Rhetorical Mode and Purpose
It is better that one should suffer than that many should be corrupted.? Existing under a socially oppressive government, Bernard Marx constantly endures mental distress as a consequence of his unorthodox views. In Brave New World by Adolf Huxley, the primary protagonist struggles to voice his bitterness and disgruntled opinions, but the repressive World State tyrannize the society, and he ultimately loses his fight in becoming exiled. Narrated in the third person, Huxley details a technocratic government where signs of emotions are rendered treacherous and extreme consumerism forms the core of society. However, even more revolting is the unconscionable replication of nature through mass cloning, affirming the loss of everything fundamentally human. Through Brave New World, Huxley warned past governments who sought to increase effectiveness and stability, and continues to admonish the modern world, against increasing government intervention. Through narration, Huxley provides a panoramic scope of the horrific details and events residing under the command of a domineering government that asserts its omnipresence in all aspects of life.
PASSAGE 1 (114-116)
I chose this passage for both analytical purposes and interest value. Its surfeit in syntax variations stood out as a highly appealing passage to be analyzed, and the language effectively aroused suspense out of me.
As the world of the savages unravels before Lenina?s eyes, her disgust heightens with each event that takes place, furthering repelling her from the culture. The underlying tone of hypnotic anticipation leads the audience through a series of events that build towards the climatical action of the passage. Through rhythmic syntax that propels the scene forward, dissonant diction and savage details, Huxley provides a lurid atmosphere as the lead-in to the horrifying act of sacrifice.
Immediately, cacophonous diction begin to agitate the auditory senses. ?Harsh metallic? male voices answering the ?shrill? cries of the women initiates a perturbed mood and foreshadows deplorable events. As the audience?s sense of hearing wears away, ?a ghastly troop of monsters hideously masked or painted out of all semblance of humanity? enters to disconcert the visual senses. Nothing more than monsters completely devoid of human aspects. Monsters capable of executing actions that would appall Lenina?s society. Anticipation builds as the shrieks become ?louder and louder?; their dances, ?round and round? – and ?round and round? again.
Their actions echo in successions of hypnotic movements that lull the reader into a trancelike state. ?More and more,? the leader flings black snakes ?brown and mottled.? The periodic sentence emphasis this final action as a symbol of savagery and remnant of a primitive culture that ultimately disgusts Lenina. Dull diction such as ?brown and mottled? assembles a drab layer of atmosphere that looms over the tribal ritual. Adverbs and conjunctions advance toward additional events that further feed anticipation. ?And then the dance began?Then the leader gave a signal?Then the old man lifted his hand.? Syntax and diction continue to build suspense as it mounts toward a most horrific action event.
Semicolons and commas function as the dominant driving force behind the passage. Instead of inserting common periods, Huxley surrogates punctuations as a link between closely related details that incrementally build towards the summit. Without paragraph breaks to detract from the anticipation, the events flow in a continuous stream while sentence lengths and punctuations determine the rhythm and pacing. The compound-complex sentences are brought to a sudden halt with the ceasing of the drums. ?The drums stopped beating, life seemed to have come to an end.? The device that signaled life halts suddenly and a series of medium length sentences supercedes the long ones. Just as the storm the eye of the hurricane provides temporary respite, the momentary arrest of the beating only creates further anticipation, leaving the reader waiting for the other half of the hurricane. Rather than satiating expectations, syntax lurches the rhythm suddenly to induce greater anticipation and thirst so that when it resumes, the resulting effect will be of greater impact.
The scene shifts from the panoramic view to focus on the interaction between two specific characters, the old man and the boy. Analogous syntax structure directs attention to the progression of actions. ?The old man clapped his hands?The old man made the sign?The boy moved on?? Succinct details are unaccompanied by imagery or flowery language that would detract from the crucial suspense-arousing events. ?The coyote-man raised his whip; there was a long moment of expectancy, then a swift movement, the whistle of the last and its loud flat-sounding impact on the flesh.? The actions of the savages tapestry the shroud of luridity that continue to repel Lenina while the clause between the semicolon and comma mirror the silence before the strike of the whip.
At last, the ?whistle? signifies the anticipated action that syntax, details and diction have all along foreshadowed. ?Twice, thrice, four times round he went?.Five times round, six times round? Seven times round.? Lone words that constitute sentences and telegraphic phrases cut by commas reflect the sound of the lashes. Enumeration of each lash as if a scene from a movie being played in slow motion, grants equivalent emphasize of the pain from each blow. ?A few drops fell, and suddenly the drums broke out again into a panic of hurrying notes; there was a great shout.? The anticipation is finally satiated confirmed by the abrupt burst of drums.
PASSAGE 2 (142 – 144)
The details and diction in this passage was striking in conveying John?s fascination with Lenina. It immediately evoked in my mind a scene from Sleeping Beauty where the Prince stumbles upon the bewitched Princess.
Lenina?s introduction to John at this point of the novel likens to a scientific experiment where a new and exotic life form is presented in a previously pedestrian environment. John, engrossed with every aspect about Lenina, adopts a humble position and invests her with rapt wonderment. Upon finding her possessions, he takes immediate fascination to his discovery and indulges himself in her relics. John?s actions reflect that of a worshipper. Thus, Huxley employs a tone of reverent infatuation to manifest John?s idolization of Lenina.
Dominated by alluring details, the passage aims to manifest John?s unqualified adoration for Lenina. Without delay, olfactory appeal works to captivate John by providing a sense of familiarity, an indication of Lenina?s presence. In ?breathing Lenina?s perfume? and discovering ?a cloud of scented powder?, he conveys his fanatic infatuation, and then continues to ?fill his lungs with her essential being.? A meager waft proves inadequate to satiate John?s desires. Instead, he relishes in bliss, the effusive outpouring of her presence, breathes in her scents like a drug, and allows it to pervade all of his internal organs. In addition, he imagines the ?touch of [her] smooth skin against his face, while other tactile details confirm his nostalgic longing for her. As if in the presence of a goddess, he executes his actions with the most scrupulous care. Bending over the precious box, he touched, he lifted into the light, he examined.
Polysyndetons and parallel structures emphasizes each action as distinct entities with equivalent importance. Commas retard the process so as to display not cursory haste, but fastidious devotion not coarseness, but refinement – and not brashness, but the delicacy of a worshipper in tending to a higher life form. Abstract diction continue to manifest John?s obsessive attachment to Lenina. Huxley attributes her possessions with desirous diction, labeling her perfume as delicious, her box as precious, her puzzle, a delight. John becomes entranced by her divine possessions, and muses over Lenina reverently.
Delving further into the passage, comparative details attributed to Lenina and syntax portraying John as a stalker reveal the extent of his infatuation. Metaphors ascribe enigmatic aspects to Lenina, which intrigues John and plunges him into enchantment. Infatuated, he derives pleasure from unriddling her bewitched apparels. A simple pair of velveteen shorts likens at ?first a [to a] puzzle, then solved, a delight.? Lenina, furnisher of magically exotic appeal, jolts excitement into his previously mundane life of savagery. Huxley portrays her through John?s eyes as analogous to a mystery to be demystified, lock to be unlocked, cipher to be deciphered ? all of which fascinates John and builds on his infatuation. However, his conspicuous adoration becomes suppressed into a concealed form when agitation forms over the possibility of being discovered.
Covert syntax and diction depict John as an infatuated stalker. ?He heard something ? something like a sigh, something like the creak of a board.? Huxley purposefully employs ambiguous diction such as ?something? as opposed to concrete observable details. Disclosing her hiding position, Lenina?s appearance gradually comes into scope. John replies with stealthy obsession and strategically planned actions, reflected by extra inserts of commas that mirror his wary movement. ?He tiptoed to the door and, cautiously opening it, found himself looking on to a broad landing.? With enchanting metaphors and furtive syntax, literary devices continue to manifest John?s infatuation.
Upon reaching the climatical action of John finally disclosing Lenina?s position, the tone ultimately assumes one of consummate reverence. Descriptive details of Lenina fast asleep enhances her chaste qualities. ?So beautiful in the midst of her curls, so touchingly childish with her pink toes?so trustful in the helplessness of her limp hands and melted limbs, that the tears came to his eyes.? Excessive use of the adverb ?so? heightens the degree of her qualities, implying an empyrean life-form inspiring awe. The child-like characteristics solicits sacred protection from John. Huxley?s delineation of her as ?limp? and ?melted? with a ?grave? sleeping face suggests death and ascendance into heaven. John, captivated, reveres her as one would of a goddess.
Complex-compound sentences embroiders her purity and innocence while allusions to Shakespeare?s Romeo and Juliet continues to attribute divinity. ?On the white wonder of dead Juliet?s hand, may size/ And steal immortal blessing from her lips.? Comparison to Juliet further implies the notion of her resemblance to a goddess possessing immortality and an ethereal aura. In a humble manner, John ?very slowly, with the hesitating gesture? reach out to affirm the heavenly presence. However, his hands ?hung trembling? as he ruminates on the sacrilegious. Dare he ?profane? with his ?unworthiest? hand? Awe-inspiring details and sacredly connotated diction avouch the tone of infatuated reverence.
PASSAGE 3 (232 – 233)
The tone of this passage was not presented by the narration or characters in the novel, but rather created by a passage from a book being read by one of the characters. I thought it was interesting to analyze a tone inside a passage of a passage.
The abstract and metaphysical level of Brave New World reaches its apex when Mustapha Mond proceeds to read a passage from Maine de Biran?s book that justifies man?s eventual submission to God. While Biran holds the creed that individuals ultimately lose control of their lives and inevitably capitulate to the overwhelming siren call of God, Mond challenges that with the World State, one never experiences loss and thus will never seek counsel of religion. Huxley employs a tone of forensic instructiveness to allow both sides to present their cases effectively.
Persuasive syntax utilized in Biran?s excerpt efficaciously compels the audience to assume his position. Immediately, the passage adopts the structure of a formal argument with Biran?s proposal of his thesis. ?We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God?s property.? Simultaneous use of the pronoun ?we?, and three consecutive negatives carves away at the monolith of individual confidence. The anaphora build logical progression toward the thesis, whose brevity and sole affirmative adverb grants emphasis on unity with god.
Also, rhetoric use of first person point of view lends itself to the notion that this pertains to all. Biran?s argument develops into a tone of instructiveness so as to provide support, illustrated by the transition, ?take this for example.? Repetitions in diction function to acknowledge the opposition. ??to have to think of nothing out of sight, to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgements, continual prayer, continual reference.? Syntactical analysis of Biran?s introduction reveal a tone of forensic instructiveness.
Upon setting up the premise, Biran now proceeds to counter the opposition by providing rational support. The extensive length and complexity of the sentences that follow, broken down logically by semicolons and commas, carries the reader through a step by step process of rationally reaching a valid deduction. Diction, as well as syntax, justify man?s ultimate submission to religion. With transitions such as ?feeling thus? and ?from which,? the progression towards the conclusions likens to a mathematical proof abundant with derivations. Anaphoric use of ?as the? and ?less? exhibits an inverse relationship between aging and the sentiments that prevented dependence on religion.
Thus, with aging, ?God emerges as from behind a cloud? of with omnipotence, indicated by a series of fate-associated diction. ?Naturally,? one turns to God when he loses control of his world, and will ?inevitably? submit under his ?absolute? and ?everlasting? power. With spiritual and abstract diction, Biran?s concepts appeal spiritually and offer cleansing. ?So pure; so delightful to the soul.? The elongated sentence ultimately reaches its objective, its emphasis granted by a single dash. ? ? a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth.? Enhanced by mathematical instructiveness and persuasive diction, Biran effectively presents his case.
After introducing Biran?s position, Mond assumes the tone of forensic instructiveness. He promptly proposes a qualified argument: ?You can only be independent of God while you?ve got youth and prosperity.? Mond builds his case upon the assertion that so long as one attains youthful desires and lives without the fear of death from old age, religion holds no significance in their life. Transitions prove to be the driving force of Mond?s counter-argument. ?Well, we?ve now got youth, what follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God.? His argument, comparable to Biran?s, progresses logically and employs first person pronouns as well. ?And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires when desires never fail?? He summarizes his position with comparative rhetorical questions that juxtaposes both sides of the argument. The inquires detract rationale from Biran?s assertions while promoting his alternate solutions. Through forensic instructiveness, Mond?s counter-argument proves to be efficacious as well.
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