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General Stylistic Analysis of a Text




1. The text under analysis is an extract of imaginative prose.

2. It is a homogeneous whole:

a) the author's discourse

b) the personage's discourse

c) the personage's represented speech.

3. It is not a homogeneous whole: the author's discourse followed by ... (e.g. the personage's discourse); represented speech interspersed with ... mostly the personage's discourse with instances of ...

4. The text/the author's discourse etc. represents bookish type of speech which is marked by the use of lengthy sentences of complicated structure/super-natural vocabulary, etc.

5. The personage's discourse ... is a specimen of colloquial type of speech. It is remarkable for/characterized by the use of elliptical/one- member/short two-member sentences, contracted forms, colloquial/vulgar, etc. words.

6. The text / the represented speech is of mixed character. It represents both bookish and colloquial type of speech, such as...
7. At the level of

a) phonetic description...

b) lexicology ...

c) morphological analysis...

d) syntax...

8. Conclusion.

 

SAMPLES OF STYLISTIC ANALYSIS

Stylistic Phonetics

Thquire!... Your thirvant! Thith ith a bad pieth of bithnith, thith ith.... (Ch. Dickens)

At the level of phonetic description, of interest is substitution of consonants, which is rendered in writing by intentional violation of spelling: the graphon "th" replaces the letter "s" in the personage's discourse. This stylistic device serves for speech characterization, it shows the character's lisp.

My daddy's coming tomorrow on a nairplane." (J. D Salinger) To create an impression of the little girl's speech, the author resorts to graphical stylistic means: the graphon " on a nairplane" stands for "on an airplane" . The contracted form "daddy's" is used to show the informal character of communication (reduction of vowels is typical of colloquial speech).

"His wife," I said... W-I-F-E. Homebody. Helpmate. Didn 't he tell you? (Myrer)

Emphatic stress is rendered in writing by capitalized and hyphenated spelling of the word "wife". The stylistic device of alliteration (repetition of the initial consonant) in short one-member sentences ("Homebody. Helpmate.") strengthens the emphatic effect.

How sweet it were,...

To lend our hearts and spirits wholly

To the music of mild-minded melancholy;

To muse and brood and live again in memory. (A. Tennyson)

The repetition of the sonorant "m" at the beginning of successive words aims at imparting a melodic effect and creating connotations of solemnity.

Whenever the moon and the stars are set,

Whenever the wind is high,

AII night long in the dark and wet

A man goes riding by. (R. S. Stevenson)

In the analysed passage, stylistically of interest is a case of indirect onomatopoeia: repeated "w" is used to reproduce the sound of wind. Unlike alliteration, indirect onomatopoeia demands some mention of what makes the sound (see the word "wind").

Stylistic Morphology

 

"They're certainly going to hold on to her," Nicole assured him briskly. "She did shoot the man. " (S. Fitzgerald)

At the level of stylistic morphology, we observe transposition of the auxiliary verb "did", which is used not in its primary function but for the purpose of emphasis.

"You're the bestest good one - she said - the most bestest good one in the world" (H.E. Bates)

The emphatic effect of the above given utterance is achieved by intentional violation of English grammar rules (the rules of forming degrees of comparison). The nonce-words thus formed ("bestest", "the most bestest") create humorous connotations.

What else do I remember? Let me see.

There comes out of the cloud our house, our house - not new to me, but quite familiar, in its earliest remembrance. On the ground floor is Peggoty's kitchen,opening into the back yard.... (Ch. Dickens)

The reproduced extract is the author's narrative. Charles Dickens depicts past events as if they were in the present. This stylistic device (the use of present tense forms with reference to past actions) is called "historical present" ("praesens historicum" in Latin). It imparts vividness to narration.

"It don't take no nerve to do somepin when there ain't nothing, he voucan da..." (J. Steinbeck)

The stylistic purpose of the writer is to portray the character by showing peculiarities of his idiolect. Double negation ("don't take no nerve, etc.), misuse of person-and-number forms ("it don't"), colloquial speech form ("ain't'), and the substandard pronunciation of fhe word -'something", rendered in writing by the graphon "somepin'", - all this shows the low educational and cultural level of the speaker.

Stylistic Lexicology

"I'm terribly sorry I brought you along, Nickie ", said his father, his post-operative exhilaration gone. "It was an awful mess to put you through." (E. Hemingway).

Father's tenderness and care is stressed by the writer in the diminutive form of the boy's name. "Nickie", compared with "Nick", shows that besides the nominal meaning the derived word has aquired emotive meaning too. Also, the contracted form "I'm", substandard intensifier "terribly", and the word combination "an awful mess" participate the conveying the atmosphere of colloquial informality.

The little boy, too, we observed, had a famous appetite, and consumed schinken, and braten, and kartoffeln, and cranberry jam... with a gallantry that did honour to his nation. (W. Thackeray)

In the analysed extract, stylistically of interest is the use of barbarisms. The events take place in a small German town where a boy with a remarkable appetite is made the focus of attention. By introducing several German words into his narrative, the author gives an indirect description of the peculiarities of the German menu and the environment in general.

"Fostered she was with milk of Irish breast, Her sire an earl; her dame of princess blood." (A. S.) The solemn, high-flown connotations of the utterance are due to the use of lexical archaisms, such as "to foster" ("nourish", "bring up"), "sire" ("father"), and "dame" ("mother"). The partial inversion at the beginning of the sentence and two metonymies ("breast" and blood") add to the stylistic effect.

Then they came in. Two of them, a man with long fair moustaches and a silent dark man... Definitely, the moustache and I had nothing in common (D. Lessing)

At the level of stylistic semasiology, of interest is a case of genuine metonymy. A feature of a man which catches the eye - his moustache - stands for the man himself. The metonymy here implies that the speaker knows nothing of the man in question; obviously, it is the first time those two have met.

At the top of the steps... amber light flooded out upon the darkness (S. Fitzgerald).

The metaphors "amber" and "flooded out" are used by the author to create a colourful picture of the night and the dark hall, part of which is illuminated by a ray of light coming from the room upstairs. The metaphoric epithet "amber" substitutes the non-figurative "yellow" (similarity of colour). The figurative verb "flood out" stands for the traditional "illuminate"; this transfer is based on the funcational similarity of water flooding the earth and a ray lighting dark space.

"Never mind", said the stranger, cutting the address very short, "said enough - no more; smart chap that cabman - handled his fives well; but if I'd been your friend in the green jemmy - damn me - punch his head-, God I would -pig'd whisper - pieman too, - no gammon."

This coherent speech was interrupted by the entrance of the Rochester coachman, to announce that... (Ch. Dickens)

The word "coherent", which describes Mr. Jingle’s speech, is inconsistent with the actual utterance and therefore becomes self-contradictory. Here, irony as a trope (the use of a word in the sense opposite to its primary dictionary meaning) contributes to the general ironic colouring of the author's narration.


In the parlors he was unctuously received by the pastor and a committee of three, wearing morning clothes and a manner of Christian intellectuality. (S. Lewis)

In the passage under analysis the author brings into play effective zeugma ("wearing morning clothes and a manner of Christian intellectuality") to convey the ironic attitude of the protagonist to the situation and the members of the religious committee. The affected insincere atmosphere of the reception is further sustained by the high-flown epithet "unctuously", which adds to the stylistic effect.

"I'm eating my heart out"

"It's evidently a diet that agrees with you. You are growing fat on it." (W.S. Maugham)

The semantic and stylistic effect of pun here is due to simultaneous realization in close context of the phraseological and non-phraseological meanings of the phrase "to eat one's heart out". The first speaker uses it figuratively, while the second one intentionally interprets it as a free word combination, thus creating ironic connotations.

Stylistic Syntax

Into a singularly restricted and indifferent environment Ida Zobel was born. (Th. Dreiser)

The narration begins with partial inversion, promoting the adverbial modifier of place into the most conspicuous position, thus adding relevance and importance to the indication of the place of action.

It is not possible to describe coherently what happened next: but I, for one, am not ashamed to confess that, though the fair blue sky was above me, and the green spring woods beneath me, and the kindest friends around me, yet I became terribly frightened, more frightened that I ever wish to become again, frightened in a way I never have known either before or after. (E.M. Foster).

The syntax of this sentence paragraph shows several groups of parallel constructions, combined with epiphora ("above me", "beneath me", "around me"), polysyndeton ("and... and..."), and anaphora ("frightened... frightened..."). These stylistic devices used in convergence create a definitely perceived rhythm, which helps to render the atmosphere of overwhelming inexplicable horror dominating the passage. The stylistic effect is reinforced by the masterful use of climax creating gradual intensification of meaning:

" What - a daughter of his grow up like this! Be permitted to join in this prancing route of perdition! Never!" (Th. Dreiser)

The represented inner speech of the character culminates in a number of exclamatory one-member sentences, which emphasize the speaker's emotions. The sentences are placed in inverted commas, but we perceive that the author's presentation of the man's words does not occur simultaneously with their utterance, and the pronoun "his" used instead of "mine" indicates the fact.

Being narrow, sober, workaday Germans, they were annoyed by the groups of restless, seeking, eager and, as Zobel saw it, rather scandalous men and women who paraded the neighbourgood streets ... without a single thought apparently other than pleasure. And these young scramps and their girl-friends who sped about in automobiles. The loose indifferent parents. What was to become of such a nation? (Th. Dreiser)

The subjectivity of Zobel`s evaluation is stressed by two parentheses ("as Zobel saw it" and "apparently"). They lessen the finality and disapprobation of otherwise negative qualifications of the alien (American) world. The structurally incomplete (elliptical) sentences and the rhetorical question at the end of the passage indicate the shift of narration from the author's discourse to the personage's represented speech.





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