The Commentary: Elements of Style A useful site to revise meanings of these terms: courses.nus.edu.sg/course/ellibst/lsl01-tm.html Q: What might be in a piece of drama or a short story? A: We expect to find: Setting Characterisation Action/plot/events Style (stylistic features and narrative and dramatic techniques) Issues/themes/ideas The way each writer uses language is called a writer’s style. In a commentary, you are asked to analyse a writer’s style to show how he/she presents his/her subject. You must become a reader who is aware of all of these elements of style and who can recognise them working together to create literature. Remember, for every feature you identify, you must also be able to comment upon its effect. Elements of style found in prose Narrative perspective: who is telling the story? First-person narrator Second-person narrative voice Third person “omniscient’ narrator Paragraph division: how long and how many? Short paragraphs Long paragraphs When and why do they change? Sentence length and structure: how long and complex are the sentences? Sentence fragments (beginning with a conjunction or preposition) Short sentences Long sentences Simple sentences Complex sentences: many clauses When and why does sentence/length change? Punctuation: how often and what type? Its effect upon the pace and emphasis of the writing? Commas Semi-colons and colons Dashes Full-stops Question marks Exclamation marks When does it change, and why? Diction: word choice 1) Generally, is the diction: Formal or colloquial? Elevated and poetic (fancy) or straightforward? Technical (jargon: words developed for use within a particular group and hard for outsiders to understand, eg scientific jargon)? Slang (very informal words and meanings for vivid and unconventional use)? 2) Parts of speech: Nouns: concrete and abstract objects in the piece of writing; Verbs: significant actions taking place in the piece; Adjectives and adverbs: especially of colour and number. 3) Words with particular resonance, associations or connotations: Denotation: the dictionary definition of a word; Connotation: the suggested or associated meaning of a word beyond the word’s literal significance. 4) Groups or patterns of particular types of words. Mood: the overall feeling generated by a work of art. Tone: The speaker’s attitude to his/her subject, determined by a combination of language, content and context. Imagery: use of words and phrases to create pictures in the reader’s mind. Sensory imagery: the use of words and phrases which appeal to the reader’s senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing Imagery is created by figurative devices, also known as figures of speech. [A figure of speech is a word or phrase used for vivid effect rather than literally. “Figurative” means metaphorical; not literal] Figures of speech used to create visual imagery: Simile: a comparison comparing one thing to another using “like” or “as” Metaphor: a comparison in which one thing is said to be another thing, using “is”. Personification: a type of metaphor by which inanimate objects are given animate qualities. Figures of speech used to create aural imagery: Onomatopoeia: a word or phrase imitating the sounds of a thing or action Alliteration: repetition of consonant sounds at the beginnings of words Assonance: repetition of vowel sounds within words Consonance: repetition of consonant sounds within words Sibilance: repetition of “s” sounds Other figurative devices: Oxymoron: a figure of speech in which two contradictory ideas are combined (eg “brawling love… loving hate”; “Fair devil”. Hyperbole: exaggeration for effect (eg “my feet are killing me”) Allusion: an indirect reference to an event, person, place or thing. Pun: a humorous play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word, or the similar sense or sound of different words. Paradox: a statement which seems contradictory or absurd, but which is true. Antithesis: the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas to give a feeling of balance (eg “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”.) Dominant imagery: patterns or types of imagery which run throughout the passage. Other literary devices: Symbolism: using one thing to represent another. Contrast: The use of opposing elements in proximity to produce an intensified effect. Juxtaposition: the act of placing things side by side Conflict Irony: 1) The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. 2) An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning. 3) A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. 4) Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: "the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated". Repetition Listing Direct speech Indirect speech Interior monologue: a passage of writing presenting a character's inner thoughts and emotions in a direct, sometimes disjointed or fragmentary manner Stream of consciousness Flashback The Commentary: A Response Scaffold Introductory paragraph: Using SCASI present a short overview of the subject of the passage, giving its: context; purpose and effect in terms of SCASI; significance to the whole in terms of SCASI. Body paragraphs: Step 1: Divide passage into manageable ‘chunks”, either by paragraphs or punctuation; different stages in a process of thought or argument; subject-matter speaker. Step 2: Move through the passage, chunk by chunk. Give each manageable chunk its own paragraph. Within each paragraph, TS: Stating what the main purpose and content of the chunk is (SCASI) SD: Identifying stylistic features and commenting upon how their their effects achieve the writer’s purpose by: a) Point: statement of a feature. b) Illustration: quote stylistic feature/language technique c) Explanation: analyse the particular stylistic feature/language technique effect to show how it contributes to SCASI CS: Re-stating the purpose and effect of the “chunk” you have analysed. Concluding paragraph: Reiterate main purpose and effect of the whole passage. Try to provide a richer appreciation than the one briefly offered in your introductory paragraph: focus on the issues and dominant imagery of the passage and the significance and effects of these.