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Universitatea Liberă Internaţională din Moldova

Faculty of Foreign Languages and Communication Science

Chair of Germanic Philology

Liubovi HOMULO


Chişinău 2009

CZU 811.111’42(075.8)
H 76

Recenzenţi: Dr. conf. univ. T. Podoliuc, ULIM

Dr. conf. univ. O. Iliaşenco, AŞ a RM

Redactare ştiinţifică: Dr. conf. univ. O. Iliaşenco, AŞ a RM

Lucrarea a fost recomandată pentru publicare de Senatul ULIM (proces-

verbal nr. 8 din 24 iunie 2009)


Homulo, Liubovi
Guide to literary text analysis : [pentru uzul studenţilor]/ Liubovi
Homulo ; Univ. Liberă Intern. din Moldova, Fac. of Foreign Languages and
Communication Science, Chair of Germanic Philology. – Ch.: ULIM, 2009.
– 43 p.
Bibliogr.: p. 43 (19 tit.). – 50 ex.
ISBN 978-9975-934-82-4
H 76
ISBN 978-9975-934-82-4 © Homulo Liubovi

Preface …………………………………………………………… … 4
Evaluating a story ………………………………………………….. 5
Algorithm for literary text analysis ……………………………….. 11
Hints for making analysis ………………………………………….. 14
Words and expressions helpful for text analysis …………………. 15
Notes on style ……………………………………………………….. 16
The list of stylistic devices and expressive means according to
I.R. Galperin ………………………………………………………... 17
Lexical expressive means and stylistic devices ……………………... 17
Syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices ………………….. 20
Phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices ……………………. 28
Extension ……………………………………………………………. 30
Theme………………………………………………………………… 30
Tone …………………………………………………………………. 30
Setting ……………………………………………………………….. 31
Atmosphere ………………………………………………………….. 31
Intertextuality ………………………………………………………... 31
Plot …………………………………………………………………... 32
Freytag’s pyramid …………………………………………………… 32
Narrative and narrator ……………………………………………….. 34
Point of view ………………………………………………………… 35
Image ………………………………………………………………… 36
Symbol ………………………………………………………………. 36
Chronology of events in the story …………………………………… 36
Time analysis ………………………………………………………... 37
Narrative mode ………………………………………………………. 37
Focalization ………………………………………………………….. 38
Summary …………………………………………………………….. 39
Connectors and sequence markers …………………………………... 41
Sources ……………………………………………………………… 43


The guide to literary text analysis is designed for undergraduate,

graduate and master students taking course in literary analysis of a prose
fiction text.
It provides some information for evaluating a story, an algorithm for text
analysis based on such branches of linguistics as stylistics, lexicology,
phonology, semiotics, grammar and others. It also contains a number of
questions the answer to which will help students to make the analysis. A list
of phrases and word combinations useful for text analysis is also included,
as well as the list of stylistic devices and expressive means provided with
short explanation and some examples.
The extension section provides some terms and notions applied in text
analysis and is elaborated for students better orientation and comprehension
of the material set out in the first chapter of the present guide.
We hope that this guide will make the evaluation of a story easier and
will help students to love and appreciate literature, to deeper understand the
meaningfulness of creation, the individuality of the author’s style and
manner of writing.

Enjoy reading and good luck!


A scrutiny of a literary text may be in itself a richly satisfying and

rewarding experience as it enhances our intercultural sensitivity and
awareness that there are universal truths and sentiments that bind us all. To
be able to do it a student should be aware of the literary devices writers use
to enrich their language and create complexity within a story. The short
story is usually concerned with a single effect conveyed in only one or a
few significant episodes or scenes. The form encourages economy of setting
and concise narrative; character is disclosed in action and dramatic
encounter but is seldom fully developed. [1, p.295]
The way a story is presented is a key element in fictional structure. This
involves the angle of vision, the point from which people, events, and other
details are viewed, and the words of the story. The view aspect is called the
focus or point of view, and the verbal aspect the voice. It is important to
distinguish between the author, the person who wrote the story, and the
narrator, the person or voice telling the story. The author may select a first-
person narrative, when one character tells of things that only he or she saw
and felt. In a third-person narrative the omniscient author moves in and
out of people's thoughts and comments freely on what the characters think,
say and do.
The author's choice of characters, events, situations, details and his/her
choice of words is by no means accidental. Whatever leads us to infer the
author's attitude to his subject matter is called tone. Like the tone of voice,
the tone of a story may communicate amusement, anger, affection, sorrow,
and contempt. One of the clearest indications of the tone of a story is the
style in which it is written. In this sense, the notion of style means the
language a writer uses and includes such traits as the length and complexity
of sentences, the choice of words (abstract or concrete, or colloquial) and
the use of such stylistic devices as simile, metaphor, synecdoche, etc. One
of the chief devices is the symbol. It may be a person, an object or an action
that represents something else because of its association with it. It is
frequently a visible sign of something invisible.
Every plot is an arrangement of meaningful events. No matter how
insignificant or deceptively casual, the events of the story are meant to
suggest the character's morals and motives. Texts can have widely differing
degrees of plot connectivity: some are tightly plotted or have 'linear plots'
where everything ties in with everything else (the characters want to fulfil
dreams, go on a quest, realize plans, inhibit the plans of others, overcome
problems, pass tests etc.); others have mosaic plots, i.e., are loosely plotted,
episodic, accident-driven, and possibly avoid causal plotting altogether. (To

illustrate, fairy tales are usually tightly plotted following the pattern A does
X because B has done (or is) Y. -- The Queen is jealous because Snow-
White has become more beautiful than she is. So she orders a huntsman to
kill her. Nevertheless, the huntsman does not do it because he takes pity on
Snow-White (because she's so beautiful). [10, p. 23]
Sometimes a plot follows the chronological order of events. At other
times there are jumps back and forth in time (flashbacks and
The four structural components of the plot are exposition, complication,
climax and denouement.
Exposition contains a short presentation of time, place, characters and
background of the story. Exposition analysis deals with the questions of
how, when, and to what extent the recipient is informed about the story’s
background and its existents. Although the exposition is usually expected as
an isolated block situated at the beginning of a play (this is the place it has
in Freytag's pyramid), some scholars suggest that one should distinguish a
type of 'isolated exposition in the initial position' from an 'integrated
exposition', which, distributed in "a number of smaller units" across the
whole text, successively and cumulatively informs the recipient about the
play's background (time, setting, etc.).
Complication is a separate incident helping to unfold the action, and
might involve thoughts and feelings as well. Climax is a decisive moment
on which the fate of the characters and the final action depend.
Denouement means 'the untying of a knit' which is precisely what happens
in this phase. It is the final resolution of the plot(s), leading to the play's
'closure'. Not all stories have a denouement, some stories end right after the
climax. Closure is the type of conclusion that ends a text. Tightly plotted
texts often have a 'recognition scene' (in which the protagonist finally
recognizes the true state of affairs), and in the course of the dénouement the
conflict is usually resolved by marriage, death, or some other aesthetically
or morally satisfactory outcome. Many modern stories and plays lack
closure, however, are open-ended, simply stop, or conclude enigmatically
and ambiguously.
'Freytag's pyramid' is a well-known time-line model which attempts to
capture the general structure of a classical five-act tragedy (as established
by Horace 50 BC). Freytag [6, p.35; 11, p. 6].

Note: For the original Freytag's pyramid see p. 33.
Abrams [2], cited by Jahn Manfred [10, p.24], illustrates Freytag's
pyramid using Shakespeare's Hamlet as an example: "the rising action (or
what Aristotle called the complication) begins with the ghost telling Hamlet
of his murder, and continues with the conflict between Hamlet and
Claudius, in which Hamlet, despite setbacks, succeeds in controlling the
course of events. The highest point of the rising action, the climax, comes
with the proof to Hamlet of the king's guilt by the device of the play within
the play, Act II, scene II. The falling action begins with the 'turning point,'
or Hamlets failure to kill the king while he is at prayer. From now on the
antagonist, Claudius, for the most part controls the action until the tragic
catastrophe, at which point occurs the death of the hero" [2, p. 72]. Holman
[9, p. 174] adds: "The latter part of the falling action is sometimes marked
by an event which delays the catastrophe and seems to offer a way of
escape for the hero (the apparent reconciliation of Hamlet and Laertes). This
is called the 'moment of final suspense' and aids in maintaining interest."
Elements of a work of fiction. Any work of fiction consists of relatively
independent elements - narration, description, dialogue, interior monologue,
etc. Narration is dynamic, it gives a continuous account of events, while
description is static, and it is a verbal portrait of an object, person or scene.
It may be detailed and direct or impressionistic, giving few but striking
details. Through the dialogue the characters are better portrayed, it also
brings the action nearer to the reader, makes it seem swifter and more in-
tense. Interior monologue renders the thoughts and feelings of a character.
The interrelation between different components of a literary text is called

A short story is more than just a sequence of happenings. Its setting may
be no less important than the events themselves. The term setting is
generally taken to include not only the geographical place, in which the
events in a story happen, but also a historical era, the daily lives and
customs of the characters. Such details as the time of the year, certain parts
of the landscape, the weather, colours, sounds or other seemingly trivial
details may be of great importance. The setting can have various functions
in a given story: 1) it can provide a realistic background, 2) it can evoke the
necessary atmosphere, 3) it can help describe the characters indirectly [1,
Characters and characterization. Characterization analysis investigates
the ways and means of creating the personality traits of fictional
characters. The basic analytical question is, Who (subject)
characterizes whom (object) as being what (as having which traits
or properties).
An explicit characterization is a verbal statement that ostensibly
attributes (i.e., is both meant to and understood to attribute) a trait or
property to a character who may be either the speaker him- or herself
(autocharacterization), or some other character (alterocharacterization). An
explicit characterization is usually based on a descriptive statement
(particularly, a sentence using be or have as its main verb) that identifies,
categorizes, individualizes, and evaluates a person. Characterizing
judgments can refer to external, internal, or habitual traits ("John has blue
eyes, is a good-hearted fellow, and smokes a pipe"). Note that an explicit
characterization is mainly defined as being one that is meant and understood
to be a verbal characterization -- however, the characterizing statement
itself can clearly be quite vague, allusive, or elliptical (as in "he is not a
person you'd want to associate with").
An implicit characterization is an autocharacterization (usually
unintentional) in which somebody's physical appearance or behaviour is
indicative of a characteristic trait. X characterizes him- or herself by
behaving or speaking in a certain manner. Nonverbal behaviour (what a
character does) may characterize a person as, for instance, a homosexual, a
fine football player, or a coward. Characters are also implicitly
characterized by their dress, their physical appearance (e.g., a hunchback)
and their chosen environment (e.g., their rooms, their pet dogs, their cars).
Verbal behaviour (the way a character speaks, or what a character says in a
certain situation) may characterize a person as, for instance, having a certain
educational background (jargon, slang, dialect), as belonging to a certain
class or group of people (sociolect), or as being truthful, evasive, ill-
mannered, etc.

At crucial moments, an implicit characterization can significantly clash
with an explicit characterization. In fact, all explicit
characterizations are always also implicit autocharacterizations.
(Why? Because the way you characterize somebody -- other people
as well as yourself -- always also characterizes yourself.)
How much a character knows about himself/herself or about others is an
important aspect of his or her characterization. One can be well informed or
badly informed, know everything or nothing, and be fully aware of
something or partially aware of something. There is a saying "knowledge is
power"; to know nothing about what one is expected to know is to be
ignorant (an 'ignoramus'). There is also the additional question whether
one's lack of knowledge can be blamed on oneself or on others. Rather than
assess a person's knowledge in absolute terms, one can also compare it to
the level of knowledge of others, specifically comparing characters vs.
characters, and characters vs. audience. Comparatively speaking, then, there
can be congruent awareness or discrepant awareness. Discrepant
awareness, in particular, results from a party's superior or inferior
Most writers of the short story attempt to create characters that strike us,
not as stereotypes, but as unique individuals [1, p.296]. Characters are
called round if they are complex and develop or change in the course of the
story. Flat characters are one-sided, constructed round a single trait. If two
characters have distinctly opposing features, one serves as a foil to the
other, and the contrast between them becomes more apparent. Round
characters have different functions in the conflict of the story. The conflict
may be external, i.e. between human beings or between man and the
environment (individual against nature, individual against the established
order (values in the society). The internal conflict takes place in the mind,
here the character is torn between opposing features of his/her personality.
The two parties in the conflict are called the protagonist and the
antagonist. When the author himself/herself describes the character, or
makes another do it, it is direct characterization. When the author shows
the character in action, and lets the reader judge, it is indirect
The theme of a story is whatever general idea or insight the entire story
reveals. In some stories the theme is unmistakable, in others, it is not so
obvious. That is, it need not be a moral or a message; it may be what the
happenings add up to, what the story is about. Frequently writers are
interested in suggesting rather than explaining the theme of a story, leaving
it to the reader to infer, or deduce, the hidden meaning. They have a variety
of means at their disposal, such as parallelism, contrast, repetition, artistic

details, symbols, etc. to develop the theme out of the story. Indeed, plot,
focus and voice, and character are not so much interrelated, as they are
fused and inseparable.
There are few absolute rights or wrongs when it comes to analyzing a
short story. Nevertheless, the underlying premise of our approach is that
students must read each story several times at home with certain questions
in mind (see hints for making analysis, p. 14).


I. Information about the author of the text. Some biographical notes.

The writer’s place in the history of literature. The place of the text within
the writer’s creative work.
The ideological, social and aesthetic meaning of the text in connection
with the literary trend the author belongs to.

II. Summary of the text. Division of the text into logically complete parts,
defining the key sentences to each part and titles if necessary.

III. Composition of the story. The information carried by the title and its
role. The components of the text the title is related to.
The beginning and the end of the text. Paragraphs belonging to exposition,
story itself, climax, denouement, plot.

IV. Macro-components of the poetic text structure.

a). Plot structure (open, closed plot structure). The development of the
plot from the point of view of tempo.
b). Literary time (the parts may follow in their natural succession or
they may be shifted in time – flashback/foreshadowing).
c). The relation between the narrator of the text and the personages (the
first-person narrative, the third-person narrative). Where does the author’s
sympathy lie? Methods of character portrayal favourite with the writer
(indirect, direct). The relations between the co-ordinates of the speech
situation (the speaker, the time, the place of action) and the co-ordinates of
the situation depicted in the text.
d). The place where the scene is laid. The way the local colour is
e). The form of narration prevailing in the text (interior monologue,
dramatic monologue, dialogue, narration, description).
f). Poetic principles manifested in the text under study (recurrence,
analogy, contrast, incomplete representation).
g). The prevalent mood in the text (cheerfulness, optimism, suspense,
nervousness, tension, delight, sadness, lyric, meditation).

V. Information we get from the text. The form of narration prevailing in

the text –interior monologue, dramatic monologue, dialogue, narration,
description. Commentary on the theme (being in the denotation of the
theme), idea (being in the connotation), setting (geographical, historical,
cultural, exclusively local-colour context), tone (calm/tranquil, charged with

emotions), message, characters of the text (protagonist, antagonist;
major/minor, flat/round, dynamic/static), problems, conflicts (major, minor,
interior, exterior), events, facts, significant details, associations, feelings,
thoughts evoked by the text.

VI. Commentary on the language used by the author in the text.

a). Expressive linguistic means: choice of words and phraseology,
stylistically marked elements of phonology, morphology, syntax. The
purpose of different layers of vocabulary (bookish, stylistically neutral,
The choice of vocabulary in harmony with the theme and situation
described (vulgar colloquialisms, sentimental turns of speech, poetic words,
archaic or obsolete words, terms, professionalisms, foreign words,
barbarisms and dialect words, jargonisms, slangs, and other colloquial
b). The effect of the phraseological combinations on the manner of
c). The additional connotational information carried by the
morphological, syntactical elements.
d). The key words of the text in keeping with the main idea.
e). The relevance of the length of sentences, the stylistic effect produced
on the text.
f). Types of text cohesion employed in the text: anaphoric, cataphoric.

VII. Commentary on the stylistic devices used in the text.

1. Stylistic devices of all linguistic levels:
a). phonetic – alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme, rhythm;
b). lexical – metaphor, metonymy, zeugma, pun, epithet, oxymoron,
simile, periphrasis, euphemism, hyperbole, litotes, allusion, irony,
c). syntactical – detachment, inversion, parallel constructions,
chiasmus, repetition, enumeration, suspense, antithesis, climax (logical,
emotional, quantitative), rhetoric question, asyndeton, polysyndeton,
ellipsis, aposiopesis (break-in-the-narrative);
d). graphic – italics, capitalisation, spaced letters, paragraph division,
2. The leading stylistic devices employed in transmitting the author’s
message, in creating the prevalent mood, in revealing the author’s attitude
to the personages.
3. The means of emphasis the author excels in (the use of the verb
do; interrogative rhetorical questions; the emphatic it; stylistic inversion).

VIII. Evaluation and personal response.
a). The writer’s individual style in comparison with others’.
b). Evaluation of the text from the point of view of form and content.
c). Reader’s attitude to the ideas expressed in the text. The contribution
of the writer to the reader’s understanding of the theme/field. The reader’s
identification with the writer’s arguments.


The following questions may be useful in evaluating a story.

Analyzing the Author's Style
Point of view: 1) Does the author speak in his/her own voice or does
he/she present the events from the point of view of one of the characters? 2)
Does the narrator have access to the thoughts and feelings of all the
characters or just one? 3) Does the narrator sympathize with any of the
characters or remain aloof and detached? Is the attitude explicit or implicit?
4) Can we trust the narrator’s judgment?
Tone: 1) In what vein does the narrator tell the story? Is it calm and
tranquil or is it charged with tension and emotions? 2) What note does the
initial paragraph of the story strike? On what note does the story end? 3)
How does the word choice and syntax contribute to the atmosphere? 4)
What images (cluster of images) impart the story a cheerful, melancholy,
angry, humorous or sarcastic tone?
Plot: 1) How does the story unfold? What are the bare facts of the story?
2) Which episodes have been given the greatest emphasis? 3) Does the end
follow logically from the rest of the story or is it a surprise?
Setting: 1) Are there many descriptive passages or is the setting only
hinted at? Is it geographical, historical, cultural or exclusively local-colour
context? 2) Are there any significant repetitions of details (actions, words,
thoughts)? 3) How does the setting help to understand the characters and
Character: 1) What are the characters' names and what do they look
like? Does this have any significance? 2) Are the characters presented
directly or indirectly - through action and speech? 3) With what main
problem is the protagonist faced? Is it a conflict with another individual
(with the society, within himself/herself)? 4) Does the protagonist achieve
greater self-knowledge and awareness because of his/her experience?
Theme: 1) Does the story contain one or several themes? What central
idea is the author trying to bring into focus? 2) What does the title indicate
about the theme of the story? 3) Are there any evident symbols? If so, do
they direct us to the story's central theme? 4) What moral inference may be
drawn from the story? What truth or insight does it reveal? 5) If to sum up
the story's embedded meaning into a sentence, what the sentence could be?
6) What is your personal response to the story and the author's style?


Information about the author:

Prominent, outstanding, distinguished, leading; to devote one’s work to …;
to display a vast canvas of …; to ridicule …; to bring into sharp focus the
problem of …
Information we get from the text:
The text under discussion (consideration, in question) deals with…; the key
sentence summing up the central idea is …; to illustrate the writer’s main
point …; the author’s primary purpose is to …
Means through which we get information:
The way the author opens his/her narration is …; to grip the reader’s
attention at once …; an entertaining plot; the plot is an essential component
of the story; the concluding lines …; the ending is unexpected; to find the
title appropriate …; to involve the reader into events; to establish immediate
contact with the reader; to start the reader in the story; to contain direct
address to the reader; the title is suggestive of; to use retrospect; the text
presents narration intercepted with dialogue; the text under study contains
character drawing; to echo the accepted speech of the day; the device
greatly used by … is …; to stress the point; to convey the mood; to serve
the purpose of; to produce the impression of; to achieve the greatest
emotional efficacy …; to create the atmosphere of; to throw light on …; to
create a vivid (true to life) portrait.
To sum up; to attach much importance to…; to have a gift for…; to grasp
the reader’s attention; to be skilled in describing; to succeed in creating; to
appeal to the reader’s intellect; perfect harmony between the content and
style; to leave much for guess work on the reader’s part; the extract is of
interest not only because; it is illustrative of the main points; it is worth
mentioning; it is important to touch upon…; the text is marked by; taking
all into account; it is typical of…; the same is true of…


The imaginative writer has at his disposal a wealth of linguistic means to

appeal to the reader, to express and convey his thoughts. Here are some
general principles to be considered in the analysis of a piece of writing.
Functional styles of speech. Depending on the contents and the aim of
the utterance we usually distinguish several functional styles of speech: a)
the style of fiction or the belles-lettres style; b) the style of scientific prose;
c) official style, d) newspaper style and e) publicistic style which includes
oratorical style.
The choice of vocabulary and sentence patterns is to a great extent
determined by their being used in spoken or written speech, each possessing
distinctive characteristics of its own.
Oratorical style is especially noted for abundant use of expressive means
and stylistic devices because it is often the effective use of the language that
plays a major part in winning the listeners over the speaker's side.
The purpose of a writer of fiction is to reproduce in the reader his/her
own thoughts and feelings, to make the reader visualize and feel what the
author wants him to. The choice and arrangement of appropriate words and
sentence patterns, the use of various stylistic expressive means largely
determine the effect the literary production will have on the reader [1, p.55-
Among stylistic devices used by the writer, we distinguish syntactical,
lexical, phonetic and graphic stylistic devices.


Lexical expressive means and stylistic devices:

Metaphor – transference of some quality from one object to another:

“In the slanting beams that streamed through the open window the dust
danced and was golden” (O. Wilde)

Metonymy – relation between the dictionary and contextual meanings:

“Then they came in. Two of them, a man with long fair moustaches and
a silent dark man…. Definitely, the moustache and I had nothing in
common.” (Doris Lessing)

Irony – simultaneous realization of two logical meanings, dictionary and

contextual, but the two meanings stand in opposition to each other:
“It must be delightful to find oneself in a foreign country without a
penny in one’s pocket.” (newspaper, Moscow News)

Zeugma - the use of word in the same grammatical but different

semantic relations to two adjacent words in the context, the semantic
relations being, on the one hand, literal, and on the other, transferred [7,
p.150] (the verb refers to different subjects or objects) :
“… And May’s mother always stood on her gentility; and Dot’s mother
never stood on anything but her active little feet.” (Ch. Dickens)
“Nicholas felt perfectly capable of being in disgrace and in a
gooseberry garden at the same time.” (H. Munro)

Pun – another stylistic device based on the interaction of two well-

known meanings of a word or phrase:
“Bow to the board,” said Bumble. Oliver brushed away two or three
tears that were lingering in his eyes; and seeing no board but the table,
fortunately bowed to that.” (Ch. Dickens)

Interjections and exclamatory words – a word with strong emotive

meaning (Bah! Pooh! Gosh! Alas!, etc):
“Oh, where are you going to, all you Big Steamers?” (R. Kipling)

Epithet – a stylistic device based on the interplay of emotive and logical

meaning in an attributive word used to characterize an object with the
aim of giving an individual perception and evaluation:

“…curly-headed good-for-nothing,
And mischief-making monkey from his birth.” (G. Byron)

Oxymoron – a combination of two words (usually an adjective and a

noun or an adverb with an adjective) in which the meanings of the two
clash, being opposite in sense:
“sweet sorrow”, “pleasantly ugly face”, “horribly beautiful” [7, p.162].

Antonomasia – the interplay between the logical and nominal meanings

of a word. This device is mainly realized in the written language,
because generally capital letters are the only signals to denote the
presence of the stylistic device:
“Society is now one polished horde,
Form’d of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.” (G. Byron)

Simile – the intensification of some one feature of the concept in

“Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare.” (G. Byron)
“Small clear chords hung in the air like flowers. The melodies were like
bouquets.” (E.L. Doctorow)

Note. Ordinary comparison must not be confused. Comparison means

weighing two objects belonging to one class of things with the purpose
of establishing the degree of their sameness or difference. To use a
simile is to characterize one object by bringing it into contact with
another object belonging to an entirely different class of things. E.g.:
“The boy seems to be as clever as his mother” is ordinary comparison.
‘Boy’ and ‘mother’ belong to the same class of objects – human beings.
But in the sentence quoted above, ‘Maidens’ and ‘moths’ belong to
heterogeneous classes of objects and Byron has found the concept moth
to indicate one of the secondary features of the concept maiden, i.e.
being easily hurt.

Periphrasis - the use of a longer phrasing in place of a possible shorter

and plainer form of expression. It is also called circumlocution due to
the round-about or indirect way used to name a familiar object or
‘the cap and gown’ (student body), ‘the fair sex’ (women), ‘my better
half’(my wife)
“But an addition to the little party now made its appearance (= another
person came in).” (Ch. Dickens)

Euphemism – a word or phrase used to replace an unpleasant word or
expression by a conventionally more acceptable one. [7, p.173] In other
words, euphemisms are synonyms which aim at producing a deliberately
mild effect:
To pass away, to be no more, to depart, to join the majority, to be gone
and more facetious ones: to kick in the bucket, to give up the ghost, to go
“They think we have come by this horse in some dishonest manner.”
(have stolen it).

Hyperbole – deliberate overstatement or exaggeration of a feature

essential to the object or phenomenon:
“He was so tall that I was not sure he had a face” (O. Henry)
“When people say “I’ve told you fifty times”
They mean to scold, and very often do.” (G. Byron)

The Cliché – an expression that has become hackneyed and trite:

‘to withstand the test of time’, ‘to let bygones be bygones’, ‘to have an
ace up one’s sleeve’.
“A strange coincidence to use a phrase
By which such things are settled nowadays” (G. Byron)

Proverbs and Sayings – brief statements showing in condensed form

the accumulated life experience of the community and serving as
conventional practical symbols for abstract ideas. They are usually
didactic and image bearing. Sometimes a paraphrased version of a well-
known idiom is used:
“You know which side the law’s buttered” (J. Galsworthy) (You know
which side your bread is buttered on.)

Epigrams – terse, witty, pointed statements, showing the ingenious turn

of mind of the originator. Are coined by individuals whose names we
know, while proverbs are the coinage of the people:
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” (J.Keats)
“A God that can be understood is no God” (S. Maugham)

Quotations – a repetition of a phrase or statement from a book, speech

and the like used by the way of authority, illustration, proof or as basis
for further speculation on the matter in hand [7, p.186]. For example:
“Ecclesiastes said, “that all is vanity”-

Most modern preachers say the same, or show it
By their examples of the Christianity…” (G. Byron)

Allusion – indirect reference, by word or phrase, to a historical, literary,

mythological, biblical fact or to fact of everyday life made in the course
of speaking or writing:
“She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.” (S. Maugham)

A ‘little lamb’ is somebody that one loves dearly; an allusion to the

well-known nursery rhyme:
Mary had a little lamb.
Its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.
So, the meaning of the sentence is: There was never anything dear to her
that she wouldn’t lose.

Decomposition of Set Phrases – reviving the independent meanings

that make up the component parts of the fusion. In other words, it makes
each word of the combination acquire its literal meaning which in many
cases leads to the realization of an absurdity:
“Scrooge had often heard it said that money had no bowels, but he had
never believed it until now.”(Ch. Dickens)

The bowels (guts, intestines) were supposed to be the seat of the

emotions of pity and compassion. But here Dickens uses the phrase ‘to
have no bowels’ in its real meaning: Scrooge is looking at Marley’s
ghost and does not see any intestines.

Syntactical Expressive Means and Stylistic Devices

Stylistic inversion – infringed order of words aimed at attaching logical

stress or additional emotional colouring to the surface meaning of the
The following patterns of stylistic inversion are most frequently met in
both English prose and English poetry:
1. The object is placed at the beginning of the sentence:
“Talent Mr. Micawber has; capital Mr. Micawber has not.” (Ch.
2. The attribute is placed after the word it modifies (postposition of the

“Once upon a midnight dreary…” (E.A. Poe)
3. a) The predicative is placed before the subject, as in
“A good generous prayer it was.” (Mark Twain)
b) The predicative stands before the link-verb and both are placed
before the subject, as in
“Rude am I in my speech…” (W. Shakespeare)
4. The adverbial modifier is placed at the beginning of the sentence, as
“Eagerly I wished the morrow” (E.A. Poe)
5. Both modifier and predicate stand before the subject, as in:
“In went Mr. Pickwick” (Ch. Dickens)

Detached Construction – one of the secondary parts of the sentence by

some specific consideration of the writer is placed so that it seems
formally independent of the word it logically refers to. The detached
part, being torn away from its referent, assumes a greater degree of
significance and is given prominence by intonation. [7, p.206] E.g.:
“Steyne rose up, grinding his teeth, pale, and with fury in his eyes.” (W.
“And he walked slowly past again, along the river – an evening of clear,
quiet beauty, all harmony and comfort, except within his heart.” (J.

Parallel Construction – identical, or similar, syntactical structure in two

or more sentences or parts of a sentence in close succession. E.g.:
“We know all man are created equal in the sense some people would
have us believe – some people are smarter than others, some people have
more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more
money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others – some
people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of most men.” (N.
Harper Lee)

Chiasmus (Reversed Parallel Construction) – is based on the

repetition of a syntactical pattern but has a cross order of words and
phrases. The structure of two successive sentences or parts of a sentence
may be described as reversed parallel construction, the word-order of
one of the sentences being inverted as compared with that of the other
[7, p.209], as in:
“Down dropped the breeze,
The sails dropped down.” (W. Wordsworth)

Chiasmus is sometimes achieved by a sudden change from the active
to passive voice or vice versa. E.g.:
“The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the
undertaker and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it.” (Ch. Dickens)

Repetition – as an expressive means of the language used when the

speaker is under the stress of strong emotion. When used as a stylistic
device it aims at logical emphasis necessary to fix the attention of the
reader on the key-word of the utterance:
“For that was it! Ignorant of the long and stealthy march of passion, and
of the state to which it had reduced Fleur; ignorant of how Soames had
watched her, ignorant of Fleur’s reckless desperation… - ignorant of all
this, everybody felt aggrieved.” (J. Golsworthy)

Repetition is classified according to compositional patterns. If the

repeated word (or phrase) comes at the beginning of two or more
consecutive sentences, clauses or phrases, we have anaphora, e.g.:
“Atticus put his hand on Tom’s shoulder as he whispered. Atticus took
his coat off the back of his chair and pulled it over his shoulder.” (N.
Harper Lee)

If the repeated unit is placed at the end of consecutive sentences,

clauses or phrases, we have the type of repetition called epiphora, as in:
“Aunt often tells me that the Evil One tempts me and that I always yield.
This time I’m not going to yield.” (H. Munro)

Repetition may also be arranged in he form of a frame: the initial parts

of a syntactical unit, in most cases of a paragraph, are repeated at the end
of it. This compositional pattern of repetition is called framing. E.g.:
“The woman’s a lunatic. I’m sure it’s a woman.” (L.P. Hartley)

Among other compositional models of repetition is linking or

reduplication (also known as anadiplosis): the last word or phrase of one
part of an utterance is repeated at the beginning of the next part, thus
hooking the two parts together. E.g.:
“A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the
men who make it up.” (N. Harper Lee)

There also exists chain repetition:

“For glances beget ogles, ogles sighs, sighs wishes, wishes words, and
words a letter.” (J. Byron)

There is a variety of repetition which is called root-repetition, where it
is not the same words that are repeated but the same root, as in:
“To live again in the youth of the young.” (J. Galsworthy)

Another variety of repetition is called synonymical repetition -

repetition of the same idea by using synonymous words and phrases
which by adding a slightly different nuance of meaning intensify the
impact of the utterance. E.g.:
“The poetry of earth is never dead…
The poetry of earth is ceasing never…” (J. Keats)

There are two terms frequently used to show the negative attitude of
the critic to all kinds of synonymic repetitions. These are pleonasm – the
use of more words in a sentence than are necessary to express the
meaning; redundancy of expression, and tautology - the repetition of the
same statement; the repetition of the same word or phrase or of the same
idea or statement in other words; usually as a fault of style. E.g.:

“It was a clear starry night, and not a cloud was to be seen.”
“He was the only survivor; no one else was saved.” [7, p.215]

Enumeration – a stylistic device by which separate things, objects,

phenomena, properties, actions are named one by one so that they
produce a chain, the links of which, being syntactically in the same
position (homogeneous parts of speech), are forced to display some kind
of semantic homogeneity, remote though it may seem.

“That valley of flowers, that cottage in the birch glade, that buttercup
field with the little river and a kingfisher – if only the train would stop! ”
(E. Farjeon)

Suspense – is a compositional device which consists in arranging the

matter of a communication in such a way that the less important,
descriptive, subordinate parts are amassed at the beginning, the main
idea being withheld till the end of the sentence. Thus the reader’s
attention is held and his interest kept up [7, p.218], for example:

“Mankind, says a Chinese manuscript, which my friend M. Obliging

enough to read and explain to me, for the first seventy thousand ages ate
their meat raw.” (Ch. Lamb)

Climax (Gradation) – arrangement of sentences (or homogeneous parts
of one sentence) which secures a gradual increase in significance,
importance or emotional tension in the utterance, as in:

"...Lost, vaded, broken, dead within an hour.” (William Shakespeare)

A gradual increase in significance may be obtained in three ways:

logical, emotional and quantitative.
Logical climax is based on the relative importance of the component
parts looked at from the point of view of the concepts embodied in them.
This relative importance may be evaluated both objectively and
subjectively, the author’s attitude towards the objects or phenomena in
question being disclosed. E.g.:

“Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks,
‘My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?’ No
beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it
was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way
to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men’s dog appeared
to know him, and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners
into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails, as though
they said, ‘No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!” (Ch.

Emotional climax is based on the relative emotional tension produced

by words with emotive meaning. It is mainly found in sentences, more
rarely in longer syntactical units as emotional charge cannot hold long
[7, p.221]. E.g.:
“He was pleased when the child began to adventure across floors on
hand and knees; he was gratified, when she managed the trick of
balancing herself on two legs; he was delighted when she first said ‘ta-
ta’; and he was rejoiced when she recognized him and smiled at him.”
(A. Platon)

Quantitative climax is an evident increase in the volume of the

corresponding concept [7, p.221], as in:
“They looked at hundreds of houses; they climbed thousands of stairs;
they inspected innumerable kitchens.” (S. Maugham)

Antithesis is based on relative opposition which arises out of the context
through the expansion of objectively contrasting pairs and is often
moulded in parallel constructions, as in:
“Youth is lovely, age is lonely,
Youth is fiery, age is frosty;” (H. Longfellow)

Contrast is literary (not a linguistic) device based on logical

opposition between the phenomena set one against another [7, p.223].
The basis functions of antithesis are: rhythm-forming (because of the
parallel arrangement on which it is founded); copulative; dissevering;
comparative. These functiions often go together and intermingle in their
own peculiar manner. But as a rule, antithesis displays one of the
functions more clearly than the others.

Asyndeton – deliberate omission of the connective between the parts of

a sentence or between the sentences where it is generally expected to be
according to the norms of the literary language. E.g.:
“Soams turned away; he had an utter disinclination for talk, like one
standing before an open grave, watching a coffin slowly lowered.” (J.

Polysyndeton – a stylistic device of connecting sentences, phrases,

syntagms or words by using connectives (mostly conjunctions and
prepositions) before each component part [7, p.226], as in:
“One of my partners is a liar and a cheat and a thief.” (J.B. Priestley)
“The heviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the
advantage over him in only one respect.” (Ch. Dickens)

The Gap-Sentence Link (GSL) – is a way of connecting two sentences

seemingly unconnected and leaving it to the reader’s perspicacity to
grasp the idea implied, but not worded [7, p.228]. E.g.:
“She and that fellow ought to be the sufferers, and they were in Italy.” (J.

The connection is not immediately apparent and it requires a certain

mental effort to grasp the interrelation between the parts of the utterance,
in other words, to bridge the semantic gap. In the example brought
above, the second part, which is hooked on to the first by the conjunction
and, seems to be unmotivated or, in other words, the whole sentence
seems to be logically incoherent. After a more careful supralinear
semantic analysis it becomes clear that the exact logical variant of the

utterance would be: ‘Those who ought to suffer were enjoying
themselves in Italy (where well-to-do English people go for holidays).’

Ellipsis always imitates the common features of colloquial language,

where the situation predetermines not the omission of certain members
of the sentence, but their absence [7, p.232]. E.g.:
“Nothing so difficult as a beginning.” (G. Byron)

Break-in-the-Narrative (Aposiopesis) – a stopping short for rhetorical

effect used for conveying to the reader a very strong upsurge of
emotions. E.g.:
“And oh! If e’er I should forget, I swear –
But that’s impossible, and cannot be.” (G. Byron)

It is usually used in complex, in particular in conditional sentences,

the if-clause being given in full and the second part only implied. In the
following example the implication of the aposiopesis is a warning:
“If you continue your intemperate way of living, in six months’ time…”

In the next sentence the implication is a threat:

“You just come home or I’ll…”

Sometimes a break-in-the-narrative is caused by euphemistic

considerations – unwillingness to name a thing on the ground of its
being offensive to the ear.

Question-in-the-Narrative is asked and answered by one and the same

person, usually the author. It becomes akin to a parenthetical statement
with strong emotional implications [7, p.235]. E.g.:
“For what is left the poet here?
For Greeks a blush – for Greece a tear.” (G. Byron)
“What was the evidence of her offence? Tom Robinson, a human being.”
(N. Harper Lee)

Represented speech – is that form of utterance which conveys the

actual words of the speaker through the mouth of the writer but retains
the peculiarities of the speaker’s mode of expression. It exists in two
varieties: uttered represented speech and unuttered represented speech.

Uttered Represented Speech is a device, which conveys to the reader

the unuttered or inner speech of the character, thus presenting the

thoughts and feelings. Uttered represented speech demands that the
tense should be switched from present to past and the personal pronouns
should be changed from 1st and 2nd person to 3rd person as in indirect
speech, but the syntactical structure of the utterance does not change [1,
p.98]. E.g.:
“His anonymous correspondent's criticism, however, lingered in his
mind. Did he really fail to come to grips with his characters? Perhaps he
did.” (L.P. Hartley)

Unuttered or inner represented speech – unlike uttered represented

speech expresses feelings and thoughts of the character which were not
materialized in spoken or written language by the character. It abounds
in exclamatory words and phrases, elliptical constructions, breaks and
other means of conveying feelings and psychological states. When a
person is alone with his thoughts and feelings, he can give vent to those
strong emotions which he usually keeps hidden. It is usually introduced
by verbs of mental perception, as think, meditate, feel occur ( an idea
occurred to…), wonder, ask, tell oneself, understand and the like. E.g.:

“Over and over he was asking himself: would she receive him? Would
she recognize him? What should he say to her?” “Why weren’t things
going well between them? He wondered.” [7, p.243].
Frequently inner represented speech thrusts itself into the narrative of
the author without any introductory words and the shift from the author’s
speech to inner represented speech is more or less perceptible. E.g.:
“Butler was sorry that he had called his youngest a baggage; but these
children – God bless his soul – were a great annoyance. Why, in the
name of all the saints, wasn’t this house good enough for them?” (Th.

The only indication of the transfer from the author’s speech to inner
represented speech is the semicolon which suggests a longish pause. The
emotional tension of the inner represented speech is enhanced by the
emphatic these (in ‘these children’), by the exclamatory sentences ‘God
bless his soul’ and ‘in the name of all saints’. This emotional charge
gives an additional shade of meaning to the ‘was sorry’ in the author’s
statement, viz. Butler was sorry, but he was also trying to justify himself
for calling his daughter names.

Rhetorical questions - are special syntactical SD regarded as utterances

in the form of question which pronounce judgements. They can also

express various kinds of modal shades of meaning: doubt, challenge,
scorn, irony. E.g.:
“Are these the remedies for a starving and desperate populace?” (G.
“Have I not had to wrestle with my lot?
Have I not suffered things to be forgiven?” (G. Byron)

Litotes is a stylistic device consisting of a peculiar use of negative

constructions. The negation plus a noun or adjective serve to establish a
positive feature in a person or thing. This positive feature, however, is
somewhat diminished in quality as compared with a synonymous
expression making a straightforward assertion of the positive feature [7,
p. 246]. For example:
It is not a bad thing. – It’s a good thing.
He is no coward. - He is a brave man.
“He was no gentle lamb, and the part of second fiddle would never do
for the high-pitched dominance of his nature.” (J. London)

Phonetic Expressive Means and Stylistic Devices

Onomatopoeia – a combination of speech-sounds which aims at

imitating sounds produced in nature (wind, sea, thunder), by things
(machines or tools), by people (sighing, laughter, patter of feet) and by
animals [7, p.124]. There are two varieties of onomatopoeia: direct and
Direct onomatopoeia is contained in words that imitate natural sounds,
as ding-dong, buzz, cuckoo, tintinabulation, mew, ping-pong, roar and
the like. E.g.:
“Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha!” laughed a fresh young voice outside” (E.

Indirect onomatopoeia is a combination of sounds the aim of which is

to make the sound of the utterance an echo of its sense. It is sometimes
called the “echo-writing”. E.g.:
“And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain” (E.A.
Here the repetition of sound [s] actually produces the sound of the
rustling of the curtain.

Alliteration – aims at imparting a melodic effect to the utterance. The

essence of this device lies in the repetition of similar sounds, in

particular consonants, in close succession, particularly at the beginning
of successive words [7, p.126]. E.g.:
“Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before”
(E.A. Poe)
“And where was the Mystery, Minor or Major?” (E. Farjeon)

Rhyme – repetition of identical or similar terminal sound combinations

of words. Rhyming words are generally placed at a regular distance
from each other. In verse they are usually placed at the end of the
corresponding lines [7, p.128]. We distinguish between full rhymes and
incomplete rhymes.
The full rhyme presupposes identity of the vowel sound and the
following consonant sounds in a stressed syllable, as in might, right;
needless, heedless.
Incomplete rhymes can be divided into two main groups: vowel rhymes
and consonant rhymes. In vowel rhymes the vowels of the syllables in
corresponding words are identical, but the consonants may be different,
as in flesh – fresh – press. Consonant rhymes, on the contrary, show
concordance in consonants and disparity in vowels, as in worth – forth;
tale – tool – Treble – trouble; flung – long.
There is another variety of rhyme called internal rhyme. The rhyming
words are placed not at the ends of the lines but within the line, as in:
“Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary.”
(E.A. Poe)

Rhythm – is a flow, movement, procedure, etc. Characterized by

regular recurrence of elements or features, as beat, or accent, in
alternation with opposite or different elements or features [7, p.129].
Rhythm in language necessarily demands oppositions that alternate:
long, short; stressed, unstressed; high, low; and other contrasting
segments of speech. E.g.:
“If she married a husband he beat her; if she employed a broker he
cheated her; if she engaged a cook she drank.” (S. Maugham)


In fiction, the theme is not intended to teach or preach. In fact, it is not
presented directly at all. You extract it from the characters, action, and
setting that make up the story. In other words, you must figure out the
theme yourself.
The writer's task is to communicate on a common ground with the reader.
Although the particulars of your experience may be different from the
details of the story, the general underlying truths behind the story may be
just the connection that both you and the writer are seeking [19, p.12].
Finding the Theme
Here are some ways to uncover the theme in a story: Check out the title.
Sometimes it tells you a lot about the theme.
Notice repeating patterns and symbols. Sometimes these lead you to the
What allusions are made throughout the story?
What are the details and particulars in the story? What greater meaning
may they have?
Remember that theme, plot, and structure are inseparable, all helping to
inform and reflect back on each other. Also, be aware that a theme we
determine from a story never completely explains the story. It is simply one
of the elements that make up the whole.
Themes grow out of the meeting of the text and the reader, that is why a
reader may see several themes in a text. A theme is not the same as the
message of a work. A theme could be expressed in a couple of words like
"pursuit of happiness" or "heartache". It is typically a unifying idea that is a
recurrent element in a literary work, or in many literary works, whereas the
message of a work is the moral lesson the writer wants to convey. For
example, a possible message could be "Not everyone wants to eat green
eggs and ham, no matter the location." The theme might be "have an open
mind" [5, p.30].

Tone is a literary technique that is a part of composition, which
encompasses the attitudes toward the subject and toward the audience
implied in a literary work. Tone may be formal, informal, intimate, solemn,
somber, playful, serious, ironic, condescending, or many other possible
attitudes [13].
Authors set a tone in literature by conveying an emotion or emotions
through words. It is also the narrator's predominant attitude towards the
subject (which can be a character, a setting, an event or an idea). The way a
person feels about an idea, event, or another person can be quickly
determined through facial expressions, gestures and in the tone of voice
used. In literature, an author sets the tone through words and narrative
techniques that are used. The possible tones are as boundless as the number
of possible emotions a human being can have. The easiest way to establish
the tone in a text would be observing the use of emotionally coloured
words, that is, words the connotation of which varies (positive, negative) [5,
p. 46].

In fiction, setting includes the time, location, circumstances, and
characters, everything in which a story takes place, and provides the main
backdrop and mood for a story. Elements of setting may include culture,
historical period, geography, and hour. Along with plot, character, theme,
and style, setting is considered one of the fundamental components of
Setting may take a key role in plot, as in man vs. nature or man vs.
society stories. In some stories the setting becomes a character itself. In
such roles setting may be considered a plot device or literary device.
Setting can add an important dimension of meaning, reflecting character
and embodying theme.

Atmosphere is the emotional response that the reader or the characters
have to the setting of a work. Sometimes the atmosphere is difficult to
define. Nevertheless, in most cases it is inseparable from the sensuous
quality of the setting, sometimes the physical response to it. The atmosphere
can render pain, discomfort, weariness, oppression, mystery, fear,
foreboding, danger or other sensations [5, p. 47].

Intertextuality is a relationship between two or more texts that quote
from one another, allude to one another, or otherwise connect [13]. It is the
shaping of texts' meanings by other texts. It can refer to an author’s
borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader’s referencing of
one text in reading another.

In a narrative, the plot is the primary sequence of events. A narrative
must have a plausible chain of events for it to evoke the desired response
from an audience [13].
In its simplest sense, the plot guides the author in composing the work
and helps the reader follow the work. Typically, plots exhibit causality and
unity and have a beginning, middle, and an end.
The basic question concerning plot structure is "Why does this happen?"
- "The king died, and then the queen died of grief". Texts can have widely
differing degrees of plot connectivity: some are tightly plotted or have
linear plots where everything ties in with everything else (the characters
want to fulfil dreams, go on a quest, realize plans, inhibit the plans of
others, overcome problems, pass tests etc.); others have mosaic plots, i.e.,
are loosely plotted, episodic, accident-driven, and possibly avoid causal
plotting altogether [10, p.23-24].
Conflict is a necessary element of the plot in fictional literature; it is the
issue to be resolved in the story. It is often classified according to the nature
of the antagonist. The conflict that places a character against his own will,
his own confusion, or his own fears, the struggle of the human being to
come to a decision is the basis of Man vs. Himself conflict (Hamlet). Man
vs. Man (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) is a class of conflicts in
fiction in which a character mainly faces challenges brought by other
people. Man vs. Society (Sister Carrie) is a class of conflicts in fiction in
which a main character, or group of main characters is in conflict with
social traditions or concepts. Man vs. Nature (The Rhyme of the Ancient
Mariner) places a character against forces of nature. Man vs. Supernatural
(Dracula) - places a character against supernatural forces [5, p.62-63].
When an entity is in conflict with his, her, or itself, the conflict is
categorized as internal (the character is torn between opposing features of
his personality). Otherwise, it is external (between human beings or
between man and the environment). The act of conflict involves the
protagonist (positive character) and the antagonist (negative character).
The plot may be analyzed by examining its traditional elements as
exposition, inciting moment, rising action, climax, falling action and
resolution (or denouement).

Gustav Freytag was a Nineteenth Century German novelist who saw
common patterns in the plots of stories and novels and developed a diagram
to analyze them [17]. He diagrammed a story's plot using a pyramid like the
one shown here:
Exposition: setting the scene. The writer introduces the characters and
setting, providing description and background. The exposition ends with the
inciting moment, which is the incident without which there would be no
Inciting Incident: something happens to begin the action. A single event
usually signals the beginning of the main conflict. The inciting incident is
sometimes called 'the complication'. It sets the remainder of the story in
motion beginning with the rising action.
Rising Action: the story builds and gets more exciting. During rising
action, the basic conflict is complicated by the introduction of related
secondary conflicts, including various obstacles that frustrate the
protagonist’s attempt to reach their goal. Secondary conflicts can include
adversaries of lesser importance than the story’s antagonist, who may work
with the antagonist or separately, by and for themselves or actions.
Climax or turning point: the moment of greatest tension in a story. This
is often the most exciting event. It is the event that the rising action builds
up to and that the falling action follows. It is the turning point which marks
a change, for the better or the worse, in the protagonist’s affairs.
Falling Action: events happen as a result of the climax and we know that
the story will soon end. During the falling action, the conflict between the
protagonist and the antagonist unravels, with the protagonist winning or
losing against the antagonist. The falling action might contain a moment of
final suspense, during which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt or
Resolution: the character solves the main problem/conflict or someone
solves it for him or her.
Dénouement: (a French term, pronounced: day-noo-moh) the ending. At
this point, any remaining secrets, questions or mysteries which remain after
the resolution are solved by the characters or explained by the author.

Sometimes the author leaves us to think about the THEME or future
possibilities for the characters.
You can think of the dénouement as the opposite of the exposition:
instead of getting ready to tell us the story by introducing the setting and
characters, the author is getting ready to end it with a final explanation of
what actually happened and how the characters think or feel about it. This
can be the most difficult part of the plot to identify, as it is often very
closely tied to the resolution [17].
The comedy ends with a dénouement (a conclusion) in which the
protagonist is better off than at the story’s outset. The tragedy ends with a
catastrophe in which the protagonist is worse off than at the beginning of
the narrative.
Although Freytag’s analysis of dramatic structure is based on five-act
plays, it can be applied (sometimes in a modified manner) to short stories
and novels as well [14, p.2].


A narrative is something told or recounted (by a narrator) in the form of
a causally-linked set of events, that are located within a spatial and temporal
setting. This sequence of events is caused and experienced by characters,
some of whom may be fictional. The narrative may have one or more points
of view representing some or all of the participants [5, p.76].
The narrator is the entity within a story that tells the story to the reader.
It is one of three entities responsible for story-telling of any kind. The others
are the author and the reader (or audience). The author and the reader both
inhabit the real world. It is the author's function to create the alternate
world, people, and events within the story. It is the reader's function to
understand and interpret the story. The narrator exists within the world of
the story (and only there) and presents it in a way the reader can
In written forms, the reader hears the narrator's voice both through the
choice of content and style. The narrator may express different emotions
and situations, and either be overt -open, subjective (revealing his beliefs,
values, and ideological stance, as well as the author's attitude towards
people, events, and things), referring to himself as I and to the reader as
You, or covert (hidden and objective).
It is customary to distinguish a first-person from a third-person narrative
using the terms homodiegetic and heterodiegetic narrative respectively [5,

A homodiegetic narrator describes his or her personal and subjective
experiences as a character in the story. Such a narrator cannot know
anything more about what goes on in the minds of any of the other
characters than is revealed through their actions.A special case of the
homodiegetic narrator is the autodiegetic narrator, who shares the features
with the homodiegetic one; however he is not any character in the story, but
its protagonist. A heterodiegetic narrator, on the other hand, describes the
experiences of the characters that appear in the story not being one of them.

The narrator in any work has certain characteristics and limitations that
define how the author can tell the story. Most importantly, a narrator can
only tell the reader things that he has experienced. There are several kinds
of points of view: objective, first person, third person, and omniscient and
limited omniscient points of view [19, p. 22].

Objective Point of View

With the objective point of view, the writer tells what happens without
stating more than can be inferred from the story's action and dialogue. The
narrator never discloses anything about what the characters think or feel,
remaining a detached observer.
Third Person Point of View
Here the narrator does not participate in the action of the story as one of
the characters, but lets us know exactly how the characters feel. We learn
about the characters through this outside voice.
First Person point of View
In the first person point of view, the narrator does participate in the action
of the story. When reading stories in the first person, we need to realize that
what the narrator is recounting might not be the objective truth. We should
question the trustworthiness of the accounting.
Omniscient and Limited Omniscient Points of View
A narrator who knows everything about all the characters is all knowing,
or omniscient.
A narrator whose knowledge is limited to one character, either major or
minor, has a limited omniscient point of view.
As you read a piece of fiction think about these things:
How does the point of view affect your responses to the characters? How is
your response influenced by how much the narrator knows and how
objective he or she is? First person narrators are not always trustworthy. It
is up to you to determine what is the truth and what is not.

An image is a word, phrase, or figure of speech (especially a simile or a
metaphor) that addresses the senses, suggesting mental pictures of sights,
sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, or actions. Images offer sensory impressions
to the reader and convey emotions through verbal pictures. They evoke a
blend of emotional, spiritual, intellectual and cultural responses in the
reader. Readers' responses to images vary because of their varied
experiences and associations. Images are either literal or figurative. Literal
images are especially concrete and involve little or no extension of the
obvious meaning of the words used to express them. Figurative images do
not follow the literal meaning of the words exactly. Images in literature are
usually visual, but the term "image" can also refer to the representation of
any sensory experience.
In the song "Where the Wild Roses Grow" by Nick Cave we can find the
visual figurative image of female beauty (For her lips were the colour of
the roses/They grew down the river, all bloody and wild), the auditive literal
image of the last moments of the character's life (And the last thing I heard
was a muttered word), and the visual figurative image of death (And lent
down and planted a rose between her teeth). An array of images in a literary
work that contribute to the creation of an unified picture is called imagery.
Literary works are often admired for their artful use of symbolism, i.e.
the use of words, phrases and situations to evoke ideas and feelings beyond
their plain interpretations; these uses are the subject of literary semiotics. A
symbol is a representation of something - a person, a place, an institution or
organization, an emotion, a concept. Symbols are like images, in that they
rely on associations, but whereas an image may function literally as only a
visual image, to say that something is a symbol is to claim that it has an
abstract signification or meaning. For example V is not only two lines
meeting diagonally at a point; it is also a symbol of victory [5, p.94-95].


In a straight-line narrative the events are arranged chronologically, as in
the case of development to be discerned within the pages of a
bildungsroman novel. In a complex narrative, however, the chronological
order of events is interrupted by flashbacks (or sometimes flashforwards),
creating confusion and sometimes suspense. A circular narrative begins
with the chronological end of the story, but resumes the telling from the
chronological beginning and finally reaches that end. The narrator tells his
story from a flashback perspective; in fact, the circular narratives are
considered to be complete flashbacks [5, p.105-106].

A frame story (also frame tale, frame narrative, matrix narrative etc.) is a
narrative technique by means of which a main story is composed, at least in
part, for the purpose of organizing a set of shorter stories, each of which is a
story within a story.
Achrony is a sequence of unordered events in the story [5, p. 106].

Time analysis is concerned with the order of the events that occur in a
story and with the proportioning of story time and discourse time.
An anachrony is a deviation from strict chronology in a story. The two
main types of anachrony are flashbacks and flashforwards.
A flashback is the presentation of events that have occurred before the
beginning of the main events narrated in the story. A flash-forward is the
presentation of a future event before its proper time. An objective
flashforward presents an event that will actually occur; whereas a
subjective flashforward is just a character's vision of a likely future event.
Repetitive anachronies (both flashforwards and flashbacks) recall
already narrated events; completive anachronies present events that are
omitted in the primary story. External anachronies present events that take
place before the beginning or after the end of the primary story; while
anachronies that fall within the range of the primary story are internal
The time it takes an average reader to read a passage, or, more generally,
the whole text is defined as discourse time. The fictional time taken up by
the events in the text is called story time [5, p.117].
If it takes you less time to read the text (30 minutes) than for the events in
it to happen (a week), the durational aspect of this text will be identified as
speed-up presentation. On the contrary, if the events of the text take up a
shorter time span (a day) and the reader needs a longer period of time (5
days) to read them, the durational aspect of the episode or of the whole
story will be a slow-down presentation. Finally, if the story time of the text
is equal to its discourse time it is an instance of real-time presentation in a
However, there are two additional patterns of durational aspect. A stretch
of story time that is not textually represented at all is called ellipsis. During
a pause, however, discourse time elapses on description or comment, while
story time stops and no action actually takes place [5, p.118].

The narrative mode (also known as the mode of narration) is the
attribute of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical piece which describes

the method used by the author(s) to convey their story to the reader. It
encompasses several overlapping areas of concern, most importantly
narrative point of view (also known as viewpoint), which determines the
person whose eyes the story is viewed through, and narrative voice, which
determines how it is expressed to the audience.
The person whose point of view is used to relate the story is regarded as
the narrator, a character developed by the author for the specific purpose of
conveying the story. The narrative point-of-view is meant to be the related
experience of the character of this narrator - not that of the actual author
(although, in some cases, especially in non-fiction, it is possible for the
narrator and author to be the same person). In fiction, authors often do not
inject third-person: "that happened, the king died", etc.
The narrative mode encompasses not only who tells the story, but also
how the story is described or expressed, for example by using stream of
consciousness or unreliable narration [13].
There are only two major narrative modes: scene and summary.
Scene/scenic presentation is a showing mode that presents a continuous
stream of detailed action events. Summary is a telling mode in which the
narrator condenses a sequence of action events into a thematically focused
and orderly account.
In addition to the two major modes, there are two minor or supportive
modes: description and comment. These modes are supportive rather than
constitutive because no-one can tell a story using description and comment
Description is a telling mode in which the narrator introduces a character
or describes the setting.
Comment is a telling mode in which the narrator comments on
characters, the development of the action, and the circumstances of the act
of narrating [5, p.89].

Focalization is a term coined by the French narrative theorist Gerard
Genette. It refers to the perspective through which a narrative is presented.
For example, a narrative where all information presented reflects the
subjective perception of that information by a certain character is said to be
internally focalized. An omniscient narrator corresponds to external
focalization. A novel in which no simple rules restrict the transition between
different focalizations could be said to be unfocalized, but specific
relationships between basic types of focalization constitute more complex
focalization strategies; for example, a novel could provide external
focalization alternating with internal focalizations through three different

characters, where the second character is never focalized except after the
first, and three other characters are never focalized at all [13].
Functionally, focalization is a means of selecting and restricting narrative
information, of seeing events and states of affairs from somebody's point of
view, of foregrounding the focalizing agent, and of creating an empathetical
or ironical view on the focalizer. A focalizer is the agent whose point of
view orients the narrative text. A text is anchored on a focalizer's point of
view when it presents (and does not transcend) the focalizer's thoughts,
reflections and knowledge, his/her actual and imaginary perceptions, as well
as his/her cultural and ideological orientation.
Although the primary candidate for a text's perspectival orientation is the
narrator (presenting an external focalization of the world of story), a text's
information may also be restricted to a character's field of perception.
Indeed, the major question of focalization is whether there is internal
focalization, i.e., whether the narrative events are presented from a
character's point of view. Four main forms or patterns of focalization can be
Fixed focalization - the presentation of narrative facts and events from the
constant point of view of a single focalizer.
Variable focalization - the presentation of different episodes of the story as
seen through the eyes of several focalizers.
Multiple focalization - a technique of presenting an episode repeatedly,
each time seen through the eyes of a different (internal) focalizer. Typically,
what is demonstrated by this technique is that different people tend to
perceive or interpret the same event in radically different fashion. Texts that
are told by more than one narrator (such as epistolary novels) create
multiple focalization based on external focalizers.
Collective focalization - focalization through either plural narrators ("we
narrative") or a group of characters ("collective reflectors") [5, p.90-91].

1. A summary is a clear concise orderly retelling of the contents of a
passage or a text and is ordinarily about 1/3 or 1/4 as long as the original [1,
p. 21]. The student who is in the habit of searching for the main point,
understanding them, learning them, and reviewing them is educating
himself. The ability to get at the essence of a matter is important.

How to write a summary:

• Read the text
• Formulate the main statement

• Reread the text and underline important ideas and arguments
according to the main statement
• Introduce the author and title of the work in the opening sentence
• Mention the important facts in chronological order
• Check that your summary reflects the original conclusion

The first and most important step in making a summary is reading the
passage thoroughly. After it a) write out clearly in your own words the main
points of the selection. Subordinate or eliminate minor points, b) Retain the
paragraphing of the original unless the summary is extremely short.
Preserve the proportion of the original. c) Change direct narration to indirect
whenever it is possible, use words instead of word combinations and word
combinations instead of sentences, d) Omit figures of speech, repetitions,
and most examples, e) Do not use personal pronouns, use proper names, f)
Do not introduce any extra material by way of opinion, interpretation or
Read the selection again and critisize and revise your words [1, p.21-22].
2. To give a summary of the text, as well as for other similar
assignments, the following phrases may be helpful. Try and use the ones
that are most suitable for the occasion.
2.1 Signal words and word combinations to begin with
a) At the beginning of the story (in the beginning) the author describes
(depicts, dwells on, touches upon, explains, introduces, mentions, recalls,
characterizes, critisizes, analyses, comments on, enumerates, points out,
generalizes, makes a few critical remarks, reveals, exposes, accuses,
blames, condemns, mocks at, ridicules, praises, sings somebody's praises,
sympathises with, gives a summary of, gives his account of, makes an
excursus into, digresses from the subject to describe the scenery, to
enumerate, etc.).
b) The story (the author) begins with a/the description of, the mention
of, the analysis of, a/ the comment on, a review of, an account of, a
summary of, the characterization of, his opinion of, his recollection of, the
enumeration of, the criticism of, some / a few critical remarks about, the
accusation of, the /his praises of, the ridicule of, the generalization of, an
excursus into.
c) The story opens with ...
d) The scene is laid in...
e) The opening scene shows ...
f) We first meet him (her) as a student of... (a girl of 15)

2.2 Signal words and word combinations to go on
Then (after that, further, further on, next) the author passes on to…(goes
on to say that..., gives a detailed description (analysis etc.) of digresses from
the subject, etc.). For the rest see the verbs in list la).
2.3 Signal words and word combinations to conclude
a) In conclusion the author describes ...
b) The author concludes with ...
c) The story ends with ...
d) To finish with the author describes ...
e) At the end of the story the author draws the conclusion (comes to the
conclusion) that...
f) At the end of the story the author sums it all up (by saying...)
g) The concluding words are ...


1. Logical connectors and sequence markers

a. Cause:
therefore, so, accordingly, consequently, as a consequence/result,
hence (formal), thus (formal), because of this, that's why (informal)
b. Contrast:
yet, however, nevertheless, still, but, even so, all the same
c. Condition:
if…then, in that case
d. Comparison:
similarly, in the same way
e. Concession:
anyway, at any rate
f. Contradiction:
in fact, actually, as a matter of fact, indeed
g. Alternation:
instead, alternatively

2. Textual connectors and sequence markers

a. Addition:
also, in addition, moreover, furthermore, besides, too, overall, what's
more (informal), in brief/short
b. Summary:
to sum up, then, overall, in brief/short

c. Conclusion:
in conclusion, finally, lastly, to conclude
d. Equivalence:
in other words, that means, namely, that is to say, or, rather, i.e. (formal
and written)
e. Inclusion:
for example, for instance, say (informal), such as, as follows (written),
e.g. (formal and written)
f. Highlighting:
in particular, in detail, especially, notably, chiefly, mainly
g. Generalisation:
usually, normally, as a rule, in general, for the most part, in most cases,
on the whole
h. Stating the obvious:
obviously, naturally, of course, clearly

It is advisable to give a summary of a text dividing it into several logical

When reading the paragraphs, it is recommended to observe their
structure, point out the topic sentence, the details of various kinds, the
transitional devices used to move from one example to another, and the
paragraph terminator.


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