1. I would like to begin this paper with “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. First, I would like to speak about the theme of the story for it is rather important. The theme of the story is that things that we want in our life might come too late, so live life for yourself to the fullest while you can do it until it is too late. As for the plot of the story, it is quite dry, strict and clear and should be analyse together with the style of a story. Kate Chopin employs the tool of irony in “The Story of an Hour” to carefully convey the problem inherent in women’s unequal role in marital relationships. She develops a careful plot in order to demonstrate this idea. Louise Mallard’s death, foreshadowed in the initial line “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with heart trouble” takes on quite a different meaning when the plot twists and the context of her sudden death is presented unexpectedly, not upon her shock at her husband’s death, but instead in her inability to endure the fact that he lives.
While Chopin’s employment of irony presents a socially unaccepted concept in a more acceptable format. One way or another, it is the author’s use of perspective that increases the impact of her message.
Some of the major literary elements employed within the story are imagery, similes, metaphors and irony. These literary terms enhance the meaning because they allow reader to feel the emotion of the character, and the irony at the same time enhances the bitter sweetness of the ending. Using imagery and symbols, the author can help the reader see and feel the environment the character is in. This helps the reader understand the poem on a next, much higher level. “She carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory”.
Narrative point of view to my mind is repression and a chance of freedom. Mrs. Millard is the main character that had a heart disease. She was treated as if not a human being but a lower life form. This is why having heard the news of her husband’s death she had a new sense of life and life was no longer a mystery to her. A new feeling came upon her and she knew she would be changed forever. This was not a sad thought but a life of freedom for Mrs. Millard. Freedom she would live in for herself and not by any one else’s directions.
Another story that is supposed to be reviewed within this paper is “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway. Plot. This is a story about lonely old men who have no warm and welcoming place to be in when darkness falls. The cities and villages must be full of such men, who drink in search of the sleep that will not come, and crowd into dirty bodegas as a way to deny the quiet desperation that can lead them to an even more abrupt self-destruction. It is the story within a story underscoring the ubiquity and harmony of the tales of lonely old men.
Narrative’s point of view. What is so special about this short story is the way Hemingway manages to call to mind the universal and timeless dichotomy between the young waiter, who, with his whole life ahead of him, is “all confidence” and the elderly patron of the cafe who realizes there is factually nothing to live for. As for the characters, the central character here is the older waiter, who, unlike the young one, realizes that the world is “nothing and more nothing”, but who nonetheless has the courage to keep on living. The prevailing theme of the story is man’s search for light and refuge when life begins to lose its meaning and purpose. This happens when man starts to live for nothing and must find something to distract himself from the horrible truth of his loneliness and hopelessness. Within this story, the two old men choose the clear and well-lighted café as their shelter. However, it was just an artificial light, it is the only way to step out of their darkness and find companion and hope in “the well-lighted place”.
As for the setting of the story, we may say that Hemingway sorts through his tales with a razor blade: each sentence is cut into the story with its own purpose. Perhaps the most striking element of Hemingway’s work is his sentence structure. However, other notable qualities abound concerning his methods of telling a story. In Hemingway’s story, each sentence takes on a very sharp meaning. The simple sentence structure belies a rich world of description. Thus, having analyzed the structural qualities of the story we may understand Hemingway’s style as well that is not very wordy but with an abundant meaning. In other words, each word is performing an assigned function in the narrative.
At the same time, Hemingway’s story lacks imagery and symbols. Within this story, the symbol for us is “clean and wee-lighted place” to escape to from the loneliness of the age and desperateness.
3. The poems I am going to analyze are “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost, “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop and “Names of Horses” by Donald Hall.
“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost. The basic context of this poem concerns the construction of a stonewall between two neighbours and their individual houses. But with closer examination into the meaning behind “Mending Wall,” several scenarios can be found which are centred around “a special model regarding the boundaries between reality and the subjective viewpoint” which may be a sign of the poet’s personal history, due to his love of nature and his desire to share his inner poetical beauty with the world. Thus, it is the peculiarity of the poem’s structure.
The speaker in the poem is the author himself and as for situation of the poem, it is important to say that not the situation but events and actions of the poem are noteworthy. Robert Frost’s poem “The Mending Wall” may not seem to be a poem with a lot of meaning. But if readers take pain to listen to what the author has to say they will discover that he is talking about the basic relationships between people. The author is focusing on an inanimate object that separated two individuals even though it is nothing more than a little stonewall in the middle of a field. This stonewall is main character in the poem and symbolizes those obstacles people are reluctant to overcome in communicating with each other, in their day-to-day life. The two neighbours in “Mending Wall” seem to be concerned with nothing more than territory, but in reality the argument is much more philosophical in nature. The wall serves as a boundary between opposing outlooks on life, such as clashes based on conservatism vs. liberalism, urbanism vs. agrarianism and religious canon set against secular humanism. Thus, we see how serious and meaningful the symbols of the poem are.
The author very skilfully utilizes words making his language ambiguous. But looking behind his symbols reader may perceive the main meaning. Using such language Robert Frost shows how impersonal the wall is. There is emotion directed toward it as we see in first line of the poem “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”. Within the text of “Mending Wall,” there are several references to the cycle of the seasons as symbols of change and repetition, such as “spring mending-time”.
The theme of the poem is that the author is trying to get past the barriers that people erect between themselves and the rest of the world in the above section.
Out of all the poems written by Frost, “Mending Wall” best illustrates his poetic manner and his intentions as a storyteller. “Mending Wall,” among other poems, appears to be built around the tone of mischief that creates an oral barrier between the neighbours. Yet the weaker neighbours defensively counter this mischief, for “he reaches into the past for support and comes up with his father’s proverb-“Good fences make good neighbours”. The whole tone of this poem suggests that the author believes and hopes that people should have more interactions with one another and not hide behind thing. If we all stopped hiding behind these wall that we create we would have more time to devote to better pursuits.
Another poem “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop offers a place to begin to outline the problems of integrating unfamiliar or unavailable social and cultural environment. A fussy feminine voice plots the scene. She paints the different language levels of poetry with the skill of a true artist. She seems to have an eye for detail as she contrasts the dark and dim reference of a filling station to a homier, pleasant atmosphere. Bishop appropriately arranges her words and expressions through the language devices of voice and metaphor. There is a constant ironic tension between what the reader thinks will happen and what is delivered by the tone and by the evolving plot of the story.
The opening seems to be offering a straightforward description of the filling station: “Oh, but it is dirty this little filling station, oil-soaked, oil-permeated to a disturbing, over-all black translucency”. The whole poem is built on the imagery and symbols that we may see from the first lines. The central theme of the poem is that the invisible mother is a kind of poet, who makes a shabby beauty in and from filth.
There is peculiarity in the poem’s structure, for Bishop rhyming the line finds her own model of sounds in the poem. Her attention to the sense of sound throughout the poem aids with the metaphoric meaning of the poem as a whole.
As for the characters we may say that it is impossible to cut out particular personages, they all are those symbols the author employs to make the poem brighter. Bishop is perhaps trying to suggest that although each of us live perhaps always or at times, in disarray and chaos of life there can be that small part in us that still searches for hope and snug life. We each need a “secure” filling station. And although critical onlookers, or as Bishop writes the “high-strung automobiles”, may only want to see the dirtiness of an individual character, a family or situation, they need to realize that if they look deep enough, light will shine through. “Somebody loves us all” if we are only to give the thought and time. In conclusion, it can be clearly seen that Elizabeth Bishop in the poem Filling Station has magnificently played with different levels of language like voice and metaphor. The readers become involved in questioning their own filling station and the care they give toward it. Is he or she the station, one who drives by the station or one who gives to the station?
“Names of Horses” by Donald Hall. In this poem, Hall revisits his past and pays tribute to the horses that worked at his grandparents’ farm in New Hampshire. The peculiarity of the poem is that the author represents real facts from his biography without changing the facts from real life to fit their creative purposes, Hall is faithful to his memories. Thus the poem has a highly autobiographical dimension. Contrasting this work with the previous ones, we see that “Names of Horses” lacks abundant imagery. For example, the first half of the poem reads like a list, a summary of the life of a work horse. Part story, part meditation on memory and time, in “Names of Horses” the life of a typical horse becomes Hall’s means of expressing his complex vision of mortality and the inherent worth of these unsung creatures.
The theme of the poem is Mortality. “Names of Horses” has been called an animal elegy. The elegy usually centres upon the death of a person. Yet, Hall’s poem participates in the established tradition of this poetic mode, in praising the lives of the dead horses. The pasture where the generations of animals are buried becomes a sort of potter’s field. Hall’s poem attempts to rescue from the past the names that would otherwise be forgotten. In writing this poem, Hall honours the dead, recognizing their accomplishments and contributions. The fact that the poem is addressing horses instead of a departed beloved or famous citizen makes the work all the more original and compelling.
The language of the poem is very clear and comprehensible even for an unprepared reader. He simply tells us about what we do during life, both animals and humans. When we can no longer work, we lose much of our usefulness, our reason for being in the world.
As for the style, we see that “Names of Horses” is marked by simple, declarative diction. The poem is almost a plain, matter-of-fact narration that fits the subject matter. Hall just presents the facts of the case, reserving any sort of moral judgment. While there is often a celebratory note to the tone in Hall’s praising the horses’ feats and endurance, there is no disapproval of the horses’ treatment or how their lives are viewed as disposable. That judgment is reserved for the reader.
Structure. The unusually long lines form a particularly remarkable feature of the poem. Some lines are too long to fit the width of a standard page. Each line is intended to be read continuously.
3. Major themes of Antigone. Pride and its effects are a central part of Antigone. It is a trait despised by the gods, who bring suffering to the proud. Pride is part of what makes Antigone heroic. Pride is a complex and multifaceted concept in Greek tragedy. Another theme includes three conflicts: Individual versus State, Conscience versus Law, Moral or Divine Law versus Human Law. The conflict between the individual and the power of the state was as pressing for Greek audiences as it is to modern one.
Antigone’s gender has profound affects on the meaning of her actions. That is why we pay attention to the position of women. The freedom of Greek women was exceedingly limited, the rules and strictures placed on them were great even for the ancient world. Antigone’s rebellion is especially threatening because it upsets gender roles and hierarchy. By refusing to be passive, she overturns the fundamental rules of her culture.
As we have already said, Antigone has several themes and circumstantial settings that can be indirectly referred or related to in modern society. Sophocles uses various and strategically placed characters to present his play as well as his themes.
It is obvious that suspense is present throughout the entire play. The outcome of this play could have gone either way, negative or positive. The suspense also is aided by the absence of an expository prologue”. This is a characteristic of any Sophocles’ play. Although this is a tragic play all to its true meaning, there are parts of humour. Some humorous scenes are those of the guards. The climax of the play seems to be the revelation of the betrothal of Antigone to Haemon.
Characters. Overall, it can be said that Sophocles primarily uses the various characteristics presented by Antigone, Ismene and Eurydice to develop his play. Although these characters are of the same gender, their characteristics differ greatly and this lies in with the underlying themes of the play.
Two of the main characters, Antigone and Haemon, are never together in any scene that is somehow a specific device of the author. Antigone is said to have not been a guilty party. She was only guilt of having a stubborn determination but this is the whole cause of the play. Creon believed that by her praising her deep her deed it only proves her guilt. After Antigone completes her deed, her attitude changes. In the final speech made by Antigone in the last scene, she mentions that she would never had done this for her husband or child, this has bewildered a lot. This is said to be a psychological and emotional response. Creon should not be considered the antagonist in this play. His case comes with good reason. He believes that Polyneices should be treated as one who has desecrated the temple of the gods was only made due to his loyalty. Creon is similar to Antigone in that they both are strong-minded. Some even believe that Creon, and not Antigone, is the main character of the play.
Hamlet. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is often called an “Elizabethan revenge play”, the theme of revenge against an evil prevail within the plot. Hamlet certainly is a play with complex themes and issues. As we read through the rich script we discover many dilemmas and issues that have great bearing on the direction of the play, and the consequences of the character’s actions. One such character is, of course, Hamlet. It is around this man that the play revolves, and his thoughts and actions are closely followed and developed as the play advances. Therefore, other characters are secondary and are to be analysed in connection with Hamlet. It has been said that the central dilemma of the play is that Hamlet’s mind is in paralysis, meaning simply that he is incapable of action, his mind incapable of derivative thought. All the other themes contribute to the task of making Hamlet appear paralysed in thought and action. However, what does appear to be the central theme in Hamlet is the revenge tragedy dilemma.
This play is unusual in structure, for the play’s format does not conform to traditional concepts of the three unities. Shakespeare does not conform to unity of time, place, or action. Hamlet contains a “play within a play,” sub-plots, and its action is not set in one day, but several.
Hamlet is not like the other tragic heroes of that period. He stands apart from other Shakespeare’s heroes because of his innocence. The tragic flaw has been a part of the formula for the tragedy hero since the Golden age of Greece. Hamlet’s tragic flaw was his delayed recognition that revenge for the sake of revenge is evil.
Other themes in the play include decay and corruption, relationships between father and son, relationships between mother and son, friendship, romantic relationships.
4. Speaking about critical theories, I would like to start with historical critical theory. Historical Criticism implies that to understand a literary text, we need to understand the author’s biography and social background, ideas circulating at the time, and the cultural milieu. Historical critical theory means to find meaning in a text by taking into consideration the work within the framework of the existing ideas and assumptions of its historical era. Critics using historical critical theory concern themselves also with the political function of literature and with the concept of power. These critics focus on revealing historically specific model of truth that is reflected in a given work. In other words, history here is not a dry chronicle of facts and events, but rather a composite description of human reality and evolution of defined notions. Literary works may or may not tell us about various based on fact aspects of the world from which they come into view, but they will tell us about customary ways of thinking at the time: prejudices, taboos, ideas of social organization, etc. Consequently, this theory is claimed to one of the most productive ones, for it is concerned with ideological products or cultural constructs that are formations of any era that at the same time facilitate our understanding of literary piece.
The second critical theory that deserves some attention has much in common with the previous one and is biographical critical theory. As well as we should perceive existing ideas and cultural situation of particular period, we should consider the author’s biography and social background. It is of the utmost importance to understand what the driving factor was that made the author write the work. What were the feelings and what was the course of these feelings. Literary work is not a blank text, it has individuality as well as the author has. Thus, knowing main factors from the author’s life, his surroundings and culture he lived in will help us in analyzing and understanding the meaning of what the author wanted to communicate to us.
5. Two more critical theories that will be reviewed within this paper are Reader-Response Criticism and deconstructive critical theory. To my mind, these theories are much weaker than the previous ones but also should be paid attention to. According to deconstructive critical theory, the critic does not undermine the text the text already dismantles itself. Its rhetoric subverts or undermines its supposed meaning. Deconstructive critics view the texts not as an accomplished unit but split it to pieces and point out incompatibilities, rhetorical grain-against-grain contradictions or any vague and possibly ambiguous moments within texts. There are many difficulties with this theory for dividing the text we may lost the main meaning the author wanted to communicate.
Another critical theory is Reader-Response Criticism. This school of criticism emerged in the 1970s and focused on finding meaning in the act of reading itself and examining the ways individual readers or communities of readers understand texts. One positive moment with this theory is that it raises theoretical questions regarding how the reader joins with the author and how he gets the main meaning. These critics determine what kind of reader or what community of readers the work is appropriate to. They also may examine the significance of the series of interpretations the reader undergoes in the reading process. Reader-response critics focus on what texts do in the minds of the readers. This critical theory also has weak points for basing on reader’s reaction is a subjective and prejudiced.