Historical over view of prose Importance of plot and structure imagery narrative voice

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History of prose

  • 19th century- characterised by a combination of psychological complexity and social realism- explore the morality and emotional life of indivudal characters (industrial revolution and social class divisions are other issues mentioned)
  • Jane Austen- focuses on the dilemmas of upper class young women, torn between society's expectations and their own moral conscience
  • Charles Dickens- exposure of injustices and corruption of 19th century society (Dickens mentions the effects of the industrial revolution on society)
  • Thomas Hardy- show an interest in rural life and a sympathy for characters who rebel against social conventions (lives of his central characters follow a tragic pattern in their lives)
  •  20th century- heroes who are alienated and unable to connect with the world around them (incorporation of different narrative voices and mixing genres)
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Plot and setting

  • The pattern of the plot reflects the author's underlying purposes i.e. encouraging sympathy for a character from the audience
  • Structure of the novel can be influenced by its genre (multiple narrators with events described from different characters perspectives)
  • Narratives are mainly linear but can be told in flashbacks ( sequences of events in the novel illustrate important themes or convey aspects of the characters)
  • Settings and themes- settings can reflect the themes of the novel (symbolic purposes) and they can reflect aspects of the novel's characters
  • Short story genre- plot of a short story is less complex than a novel (focus on a single incident in the life of a single character) look for how the central incident is used to explore the character
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Narrative viewpoint

  • First person narration- usually the novels central character or a secondary character (enables the author to present a characters thoughts and emotions very directly)
  • The narrator is often viewing events retrospectively
  • Character of a narrator is created partly through the opinions and attitudes they express and through the language the narrator uses
  •  Multiple narrators give the reader different perspectives on the same events
  • An unreliable narrator is a way of drawing the reader into the novel and forces the audience to question the narrator's views and form our own judgements
  • Third person narration- not involved in the world of the story and refers to characters using third person pronouns such as he, she, they (narrator is usually omniscient- can be intrusive or unintrusive)
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Characters and themes

  • Appearance- physical appearance is used to express important aspects of a character Imagery and symbolism- a character can be strongly associated with particular images or symbols
  • Speech and thought- characters are also revealed through what they say and think (consider how characters say certain things) a character's use of language is significant, we gain an insight into characters minds and are told about their attitudes and feelings.
  • Action- How a character acts is important
  • All elements of a novel contribute to the development of a theme (plot, imagery,setting, characters and dialogue)
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Dialogue in prose fiction

  • Main difference between fictional dialogue and genuine spontaneous speech is that fictional dialogue is usually more orderly and more organised.
  • Functions of dialogue- reveal character or develop relationships between characters
  • Illustrate and develop a theme
  • Move the plot forward
  • Gain a specific response from the reader
  • Forms of dialogue- direct speech (the actual words spoken are quoted and accompanied by an explanatory clause) He asked how are you?
  • Indirect speech- the exact words are spoken not quoted, the narrator reports what was said (verbs change to the past tense and pronouns change to the third person) He asked her how she was
  • Free direct speech- form of direct speech accompanying explanation and comment from the narrator are omitted the words that are spoken stand alone "How are you?" "I'm fine"
  • Free indirect speech- the words spoken are not quoted and the narrator is missing: He told her he was pleased to see her. How was she?
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Effects of dialogue

  • The characters present the actual words- the characters are meant to have spoken, direct and free direct speech, can make the dialogue seem more immediate and real
  • Free direct speech, eliminates the narrator can be used to quicken the pace of the dialogue (focuses attention more closely on what is being said)
  • Direct speech and indirect speech- can be accompained by narrative comment which describes a character's tone of voice or body language
  • Indirect speech- distances the reader from the character more
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Lexis and imagery

  • Formal vocabulary can be an indication of an older text or of a serious subject matter and it can be used to reflect character (lexis can be informal)
  • Prose fiction includes passages of visual decription i.e. describing a novel's setting or a character's appearance (look for examples of metaphors, similes and personfication in prose texts)
  •  Symbol- used to represent an abstract idea or concept
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Grammar and Phonology

  • Concrete nouns- create a sense of physical reality (spoon, table, velvet eye patch, nose ring, sinus mask, green, hot, walking)
  •  Abstract nouns- are associated with the presentation of an argument, with descriptions of feelings and ideas (love, success, freedom, good, moral, democracy)
  • Dynamic verbs- evoke an impression of action, movement or excitment (play,melt, hit)
  • Passive verbs- suggest a feeling of powerlessness or helplessness
  • Sentence types reflect the tone or purpose of a text and can suggest changes in mood or atmosphere simple and compound sentences- deliberate attempt to avoid complexity word order
  • Punctuation and parallelism can affect the rhythm of sentences
  • Non standard grammar- make the characters speech seem more realistic and can create a distinctive narrative voice
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