Prose Study Coursework Essay
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In chapters 13 and 14 of the novel Treasure Island, through use of different literary techniques such as animal imagery, similes, metaphors, assonance and many more, Stevenson achieves a sense of foreboding as to what will happen later in the novel, dropping hints here and there. These chapters are important because the crew of the Hispaniola, including Lon John Silver and Jim Hawkins, have just landed on the island, and are about to set off in search off the buried treasure. We can even get a sense of foreboding from the island itself as it is seen to be gloomy and mysterious, and this does not bode well for the adventure ahead.
We can find foreboding through the author’s use of similes and metaphors in the chapters. ‘Spires of naked rock,’ is a way of saying the rocks are very tall and imposing, as well as exposed. This is scary as just reading the exerpt creates a dark atmosphere, and it paves the way for the future of the novel. This is achieved by use of dark colours, and ‘naked’ implies that after Jim has escaped there is nowhere that he can hide, because everyone can see everything. This creates the effect on the reader of sadness, as they really feel for Jim, as he is trapped on the island with those monsters.
Jim also gives away hints towards the future events of Treasure Island when he says ‘my heart sank’ when he realises what he has done in sneaking ashore with the pirates away from people he knows he can trust and this shows his disappointment. Jims downbeat mood portrays a bad effect to the reader, and they start to feel for Jim, as bad things obviously loom later in the novel, for instance, the planned mutiny of Long John Silver, and how if successful, Jim and his comrades will be doomed, and Jims capture by the pirates. The quotation ‘hung over the anchorage’ is used to create a bad air and produce fearful images in your mind. Foreboding is shown because there is obviously a bad atmosphere on board, symbolising the planned mutiny of Long John Silver, and the good hands on board are of course fretting over what to do.
‘Clouds of birds’ conveys to the reader the image of a deep mass of birds, and when there is a lot of something, especially animals that are making lots of noise, can strike fear in to people. This can give us an insight into what may happen later because birds are good at sensing danger, and quickly fly away if anything unsettles them. If they are very disturbed and are hanging over the ship, then surely the mutiny must be destined to happen, and the crew must have to face the wrath of Long John Silver.
Through animal imagery we can get a sense of fear such as ‘crawling on all fours’ when Jim is near Long John Silver and he is crouching when he has run away from Silver and does not want to be seen. This shows us what may happen later in the novel because it shows Jim is scared of Long John Silver and Silver is not really a very good person, and is planning bad things later in the novel. ‘Agile as a monkey’ when used to describe Silver is showing him in a bad light, because he is deceiving everyone by hobbling around everywhere with his wooden leg, however, when he is out of view of the captain he is very quick and has lots of agility, which shows appearances can be deceptive and this confirms to us that he is planning a mutiny and other evil activities on the return leg of the journey, behind the other crew members backs.
We can also get a sense of foreboding by one of the good men’s reactions when he is faced with Silver and does not to be involved in the mutiny. ‘Like a horse at the spur’ shows the unconverted crew member faced with Long John is very startled by the scream, and he immediately suspects Long John Silver and wants to get away because he knows Long John is starting the process of whittling down the numbers of good men on board to make the future mutiny much easier.
Through the quotation ‘crouching trees,’ when Jim is lost in the woods, we get a sense that Jim is trapped and is enclosed by the trees which seem alive, which is a good example of personification. This creates a sense of what may happen in the future as everything so far has had a bad feeling about it, and it can only be a matter of time before something happens. ‘Would not the first of them who saw me wring my neck like a snipe’s?’ Fear is created by the rhetorical question and the use of animal imagery, and we feel a sense of sorrow for Jim’s dire situation. It gives us a premonition that later in the novel if the pirates catch Jim he will be killed straight away.
We can decipher what will happen in the immediate future of the novel when Stevenson says ‘Silver…was watching his companion like a snake about to spring.’ This shows Silver is a conniving, cunning creature, which will do anything to get the treasure, even kill one of his own. As well as this, in the bible, snakes are seen as evil, such as in the Garden of Eden, and people were very religious back then. Also, we now know that Tom will be killed sooner rather than later because snakes don’t waste time, and once they have their target, they rarely fail, so this is a clever way of Robert Louis Stevenson building up to Long John Silver committing the murder.
Fear imagery can be created using powerful adjectives and can also give us a strong sense of foreboding, through colours used, and words commonly associated with fear. In ‘grey melancholy woods, and wild stone spires’, the words ‘grey’ and ‘melancholy’ are commonly associated with apprehension, and we get a view to future events because the island in the readers mind is terrifying and forbidding, and Jim has to endure this to escape capture, however, bad images are everywhere, provoking the reader to imagine terrible things happening to Jim on the isle, such as his eventual capture by the pirates, and his life threatening encounter with Israel Hands, in which, he is just successful. Through the citation ‘the outline of the Spy-glass trembled through the haze,’ we get fear from trembled, because not only is it an imposing land mass, it also is surrounded by a mist, and appears to move.
Jim knows he must pass close to this monster of a mountain if he is to succeed on his quest, and it means he has the evil, obsessed pirates on one side, and a sinister peak in front, he is certain to encounter them on his travels, and the chances are, face the consequences. ‘Then one horrid, long-drawn scream’ is an example of fear imagery because you can imagine a high pitched scream, and the reader sees him or herself in Jim’s position, alone on a desert island, and is also scared. The assonance of the ‘oo’ and ‘a’ slows down the action and gets us to feel and imagine the scream. This shows foreboding because the allies of Jims and his alliance are being whittled down, and in the future there will be only a few remaining.
The novel can also show us the imminent events through the use of assonance and consonance. Assonance (the repetition of vowels) is given in ‘should I dare to go down to the boats among those fiends, still smoking from their crime?’ The way the ‘o’ sound is repeated many times, and how the sentence flows off the tongue, gives a constant reminder throughout the sentence of the fear that Jim faces, and the decisions he is required to make. In the future, does Jim return to the pirates in hope of a return to the ship, but face Silvers wrath, or does he journey on into the centre of the island in hope of survival, and we know that in the end, the hero Jim ends up in both of these positions, but the reader does not know this and is left guessing. To demonstrate the use of assonance, the sentence ‘what if I returned to the boats and the fiends, still shadowed by their crimes’ is nowhere near as effective, and creates only a pinch of the fear found in Stevenson’s actual work. Assonance is also found in a very obvious place. The ‘o’ sound is repeated in ‘Long John,’ which is terrifying, as we know he is a main character who is also very evil, and it will be a constant reminder through the future of the novel as to his plans and his traits and the threat he poses.
Consonance (the repetition of consonants) can also be found frequently in chapters 13 and 14 and can show us foreboding. In ‘only the rustle of the redescending birds and the boom of the distant surges disturbed the languor of the afternoon,’ the repetition of ‘r’ gives the section of text a fear effect along with the good adjectives, because overall, it is speeded up, and creates more of a fast paced action. Also, the atmosphere is affected by the use of onomatopoeia in ‘rustle’ and ‘boom.’
Again, an insight is achieved as through the use of effective adjectives and consonance, we see that not all is well on Skeleton Island. Skeleton Island itself suggests fear, as skeletons are a symbol of death and forbidding, and you would be wise to stay away from them. Combining fear adjectives with consonance is also found in ‘a smell of…rotting tree trunks.’ The use of an ellipsis shows that Jim is thinking and he must recognise the smell from somewhere before. The repetition of ‘r’ along with rotting creates a sense of fear of the trees, and this is also alliteration, and Jim and the reader begin to think that the island and everything on it must be similar to the experiences here.
Through repetition, Stevenson achieves fear, and allows the reader to generate a better image in their mind, as well as emphasising his point further. ‘Of all the gloomy features of that gloomy afternoon,’ is an example of this. When the author/Jim repeats gloomy, it repeats the fact that the place is gloomy, which is an adjective commonly associated with darkness and fear, so it is stressing that everything is not going well. There is also time left in the day, and other bad things may happen, for instance, Jim running into a trap set by Long John Silver, or the good side being forced out of the stockade by the pirates, and this could just be the beginning. As well as all these things, the repetitions also create a sense of dï¿½jï¿½ vu, and that people are going round in circles and they are lost, and all for the treasure, which is the main focus of the novel.
Another literary technique that the author uses is alliteration. ‘The sun still shining mercilessly.’ This is personification, and the consecutive letter s at the start of each word, along with an adjective that is connected with fear and evil created the illustration of the sun being evil, all seeing, and it seems to have deserted the good side, and just seems to be causing more heartache, as they lose the stockade, and the pirates get on the trail of the buried treasure.
The overall theme of the chapters generates a sense of foreboding just by itself, because they are to do with pirates and a treasure hunt, and everyone knows that this kind of story is almost certain to have twists and turns later. I also think Jim how Jim goes off by himself into the forest shows he is developing from a boy into a brave young man.
Through the use of colours in his writing, Stevenson also creates both a sense of fear and foreboding. ‘Long John Silver’ is an example of this because Silver is a shade of grey, which is a colour associated with grim things and fear, and it shows foreboding because, if a person is named like this, he must be a character that is planning, or will partake in evil things at some point in the novel. The author also uses black I ‘black conscience’ to describe Lon g John, as he can kill all these people, and not have them on his mind for the rest of his life, and not feel guilty.
In conclusion, I think that the literary techniques used in chapters 13 and 14, are very effective in showing how, or giving hints as to how events may unfold in the latter stages of the novel, as they get closer to the treasure and the race hots up. As I have shown earlier I in my essay, Robert Louis Stevenson uses a great variety of different methods to get his points across, and he is very clever in using some techniques and how they foreshadow events easy to find, however, some you have to search for, and rack your brain to understand how they show foreboding, such as the use of assonance and alliteration.
Example, ‘should I dare to go down to the boats among those fiends, still smoking from their crime?’ Yes, the excellent adjectives help create fear which in turn introduces foreboding, but I had to search for it. My final verdict is that Robert Louis Stevenson is an immensely clever writer, and the way he gets the reader to think is amazing, and through close language analysis, we can see that chapters 13 and 14 are very clear in predicting character development and how events will pan out in the novel.