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Main elements of a literary text - Реферат

1. The setting, especially description of nature, helps to evoke the necessary atmosphere (or mood) which corresponds to the general intention of the story.

2. The setting may reinforce characterization by either paralleling or contrasting the actions.

3. The setting may be a reflection of the inner state of a character.

4. The setting may place the character in a recognizable realistic environment. Such a setting may include geographical names and allusions to historical events. All this creates the credibility of the plot.

5. In fiction the setting, especially domestic interiors (materials), may serve to reveal certain features of the character.

6. When the theme and the main problem involve the conflict between man and nature, the setting becomes in effect the chief antagonist whom the hero must overcome.

The setting in a story may perform either one or several functions simultaneously. It should be noted that characters, actions, conflicts and setting work together to accomplish the author's purpose.

The interrelation between different components of the plot is called composition. Events recounted in the story are made up of episodes; episodes in their turn, of smaller action details. The plot accordingly consists of exposition, complications (plot development), climax and denouement.

In the exposition the necessary preliminaries to the action are laid out, such as the time, the place and the subject of the action. Some light may be cast on the circumstances that will influence the development of the action. The setting is generally established at the beginning of the story, in the exposition, which is the first component of plot structure. Thus in the exposition the writer introduces the theme, the characters and establishes the setting. This component supplies some information on either all or some of the following questions: Who? What? Where? When?

The second structural component which follows the exposition is complications (story, body of the story). Complications generally involve actions and the collision (the opposition of forces or characters), though they might involve thoughts and feelings as well.

The third structural component is the climax. The climax is the key event, the plot's most dramatic and revealing moment, usually the turning point of the story. It is often referred to as the moment of illumination for the whole story, as it is the moment when the relationship among the events becomes clear, when their role in the development of characters is clarified, and when the story is seen to have a structure.

The denouement is the fourth structural component of the plot. The denouement is the unwinding of the actions; it includes the event, or events, immediately following the climax and bringing the actions to an end. It is the point at which the fate of the main character is clarified. The denouement suggests to the reader certain conclusions.

A story may have no denouement. By leaving it out, the author achieves a certain effect – he invites the reader to reflect on all the circumstances that accompanied the character of the story and to imagine the outcome of all the events himself.

The closing of the story is the ending. When it takes an unexpected turn it is called an unexpected or surprise ending.

Novels may have two more components of plot structure: the prologue and the epilogue. The prologue contains facts from beyond the past of the story, the epilogue contains additional facts about the future of the characters if it is not made clear enough in the denouement.

5. An image is a subjective reflection of reality. It is affected by the author's power of imagination. While reading fiction the images arouse the reader's response. Any change of a word affects the reader's response, as words may evoke sense impressions.


He was a stout man. "His features were sunk into fatness ...

His neck was buried in rolls of fat. He sat in

The chair ... his great belly thrust forward ..."

(S. Maugham. Red)

The images created by figures of speech in S. Maugham's description call up a visual picture of a concrete fat man and evoke in the reader definite feelings, including those of antipathy and even aversion. Whereas "He was a stout man" does not arouse negative feelings.

It must be noted that the images of a literary work form a system, which comprises a hierarchy of images, beginning with micro-images (formed by a word or a combination of words, the so-called artistic details) and ending with synthetic images (formed by the whole literary work).

In literature attention is centered on man, his character and behaviour. That explains why the character-image is generally considered to be the main element of a literary work; the images of things and landscape are subordinated to the character-image. Thus, landscape-images are generally introduced to describe the setting, to create a definite mood or atmosphere. Yet even a landscape-image, as well as an animal-image, may become the central character of the story. E.g., Nature is the main antagonist of the major character in The Old Man and the Sea by E.Hemingway; or again animal-characters are the central characters in The Jungle Book by R.Kipling.

In most stories one character is clearly central and dominates the story from the beginning up to the end. Such a character is generally called the main, central, or major character, or the protagonist. The antagonist is the personage opposing the protagonist or hero.

Characters may besimple (flat) or complex (well-rounded) depending on their level of development and the extent to which they change. Simple characters are constructed round a single trait. Complex characters undergo change and growth, reveal various sides of their personalities. Hamlet is a complex character, as he is brave and hesitant, sensitive and unyielding.

The main character is most relevant in a literary work, since it is through his fate that the message is conveyed. The minor characters are subordinate, they are generally introduced to reveal some aspects of the main character.

The characters may be described from different aspects: physical, emotional, moral, spiritual, social. The process by which the author presents and develops a fictional character is known as characterization. There are two main types of characterization: direct and indirect.

Direct method of characterization means that the character is evaluated by the writer himself or by another character in the story. The author uses indirect method of characterization when he/she depicts the character through his/her actions, manners, behaviour, speech, and the attitude to other characters.

Speech characteristics include:

1. Style markers, such as

a) markers of official style ("I presume", "I beg your pardon", etc.);

b) markers of informal conversational style: contracted forms, colloquialisms, elliptical sentences, tag constructions (as "you know"), initiating signals (as "Well", "Oh"), hesitation pauses, false starts – all of which are normally occur in spontaneous colloquial speech. In fictional conversation they may acquire a certain function as may indicate some features of the speaker's character, his state of mind and his attitude to others;

2. Markers of emotional state of the character: emphatic inversion, the use of emotionally coloured words, the use of breaks-in-the-narrative that stand for silence (e.g. "and I asked her if she'd rather I ... didn't get married", "and there I stayed in the middle of the road ...staring" – the pause lays emphasis on the words that follow the pause). They indicate nervous state, irresoluteness, deep emotions or doubt.

3. Attitudinal markers: words denoting attitudes (as "despise", "hate", "adore" etc.), intensifiers ( as "very", "absolutely" etc.);

4. Markers of the character's educational level: bookish words, rough words, slang, vulgarisms, deviations from the standard;

5. Markers of regional and dialectal speech which define the speaker as to his origin, nationality and social standing: foreign words, local words, graphons.

Graphon is violation of the graphical shape of the word. It contains information about the speaker's origin, social and educational background, physical and emotional condition. E.g. when the famous Sinclair Lewis's character Mr.Babbit uses "pee-rading" (parading), "Eytalians" (Italians), "peepul" (people), the reader obtains not only the vivid image and the social, cultural, educational characteristics of the personage, but also the author's sarcastic attitude to him.

6. Markers of the character's occupation: terms, jargonisms:

7. Markers of the speaker's individual speech peculiarities (idiolect) which serve as a means of individualization.


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