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Intro lit. Grammatical person Essay

An Introduction

What Is Literature and Why Do We Study It?

• Literature [Roberts and Jacobs]

– a composition that tells a story, dramatizes a situation, expresses emotions, analyzes and advocates ideas

– helps us grow personally and intellectually

– language in use; hence inseparable from it

– product of a particular culture; even more culture-bound than language

– makes us human

Literary Genres
Four genres of literature:

Prose fiction
• Epic myths, legends, fables, novels, short stories

• Open form and closed form
• Relies on imagery, figurative language, sound

• Made up of dialogue and set direction
• Designed to be performed

Nonfiction prose
• News reports, feature articles, essays, editorials, textbooks, historical and biographical works


-any imaginative recreation and reconstruction of life which includes short stories and novels

-myth and legend — origins and extraordinary events like wars, conquests, births, death, as well as the phenomena of nature

Elements of Fiction

1. Setting
• a work’s natural, manufactured, political, cultural and temporal environment, including everything that characters know and own (place, time, objects) • Its purpose is to establish realism or verisimilitude, to organize a story, and to create atmosphere or mood. • It may reinforce development of characters and theme.

2. Characters
the representations of a human being

Classification of fictional characters:
– Round (dynamic) = lifelike, fully-developed and recognizes changes in and adjusts to the circumstances – Flat = no growth, static
– Stock = representative of a group or class (stereotypical) – Protagonist = the hero or heroine, main person in the story, person on the quest, etc. – Antagonist = the person causing the conflict, in opposition to the protagonist, the obstacle, etc.

Five ways of revealing literary characters:

1. Actions
2. Descriptions
3. Dramatic statements and thoughts
4. Statements by other characters
5. Statements by the author speaking as storyteller, or observer

3. Plot and Structure
the way the actions are arranged in the story
reflection of motivation and causation
*In the story, the queen died and then the king died shortly after. Conflict – controlling impulse in a connected pattern of causes and effects – Opposition of two or more forces (e.g., hatred, envy, anger, argument, avoidance, gossip, lies, fighting, etc.) -can be internal (man vs. himself) or external (man vs. fate/condition/other characters) Dilemma – conflict within or for one person

– Conflict is a major element of plot because it arouses curiosity, causes doubt, and creates tension therefore producing interest among readers/audience.


local color – the superficial elements of setting, dialect, and customs

Closed Plots
1) Linear – arranged chronologically
2) Circular – combination of linear and flashback
3) In Medias Res – begins in the middle part of the action

Structure of Closed Plots


Resolution (Denouement)

4. Point of View
• Refers to speaker, narrator, persona or voice created by the author to tell the story • Point of view depends on two factors:
– Physical situation of the narrator as an observer
– Speaker’s intellectual and emotional position
• First person – I, we
• Third person – He, she, they (most common)
Omniscient – all-knowing; delves into the minds of the characters at any point in the story Limited omniscient – some insight

5. Theme (Donnée)
Theme embodies meaning, interpretation, explanation and significance of every detail in a literary piece along with values in order to appreciate it. It is not as obvious as character or setting. It is important to consider the meaning of what has been read and then develop an explanatory and comprehensive assertion. It points out the significant truth about life and human nature that is illustrated in the actions, preoccupations, and decisions of the characters. It is not just some familiar saying or moral. Theme can be found in any of these:

– direct statements by the authorial voice
– direct statements by a first-person speaker
– dramatic statements by characters
– figurative language, characters who stand for ideas
– the work itself – as a whole

Theme should be:
1. expressed in complete statements
2. stated as a generalization about life.
3. a statement that accounts for all major details in the story 4. be stated in more than one way
5. should avoid statements that reduce the theme to some familiar saying

6. Images
–concrete qualities rather than abstract meanings which appeal to the five senses

7. Symbolism
Symbols stand for something other than themselves. They bring to mind not their own concrete qualities, but the idea or abstraction that is associated with them. Symbol creates a direct, meaningful equation between & among: – a specific object, scene, character, or action

– ideas, values, persons or ways of life
Symbols may be:
– Archetypes (universal) = known by most literate people and have usually been used in most literary pieces therefore becoming representative figures (e.g., white dove, color black) – Contextual (authorial) = private, created by the author – Allegory = complete and self-sufficient narrative (e.g., “Young Goodman Brown”) –

Fable = stories about animals that possess human traits (e.g., Aesop’s Fables) – Parable = allegory with moral or religious bent (e.g., Biblical stories) – Myth = story that embodies and codifies religious, philosophical and cultural values of the civilization in which it is composed (e.g., George Washington chopping down the cherry tree) – Allusion = the use of other culturally well-known works from the Bible, Greek and Roman mythology, famous art, etc.

8. Tone and Style
• Tone = methods by which writers and speakers reveal attitudes or feelings • Style = ways in which writers assemble words to tell the story, to develop an argument, dramatize the play, compose the poem • Essential aspect of style is diction

Choice of words in the service of content

Formal = standard or elegant words
Neutral = everyday standard vocabulary
Informal = colloquial, substandard language, slang

• Language may be:
– Specific = images
– General = broad classes
– Concrete = qualities of immediate perception
– Abstract = broader, less palpable qualities
• Denotation = word meanings
• Connotation = word suggestions
• Verbal irony = contradictory statements
– One thing said, opposite is meant
– Irony = satire, parody, sarcasm
• Understatement = does not fully describe the importance of a situation – deliberately • Hyperbole (overstatement) = words far in excess of the situation

Essay Topics:

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