leadership and corruption, lies and deceit, dreams and hopes….
George Orwell’s message in the novel Animal Farm is about power that corrupts. When it is absolute, it corrupts absolutely. His message was about the problem resulting from Russian revolution. This is not far from how power leads to corruption and oppression. He talks also about the ways that may the government use ruling or oppressing its citizens and how it brainwashes them. The book also teaches people how to make propaganda. Napoleon and Squealer changed the rules in order to increase their power. To sum up, Napoleons’ regime gained power and privileges whereas corruption paced. He wanted to criticize communism and to show people how it was implemented in the Soviet Union.
Point of view
The story is told from the point of the common animals of Animal Farm. The point of view is third person omniscient. It refers to them as “they”, “he” or “she”.
The narrator is third person omniscient because with third person omniscient storytelling, the reader is informed to the thoughts and feelings of several characters. The narrator moves from one character to another and is able to see into the heads of multiple characters.
There are a number of conflicts:
- The animals versus Mr. Jones
- Snowball vs. Napoleon
- The common animals vs. the pigs.
- Animals Farm vs. the neighbouring humans.
Allegory is a representation of abstract principles by characters or figures. It is also a symbolic representation which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. Animal Farm is an allegorical novella as it reflects the events leading up to Russian Revolution. Every character represents a real person in the Russian Revolution.
In the novella, “Animal Farm”, the animals have human characteristics like talking, working as humans do.
Satire is a literary device of writing which principally ridicules its subject often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. Orwell described Animal Farm as a satirical tale against Stalin.
It is the author’s attempt to create a mental picture (reference point) in the reader’s mind. In Animal Farm, Moses the crow tells the animals about Sugarcandy Mountain and just give a vivid description of the fictional place.
It is a form of stating one thing and meaning another.
Dramatic Irony: It is when the reader knows something important about the story that one or more characters in the story do not know. 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.
Situational Irony: It is when the author surprises every one by creating the perfect opposite of what everyone would expect. In Animal Farm, 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.
Symbolism is a representation f an idea or something through objects. It is also a representation of a concept through symbols or underlying meanings of objects. Symbols are used to represent abstract ideas and concepts.
- Animal Farm: It symbolizes Russia and Soviet Union under Communist Party rule.
- The pigs symbolize the government
- The dogs symbolize security force (police and army)
- Other animals symbolize the working class.
- Old Major’s dream stands for Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.
- The barn: The barn symbolizes the collective memory of a modern nation as its walls carry seven commandments, and later, their revisions.
- The farmhouse: It symbolizes power. It was Mr. Jones house and later used by the pigs while leading other animals.
- The Windmill: It symbolizes the pigs’ manipulation of the other animals for their own gain. It also symbolizes (industrialization) the development.
- The fall of Mr. Jones represents the overthrow of Russian Tsar Nicolas II.
- The Battle of the Cowshed represents Russian Civil War.
- The Battle of the Windmill represents World War II, specifically Stalingrad Battle.
- Hen’s rebellion represents Stalin’s purge.
- Boxer’s death is an allegory within allegory for Stalin betrayal on the proletariat.
- The flag: The flag represents the animals’ nationalism.
- The 7 commandments symbolize the Soviet government’ s revisions of history in order to control society ‘ s personal and political views. They illustrate both manipulation of in Animal Farm and the difference between the pigs and working class.
- Napoleon initiative represent Stalin’s five years plans.
- Final Feast: (The meeting between pigs and humans at the end) alludes to the Tehran conference at the beginning of 1943 and the beginning of Cold War.
- Old Major: Karl Marx, with a little bit of Vladimir Lenin thrown in
- Snowball: Leon Trotsky
- Napoleon: Joseph Stalin, with a big fat allusion to Napoleon. (Bonaparte.)
- Squealer: Propaganda in general; media; also, possibly Vyacheslav Molotov in particular.
- Moses: the Russian Orthodox Church
- Boxer: Russian laborers and workers
- Clover: Russian labourers and workers, of the female kind.
- Mollie: She represents the class of nobles who were happy with their life under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II
- Benjamin: Possibly intellectuals in general.
- Mr. and Mrs. Jones: Tsar Nicholas II and his family; also, capitalists in general
- Mr. Pilkington: the U.S. and U.K.
- Mr. Frederick: Hitler
- Mr. Whymper: Gullible westerners and intellectuals.
A motif can be seen as an image, sound, action or other figure that has a symbolic significance, and contributes toward the development of a theme.
Animal Farm is filled with songs, poems, and slogans, including Major’s stirring “Beasts of England,” Minimus’s ode to Napoleon, the sheep’s chants, and Minimus’s revised anthem. All of these songs serve as propaganda.
As the pigs work to consolidate power, they institute rituals such as awards, parades, and songs for the purpose of creating loyalty to the state. As the rituals grow in number, the working animals become more and more vulnerable and reliant on the state to define their cultural values.
Songs throughout the novella such as the sheep’ s chants, ” The Beasts of England”, the Animal Farm Anthem and The Ode to Napoleon each served as propaganda which were major factors of social control throughout the Russian Revolution. By being forced to recite the words in the songs, the animals lost their individuality.
The animal farm is a representation of human society. To be more specific, Manor Farm represents Russia and the Soviet Union under communist rule. The different species of animals represent the different classes in the Soviet Union and their roles in the society.
George Orwell is clever in showing the movement of power in Animal Farm. The pigs evolve into dictators that set rules that don’t apply to them.
Other motifs include: Continuous betrayal of principles, continuous denial of betrayal, the tyranny of those in power, …
Russian society in the early 20th century was composed by a tiny minority that controlled most of the country’s wealth, while the vast majority of the country’s people were impoverished and oppressed peasants. Communism arose in Russian when the nation’s workers and peasants, assisted by a class of concerned intellectuals (intelligentsia) rebelled against and overwhelmed the wealthy and powerful class of capitalists and aristocrats. They hoped to establish a socialist utopia based on the principles of the German economic and political philosophers Karl Marx.
It started in 1917, when two successive revolutions happened in Russia. The first revolution overthrew the Russian monarchy (the Tsar) and the second established the USSR, the world’s first Communist state. Over the next 30 years, the Soviet government descended into a totalitarian regime that used and manipulated socialist ideas of equality among the working class to oppress its people and maintain power. Animal Farm is an allegory of the Russian Revolution and the Communist Soviet Union. Many of the animal characters in Animal Farm have direct correlations to figures or institutions in the Soviet Union.
The book analysis
The pigs (Snowball, Napoleon & Squealer) adopted Old Major’s ideas into “a complete system of thought”, which they formally name Animalism. It is an allegoric reference to communism. Soon after, Napoleon and Squealer partake in activities associated with the humans (drinking alcohol, sleeping in beds, trading…) which were prohibited by Seven Commandments.
Squealer was then used to alter these commandments to account for this humanisation, an allusion to Soviet Government’s revising of history in order to exercise control of people’s beliefs about themselves and their history.
These are the original commandments laid down by the pigs.
- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- All animals are equal.
These commandments were changed into the maxim “Four legs good, two legs bad.” which later changed to ” Four legs good, two legs better.” They were mostly used by sheep to disrupt discussions and disagreement between animals on the nature of Animalism.
Later, Napoleon and his pigs secretly revised some commandments to clear themselves of accusations of law-breaking.
They changed the commandments as follows:
- No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
- No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
- No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
Eventually, these are replaced by the maxims “All Animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” and ” Four legs good, two legs better.” As pigs become more human. This is contrary to the original purpose of the 7 commandments which were supposed to keep order and unity among the animals of Animal Farm, being against humans and preventing animals from following the humans’ evil habits. Orwell demonstrates through the revision of the commandments, how simply the political belief can be turned into malleable propaganda.
UNIT II: STRUCTURE IN MODERN PROSE
II.0. REVIEW OF PROSE
Prose refers simply to any special written piece of work that is built on sentences, paragraphs and grammatical structure rather than a rhythmic structure as in traditional poetry, where the common unit of verse is based on meter or rhyme.
Prose as a term is used simply as a contrast to verse. It is what linguists call the “unmarked” form of language. Literary critics divide prose into fictional and non-fictional. Examples of prose include novels, novellas, short stories, essays, letters, editorials, articles and journals.
Characteristics of prose
- The prose is written in paragraphs
- It tells the story rather than describing an image or metaphor
- Generally, it has characters and a plot.
Based on its characteristics given above, prose can be broken into four categories, divided by purpose:
Narrative: It is a writing which tells a story (fiction or non-fiction); usually told in chronological order has characters; follows the basic plot-line/ development/chart/diagram which comprises exposition, rising action, climax, falling action.
Expository: This writing gives basic information; used often in speeches and essays and does not tell a story or argue.
Descriptive: It describes something in detail, again without telling a story or arguing a point. It is used most often in combination with another mode of writing, but alone is often found in scientific or medical reports.
Persuasive: This one tries to convince (persuade) someone to take a particular issue or point. It argues a point (or two sides of a question) or gives evidence in favour or against.
Modern prose exhibits natural flow of speech and grammatical structure in written form whereas traditional prose was in form of rhythmic structure as in poetry. The common unit of verse was based on meter and rhyme.
II.1. REVIEW OF PLOT DEVELOPMENT
Plot development is simply defined as the progression of events leading to a resolution. The events can provide obstacles and questions, making the going difficult for the protagonist and exciting for the reader to follow. In a narrative or creative writing of course, a plot is a sequence of events that makes up a story. A complete plot contains the following elements: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
Exposition/introduction: It is the opening/beginning of a story where the characters and setting are revealed. Sometimes the main conflict of the story is also introduced.
Rising action: This is where the events in the story become complex. The conflict is revealed at this stage (events between introduction and climax).
Climax: It is the highest point of interest, tension and suspense. It is the turning point of the story where the readers question what will happen next.
Falling action: The falling action is everything that happens as a result of the climax. At this stage the events and conflicts/complications begin to resolve. Events show the results of how the characters begin to resolve the conflict.
Resolution/ denouement: The part of the plot that concludes the falling action by revealing or suggesting the outcome of the conflict. It is the end of the story.
Example: Plot development of the novella “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.
Exposition is considered as the beginning of the story which comprises the life of animals under Mr. Jones’s leadership.
Conflict is in setting The Commandments of Animalism.
Rising action is related on the Manor Farm, Old Major, gathers the animals for a meeting and inspires them to revolt.
Climax fits the good attitude of the animals beginning to read and write and have beliefs. They use the commandments to educate all the young. Food is plentiful, and the farm runs smoothly. However, when the pigs elevate themselves to positions of leadership, a struggle for power begins. Napoleon wins by having his dogs chase Snowball off the farm.
Falling action where as a supreme leader, Napoleon enacts changes to the governance of the farm, replacing meetings of all animals with a committee of pigs who will run the farm. Eventually, Napoleon’s supremacy has him paranoid that someone will try to overthrow him.
Resolution Napoleon begins to blame Snowball for incidents happening on the farm. Using Snowball as a scapegoat, Napoleon begins to kill the animals, accusing them of conspiring with his old rival (Snowball). The animals are overworked in a bad life of insufficient food and with the tyranny of Napoleon. The commandments are rewritten to better fit with the pigs’ behaviours which are taking on human qualities.
II.2. STRUCTURAL DEVICES
Structural devices include some techniques used in making prose more attractive and easier to follow. Structural devices that characterize modern prose are: Stream of consciousness, flashback, foreshadowing, motif, juxtaposition and narrator.
Stream of consciousness
Stream of consciousness is a narrative mood or method that attempts to show the innumerable thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind of characters. It is also called “inertial monologue” where the individual thoughts precede the character. This is associated to his actions, portrayed in the form of a monologue, addressed to the character itself. Therefore, it is different from the dramatic monologue or soliloquy, where the speaker addresses the audience or the third person
Flash back is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point in the story. It is an interruption of the normal flow of events by earlier occurrences.
It is often used to recount events that happened before in the story’s primary sequence of events to fill in crucial back story. It interrupts the normal chronological order of events in the story.
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
Ex1: When I went out of the drawing room, the first thing that came into view in the open corridor was the picture of my brother. [I just got the point why my mother used to see that portrait hours after he was killed in WWII, and she left only when she saw any one of us coming to her.] I just heard steps, and when I looked back, there was nothing that I could see. It was just a feeling of the past.
Ex2: In the Holy Bible, in the Book of Matthew, we see a flashback has been used when Joseph, governor of Egypt, sees his brothers after several years. Joseph “remembered his dreams” about his brothers, and how they sold him into slavery in the past.
Foreshadowing is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. It often appears at the beginning of a story and help the reader to develop expectation about the upcoming events.
Foreshadowing in fiction creates an atmosphere of suspense in a story which makes the readers be interested to know more. This literary device 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, music and movies.
Ex: -The evening was still. Suddenly, a cool breeze started blowing and made a windy night. (Foreshadows thunderstorm)
- The most awful thing happened on a stormy evening. The battle between good and evil started. (Foreshadows danger)
-They thought there would not be more bodies; however, they could not believe the thought. (Foreshadows murder)
- An old man opens his drawer to find a magnifying glass, and sees a revolver. (Foreshadows warning)
-In the middle of the night, the father hears the backdoor opening. He rushes to check on his kids, but a masked intruder is blocking the way with a knife. (Foreshadows threat)
*Flash-forward: It is a sudden jump forward in time. It is also an insertion of a later event into the chronological structure of a novel, play, …
It is also a scene that takes the narrative forward in time from current point of the story in literature, film,…
It is the scene that interrupts the present action of plot to shift into the future.This one reveals events that will occur in the future.
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.
Ex: In Stephen King’s novel “The Dead Zone”, the hero receives a special power of predicting the future after a car crash. Through physical contact, he sees the future of a person. After some time, he feels cursed with the gift.
A motif is a literary term that is an idea, object, or concept that repeats itself throughout a text. It gives clues to theme or reinforces ideas an author wants to emphasize.
It is also a recurring element in a story that has symbolic significance or the reason behind actions. It can be also a recurring or dominant idea in an artistic work.
Ex: – “Death” could be a motif in a literary work. An author would not necessarily have to use the word “death” to express the motif. He might write “funeral,” “grave,” “dead,” and so on. Furthermore, he could depict death-like images to add to the motif.
-In Romeo and Juliet, light and darkness are recurring motifs that underscore the love of Romeo and Juliet, s well as the hate of their families and their impending death.
Motif vs theme: – A theme is the underlying dominant idea in every written piece, while a motif is a repetition of certain patterns, ideas or images to reinforce the main theme.
- A theme is broader than a motif. For example, if love is the underlying theme of a book, motifs may be in the form of a good-looking hero.
-Motifs are used to highlight the theme of his story. If the writer takes revenge as his theme, he will highlight it by using related motifs, like crime being committed, someone being wronged, person going through agony, protagonist planning revenge – all pointer to the main theme of the writing.
Motif vs. Symbol: –Symbols are images, ideas, sounds that represent something else and help to understand an idea or a thing but on the other hand, motifs are images, ideas, sounds, or words that help to explain the central idea (theme) of the literary work.
–A symbol may appear once or twice, whereas a motif is a recurring element.
In literature, juxtaposition is a useful device for writers to describe their characters in great detail, to create suspense, and achieve a rhetorical effect. It is a human quality to comprehend one thing easily by comparing it to another.
It is an act of placing two elements close together or side by side in order to compare or contrast, by showing similarities or differences. Juxtaposition in this case is useful in the development of characters.
Ex: – In “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, a narrative poem, J. Milton had shown the bad qualities of Satan and the good qualities of God. There is a juxtaposition of two characters: God and Satan. The bad qualities of Satan and good qualities of God are placed side-by-side which make us to compare and contrast them, and the comparison made brings to the surface the contrast between the two characters. The juxtaposition in this poem make us conclude that Satan deserved his expulsion from the paradise because of his unwillingness to submit to God’s will.
-Juxtaposition in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”
Its function is that writers employ this literary technique (juxtaposition) in order to surprise their readers and evoke their interest, by means of developing a comparison between two dissimilar things by placing them side by side. The comparison drawn adds vividness to a given image, controls the pacing of the poem or a narrative, and provides a logical connection between two vague concepts.
A narrator refers to one who narrates or tells a story or the person or the voice whose view-point is used in telling a story.
Objective narrator is a third-person narrator that describes characters from the outside only, never revealing their thoughts. The narrator is an observer,” a fly in the wall narrator,” as it is often called, is to describe 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”. This narrator uses the pronouns such as “he, she, it or they”.
An omniscient narrator is a third-person narrator who knows what the character thinks and what is happening everywhere. He/she is not restricted by time or space. Omniscient narrator is like the super hero because he knows everything. He 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 just knows it all. This narrator also uses the pronouns such as “he, she, it or they.”
A NOVELLA: THE PEARL by John Steinbeck
About the author
John Ernst Steinbeck was born on 27th February 1902 in Salinas, California. He was the third child of John Ernst Steinbeck and Olive Hamilton. His father manages a flour mill and later worked as a treasurer of Monterey County. His mother has been a school teacher and instilled in her son a love of books and stories.
He studied primary school and skipped the 5th grade due to his mother’s influence. This means that he was younger than all his classmates. He decided to become a writer when he was 14 and never abandoned his dream. While in high school he began writing short stories and reading them to others.
In 1919 he graduated from high school and entered Stanford University. Here, he avoided accepted courses, attending instead classes which would best help him to develop as a writer. Steinbeck never completed a degree but he enjoyed a short-story class and joined an English club where he met other writers on the University staff who encouraged him to continue his writing.
Steinbeck finally dropped out of college in 1925 and went to New York where he worked as a construction worker and later as a reporter for a newspaper called “The American”.
In January 1930 he married Carol Henning. He won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature and died of heart failure in December 20th, 1968 in New York and buried in Salinas, California.
His works include:
- Cup of Gold (1929) his first novel
- To a God Unknown (1933)
- The Pastures of Heaven (1932) twelve interconnected stories.
- The Red Pony (1933), stories
- Tortilla Flat (1935) novel
- In Dubious Battle (1936)
- Of Mice and Men (1937) novella.
- The Grapes of Wrath (1939) a novel that had been awarded Pulitzer Prize.
- The Moon is Down (1942) a tale.
- Cannery Row (1945)
- The Wayward Bus (1947)
- The Pearl (1947) a novella a poor Mexican who discovers a valuable pearl that brings bad luck to his family.
- East of Eden (1952)
- Le Morte d’ Arthur (1st book he loved, a project he never completed)
- Once There Was a War (1958) a documentary.
- The Winter of Our Discontent (1961) a semi-autobiographical account (his last major work of fiction)
- Travels with Charley is Search of America (1962) an account of his travel with his large poodle (Charley)
*His spouses: -Carol Henning (married in 1930 and divorced 1943)
-Gwyn Conger (married in 1943 and divorced in 1948)
-Elaine Scott (married in 1950)
*His children: -John Steinbeck IV (1946-1991)
-Thomas Steinbeck (1944-2016)
About the book
The Pearl is a novella by American author John Steinbeck, first published in 1947. It is a poor Mexican who discovered a valuable pearl that brings bad luck to his family. It explores man’s nature as well as defiance of societal norms and evil. Steinbeck’s inspiration was a Mexican folktale from La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, which he had heard in a visit to the formerly pearl-rich region in 1940.
The Pearl tells the story of Kino, a young pearl fisherman who lives in a native village on the outskirts of the town in La Paz on the shores of the Gulf of California. Kino has a wife (Juana) and a new-born baby (Coyotito), both of whom he adores. One day, Kino finds an immense pearl of superb quality. Immediately he sees a bright future for his family. As the news of Kino’s luck spreads, others try to benefit from it: a greedy doctor, pretending to save the life of the baby who has been bitten by a scorpion, tries to bargain for the pearl; thieves try to steal it at night; crooked dealers try to cheat him of its value. Even the beggars hope to benefit ‘for they knew that there is no alms-giver like a poor man who is suddenly lucky’. One Kino night kills a man who tries to rob him. Later Kino’s hut is burned down and in fear for their lives, Kino and his wife Juana decide to run away to another town in the north.
However, they are followed, and in a desperate attempt to save himself and his family, Kino kills the pursuers. In the struggle the baby is killed. Kino and Juana return to their village and throw the pearl back into the sea.
Chapter one starts with a long description about Kino’s village. It is an Indian village in Mexico. Kino wakes up and he and Juana eat breakfast. He sings some traditional songs about his family and this makes him happy. Then a scorpion crawls into Coyotito’s crib and stings him. Kino kills the scorpion and the villagers come to see is going on.
Juana tells Kino to bring the doctor, which surprises the neighbours as the doctor belongs to the Spanish Colonists of the village and can’t come to help those poor Indians. Juana realizes the doctor isn’t coming, so she takes Coyotito to his house for treatment, with her husband’s accompaniment.
Arriving there, Kino, Juana and the neighbours behind them; the doctor refuses to let them in. The doctor requests money and Kino gives him eight pearls which he denies by saying that he has been called for a serious case. Kino gets mad and punches the gate which makes his knuckles bleed.
The author starts by describing the beach and the gulf. Kino and Juana go to the beach. He has a canoe which is an heirloom that he uses to make his living. They then go out into the water to look for the pearls which would enable them to persuade the doctor to treat the poisoned Coyotito.
Kino dives into the water and finds the great/big pearl. When Juana looks at Coyotito’s wound; she finds that it has improved. With more emotions, Kino yells which makes other fishers to run towards him.
The chapter starts by describing the town as a colonial animal. Before Kino and Juana get home; words of their discovery travels quickly. Everyone, including beggars, businessmen, priest, doctor…need to benefit from that pearl. In the evening the neighbours gather to Kino’s house and when Juan Tomás (Kino’s brother) asks him what he will do with the wealth, he says that he will be married in the church, buy new clothes, a new harpoon, riffle, and educate their child Coyotito.
In that evening the priest comes to tell Kino to give thanks to God who has given that fortune. The doctor also comes to treat Coyotito in order to know where they have put that pearl. During the night, Kino struggles with an intruder who needs to steal the pearl, and they stab each other with knives and then the intruder flees. Juana realizes that the pearl is evil and will destroy them, so she suggests to throw it but Kino denies saying that they will sell it and that evil will be gone.
Words spread that Kino will be selling the great pearl and the pearl buyers prepare themselves to buy it. The pearl buyers abandon their works to attend that process. Kino and Juana dress well and go to sell the pearl. Juan Tomás accompanies his brother Kino while telling him the old system of pearl-selling, with the crowd of neighbours behind them. When they arrive to those buyers, they tell Kino that that pearl is worth nothing due to its huge size but offer him a low price.
Kino goes home feeling angry and announces that he will go to sell the pearl in the capital city. In the evening, he buries the pearl under his sleeping mat. During the night Kino senses evil and then goes out where someone assaults him and the struggle ensures. When Juana arrives at the fray, she finds that her husband is half-conscious. She also takes care of him and tells him to get rid of the pearl, but Kino insists that the following day, they will go to the capital city to sell it.
Late in the night, Juana gets the pearl and decides to throw it in the ocean. She sneaks out of the house and goes to the beach, and Kino follows her to stop her. He catches her and beats her for trying to get rid of the pearl. While walking towards home, Kino is attacked by men and fights against them, and then kills one of them. Kino and his wife plan to leave the village so that he is not arrested. While going to get ready the canoe and his wife grabbing their child, she finds that their house is on fire.
After finding that their canoe is also destroyed, they plan to hide in Juan’s house waiting to leave the next day. Juan Tomás lies the neighbours that perhaps the family has fled to South. He gathers some supplies to help them in the journey and tells them that the pearl is devil and they should have sold it but Kino decides to keep it. During the night, they exchange parting words with Juan Tomás & his wife Apolonia and head out into the night.
The family tries to escape towards the North by trying to cover their tracks on the ground so that they’re not followed. They then find a hiding place near the road where they eat breakfast. Kino tells Juana that they would not have been followed if the pearl is worth nothing. He stares at the pearl to read his future and sees bad things, and then lies to his wife.
Kino sleeps and wakes up due to something. He hears & and sees the men (trackers) pursuing them. He takes his knife ready but fortunately, those trackers miss them. Kino and his family decide to go to the mountains where they’re also followed. Kino advises his wife to flee to Loreto but she denies.
They climb the mountain and stop for water and then Kino does some stuff to mislead the trackers. They go to hide into the cave waiting for the trackers to pass past them so that they climb down, but unfortunately those trackers make a camp to the pool. Kino sees no option except attacking the men. Silently, Kino goes towards them while sleeping and then Coyotito lets out a cry which awakes one of the men who shoots in the cry’s direction.
Kino automatically attacks them and kills all of them. He goes back to the cave and finds that Coyotito’s head was shot. The family decides to go back to the village with their dead son. They walk down and pass through the streets of La Paz without looking at the people and walk strait towards the beach. Kino watches the pearl for the last time and then throw it back into the ocean.
Characters and characterization
Kino: The protagonist of the novella. Kino is a dignified, hardworking and a poor pearl diver who lives in a brush house with his wife Juana and their son Coyotito, both he loves very much. After discovering the pearl, he becomes an ambitious, greed person. All his actions are driven by greed which lead him to being violent and the death of their son.
Juana: Kino’s wife who is more reflective and more practical than Kino. She prays for divine aid when Coyotito gets stung by a scorpion. She is a loving, caring, hardworking, trustworthy, honest, obedient, secretive, and patient mother. She is also a loyal, respected, respectful woman.
Coyotito: The infant son of Kino and Juana, after he is stung by a scorpion, the doctor refuses to treat him because his parents have no money. Although Juana seemingly cures him with a seaweed poultice, he receives treatment from the doctor only after Kino finds the pearl.
When Kino and Juana are hunted by trackers after escaping La Paz, one of the trackers shoots Coyotito in the head as they hide in a cave.
Juan Tomás: The brother of Kino and the husband of Apolonia deeply loyal to his family, Juan Tomás supports Kino in all of his endeavours but warns him of the dangers involved in possessing such a valuable pearl. He is sympathetic to Kino and Juana. He hides Kino and Juana in his house after Kino murders a man in self-defence and telling no one of their whereabouts.
Apolonia: Juan Tomás’s fat wife and the mother of four children. Like her husband, Apolonia is sympathetic to Kino and Juana’s plight, and she agrees to give them shelter after Kino murders a man in self-defense and telling no one of their whereabouts.
The doctor: A small-time and complacent colonist who dreams of returning to Paris in a bourgeois European lifestyle. The doctor initially refuses to treat Coyotito but changes his mind after learning that Kino has found a great pearl. He represents the arrogance, condescension, and greed of a colonial society.
The priest: The local village priest seemingly represents moral virtue and goodness, but he is just as interested in exploiting Kino’s wealth as everyone else, hoping that he can find a way to persuade Kino to give him some of the money he will make from the pearl.
The dealers: The extremely well-organized and corrupt pearl dealers in La Paz systematically cheat and exploit the Indian pearl divers who sell them their goods. They try to cheat Kino out of his pearl.
The trackers: The group of violent and corrupt men that follow Kino and Juana when they leave the village, hoping to waylay Kino and steal his pearl.
The doctor’s servant: He is an example of someone who shares Kino’s race and ancestry but does not share Kino’s drive to resist the influence of European colonizers. When Kino tries to speak to him in the old language, he responds in the language of the doctor.
The Pearl, which takes place in La Paz, Mexico, begins with a description of the seemingly idyllic family life of Kino, his wife Juana and their young son, Coyotito. Kino watches as Coyotito sleeps, but sees a scorpion crawling down the rope that holds the hanging box where Coyotito lies. Kino attempts to catch the scorpion, but Coyotito bumps the rope and the scorpion falls on him. Although Kino kills the scorpion, it still stings Coyotito. Juana and Kino, accompanied by their neighbours, go to see the local doctor, who refuses to treat Coyotito because Kino cannot pay.
Kino and Juana leave the doctor and take Coyotito down near the sea, where Juana uses a seaweed poultice on Coyotito’s shoulder, which is now swollen. Kino dives for oysters from his canoe, attempting to find pearls. He finds a very large oyster which, when Kino opens it, yields an immense pearl, which Kino therefore calls “The Pearl of the World”. Kino puts back his head and howls, causing the other pearl divers to look up and race toward him.
The news that Kino has found an immense pearl travels fast through La Paz. The doctor who refused to treat Coyotito decides to visit Kino. Kino’s neighbours begin to feel bitter toward him for his good fortune, but neither Kino nor Juana realize this feeling that they have engendered. Juan Tomas, the brother of Kino, asks him what he will do with his money, and he envisions getting married to Juana in a church, buying new clothes, a new harpoon, riffle, and educating their child Coyotito.
The local priest visits and tells Kino to remember to give thanks and to pray for guidance. The doctor also visits, and although Coyotito seems to be healing, the doctor insists that Coyotito still faces danger and treats him. Kino tells the doctor that he will pay him once he sells his pearl, and the doctor attempts to discern where the pearl is located. That night, a thief attempts to break into Kino’s hut, but Kino drives him away. Juana tells Kino that the pearl will destroy them, but Kino insists that the pearl is their only chance and that the next day they will sell it.
Kino’s neighbours wonder what they would do if they had found the pearl, and suggest giving it as a present to the Pope, buying masses for the souls of his family, and distributing it among the poor of La Paz. Kino goes to sell his pearl, accompanied by his neighbours, but the pearl dealer only offers a thousand pesos when Kino believes that he deserves fifty thousand. Although other dealers inspect the pearl and give similar prices, Kino refuses their offer and decides to go to the capital to sell it there. That night, Kino is attacked by more thieves, and Juana once again reminds Kino that the pearl is evil. However, Kino vows that he will not be cheated, for he is a man.
Later that night, Juana attempts to take the pearl and throw it into the ocean, but Kino finds her and beats her for doing so. While outside, a group of men accost Kino and knock the pearl from his hand. Juana watches from a distance, and sees Kino approach her, limping with another man whose throat Kino has slit. Juana finds the pearl, and they decide that they must go away even if the murder was in self-defence. Kino finds that his canoe has been damaged and their house was torn up and the outside set afire. Kino and Juana stay with Juan Tomas and his wife, Apolonia, where they hide for the next day before setting out for the capital that night.
Kino and Juana travel that night, and rest during the day. When Kino believes that he is being followed, the two hide and Kino sees several bighorn sheep trackers who pass by him. Kino and Juana escape into the mountains, where Juana and Coyotito hide in the cave while Kino, taking his clothes off so that no one will see his white clothing. The trackers think that they hear something when they hear Coyotito crying, but decide that it is merely a coyote pup. After a tracker shoots in the direction of the cries, Kino attacks the three trackers, killing all three of them. Kino can hear nothing but the cry of death, for he soon realizes that Coyotito is dead from that first shot. Juana and Kino return to La Paz. Kino carries a rifle stolen from one of the trackers he has killed, while Juana carries the dead Coyotito. The two approach the gulf, and Kino, who now sees the image of Coyotito with his head blown off in the pearl, throws it into the ocean.
The Pearl as a novella takes place in a small village in La Paz, on the coast of Baja Peninsula specifically in Baja California Sur (Mexico). The time is unclear, but possibly late nineteenth or early twentieth century
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
Greed is the main evil force that the parable is meant to warn against. The doctor is greedy and only treats Coyotito after hearing of Kino’s pearl. The pearl dealers are greedy and want to trick Kino into selling his pearl for less than it’s worth. The town’s people are Kino’s neighbours in daylight, but turn into Kino’s attackers and enemies at night as they try to take the pearl away from him. Kino himself is greedy when he refuses to dispose of the pearl that brings him danger. It seems that the pearl and material wealth in general brings out the greed in the people who seek it.
Greed as a destructive force
As Kino seeks to gain wealth and status through the pearl, he transforms from a happy, contented father to a savage criminal. Kino’s desire to acquire wealth divert the pearl’s natural beauty and good luck, transforming it from a symbol of hope to a symbol of human destruction. Furthermore, Kino’s greed leads him to behave violently toward his wife; it also leads to his son’s death and ultimately to Kino’s detachment from his cultural tradition and his society. Kino’s people seem prepared for a similar destruction, as the materialism from capitalist colonisers implants a love of profit into the native people.
Throughout the novella, the plot discusses how the family lives before and after the pearl. Many of the decisions are based on what would be best for the family. For example, the first thing that Kino desires to do with the money from the pearl is to give his wife and Coyotito a better life. This money would pay for Coyotito’s education, better clothes and better protection. Later, Kino with his family in mind, declines to sell his pearl on a low price. He decides to search for a better deal. He always has his family in mind, whether it leads to warmth and happiness or destruction. It was the reason Kino got the pearl and, eventually, the reason why he threw it back into the ocean.
Good and evil
One of the biggest themes in this novel is the one between good and evil. This theme is displayed in other themes as well and it is shown from the beginning to the end. In the beginning Kino lives a life of simplicity and happiness but when he discovers the pearl, he believes that good will come from it. Unfortunately, a sense of evil accompanies it. After that, Kino and his family were in a constant battle against evil to preserve the good that they enjoyed before.
The theme of perseverance is demonstrated by many characters, but mainly Kino. Before he found the pearl, he was determined to provide for his family and protect them from any harm. After he finds it, he is determined to continue to do that but in a different way. Because Kino believes that this would save his family, he persists despite many obstacles that accompany the pearl. He perseveres to keep the pearl but, in the end, it was not worth keeping.
Dreams, hope and ambition
Ambition is a characteristic that is innate in human nature. However, in the novel ambition is a sin punishable by a higher power and is a reason behind Kino’s downfall. Kino desires and hopes to rise into superiority by giving his child a good education and having new clothes for him and his wife, all of those are innocent dreams of a poor man in a rich man’s world.
Kino’s dreams could not come true because they would upset the social hierarchy. Moreover, one should not aim above or below their inherent position in society.
The roles of fate and agency in shaping human life
The Pearl portrays two contrasting forces that shape human life and determine individual destiny. The novella depicts a world in which, for the most part, humans shape their own destinies by providing for themselves, following their own desires, and making their own plans. At the same time, forces beyond human control, such as chance, accident, and the gods, can sweep in at any moment and, for good or ill, completely change the course of an individual’s life.
If fate is best represented in the novella by the open sea where pearl divers plunge beneath the waves hoping for divine blessings, human agency is best represented by the village of La Paz, where myriad human desires, plans, and motives come together to form civilization.
Oppression and discrimination
Oppression and injustice toward the underprivileged, poorer class by the first class, rich citizen has caused injustice. The doctor considers Kino’s family as savage. He will not come to the settlement to treat Coyotito. He claims himself as a doctor and not a veterinarian.
The doctor’s servant also looks down on his own race. He is proud to work in a better situation.
The pearl buyers think that Kino is foolish and ignorant. They look down upon him and treat him as person who is not knowledgeable. The oppression and discrimination cause disunity and disharmony among the rich and poor community in the area.
The theme of paradox is displayed through Kino’s desires. Once Kino discovers the pearl, he begins to dream about what could come from this fortune, but as he tries to carry out this plan, the good wealth also brings destruction.
Kino and his neighbours live in brush houses, dress poorly and sleep on mat. The assessment of the beggars at the church places Kino and his people among the poor people who cannot afford the luxuries of life and a doctor. In fact, the doctor declines to look at their helpless infant even after offering the worthless pearls Kino.
Other themes include struggle and sacrifices, evil and violence, family love and loyalty, nature, class differences, wealth ….
- The danger of greed: This is primarily shown in the way that the pearl transforms Kino throughout the novella as he seeks to improve his own life through selling the pearl.
- Greed leads to ultimate destruction of a person’s life, but the human being has a free will to determine fate of their own actions.
- Don’t let greed, wealth or fame control you.
- The importance of family ties: From the starting to the ending of the novel, Juana and Kino stick together. Even in times of difficulties, such as when their house is burnt down, when they are hunted by the trackers and when their canoe is damaged and when their child is dead.
Point of view
The narrator uses third-person, omniscient narration, meaning he or she not only tells us what various characters think and feel but also provides analysis and commentary on the story.
The narrator narrates as if telling an old story he or she knows very well. The narrator frequently suggests/alludes to the story’s ending and freely describes the inner thoughts and feelings of various characters. Steinbeck chooses to narrate the story in the voice of a storyteller from Kino ’s society, in which stories are handed down from generation to generation.
Tone is the author’s attitude toward the story. In The Pearl, the author focusses on the evils of greed. The tone of the Pearl is cynical. This means that all characters’ actions are characterized by selfishness, greed and distrust others.
The narrator tells Kino’s story to teach a moral lesson, and so treats Kino above all as a cautionary figure. At the same time, the narrator seems to see Kino as a sort of tragic hero who is moved by the human weakness. He often shows a certain respect for Kino’s striving to realize his ambitions.
A conflict is the struggle between two opposing forces or between characters.
The types of conflicts include: man vs self, man vs man, man vs society, man vs nature and man vs supernatural.
The main conflict is the conflict between Kino and himself (man vs himself) which is the possession of the pearl and dreams of what it can afford him; and throwing it back into the ocean because it has actually brought him nothing more than trouble.
The other conflicts are external which include Coyotito vs scorpion, Kino vs the doctor, Kino vs pearl-buyers, Kino vs the trackers
Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colours used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
The pearl is a symbol which changes throughout the story. At the beginning, the pearl symbolizes wealth, hope and a better future, but as the novella progresses it symbolises evil, greed, corruption and death.
The scorpion is a form of foreshadowing as well as a symbol of the evil that is yet to come into Kino’s life. The scorpion sneaks into the family’s home in attempts to take away their most valuable possession, their son. This is a foreshadowing of the many town’s people who are filled with poisonous envy and evil as they sneak into Kino’s home to steal the pearl and poison his life.
A means of making a living—both pearls and food—that has been passed down for generations, the canoe that Kino uses represents his link to cultural tradition. This culture is deeply spiritual, so it is significant that Kino uses the canoe to find the pearl.
The rifle that Kino said that he would buy symbolizes protection. After selling the pearl he would be rich with enough money; and for that, he would protect his family and his wealth from the enemies and the robbers.
- Juana’s shawl symbolizes Juana’s femininity.
- It is a comparison of two unlike things by using the words “like” or “as”.
- “It was a morning like other mornings”p.19
- “In the canoe she was like a strong man” p.23
- “…as large as a sea gull’s egg.”
- A town is a thing like a colonial animal. P.41
- “This pearl is like a sin” p.59
- “ He hisses at her like a snake” p.83
- “Kino edged like a slow lizard down the smooth…” p.84
- “…Coyotito was reading from a book as large as a house, with letters as big as dogs”p.58
- “Then coldness came over him as quickly as the rage had…”p.59
It is a comparison of two unlike things without the use of “like” or “as”.
- “…the lighting square was the door…”
- “And the rhythm of the family song was the grinding stone where Juana worked…”
- “…pearls were accidents…”
- “…the finding of one was luck…”
- “…the beat was his pounding heart…”
- “…the melody of the song was the gray-green water…”
“The thing is evil.”
- “…loss of the pearl was punishment…”
- “…this pearl is evil.”
- “Her face was a dull pain…”
- “He was an animal now…” p.87
- “…light was danger to him.”
- “This pearl has become my soul…”
- “…the tree is evil luck.”
- “…Kino was a terrible machine…”
- “His strength, his movement and his speed were a machine.”
Personification means giving human characteristics or feelings to nonhuman creatures, inanimate objects or abstract ideas.
- “The world was awake now…”
- “…the song of the family cried plaintively.”
- “yellow sun threw their black shadows…”
- “…little water played…”
- “…town lay on a broad estuary, it’s old yellow plastered building hugging the beach.”
- “…the morning was young…”
- “…large oyster lying by itself, not covered with its clinging brothers.”
- “A town has a nervous system and a head and shoulders and feet.”
- “…the nerves of the town were pulsing and vibrating with the news…”
- “…the great pearl was alive in his hand.”
- “The little flames danced on the faces…”
- “…the words galloped and played on the book.”
- “The wind of the morning ruffled the water of the estuary and whispered through the mangroves.”
- “…(the Pearl) closed the door on hunger.”
- “…coin winked into sight…”
- “…crossed design danced in his head.”
- “…(the night) called to him and threatened him and challenged him.”
- “…the evil was hidden behind the brush fence..”
- “…the pale light of the moon that crept through the holes…”
- “…the pearl lay winking…
- “… a wounded boat does not heal…
- “…the wind cried through the brush houses…”
- “The wind screamed over the Gulf…”
- “The sky was brushed clean by the wind…”
- “The wind cried and whisked in the brush…”
- “The coyotes cried and laughed in the brush…”
- “…beware of the tree that bleeds.”
- “He let the sun play on it until it burns in his eyes.”
- “…naked granite mountains…”
- “…the algae called to it and beckoned to it.”
Hyperbole means “a deliberate exaggeration”
Kino has found the Pearl of the world.
In literature, a flashback is when an author moves the narrative to an earlier place in time to provide background information.
The novella begins with the narrator speaking directly to the audience. Steinbeck writes, ‘In the town they tell the story of the great pearl – how it was found and how it was lost again. They tell of Kino, the fisherman, and of his wife Juana, and of the baby Coyotito.’ This places the entire plot of the novella in the past, so that the events themselves could be considered as a large flashback.
Foreshadowing refers to the use of clues or hints to alert the reader about the events that will occur later; and it is used to build suspense.
Coyotito’s name which means “little coyote”, foreshadows the future event in which the child is mistaken for a coyote by trackers and shot at.
In chapter two, we have two foreshadows: Kino’s discovery of the pearl by talking about “the pearl that might be” and how the natives have long told this story.
Also, Juana prays that Kino will find the pearl, which he eventually does.
At the end of chapter 3, Juana claims that the pearl will destroy them and even their son. This has been true because their house is burnt down and their child is shot and dead.
Juana and Juan Tomás’s warnings to Kino that the pearl is dangerous.
Furthermore, songs are used to foreshadow events that are about to take place. Whenever something bad is about to happen, Kino hears the song of evil. He also hears the song of the pearl getting stronger right before he actually finds it.
Situational irony is when there is a difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.
When Kino finds the Pearl of the World, he expects that his life is going to improve tremendously. But what actually happens is that his life has been miserable.
Nature imagery is an important element of the novella.
There are descriptions of the morning, Kino’s house, their village and the city. The narrator has described the city, beach, the pearls under water, the nights, the forests, the mountains, the sky…
The work’s nature imagery reflects both the natural world’s idyllic innocence—the innocence Kino possesses at the beginning of the novella—and the natural world’s darker qualities of struggle and flight—the struggle and flight Kino experiences at the novella’s end.
Throughout the novel, whenever Kino has a particularly powerful feeling or instinct, he hears a song in his head that corresponds to that feeling. There is a song of the family, song of the pearl, song of evil…
These songs point to the oral nature of Kino’s cultural tradition. The ancient, familiar songs, presumably handed down from generation to generation, occupy such a central place in how Kino’s people perceive themselves that the songs actually give form to their inner feelings.
In the 16th, the Spanish landed in Mexico and proceeded to subjugate and enslave the native people of the area. When Steinbeck wrote The Pearl, their descendants were not enslaved, the Indians were still the underclass, while the descendants of the Spanish settlers were the richer, more powerful, and professional ruling class. Because of this Spanish intervention, Kino and his family practise both the Catholic religion, which the Spaniards brought, while at the same time holding on to their old beliefs of pagan gods. Because of these beliefs, their race and poverty, the Spanish consider the Indians inferior. Steinbeck wrote often about the poor, working-class people, showing how powerless they were against the rich.
The book analysis
Exposition: The story opens in the village where we have the family of Kino, Juana and their infant son Coyotito. Even though they are poor, they live happily in a simple life.
The initial conflict: It is the first situation where the protagonist struggles with a problem. In the Pearl, the initial conflict occurs when Coyotito gets stung.
Major conflict: After finding a great pearl, Kino seeks to sell it to acquire wealth which will improve his family’s welfare. When he tries to sell the pearl, Kino meets many obstacles.
Rising action: A scorpion stings Coyotito; Kino discovers a great pearl; Kino attempts to sell the pearl but fails, and he is mysteriously attacked; Kino beats Juana for attempting to discard the pearl.
Climax: Kino kills a man who attacks him for his pearl, their canoe is destroyed and their house is set on fire.
Falling action: Kino and Juana flee the village and find themselves chased by trackers. Kino fights with and kills the trackers, and then learns that Coyotito has been shot.
Resolution: Juana with their dead son, Kino with the tracker’s gun; return to their village and throw the pearl back into the sea.
Why is the story of The Pearl a parable?
A parable is a story that teaches a moral lesson.
This story teaches that greed is the root of all evil. The story begins with Kino as a caring, happy, protective, family man. Once Kino finds the pearl, things change. Kino becomes greedy when he doesn’t take the offer from the pearl buyer. There is stress for Kino and his family with violence even between Kino and family members. In the end, Kino learns a lesson and becomes more human and wiser.
A NOVEL: A MAN OF THE PEOPLE by Chinua Achebe
BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR
Chinua Achebe was born as Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on 16th November 1930. He was brought up in pioneer Christian family in large village of Ogidi, Eastern Nigeria. He received an early education in English, but grew up surrounded by a complex fusion of Igbo traditions and colonial legacy.
After finishing his secondary education, he joined University College (now the University of Ibadan), originally intending to study medicine, but eventually changing his major to English, History, and Theology. After graduating, he went to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service in Lagos and taught in at Universities of Nigeria and Massachusetts. He died on 21st March 2013 in Boston-Massachusetts-US.
Achebe is a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. He received different prizes. Things Fall Apart (1958) was his first novel, and remains his best and widely read book in Modern African literature. Other novels include: No Longer At Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Many of his novels dealt with the social and political problems facing his country, including the difficulties of the post-colonial legacy.
Achebe is widely published in almost all genres of literature: the novel, short story, poetry, literary essays and children’s literature.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The novel tells us the revolutionary activities of Odili Samalu who aimed to overthrow the existing corrupt and irresponsible governance of Chief Honourable M.A, Nanga.
THE BOOK SUMMARY
The story begins by Odili Samalu as the main character as well as the story teller, telling us that Chief Nanga is called “a man of the people”. Chief Nanga is going to visit Anata. Along with his village community, Odili prepares for the arrival of Cultural Minister M.A. Nanga. Chief Nanga visits at Anata Grammar School where Odili teaches at that time. Odili tells us that people are ignorant because they can’t believe you while telling them that Chief Nanga is a bad person.
Background on his rise to power is introduced. Upon his arrival, Nanga recognizes and remembers Odili as his former student, praises him for completing university and invites him to come and stay with him in the city; promising to speak to a member of his board in order to get an admission of studying in the UK.
Background on Odili and Elsie, the girl he has ever “met and slept with in the same day”. The two met in university. After Odili left the University, the two were heartbroken and maintained contact by exchanging letters. Elsie began working at a hospital. Odili explains that Nanga’s invitation is timed perfectly, as he can visit Elsie and have a private room in the Minister’s home.
Odili also meets his friend Andrew who studied abroad with the help of Chief Koko. Odili wants to study abroad but without anyone’s help. Odili tells us that Chief Nanga will try to find him out from his cabinet and Odili will get everything and stay to Chief Nanga’s guest room with everything complete. Chief Nanga also praises himself that he is going to be given a doctorate degree and be started called “Honourable Alhaji Doctor (LL. D) Mongo Sego, MP”.
Before traveling to the capital (Bori), Odili decides to travel to his home village, Urua. This journey aims to take back home, his house boy Peter and visit his father, a district interpreter, a powerful and hated man with five wives and 35 children. Odili’s mother died giving birth to him and there is shame associated with this. Finally, Odili arrives in Bori at minister’s residence, he is welcomed.
The same day with Mr. Nanga, they go to Hon. Simon Koko who handles education of abroad, but they don’t get a chance to discuss the scholarship as Simon Koko starts complaining that he was poisoned and was lamenting that he is dying. After the conversation ends, they leave and go home where he learns that Nanga is about to marry Edna and the leaders enrich themselves.
It is the next day after the arrival of Odili at Chief Nanga’s home. Odili seems to be tired of the journey. Mrs. Nanga gets ready to leave with the children to visit her village, which they do at least once a year. Then Mr. Nanga arrives for lunch and at the same time Hon. T. C. Kobino phones him and they start to discuss about road construction. Jean and John, an American couple, arrive at the Minister’s house. Jean flirts shamelessly with Nanga.
This chapter begins with Jean and John inviting Chief Nanga and Odili to the dinner. Mrs. Nanga has left home. Then John unfortunately, is told to be present at the opening of cement factory to Abaka. Despite this, Jean reminds them that the dinner will be as invitation directs. Soon enters a beautiful woman whom Chief Nanga introduces as Barrister Mrs. Akilo. And as soon as Mrs. Akilo left, Chief Nanga and Odili go to the International to attend the dinner. After the dinner party ends, then Jean takes Odili to Chief Nanga’s house.
This chapter begins with Odili’s visit to the hospital to inform Elsie that the other day he will go to meet her. The other day, in the morning, Odili takes Nanga’s Cadillac and visits again Elsie.
After finishing their conversation, they go to the book exhibition and while on the way Chief Nanga and Elsie say they do not know even the meaning of book exhibition. Mr. Nanga says that he does not have even the speech of that day and Odili asks to prepare for him and yet Chief Nanga refuses saying that the speech is not important. In his speech, Chief Nanga criticizes Mr. Jalio’s clothes. He also fails to know the names of newspaper writers despite being a minister of culture.
The narrator tells us that Chief Nanga was born a politician and he is the greatest orator. Being a great orator enables him to hide his evils and misconduct. After the exhibition, they drive back home. Odili sits near Elsie and they touch one another and after reaching Chief Nanga’s place, Odili and Chief Nanga drink some whisky. Later on, Elsie sleeps with Chief Nanga. This incidence makes Odili leave Chief Nanga’s house during the night and manages to go to his friend Maxwell Kulamo who welcomes him.
Odili plots revenge against Nanga. He joins the Common People’s Convention (CPC) which includes Maxwell, his fiancéé Eunice and other intellectuals. The party should be made of only professional men and therefore do not agree the party to be called as Common People’s Convention and refer back to the history of Carl Max and the greatest revolution which was not launched by common people, but intellectuals. Also, they do not agree the party to be understood as communist.
Odili goes back to Anata and we hear the story of Josiah, the shopkeeper who takes too much. Odili visits Mrs. Nanga and gets Edna’s location. The two discuss Chief Nanga and his new wife, Edna. Odili intends to meet her in order to warn her of Chief Nanga’s behaviour. Odili meets Edna’s greedy father-Odo. He says that Nanga has sent him to pay visit there and know about Edna’s mother condition. He understands why they have arranged for Edna to marry the Minister.
Odili finds himself stunned by Edna’s beauty and gives her a lift to the hospital but unfortunately, on the way they get an accident. Edna scrapes her knee and the food is spoilt and mixed with sand which leads Odili to take some money and buy some bread and corned beef near the hospital for the patient.
Odili return to Mrs. Nanga’s home where Edna is going to spend Christmas morning and helping Mrs. Nanga. While Edna serves Odili something to drink. Odili starts giving advice Edna about not marrying Nanga. Details of major corruption break out in the media concerning current government and Prime Minister resigns. The CPC has been launched and Odili should run against Nanga, which makes Mrs. Nanga sad. When Odili announces that he is going to contest Chief Nanga’s seat everybody laughed except Josiah.
Odili composes a letter to Edna telling her she should not marry Chief Nanga. After meeting Mrs. Nanga, Odili goes to the Anata Mission Hospital to see Edna but unfortunately Odili does not her there. He decides to go to Edna’s home although her father has forbidden him to set foot over the area. Odo tells Odili to go but Odili refuses and Odo decides to call the people for him to threaten. Odili says that he comes to persuade him and his family to cast their paper for him on voting day”. Then Odo decides to advice Odili and he tells him that his in law is like a bull and Odili’s challenge is like the challenge of a stick to a bull”. Finally, Odili decides to go and Edna rises to see Odili leaves the place.
Odili is in the way to home trying to think about his courage before Edna and when he reaches home, he comes across the letter from Edna. She has responded to Odili’s letter by thanking him for his advice and telling him that she has no choice. Meanwhile, Odili begins assembling his security team to protect him during the upcoming election.
Later, Chief Nanga approaches Odili and his father while the two are walking. Odili’s father reveals that he has been asking the Chief for forgiveness on Odili’s behalf. It is revealed that Chief Nanga has come to meet with Odili to bribe him to stay out of the election. Chief Nanga tells Odili that Max has accepted the bribe. However, Odili rejects Chief Nanga’s offer and vows to defeat the incumbent candidate.
The chapter begins as Odili discusses with his father on Chief Nanga’s denied offer. The next day was the arrival of Max and the whole campaign team of C.P.C party. Then, Odili’s father gave them chance to conduct their campaign in his home place regardless his position to P.O.P. The campaign was conducted fully with deliberately speeches from Max and Odili, then they take the journey with the whole campaign team.
In Anata, Odili decides to go to see Edna. When Odili approaches her, she angrily dismisses him. When the POP finds out that Odili’s father indirectly supported his son’s campaigning, they remove him from his position as the local chairman of P.O.P, nearly jail him and impose convenient overdue taxes against him. Odili’s home village loses their pipes for supporting him.
In the beginning, the Crier explains that everyone must vote for Chief Nanga in the upcoming election. Later, Odili decides to disguise himself and go to Chief Nanga’s inaugural campaign meeting. While being there, Josiah alerts Chief Nanga that Odili is among the crowd. In his process to escape, Odili is caught and tortured by chief Nanga and his stalwarts which leads to being sent in hospital for further treatments.
In hospital Odili is under arrest because he has a case of possessing weapons found in his car, where by the car was destroyed by Chief Nanga’s followers. Edna and Odili’s father have been to his bedside. Odili learns the loss of the form to sign for election and the death of Max in Abaga, where by, Eunice has revenge to her boyfriend death by shooting Chief Koko on his chest to death, then she is imprisoned.
At the chapter, Odili apologizes to Edna for his hurtful words, but discovers that his second letter was intercepted and never reached her. Astonished at his good fortune, Odili begins arranging to marry Edna. In addition, Odili vows to have Eunice released from jail and to dedicate a school to Max as a true “hero of the revolution.”
The book is narrated by Odili, a young teacher in an unnamed African country run by greedy and corrupt politicians. His own former teacher, referred to as both “Mr. Nanga” and “Chief Nanga,” is now an elected official and the Minister of Culture of the country. When Chief Nanga comes to visit his home village, he and Odili meet again, and Chief Nanga invites Odili to stay at his home in the capital city while the Chief makes arrangements to help Odili study abroad. Despite his dislike for Chief Nanga’s politics and his way of doing business, Odili is somewhat charmed by the man. He is also attracted to a young woman, Edna, who travels with Chief Nanga and is supposed to become the Chief’s second wife.
Odili accepts Chief Nanga’s invitation, and spends time with him in the capital city. Odili learns that Chief Nanga lives in luxury as a result of his corrupt practices and knows very little about culture, despite his position. Odili has had an affair with a young woman, Elsie, whom he brings to Chief Nanga’s home with the intention of spending the night with her. However, she sleeps with Chief Nanga instead. Chief Nanga doesn’t understand why this makes Odili angry. Odili decides he will take revenge on Chief Nanga by seducing Edna, the young woman the official plans to marry.
Odili becomes involved in a new political party that seeks to replace the current ruling party. As he becomes more and more opposed to Chief Nanga, Odili decides to run for office in an attempt to take Chief Nanga’s position. The members of the new party believe they will provide more effective, more honest government. However, Odili learns the people of his country are quite cynical. They expect politicians will take bribes and make themselves rich. In fact, many of the people Odili meets are primarily interested in getting a share of the money gathered by corrupt officials.
Odili struggles with a number of moral decisions as he wages his campaign, for example having to decide whether to take money as a payment for withdrawing from the election. He tries to show the people the present government is lying and stealing, but no one seems to care. In fact, Odili is threatened and bullied as he tries to run his campaign, and his father and his village are punished for his actions.
Odili realizes he is genuinely in love with Edna, and his desire for her is no longer just a result of his wish to get revenge on Chief Nanga. Edna, however, feels obligated to marry the Chief because he has given her family money and her father is pressuring her.
Odili decides to attend the event that launches Chief Nanga’s campaign, where Odili is recognized and beaten nearly to death. During the weeks of his recovery in the hospital, things change in Odili’s personal life and for the entire country. Although Chief Nanga’s party wins the election, the aftermath is unrest and chaos, and ultimately the military overthrows the government. Then the people of the country come forward and talk about how terrible the former government was, despite their support for the same elected officials when they were in power. Edna stands by Odili through his recovery, and eventually his family makes arrangements for Odili to marry her. Odili is sad to learn of the death of his friend Max, who was killed by a former government official. Max is pronounced as a hero and martyr, and a school is established in his memory.
The setting of the book is in an unnamed African country during post-independence in the 1960s. The author has used imaginary towns like Bori and villages like Urua, Anata and Abaga. But what was happening in those imaginative towns, cities and villages resemble the realities and life experiences in most of African societies especially in Nigeria where the author originated.
CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERIZATION
A character is a being involved in the work of art either living or non-living thing. The author used different types of characters.
- He is the teacher, narrator of the story and son of Hezekiah Samalu
- He was taught by Chief Nanga in standard three.
- His mother died during his birth
- He finds himself in conflict with Chief Nanga when Nanga sleeps with his girlfriend, Elsie.
- He is one among the members who formed a new political party (CPC).
- He contests against Chief Nanga during election and is totally against corruption as he rejects the money Chief Nanga wanted to give him.
- He plans to marry Edna as a reaction to Chief Nanga’s act of sleeping with Elsie. At the end he marries Edna.
- He is a minister of culture and an irresponsible leader
- He is selfish, clever cunning and a betrayer.
- He is corrupt politician as he tries to bribe Odili
- He is a womanizer, sex-maniac and misuses government money
- He was once a teacher and taught Odili in standard three.
- She is Odo’s daughter, born in poor family, forced to marry Nanga.
- She represents girls who lose their freedom and surrender themselves to men because of poverty.
- She nurses Odili after being beaten by Nanga’s thugs. At the end, she is married to Odili.
- He is Odili’s father and has five wives and thirty-five children.
- He is a former district interpreter of colonialists.
- He is ex-local chairman of P.O.P in Urua before being dismissed.
- He is superstitious as he has medical charms placed in his house.
- He is corrupt as he blames Odili for rejecting Chief Nanga’s bribe.
- He is lawyer, Odili’s friend&classmate. He is the boyfriend of Eunice
- He convinces Odili to join a new political party (CPC).
- He is a revolutionary young man who is against injustice, corruption and exploitation.
- He represents progressive intellectuals in independent African states.
- He was bribed by Chief Koko to surrender the constituency.
- He is killed under the order of Chief Koko. He is declared a hero and martyr after the revolution.
- She is Max’s fiancée and a lawyer
- She revenges her fiancé’s death by shooting Chief Koko
- She is one among the founder members of CPC
- She shoots Chief Koko as a revenge following Maxwell’s murder.
- She is a revolutionist and represents women who are able to bring changes.
- After killing Chief Koko, she is arrested and jailed but she is freed from jail after revolution
- She represents serious and hard-working women.
- She is a betrayer as she betrayed her fiancé Ralph and later betrayed Odili. She is educated and a nurse in Bori.
- She causes Chief Nanga and Odili to conflict with each other
- She represents women/girls who are not faithful in relationship.
Chief Simon Koko
- He is a Minister of Overseas Training, fat and cheerful man by appearance
- He is very brutal as he orders Maxwell to be killed and stops the arrest of the driver who causes the killing
- He is irresponsible and a corrupt person as he bribes Maxwell in order to surrender the constituency.
- He is shot by Eunice as a revenge.
- He is the ex-minister of finance who gets fired in the position after suggesting on how to solve the problem of coffee price. He is then called a traitor and other bad names.
- He represents people who suffer because of standing for the truth and professionalism.
- After his dismissal, both his house and car are destroyed
- She is Chief Nanga’s wife and a mother of seven children
- She represents the African women who were denied the right to education.
- Her parents married her to Chief Nanga.
- She has no say over her husband’s behaviour of being a womanizer.
- She is jealous of Edna whom her husband wants to marry.
- He is a trader at Anata
- He was considered as an exploiter and a superstitious by the villagers.
- He is forced to leave the village by the angry villagers after stealing Azoge’s stick.
- He is rejected by Odili to join C.P.C.
Others are Hon T.C Kobino (the Minister of Public Construction), Jean and John (Americans), Dogo (Nanga’ one eyed stalwart), Edmund, Boniface (Odili’s bodyguard), Mama, Odo (Edna’s father).
A theme refers to the main idea of the artist in the work of art. In the novel “A man of the people”, the main ideas of the author on his work are the following.
Revenge; this refers to condition of hurting or harming someone in return. In the book, Odili Samalu had a revenge to Chief Nanga by taking Edna from him. Chief Simon Koko did revenge by killing Maxwell Kulamo and Eunice shot Chief Koko as a revenge.
Corruption; this is the illegal use of public office or fund. In the novel, Chief Nanga is a corrupt leader since he misused his political position and tried to bribe Odili. The author portrayed Chief Koko too as a corrupt leader who bribed Maxwell Kulamo.
Betrayal, this simply refers to going against legal agreement. In the book, Chief Nanga betrayed his people by enriching himself. Elsie betrayed her boyfriend Ralph by sleeping with Odili, and later betrayed Odili by making love with Nanga. Chief Nanga also betrayed his wife by sleeping with other girls/women. Jean betrayed her husband by sleeping with Chief Nanga and Odili. Mrs. Akilo betrayed her husband by sleeping with Chief Nanga.
Ignorance: Ignorance means lack of knowledge, understanding or education. People in Anata are ignorant as they failed to realize how their leaders are corrupt. Hezekiah Samalu who is a local chairman of POP was not aware of what was going on in the party. Odo failed to realize the trick played by Chief Nanga. Josiah was also ignorant as he believed that Azoge’s walking stick would make his business successful.
Selfishness: It is the act of having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs of other people. In the novel, political leaders were portrayed as selfish persons since what they did was only for their own interests.
Irresponsibility; this refers to a condition in which someone is incapable of performing his or her duties. In the novel, the author portrayed Chief Nanga as an irresponsible leader as he failed to know the names of few writers in the country despite being a minister of culture.
Hypocrisy; this simply refers to the false appearance of someone, where he/she is pretending in his or her acts. In the novel, most political leaders like Chief Nanga pretend to be good to their people while they are not good.
Nepotism, this means the favouring of relatives or personal friends because of their relationship rather than their abilities. In the book, Chief Nanga was portrayed as a nepotistic character when he told Odili that can get a position in the civil service because who are there are from the same village.
Brutality; this refers to the state of being not fair to others, always in form of violence. Chief Nanga seemed to be brutal in the novel when he pushed Edna on the dais. Chief Koko was portrayed too as a brutal person when he led to Max’s death in Abaga.
Poverty: It is the state of being unable to get basic needs. In the novel, Azoge the blind beggar earns his living by begging. Edna’s family lived in a very poor life. Odili’s sister lives in a two rooms house with her two children, husband and sacks of maize and beans.
Embezzlement of public funds: It refers to the act of wasting or misusing public fund for your own interests. In the novel, Chief Nanga misused public funds by lending Odili the ministerial car, educating Edna, giving Agnes money in order to make love with her, buying buses, bribing Odili, hiring thugs and buying weapons.
Superstition, this refers to a belief not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, that future events may be influenced by one’s behaviour in some magical ways.
In the book Chief Nanga was superstitious as he believed that an animal can remove all evils. Also, Odili’s father had protective medicine in his house. Josiah was also superstitious as he believed that Azoge’s walking stick would make his business successful
Polygamy; this refers to the situation of having more wives at the same time. In the novel, Hezekiah Samalu had 5 wives and 35 children. He was portrayed as a polygamist.
Hostility; this refers to situation of being hostile among the two sides. In the novel, Odili’s father had many enemies since he became an interpreter. Further, hostility was between Odili and Chief Nanga; started as Chief Nanga seduced Elsie.
Moral decay/immorality: Being a corrupt leader proves the immorality of African leaders. Elsie, Mrs Akilo and Jean were immoral as we do not expect African ladies to be like that. Chief Nanga was immoral because as a leader who must be a role model in the society, wass a womanizer. Odili’s bodyguards were immoral as they planned to burn Chief Nanga’s car.
Suffering: This refers to the condition of someone who is experiencing hardships. In the book, the people were suffering as the price of everything had doubled since independence. The teachers were poorly paid, and in the city, beggars slept under the caves of luxurious apartment stores.
Other themes include conflicts, exploitation, patriotism, protest, disillusionment, sacrifice, troubles facing post-colonial African society, culture etc.
MESSAGE OF THE BOOK
This refers to the lesson we get from any literary work. The following are the messages from the novel.
- Restriction of ignorance is a step towards development.
- Irresponsibility leads to unprogressive society.
- Corruption is a great obstacle towards development in our societies.
DICTION OF THE NOVEL
This refers to how an author employed and used the language (simple or complex), literary techniques and figure of speech.
*In the novel, an author used a simple and well understandable language. Standard English is used by educated people while Pidgin English is used in small extent to indicate the differences of characters in educational level. On the other hand, American dialect has also been used.
Symbolism; this refers to the use of persons and objects representing concept, idea or a thing.
- Chief Nanga symbolizes selfish persons and irresponsible leaders.
- Cadillac, gold chains: symbolize wealth
- Money: symbolizes wealth and influence
- Azoge, the blind beggar and other beggars symbolize poor people
- Maxwell’s death: represents the beginning of liberation
- The refusal of the villagers to buy things in Josiah’s shop symbolizes unity.
Repetition; this refers to the repeating of the same word or phrase frequently for more emphasis.
Ex: “…sir, sir, sir…”, “…hear! Hear!” “…no, no, no, I said…”
Hyperbole: It is an exaggeration to express strong emotions or create a comic effect.
Ex: The crowd raised a deafening shout of welcome.
It is a mammoth crowd.
Simile: It is the comparison between two unlike things by using connective words such as like, as …as, resembles, as if.
“…he looked as bright as new shilling…”
He shouted at me like a mad dog.
Metaphors: It is a comparison between two unlike things without using connective words such as like, resembles, as, as…as.
He has become an earthworm.
The coming election would be a life and death fight.
Ellipses; this refers to the omission of grammatical words in a sentence or phrase.
Ex: “…you didn’t tell me, Mr.…er…”
“…a brilliant song called…erm…what is it called again?”
Personification; this refers to a figure of speech in which an animal or inanimate object is given human qualities.
Ex: “…if alligator comes out of the water one morning and tells you that, crocodile is sick …”
“…what one dog says to another…”
Imagery: It is the use of words to bring a picture of a certain events that take place in the novel.
The artistic descriptions of Chief Nanga’s house and his ministerial car.
Description of Odo’s house made of a red earth and thatched roof.
Also, the artistic description of Josiah’s evil/action towards Azoge by an old woman.
Irony: It is the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to create a humorous effect.
Ex: –The meaning of the title is opposite that is Chief Nanga is not a man of the people but an enemy.
When Nanga says: “teaching is a very noble profession”, he meant otherwise.
“I can swear to God that I am not as happy as when I was a teacher”.
Rhetorical questions: these are questions in which an asker does not expect an answer.
Ex:” …why should you? Do I know book? Am I not of the Old Testament?”
Vulgarism: this refers to the use of the word or term that is considered offensive or distasteful.
Ex: Jean says “…sex means much more to a woman than to a man, it takes place inside her.
The man uses a mere projection of himself…”
Satire: It is the way of using humour to show that someone or something is foolish, weak or bad.
When Chief Nanga admits that he does not know the meaning of 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.
When Chief Nanga says Jalio has composed a song instead of a book.
When Chief Koko discovers that the coffee was not poisonous and Chief Nanga starts teasing him.
Proverbs/Sayings: a proverb is a brief saying that gives advice about how people should live or that express a belief that is generally thought to be true.
Do the right and shame the devil.
It did not matter what you knew but who you knew.
“…better the water is spilled than the pot is broken…”
Idioms: an idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.
Kick the bucket (die).
To put a cat among pigeons (to destroy one’s success)
The treatment costs me water and fire (it costs a lot of money)
PLOT OF THE NOVEL
Plot refers to the flow of events in a literary work. The author arranged the events into 13 chapters in his book. Chinua Achebe used chronological order at large extent and flashback in some extent.
This refers to the kind of plot in which the events are arranged from the beginning to the end (chronological order). In the novel, the story starts at Anata Grammar School where Odili teaches and Chief Nanga visits the school. Then Odili is taken to Bori, and after to Maxwell’s house, national election and the overthrow of the government and imprisonment of all corrupt and irresponsible leaders.
In the book, the author used flashback when Odili tells the past life of Chief Nanga. There is a flashback while Odili tells his story when he was in Giligili as a houseboy and when he gives us the background of Odili’s father.
Foreshadowing is found where Odili tells us that even though the people were praising Chief Nanga; the man was ruining the nation by enriching himself.
Chief Nanga’s interrogation indicates that he was interested in Odili’s girlfriend.
Another instance of foreshadowing occurs when Odili discusses the danger of political involvement and begins to fear for his own safety.
Finally, Chief Nanga’s attempt to bribe Odili out of the election indicates that the Chief will undertake drastic measures to eliminate his competitors.
Protagonist and antagonist
The protagonist of the story is the narrator, Odili Samalu, and the antagonist is Chief M.A. Nanga.
Odili seeks revenge on Chief Nanga by pursuing his fiancée and contesting his cabinet seat.
When Odili’s girlfriend, Elsie, visits Chief Nanga’s mansion, the Minister seduces her. This prompts the narrator to seek revenge.
STYLE OF THE NOVEL
Style refers to the manner an artist used to present his work. The author of the novel “A man of the People” employed the use of several styles as follows;
Chinua Achebe presented his work by narrative form in large extent, and dialogue form in small extent.
Example: Dialogue between Odili and the father of his friend.
A dialogue between stalwarts and Odili.
The author has narrated the story using the first-person point of view that the narrator is also a main character. The story is narrated by Odili, a young teacher who is an idealistic intellectual.
Chinua Achebe has also used poems, songs, letters, notice and biblical language.
The tone of the story is impassioned, pensive, and critical. The mood is frustrated and restless.
Throughout the story, Odili consistently comments on education and its significance in his life.
While Odili narrates the story in British English, the novel also features excerpts in Pidgin English. British English predicates a certain sense of formality and level of education. Pidgin English, on the contrary, is most often spoken by domestic workers.
The motif of cars appears throughout A Man of the People. Cars signify social status and economic success.
A Man of the People and 1960s Nigeria
A Man of the People is set in an unnamed African country in order to make a broader comment on the post-colonial struggles across the continent. A Man of the People is a satire, and understanding the political climate of Nigeria in the 1960s is essential to the novel’s greater meaning.
In 1960, Nigeria was freed from colonial influence and ruled under Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. During his reign, workers in rural regions began to notice the large differences between their village lifestyles and the lifestyles of the politicians in Lagos. This resulted in a nationwide strike in June 1964. During the national elections in 1964, many dissenters of the political regime were murdered for their beliefs. Additionally, there was global concern and pressure due to Europe’s continual economic stake in African resources. This mounting pressure culminated in the military coup d’état in January 1966.
RELEVANCE OF THE BOOK
The book is very relevant to our current societies, because all things which are discussed within the book, are those found in our current societies especially in African countries.
For example, the issue of corruption which is discussed in this book, is even in our societies. This issue is a big problem because higher leaders tend to engage in corruption. So, this book is very relevant to our societies.
RELEVANCE OF THE TITLE
The title of the book “A Man of The People” is ironic which is not relevant to the content of the book. Instead of showing good things which support the title, the book portrays the evils done by a person whom people call “a man of the people=Chief Nanga” but in fact the person deserves to be called an enemy of the people due to his bad behaviours.
ANALYSIS OF THE NOVEL
Chinua Achebe’s novel, “A Man of The People”, is a book of political, social, economic and moral contrasts. The book was written in first person, and invites readers to experience the flow of emotions, fears, tensions, suspense and the pain that Odili, the main character in the book, undergoes.
Position and role of women
This is how an author portrays women in his work of art resembling the real life of women in our societies.
Woman as a weak, humiliated and oppressed person: Mrs. Nanga was easily forced to end education and marry Chief Nanga and she is also humiliated and oppressed by her husband. Elsie, Jean and Agnes are portrayed as weak people.
Woman as a prostitute: In this novel, women have been portrayed as prostitutes especially through Elsie, Jean and Agnes.
Woman as an upholder of traditional values and customs: Mrs. Nanga takes her children to their home land, Anata, at least once a year, so that they could not forget their traditional values.
Woman as an intelligent and educated person: Elsie is a trained nurse, Eunice is a lawyer and a member of CPC, and Agnes is also educated and a lawyer.
Woman as an unfaithful person: Agnes, Akilo and Jean are unfaithful to their husbands. Elsie is also unfaithful to her fiancée, Ralph and later Odili.
Woman as a generous person: Edna is very kind to Odili as when Odili is beaten up by Chief Nanga’s thugs and admitted to the hospital, she shows sympathy and nurses him.
Woman as a person with good advice: When Odili has a quarrel against his father; Mama, the first wife of Hezekiah, advised Odili to ask forgiveness from his father.
Woman as a courageous and revolutionist person who can take part in a struggle against evils: The author portrays Eunice as a revolutionist, as she performs the anti-governmental activities, and also kills Chief Koko as a revenge to her fiancée.
Woman as a family caregiver: In the novel, the first Hezekiah’s wife called Mama was responsible for caring of the whole family.
TOPIC AREA: POETRY
UNIT III: ELEGY AND EPITAPH
Etymologically the term elegy derived from the Greek word “elegus” which means a song of bereavement sung along with a flute. In literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, which typically mourns the loss of someone who has died or something that has been deteriorated
Elegy can also be explained as:
- a mournful or plaintive poem; a funeral song; a lament for the dead, or a poem of lamentation.
- a serious poem, typically on the subject of mourning the deceased
- a sad poem, usually written to praise and express sorrow for someone who is dead.
O Captain! My Captain! By Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
(“O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman, 1891)
Oh Captain, my Captain! Our hard journey is over. The ship has survived every storm, and we’ve won the prize we’ve been fighting for. The port is close by and I hear bells ringing and people celebrating. All their eyes are on the steady ship, that bold and brave vessel. But oh, my heart! heart! heart! Oh, look at the drops of blood on the deck where my captain is lying cold and dead.
Oh Captain, my Captain! Get up and listen to the bells. Get up—they’re waving the flag for you—they’re playing the bugle for you. They’ve brought bouquets and wreaths with ribbons for you—all these people are crowding on the shore for you.
The swaying crowd is calling for you, and all the people’s eager faces turning towards you. Here Captain! My dear father! I’ll put my arm under your head. I must be dreaming that on the deck, you’re lying cold and dead.
My Captain isn’t answering me. His lips are pale and unmoving. My father doesn’t feel my arm beneath his head, since he has no pulse or consciousness. The ship has anchored safely, and its journey is over. After this hard journey, the victorious ship has returned with its prize. Let the crowds celebrate and the bells ring! Meanwhile I, slowly and sadly, walk across the deck where my Captain is lying cold and dead.
“O Captain! My Captain!” is an elegy written by Walt Whitman in 1865 to commemorate the death of President Abraham Lincoln. Walt Whitman was inspired by the events of the American Civil War. The poem captured the mood of a nation in mourning and has remained one of Whitman’s best-loved and most-quoted poems.
The entire poem relies on an extended metaphor. It compares President Lincoln to the captain of a ship—a ship that then becomes a symbol for the United States itself. The speaker asserts that the ship has undergone many trials over the course of its journey, including storms, fighting, and other dangers. This description of a perilous journey is intended to represent the divisive and bloody struggle between the Union and the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The speaker attributes the ship’s safe return to the harbour to the bravery and leadership of the captain, just as many attributed the Union’s victory to the statesmanship of President Lincoln.
Tragically, however, the speaker reveals that the captain lies dead on the deck of the ship while the city rejoices—a metaphor for recent events, since President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 and was unable to celebrate his victory. In this sense, the ship is a symbol of national unity and perseverance, but becomes a site of loss and tragedy in the poem. The poet has used expressed those feelings in a more melancholic and reflective tone.
An elegy is characterized as follow:
- It is a type of lyric and focuses on expressing emotions or thoughts.
- It uses formal language and structure.
- It may mourn the passing of life and beauty or someone dear to the speaker.
- It may explore questions about nature of life and death or immorality of soul.
- It may express the speaker’s anger about death.
The purpose of this kind of poem is to express feelings rather than tell a story.
An epitaph is from Greek term “epitaphios” which means “a funeral oration.” In literature, it is a short-written tribute in poetry or prose in memory of deceased person.
Epitaph can also be defined as:
- an inscription on a gravestone in memory of the deceased.
- a poem or other short text written in memory of a deceased person.
- it is a short statement about a deceased person, often carved on his/her tombstone.
Epitaphs can be sometimes written by poets or authors themselves before dying.
Ex: –We will never forget you.
-Beloved mother and wife
-Death is the golden key that opens the palace of Eternity.
-He lies here, somewhere.
-Always in our hearts
If you live life right
death is a joke
as far as fear is concerned
Characteristics of epitaph are the following:
- It is a short text honouring a deceased person.
- It is inscribed on a tombstone or plaque
- It may also be used in a figurative sense
- Some epitaphs are specified by the person themselves before their death.
- An epitaph may be written in prose or in poetry.
- Most epitaphs are brief records of the family, and perhaps the career of the deceased.
Epitaphs provide those who have passed with a poetic or memorable inscription for those who visit their graves to remember them by. For those who choose their own epitaphs, it is a way of sending one final and lasting message.
|A mournful or plaintive poem, a funeral song, a poem of lamentation
A poem composed in elegiac couples.
A poem or song composed especially as a lament for a deceased person.
A composition that is melancholy or pensive in tone.
|An inscription on a tombstone or gravestone in memory of the one buried there.
A brief literary piece commemorating a deceased person
A poem or other short text written in memory of deceased person
The tone in the poem is the attitude or feelings of a poet towards the subject matter or the audience. This one helps to create a particular kind of atmosphere or mood in the poem. We use adjectives to describe the tone:
Atmosphere refers to the feeling, emotion, or mood a poet conveys to a reader through the description of setting and objects. It refers to the emotions invoked/applied in the reader as he/she reads a poem. Simply, mood is the feeling the audience gets as they read or listen to a poem.
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.
III.5. POINT OF VIEW
The point of view of a story is defined as the perspective from which a story is told. It is also the angle of considering things, which shows us the opinion or feelings of the individuals involved in a situation.
In literature, point of view is the mode of narration that a poet employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a poem. It refers to the method the poet uses to narrate the poem. Simply, it is who is telling the story.
The speaker of a poem is not identical to the poet. Often the poet creates a persona who speaks in the poem.
There are three kinds of point of view:
The first-person point of view
The poet tells the story from the I, me, we, us perspective. A first-person narrative is a poem writing in which a narrator relays events from his or her own point of view using the first person.
I live to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
From “My mistress‘s Eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare
The second person point of view
It is a type of narration that is told from the you, your perspective. It is not commonly used.
You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
The third person point of view
The poem is narrated from a he/she, they or it perspective.
They met by accident
He proposed the idea
She gave her consent
All the way to the altar.
From ‘Outcast’ by G Gathemia
III.6. POETIC DEVICES
Poetic devices are literary techniques that are used in poetry to create sounds and mental pictures within a poem. They make poems pleasant to listen to. Poetic devices that can be used to create rhythm include repetition, syllable variation, and rhyming.
Some of the poetic devices are either used in prose or in poetry and others may appear in both genres. The poet has right to use a diction that fits his objectives.
Metonymy is a poetic device in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in the meaning with that thing or concept. 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 a substitution where a word or phrase is used in place of another word or phrase.
- Pen stands for “the written word.”
- Sword stands for “military aggression.”
- Crown – in place of a royal person
- The White House or The Oval Office – used in place of the 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
- The big house – to refer to prison
- Silicon Valley – to refer to the technology industry
- Hollywood – to refer to the film industry
- Ears – for giving attention, listening
- Silver fox – for an attractive older man
- Hand – for help
- Tongue – used in place of language.
- Brass – used in place of high-ranking officials
- New blood – used in place of new people, fresh ideas.
UNIT IV: LIMERICKS- RHYME AND RHYTHM
IV.0. A LIMERICK
A limerick is a humorous, nonsensical poem that contains five-lines with a specific rhyme scheme of AA BB A. Limerick poetry is also often referred to as nonsense poetry and it is typically used for fun and entertaining events.
It is said to have started in Ireland. Limericks are often characterized by use of humour, exaggeration/ hyperbole and a strict rhyme scheme of AA BB A.
“There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!”
There was an Old Person whose habits,
Induced him to feed upon rabbits;
When he’d eaten eighteen,
He turned perfectly green,
Upon which he relinquished those habits.
A standard limerick has the following features
- A one-stanza poem with five lines, no more, no less.
- Made up of thirty-nine syllables in total (9-9-6-6-9).
- The first, the second and the fifth lines are long and rhyme.
- Those three lines have three feet of three syllables each.
- The third and fourth lines are shorter and they rhyme too.
- The two lines have only two feet of three syllables.
- Have rhyme which creates a rhythmic pattern.
- Are often humorous/ funny and sometimes obscene.
Rhyme is a repetition of similar sounding words in two or more words, most often in the final syllables or lines in poems and songs. A rhyme is a tool that uses repeating patterns to create rhythm or musicality in poems. This differentiates poems from prose. Its purpose is to give a pleasing effect to a poem, which makes its recital an enjoyable experience. This makes memorization of the poem easy.
Usually, rhyme occurs at the end of lines in a poem, but it can also occur in the middle. If it occurs in the middle, it is called internal rhyme. All limericks have the same end rhyme scheme which is AABBA.
In the future, the worst kind of crime,
Will be working the streets as a mime,
If you paint your face white,
They’ll arrest you on sight,
An example of justice sublime.
The word rhythm is derived from the Greek word, “rythmos” which means, “measured motion.” Rhythm can also be referred to as a literally device that demonstrates the long and short patterns through stressed and unstressed syllables, particularly in verse poems.
Rhythm refers to a strong regular repeated pattern of sound in poetry. It is also a series of stressed or accented syllables in a group of words, arranged so that the reader expects a similar series to follow.
Rhythm is what we dance to in a song. It is the regular beat that defines the song. Rhythm that can be measured is called meter.
Rhythm is an important part of the structure of a poem. In writing poetry, rhythm acts as a beat in music. Every poem that is not free verse has a type of rhythm. It is used to captivate the readers by giving a musical effect to a literary piece.
Da Da Dah Da Da Dah Da Da Dah
Da Da Dah Da Da Dah Da Da Dah
Da Da Dah Da Da Dah
Da Da Dah Da Da Dah
Da Da Dah Da Da Dah Da Da Dah
IV.3. POETIC DEVICES
Hyperbole refers to the use of overstatement or exaggeration for the purpose of creating emphasis or humour, but it is not intended to be taken literally. It is used to create an amusing effect, or to emphasize our meaning.
However, writers or poets use hyperbole to make common human feelings remarkable and intense to such an extent that they do not remain ordinary.
The usage of hyperbole develops contrasts when one thing is described with an over-statement, and the other thing is presented normally. This poetic device is employed to catch the reader’s attention.
There once was a young lady named bright
Whose speed was much faster than light
She set out one day
In a relative way
And returned on the previous night.
I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street.
It’s been ages and ages since I last saw you.’
She’s as thin as a toothpick.
He was skinny enough to jump through a keyhole
I ate so much that I weigh more than a whale.
His stomach is a bottomless pit.
If I can’t get a smartphone, I will die.
My mom is going to kill me.
These shoes are killing me.
This is so boring, just kill me now!
It was so cold. Polar bears wore jackets
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
The church was decorated with a million flowers.
Grandfather is older than dirt.
My dad is always working.
I’ve told you a million times not to do that.
We waited for centuries this match.
It will only take me two seconds to get there.
You’re walking slower than a snail.
Rehema never stops talking.
Euphemism refers to a use of polite language with the purpose of not offending or appearing unpleasant. It is used to mislead the readers/listeners’ understanding trying to spare their feelings about reality.
Euphemism depends largely on the social context of the speakers and writers, where they feel the need to replace certain words that may prove embarrassing for particular listeners or readers in a particular situation.
- C (toilet)
- He is mentally challenged (stupid)
- They passed away (they died)
- Put to sleep instead of euthanize
- Pregnancy termination instead of abortion
- Make love instead of having sex
- To sleep with someone instead of having sex with someone
- Letting someone go instead of firing someone
- On the streets instead of homeless
- Correctional facility instead of jail
- Relocation center instead of prison camp
- Taking an early retirement instead of got fired
Euphemism helps writers convey those ideas that have become a social taboo, and are too embarrassing to mention directly. Writers skillfully choose appropriate words to refer to and discuss a subject indirectly that otherwise might not be published due to strict social censorship, such as for reasons of religious fanaticism, political theories, sexuality, and death. Euphemism is therefore a useful tool that allows writers to write figuratively about difficult issues.
Juxtaposition is a literary technique in which two or more ideas, places, characters, and their actions are placed side by side in a narrative or a poem, for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts.
In literature, juxtaposition is a useful device for writers to portray their characters in great detail, to create suspense, and to achieve a rhetorical effect. Poets use juxtaposition to highlight differences between two words or idea.
For example, a writer can make readers sense “goodness” in a particular character by placing him or her side-by-side with a character that is predominantly “evil.” Consequently, goodness in one character is highlighted by evil in the other character. Juxtaposition in this case is useful in the development of characters.
Litotes is a poetic device which is a form of understatement in which sentiment is expressed ironically by negating its contrary. It is used to invocate the absence of thing or quality to soften harsh phrases, and sometimes for a bitingly ironic touch.
- They aren’t unhappy with the presentation. (they are happy)
- It wasn’t a terrible trip. (it was wonderful)
- She’s not unkind. (she is kind)
- The two concepts are not unlike each other.(they are alike)
- Her cooking isn’t terrible, exactly. ( it’s actually great.)
- Ireland is no ordinary country. (It’s special.)
- Your commentary on their relationship was less than smart.(it was stupid.)
- She wasn’t a bad dancer.(she was a good dancer.)
- He’s not unlike his older brother. (he’s similar.)
- They spent seven months apart; that’s no small amount of time.(that’s a long time.)
- They don’t exactly have an ordinary relationship. (their relationship is different.)
- Your kitchen isn’t disordered. (it’s organized.)
- You won’t be sorry. (you’ll be glad.)
- His statements are not without truth.(they are true.)
UNIT V: FREE VERSE V.0. DEFINITIONFree verse is poetry that does not have regular patterns of rhyme and meter. The lines in free verse often flow more naturally than do rhymed. Free verse poems do not follow any rules. Their creation is completely in the hands of the poet.Ex: Bus stop by Michelle Friend
I saw a nice boy
with long sideburns
and short hair and blue suit
he stood in front of me in the bus queue
when the bus came
he stood back
to let me climb into the bus in front of him
i turned to thank him
he gave me a radiant smile
it warmed my heart and made my day beautiful
and then (Wrapped in a haze of rosy dreams)
and fell into the bus
flat on my stupid face Free verse poetry features
- Free verse poems have no regular meter or rhythm.
- They do not follow a proper rhyme scheme; these poems do not have any set rules.
- This type of poem is based on normal pauses and natural rhythmical, as compared to the artificial constraints of traditional or normal poetry. That is why it is called “Free verse”.
Free verse is commonly used in contemporary poetry. Some poets have taken this technique as a freedom from rhythm and rhyme, because it gives a greater freedom for choosing words, and conveying their meanings to the listener or the readers through intonation instead of meter/rhythm.
Since it depends upon patterned elements like sounds, phrases, sentences, and words, it is free of artificiality of a typical poetic expression.
V.1. POETIC DEVICES
- Poetic line
A poetic line is a subdivision of a poem, specifically a group of words arranged into a row that ends for a reason other than the right-hand margin. This reason could be that the lines are arranged to have a certain number of syllables, a certain number of stresses, or of metrical feet; it could be that they are arranged so that they rhyme, whether they are of equal length or not.
But it is important to remember that the poet has chosen to make the line a certain length, or to make the line-break at a certain point. This line-break is where a reader has to turn back to the start of the next line.
Lines are the text that takes up one line, or row, in a poem. Poems can have any number of lines. Some poets use short lines, some use long, some set all the lines on the left side of the page, and some indent lines differently all over the page.
The relationship between the poetic line (including its length and positioning and how it fits into other lines) and the content of a poem is a major aspect of poetry. Free verse poem lines do not follow the rules, and have no rhyme or rhythm; but they are still an artistic expression. They are sometimes thought to be a modern form of poetry.
Free verse is just as the title says, it’s free. It may or may not have punctuation. It depends on the style of writing. Some poets that argue that poetry has to abide by normal grammatical rules, but free verse can be portrayed as the poet intends. Free verse has no set pattern and no rules that bind it as other forms of poetry do.
It depends on what feels more comfortable to the poet whether or not punctuation is used. Some free verse poems are just meant to flow freely, but if you want to add some spice you can add punctuation.
Oxymoron is a poetic device in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect. The common oxymoron phrase is a combination of a noun preceded by an adjective with contrasting meanings. An oxymoron may be used to call attention to the dual nature of an object or concept, etc. It may also present a concept in a new light to emphasize the poet’s creativity.
we stand and watch
on fireless fireplaces.
- Sad joy
- Wise fool
- Cruel kindness
- Open secret
- Foolish wisdom
- The ugly beauty
- Tragic comedy
- Original copies
- Unpopular celebrities
- Hell’s angels
- Old news
- Living dead
- Free trade
- Nice death
- Student teacher
- Parting is such a sweet sorrow (in Romeo and Juliet),
- There was a love-hate relationship between those neighbours.
- Paid volunteers were working for the company.
- All the politicians agreed to disagree.
- There was a deafening silence.Paradox
Paradox is a wise saying that on the surface appears self-contradictory, but when examined in deep, reveals a fundamental truth.
Poets use paradox to give pleasure to the reader. Readers enjoy more when they extract the hidden meanings out of the writing rather than something presented to them directly. Paradox is used to attract attention, secure emphasis or to make the readers think deeper and harder to enjoy the real message of the poem.
And the wild white lilies
Are shouting silently
The son is the father of the man
I said he made chairs, but I did not say he was a carpenter
You can save money by spending it.
I know one thing; that I know nothing.
This is the beginning of the end.
“I can resist anything but temptation.”
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
Love puts in when friendship is gone
Good fences make good neighbours.
UNIT VI: THEATRE OF THE ABSURD
Theatre of the absurd is a form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity/ meaninglessness/hopelessness of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that lack realistic or logical development.
Absurd originally means “out of harmony” (in a musical context) – its meaning in the theatre of the absurd is different from its real meaning as “ridiculous”. Absurd in the context of absurdism can mean: without purpose, illogical, out of harmony, useless, devoid of reason, meaningless, hopeless, chaotic, lacking order, or uncertain.
Some examples of the theatre of the absurd are the following: Waiting for Godot, and Endgame by Samuel Beckett. Others include Eugene Ionesco’s plays like Rhinoceros, The Chairs, The Lesson, The Bald Prima Donna / The Bald Soprano, Exit The King and The Balcony by Jean Genet.
The characteristics of the theatre of the absurd
Plot and structure
- The plot is anti-realistic, going against many of the accepted norms of conventional theatre
- There is a deliberate absence of the cause and effect relationship between scenes
- The plot is non-linear, sometimes cyclical – ending where they began, occasionally appearing as though there is no plot at all to speak of.
- There is a deliberate lack of conflict.
- Characters are both presentational and representational.
- There is the absence of character development.
- Absurd characters lack the motivation found in characters of realistic dramas, highlighting their purposelessness.
- The time, the place are frequently unclear with characters often unsure about who or where they are.
- Characters are often out of harmony with the world in which they live.
- The language was devalued as a communication tool (unreliable and distrusted).
- The language is often illogical, sometimes telegraphic and clipped.
- It is clichéd, repetitive, rhythmical, and includes long pauses.
- There is frequent use of silence and the dialogue is sometimes monotone.
- The dialogue can be slow sometimes accompanied by extremely confused and fast-paced monologue.
- It is often simple with minimum use of stage.
- It contains barren set pieces barely denoting a location.
1. DRAMATIC TECHNIQUES
Cliché is an expression, idea, or element of artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect.
- All that glitters is not gold.
- We’re not laughing at you we’re laughing with you.
- Only time will tell.
- When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
- Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed
- The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
- Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
- I lost track of time.
- Laughter is the best medicine.
- Time heals all wounds.
- Play your cards right.
- As old as the hills
- In the nick of time
- Lost track of time
- Just a matter of time
- A waste of time
- Time flies
- All for one, and one for all
Playwrights use clichés especially in dialogues to show a character’s tiredness, or perhaps even for humorous effect. There can be clichéd characters, plot lines, and settings. For example, in Waiting for Godot, the personalities of the characters are so clichéd because the same characters are “overused.”
The effect of using clichés generally closes the mind of the reader down in that it doesn’t present images in a new way or challenge the reader to imagine possibilities that he or she has never imagined before.
Wordplay is a dramatic technique and a form of wit in which the playwright uses repetitive words to become the main subject of the work, primarily for the purpose of intended effect or amusement.
Example1: From Waiting for Godot by-Samuel Beckett
VLADIMIR: Because he wouldn’t save them.
ESTRAGON: From hell?
VLADIMIR: Imbecile! From death.
ESTRAGON: I thought you said hell.
VLADIMIR: From death, from death.
ESTRAGON: Well what of it?
VLADIMIR: Then the two of them must have been damned.
Example2: From “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller
TITUBA (Shoked and angry): Abby!
ABIGAIL: She makes me drink blood!
Mrs Put’m my baby’s blood?
TITUBA: No, no, Chicken blood. I give she chicken blood!
HALE: Woman, have you enlisted those children for the devils?
Nonsense is a dramatic technique used in communication, through speech, writing or any other symbolic system that lacks any coherent meaning. Sometimes in normal usage nonsense is synonymous with absurdity or the ridiculous.
Many playwrights use nonsense in their works, often creating entire work using it for reasons ranging from pure comic amusement or satire, to illustrate the point about language or reasoning.
- Cyclical plot
Cyclical plot refers to the way a writer arranges the events of the story provided that the plot typically begins and ends in the same or similar place and time. For this, it has a circular causality which refers to a series of events where each one is caused by another before it, and the first one is caused by the last.
- It is the plot that ends at the same place where it began.
- It is the unfolding of events that begin and end in the same place.
- It is when the story starts with the end and then jumps back in time, to the beginning. In a circular plot, the solution to a conflict/problem is never reached.
- Character pairs
In drama, when constructing characters, we always begin by pairing the two (and often only) main characters, protagonist and antagonist. Those characters must both want the same thing, but nevertheless, be bitterly opposed. In the play Waiting for Godot, everything is paired except Godot. For example, the play itself is made of two acts only. The characters, Vladimir and Estragon, the two thieves, Pozzo and Lucky, the Boy and his brother, Cain and Abel.
All pairs depict a strong connection, in which they could not work without each other, meaning that Vladimir and Estragon get along. Pozzo and Lucky are slave and master, and of course, a slave must obey the master and thus complement each other. Both pairs struggle with the question of whether they are better with or without each other, and neither comes to any sort of real conclusion.
- Use of tableau
Tableau is a dramatic picture used as a style of artistic presentation. It most often describes a group of suitably costumed actors. Tableau is usually used to describe a vivid living scene where actors are posed silently without moving.
In a tableau, participants make still images with their bodies to represent a scene. A tableau can be used to quickly establish a scene that involves a large number of characters. Because there is no movement, a tableau is easier to manage than a whole-group improvisation – yet can easily lead into extended drama activities. It can be used to explore a particular moment in a drama or story or to replicate a photograph or artwork for deeper analysis.
- Role of audience
An audience is a group of people who participate in a dramatic show in a wok of art, literature, theatre, music, video games, etc. It refers to the people who watch a play when it is being acted or performed. It refers to assembled spectators or listeners who watch the performance.
In a dramatic performance, the audience are crucial figures as they are the consumers of the product, and this makes the playwrights consider them while writing plays. The role of the audience could also be to encourage the actors through their appreciation and applause. The audience is a receptor of the stimulating agents on stage.