Analysis and Interpretation How Do They Work?
Interpretation: an explanation of the meaning of the work derived from its elements.
Where to begin… “The beginning of a novel is…a social contract negotiation, an invitation to a dance, a list of rules of the game, and a fairly complex seduction…that’s what’s going on at the beginning of the novel” (Foster 22).
Where to begin… The opening is the first lesson in how to read it.
The Beginning Conveys STYLE • Short or long sentences? • Simple or complex sentences? • Rushed or leisurely? • Many or few adjectives and adverbs? • Detailed?
The Beginning Conveys TONE Author’s Attitude toward the subject matter; how the voice sounds. Elegiac Didactic Apathetic Cynical Aloof Morose Volatile Pompous Seductive Jovial Reverent Quizzical
The Beginning Conveys TONE To misinterpret tone is to misinterpret meaning.
The Beginning Conveys MOOD Emotional situation surrounding the reader; how it feels about what is being told.
The Beginning Conveys DICTION Word Choice Friendly Challenging Common Rare Colorful Archaic Slang Jargon Colloquial Formality Dialect
The Beginning Conveys Point of View Choice of who is telling the story
The Beginning Conveys Narrative Presence How will the narrator show up? • Is the voice inside or outside the story? • Disembodied or a person? • Victim to persecutor? • Servant to master? • Observor or passionately involved? • Impersonal? • Detached or emotionally invested?
The Beginning Conveys Narrative Attitude How does the narrator feel about people and events in the story? Is the character interested, amused, superior, cool, impersonal, naïve, earnest, aloof?
The Beginning Conveys TIME FRAME When Is It All Happening? Now? Long ago? A lot of time of a little? What part of the narrator’s life (if a character)? “Once upon a time…”
The Beginning Conveys TIME MANAGEMENT PACING: How fast do we go? Is time fast or slow? Elongated by using flashbacks and digressions or is it being told in real time?
The Beginning Conveys PLACE This is more than just setting! Place is a sense of things, a mode of thought, a way of seeing.
The Beginning Conveys MOTIF Stuff that happens again and again IMAGE, ACTION, LANGUAGE PATTERN Motifs and symbols are easily confused. A symbol is an object that stands for something greater; whereas, a motif may or may not be an object but it recurs throughout the piece with the purpose of leading to the broader significance and key idea.
The Beginning Conveys THEME The Idea of the Story MAKES IT WORTHWHILE
The Beginning Conveys IRONY Verbal, Dramatic, Situational (NOT IN ALL STORIES)
The Beginning Conveys RHYTHM How diction is deployed…how it flows Blurted out or withheld? Stated directly or tangled in clauses? Calm and measured or rushed?
The Beginning Conveys EXPECTATIONS Of the Writer, Of the Reader This is where you get to say, “Do I really want to read this?”
The Beginning Conveys CHARACTER Usually the Protagonist
ANALYSISis about looking at these parts and elements in order to make an INTERPRETATION. But, look at them HOW?
(1) Read through eyes that are not your own. • Adjust your eyes and mind to transport you from contemporary reality to the author’s reality. • Look at it through the lens of the story rather than the lens of your own values and experience. • Adopt the worldview the work asks of its audienceand not our own pop culture.
(1) Read through eyes that are not your own with caution. Accepting the cultural values and ideas from a time in history for your characters does not mean you accept them. Unacceptable views such as racial hatred or destruction should be viewed through the context the author creates. Ask yourself if the text works independently of whatever bigotry lies behind it or if it is a product of bigotry. If the latter, it is not a worthy read.
(2) What ideas do the elements have in common? What is the relationship between style and theme? • Patterns and repetition? • Tone and actions? • Figurative Language?
(4) Understand that fiction captures both the individual existence and the experience of the group. Literature is written to broaden and deepen and sharpen our awareness of life.
(4) Understand that fiction captures both the individual existence and the experience of the group. Literature enables us to move beyond the text and consider its implications as humans who live in the world today.
(4) Understand that fiction captures both the individual existence and the experience of the group. Literature takes us through the imagination, deeper into the real world by helping us understand ourselves and our problems.
(4) Understand that fiction captures both the individual existence and the experience of the group. Literature has the objective of pleasure and understanding.
(4) Understand that fiction captures both the individual existence and the experience of the group. Literature helps us to understand our world, mankind, and ourselves.
(4) Understand that fiction captures both the individual existence and the experience of the group. Literature presents insights into our nature as human beings, our cultures, and our histories.
(4) Understand that fiction captures both the individual existence and the experience of the group. Literature helps us to understand what it means to be a human being in the world…to figure out our purpose.
Let’s Give It A Try Can You Interpret This?
What are the facts? Read and Re-read
Can You Interpret This Scene? What are the facts?
Interpret Tone Hmm
Interpret Tone Uh Huh
Interpret Tone Ahh
Work Cited Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. New York, Harper, 2003. Print. Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Novels Like a Professor. New York: Harper, 2008. Print.