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Assignment Literary Theory

Assignment Literary Theory

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Published by: sanju-18 on Dec 05, 2009
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06/22/2010

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Overview of Jakobson’s functions of language
Jacobson’s model of the functions of language distinguishes six elements, or factors of communication, that are necessary for communication to occur: (1) context, (2) addresser (sender), (3) addressee (receiver), (4) contact, (5) common code and (6) message.Each factor is the focal point of a relation, or function that operates between the message and thefactor. The functions are the following, in order: (1) referential ("The Earth is round"), (2)emotive ("Yuck!"), (3) conative ("Come here"), (4) phatic ("Hello?"), (5) metalingual ("What doyou mean by 'krill'?"), and (6) poetic ("Smurf").
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Analysis
In the poem A rcheology , there are two discourses. Each discourse would be analysed separately.The first discourse is a one-side conversation between an archeologist as the ‘Ifigure(addresser) and a skeleton as the addressee. The message is about the archeologist’s struggle to
1 M.A.R Habib, 2005. Chapter 23 Formalism- Jakobson.
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decode/understand the skeleton. Hereby the ideal context would be an archeological site. Thecontact is psychological as the archeologist is speaking to a non-living entity. The code adoptedvaries considerably throughout the poem. The predominant functions in this discourse areemotive and poetic because of the psychological nature of the discourse. Hereby the wholeconversation is a product of the archeologist’s imagination.The archeologist/addresser uses a casual and routine-like code when she
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first encounters theskeleton/addressee: ‘well, my poor man’. This reflects a certain confidence and pride in her ability to decode/understand the skeleton. She plays on the idea of being capable of understanding everything about the skeleton practically out of nothing. ‘I no longer require’, ‘or even less than that’, ‘show me your nothing’, ‘keep your funny piece of paper…’ She uses a boastful and arrogant code to insist on this aspect. However, she ends up asking for concretematerials overtly: ‘show me your little poem’. This indicates that she might never understandeverything about the skeleton because archeology has its own limitations. Throughout the poem,the archeologist hyperbolizes archeology as a magical recovery of data. However, archeologydoes need prime materials to better examine sites. The more the material available the better itwould have been for understanding the skeleton. This places the imaginative hyperbolized poeticworld of the addresser far from the reality of archeology’s limitations. The casual ending ‘all Ineed for my ends…’ reflects the circularity and unsettled issue of the poem. The addresser istrapped in this world having a one-sided conversation with an addressee she pretends to becapable of understanding. Additionally the abrupt ending of the poem marks the return to realityor consciousness for the addresser. It is a reality whereby she has not yet deciphered or understood the skeleton. Consequently the psychological contact between the addresser andaddressee was broken ensuring a discontinuation of the one-sided conversation.The silence of the skeleton dictates the flow of this one-sided conversation. The whole discoursecan also be seen as a struggle of the addresser to be able to understand the language of her 
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Lanser's rule:
In the absence of any text-internal clues as to the narrator's sex, use thepronoun appropriate to the author's sex; i.e., assume that the narrator is male if the authoris male, and that the narrator is female if the author is female, respectively. (Lanser 1981:166-68; Lanser 1992: ch. 1; Lanser 1995). This rule enhances the analysis of Jakobson functions of language in the poem as theaddresser and addressee are given more concrete existence by the use of pronouns.
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addressee. The addresser masks her growing frustration of being unable to understand her addressee by hyperbolizing her account of her expertise. The boastful code adopted in notably ‘Ino longer need….’ cleverly disguise the addresser’s irritation. Additionally in stanza four, shedoes not merely state her methodology of research in the most extravagant manner but she alsoindirectly does a re-evaluation of her methodology. This is the first step she takes in re-assessingher expertise to understand her addressee. Just afterwards the addresser accepts another defeat inher current ability by saying: ‘(and you can’t be sure that I will).’ Her frustration of being unableto communicate with her addressee goes to the extent of making her completely lose confidencein her own abilities. She attains the highest point of irritation and desperation when she directlyasks her addressee to ‘show me your little poem’. Hereby the addresser asks the addresseedirectly to help her in understanding his language. Yet, the addresser again adopts her boastfuland somewhat hopeful code in the last stanza. This forces us to consider another perspectivewhereby an overt-talkative addresser has encountered a covert-shy addressee. The overt-talkativeaddresser does not give her covert-shy addressee the opportunity to talk and even talks for her addressee. Additionally it seems that it is now after having completed her long monologue thatthe addresser is really going to investigate and examine the addressee. Consequently theaftermath of the poem announces a reversal of roles whereby addresser will become addresseeand addressee will become addresser. The skeleton will now start revealing his secrets to thearcheologist.In this discourse, the addresser enhances the direct and aggressive tone of his exchange byinjecting the poem with several imperatives: ‘show me your whatever’, ‘you couldn’t haveknown then’, ‘show me your nothing’, ‘show me your little poem’. The addresser starts releasingthe emotive nature of this poem. As an addresser, the archeologist exerts high emotive pressureon the skeleton/addressee. The addressees are blocked into intense cognitive moments whereintheir voices and desires are contained. The physical shifts and haphazard structure of the versesaccompany the boastful emotive note of this discourse. The fact that this whole discourse is psychologically imagined by the addresser gives the latter the poetical license. Hereby thediscourse is highly poetic according to the whims of the addresser. This also reflects that theaddresser uses the emotive function to further denigrate the contemporary addressee. While inthe case of the skeleton, it is the eruption of a dormant passion for poetry that the addresser experiences. The silence of both the addressees depicts the conotive aspect whereby silence actsas a link between the addressers and addressees. This silence gives the addressers the opportunity
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