The Literary Elements
Why Interpret?Never forget that an author begins with a blank pageEverything put into the text makes a contribution to the authors vision/perspective
SettingIncludes WHERE a story takes place and WHEN a story takes placeCan affect mood/tone
PlotSequence of RELATED events that happen in the storyClearly build toward something aheadCONFLICT (a struggle of some kind) is the most important element in the plotSeries of complications contribute to rising action
Plot (cont.)Plot Diagram on board/paperExpositionRising ActionCharacter in series of complications under a larger conflictClimaxPoint where the character faces most significant obstacle and respondsFalling ActionDenouement/Resolution(unknotting)
ConflictPerson vs. NaturePerson vs. PersonPerson vs. SelfPerson vs. Society
ForeshadowingHints in the text that clue us in to a significant plot event to come
Violent storms indicate violence to come in plot
FlashbackInterruption that takes us back to a previous event or experience in the plot or characters life
Shift from president in oval office to a scene from his high school experience
CharacterizationHow a writer reveals a characters personalityDirect Characterization:Author tells us what the character is like (e.g. deceitful, honest, evil, kind)Indirect Characterization:Physical descriptionWords & thoughtsOther characters thoughts & commentsCharacters actions
CharacterizationDynamic vs. StaticChange or not
Round vs. FlatComplex personality w/different traits, or easily summed up personality?
CharacterizationExamine the characters journeyEvolve/Devolve?Grow or become diminished?Better off or worse off beginning to end?Much movement but same place?What contributed to shaping character?
SymbolismWhen the author uses objects, events, or characters to represent THE BIG PICTURE
Something in the story stands for something else- white hat/black hat
In the Bible, seeds eaten by birds stand for those who hear and dont believe
AllusionReference to a well-known literary work or character
Bob and Sarah sure are a couple of star-crossed loversAs Tiger Woods strolled through the crowd, it was like he was parting the white sea
IronyDiscrepancy between expectations & realityVerbal IronySituational IronyDramatic Irony
Verbal IronySpeaker says one thing but means anotherThat Michael Jackson tattoo is really cool. Its still sort of subtle and understated even though it covers your whole back.
Situational IronyWhat happens is the opposite of whats expectedA woman is assaulted by a man, waits 35 years to get revenge, then falls in love with him the next time they meet
Dramatic IronyAudience knows what the characters dontCharacter asks what punishment for her crime will be, thinking it will be a fine; audience knows the punishment will be death
Point of ViewThe angle from which the story is told1st person (I, we)More intimate w/narratorTough to judge narrator?(Consider nave & unreliable narrator)
3rd person (he, she, they)limited (1 characters POV)or omniscient (all-knowing)
StyleHow it is said influences what it meansDiction (word choice) & syntax (word arrangement) influence mood/tone Does it change the pace?Does it suggest something about characters?Hows it make the reader feel? Exhausted? Exhilarated?
ThemeThe Authors visionWhats s/he saying about human nature, the way the world works, our relations to others?Its just one view & its up for interpretationDeath of the Author
Some ThemesJustice prevailsLove conquers allSociety will always overwhelm the individualChildren often see more clearly than adultsTheres no place for the artist in the jungle
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