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Analysis FROM “W.S.” Essay

The text under analyses is the extract from the novel “From “W.S.” by outstanding English novelist and the son of a solicitor was educated at Oxford’s College and for more than twenty years he was a fiction viewer for magazines. He wrote many novels and made a good contribution to English fiction. According to his novels films were created. Hartley was a highly skilled narrator and we can see that in his literary work “W.S.” The text belongs to the belles-lettres style, emotive prose. Its genre is epic. The text is entitled “FROM “W.S.”.

The title:
focuses the reader’s attention on the most relevant detail (we may guess that there will be a letter from somebody); serves as a means of foreshadowing (it unites the components of a story to form a whole); serves as a means of foreshadowing (it orients the readers towards the story). This extract could be characterized by great narrative facility, an ironic point of view and an astonishing understanding of human nature. The title “The Escape” doesn’t speak about anything. It is very abstract and the reader wouldn’t understand about what W.S. the author tells about before he reads the story. The text is given in the 3rd person narrative. It is more objective, because the narrator don’t filter the events through his personal perception and don’t present them as he feels them. And also this kind of narration is less emotional. This form of narrative offers the most objective view of a story because neither the narrator nor the reader are participants.

Even in third-person narrative where subjective thoughts and feelings are known, they are generally contextualized by the thoughts and feelings of other characters. It is impossible to say who is the narrator in this extract, thus the conclusion may be made that the narration is anonymous. Though, the reader is made to feel the author’s attitude towards the main character and the event described in the passage with the help of numerous stylistic devices which will be commented upon further. This third-person narration is interlaced with psychological and logical reflections of the main character. Also we can observe non-personal direct speech.

A close study of the story for the purpose of examining its style involves a careful observation and a detailed description of the language phenomena at various levels. There are such forms of narrative as:

The story is interlaced with the great number of descriptive passages and a few dialogues. The author makes use of the long and complicated sentences as well as simple ones. The author mainly uses past tenses, but present – in dialogues. The theme of this text may be formulated in the following way: “What is a value of the writer’s art?” The author uses a lot of thematic words, such as: novelist, post-card, critical, strangers, anonymous and others. Besides the basic theme the text touches upon many very important secondary themes: Who may judge gifted person is or not?

What is the influence of other people’s opinion?
What can we do with anonymous letters?
How dangerous the problem of split personalities?

In his works realistic reflection of life, keen character descriptions, and interesting plots are combined with beautiful, expressive language and a simple, clear style. The plot of the story is quite simple, though interesting. The extract under consideration tells mysterious story of writer, Walter Streeter, who was receiving strange postcards from anonymous addresser. These postcards didn’t content any explicated threat, but the tone was criticizing and ironical, which made Walter feel uneasy. He consulted his friend, who supposed that this could be a woman-lunatic, and finally went to police, but this didn’t help him to disclose a secret. The extract is divided into four logical parts, according to the number of received post cards: 1) The first part is the receiving the first postcard about Scotland. The author shows the general problem of the story, also giving a few examples. The key-words of this part are: Postcard;

Be interested in;
To enjoy;
Novelist and others;
2) The second part is about the second post-card from Berwick-on-Tweed and the consideration about the stranger – whether it is he or she. The key-words of this part are: To sound rude;
Borderline case;
To plump for one word or the other;

3) The third part is about the third post-card from York Minster and about writer’s interest in cathedrals: Cathedrals;
Youthful fantasies;
Parish churches;
4) The fourth part is about the fourth post-card from Coventry and about the writer’s arrangements. The key-words of this part are: To get nearer
To advise;
The atmosphere of the text is not homogeneous, because the text maintained more than one key. The narration is interrupted by the elements of description; inner thoughts and feelings of the main character are imperceptibly interwoven with the narration. The prevailing mood of the text sometimes is sometimes ironical and pessimistic, not bright, cheerful and sometimes is dramatic in a way. There are emotionally-coloured words, such as:

split personalities,
Among picture-making verbs are:
to write,
to ignore,
to pay attention to,
to bring oneself,
to receive,
to sound,
to advice.
The author keeps the reader’s attention in suspense. He forces the reader sometimes to sympathize with the writer. There is one main character in the text – Walter Streeter and several secondary characters – the stranger, writer’s friend and a policeman. The main character is complex and is given in dynamics. He undergoes changes and growth, he reveals various sides of his personality and he is self-revealing. The author uses direct and indirect means of characterization. The author shows the character in actions, lets us hear him, watch him and evaluate him for ourselves. The author also uses background information of main character, but he doesn’t give the outer description. The main attention is given to the psychological state of the writer. The main purpose if this detailed description of changing state of Walter is to force readers to think further about his fate. Probably he was a person with split personality, a kind of lunatic, who send post-cards to himself. The stranger is a secondary character of the story.

This character appears through the post-cards, the manner of writer. According to the writer’s thoughts this character reveals he’s different sides. But this character is flat/simple character, because he\she doesn’t undergo changes and doesn’t reveal various sides of her personality. In the text there are the external and internal conflicts. The external one is between Walter and stranger, Walter and his friend, policeman. And the internal/psychological conflict is inside the writer. He doubts who is the stranger, it is good or not to read letters from anonymous stranger. The text makes easy reading. The movement is both psychological (because there’s an internal conflict) and physical. There is the alteration of events. As for the presentational sequencing in this text – there are suspense (some important information is heed till the moment best suited to author’s mention). The author uses flashbacks (references to the past in order to characterize events and characters better) and foreshadowing (indication of future events). In this text a straight-line-narrative-technique is present, because all the events are given in the chronological order.

There is the pictorial form of presenting of events, because this text contain minimum of dialogues and maximum of narration. And the viewpoint from which the events are given is dominant, because one character and his thoughts dominate in the text. There are only his view-points. The reader has a chance to choose one of them or formulate his own point. Hartley wants the readers to draw their own conclusion about the character and events described in his extract. The plot structure is open, because not all constituencies are present. There is no exposition. The complications starts with the first port-card in which the author describes anonymous admirer and through writer’s thoughts we may guess about the situation in the text and about main character’s life, then the climax, when Walter begin to ponder over his personality and the problems those may be. And in that moment the reader becomes interested in results of receiving these post-cards. And the author keeps the reader in pressing anticipation till the end of the extract, but there is no denouement.

The author uses in this text a number of lexical and stylistic devices which helps to create the appropriate atmosphere. He employs a lot of expressive means and stylistic devices to make the story interesting, exciting and picturesque. The text is emotionally moving, and some details produce an emotional reaction. There are a lot of epithets, metaphors and others. The first one which strikes the eye is anaphora. It’s used very widely in order to improve emphasis on some facts: “You have always been interested in Scotland, and that is one reason why I am interested in you.” “But the words came haltingly, as though contending with an extra-strong barrier of self-criticism.

And as the days passed he became uncomfortably aware of self-division, as though someone had taken hold of his personality and was pullling it apart.” “I know you are interested in cathedrals. I’m sure this isn’t sign of megalomania… I’m seeing a good many churches on my way south…” “It was true that Walter Streeter was interested in cathedrals… And it was also true that he admired mere size and was inclined to under-value parish churches.” “And was it really a sign of megalomania? And who was W.S. anyhow?” “They were Gilbert’s, they were Maugham’s, they were Shakespeare’s …” “He tried to put the thought away from him; he tried to destroy the postcard as he had the others.” Besides we can meet such an epithet in the text:

“November fire – makes us be closer to the time everything happened” “the faint string of curiosity”
The last one is to describe the writer’s state.

“a wave of panic” to help for better understanding of emotional state of the character. The author employs a range of short, exclamatory and interrogative sentences to make the inner dialogue of the main character more vivid. We come across metaphor: “fruitful conflict” – makes us guess the words and the deeds following the conflict. A beautiful antithesis as “perfection of ordinariness” doesn’t let us calm to Walter’s style. There are other examples of antithesis:

Me or not me;
Flattered and unsure
The author uses simile with skill: “A woman, a little mouse-like creature, who had somehow taken a fancy to him!” The main character of the story – Walter Streeter – gets the postcards with messages from anonymous and starts thinking them over. The author uses simile «like other novelists» to show that he is not the only one who gets such postcards. Walter was used to getting communications from strangers, sometimes they were friendly, sometimes they were critical. Later it became important for the main character that he pondered over this and nothing else. He starts to think is it a man or a woman. Here the author puts simile «it looked like man’s handwriting» and the other «the criticism was like a man’s», «on the other hand, it was like a woman to probe».

The author also uses antonomasia (identification of human beings with things which surround them) – “Walter Streeter”; zeugma – “took up the time and energy”; metonymy – “faint strings of curiosity”; personification – “growing pains”; periphrasis – “conscious mind“, “little mouse-like creature”, “poison pens”, many examples of inversion. As we see the language of the writer is very rich and full of various kinds of stylistic devices and that makes his story more vivid and picturesque. Summing up the analysis it can be said that the text seems like a detective story with a victim – the writer Walter Streeter. In the end of the text the tone changes, it is still ironical, but there appears some serious element. All these language means reveal the author’s manner, his style of writing. He renders his feelings and thoughts with epithets, metaphors and so on. The idea of the story is that if somebody begins to criticize you, you shouldn’t feel guilty and look for problems in yourself.

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