Literary Analysis: Prose, Drama, Poetry

Do you need help in showing how the language shapes meaning with the diction, tone, and imagery? See this link.

Sentence Starters for Literary Analysis

Characterization

  • The protagonist undergoes challenges in his character when faced with the antagonist when ____.

  • The protagonist is a multidimensional character in that he/she reveals ______ and _______ about his past.

  • The minor character is a flat character with only one or two main traits; while he doesn't experience any changes in the narrative, he serves as a foil to ______ in order to develop _____.

  • ______ is a foil to _____ in that she calls attention to the characteristics of ______'s personality and beliefs.

  • The author relies on direct characterization to establish _________ at the beginning.

  • The character's speech provides indirect characterization for the reader to infer that ______.

  • The internal thoughts of the characters allows the reader to infer that ________.

  • The character's actions reveals his beliefs and values in that _______.

  • The impact of the protagonist on other characters reveals that ______.

  • The description of the character is significant in helping the reader understand _____.

  • ________'s journey of self discovery can be seen when ______.

  • While the character comes off as flat or static, the character highlights another character's growth in that ____.

  • The author portrays the character as dynamic when he/she undergoes ____ and learns ______.

  • The character's motivation to act is based on ____ which is evident when he ______.

  • The author portrays this character as ______ in how _______.

  • The character struggled with internal turmoil when _____.

  • The character experiences the most growth when _______.

  • The author relies on minor characters to highlight the struggles of the protagonist. For example, ...

Setting

  • The setting is significant in advancing the conflicts in the plot by ______.

  • The setting is symbolic to the story in that _______.

  • The historical context is significant to the plot's conficts and themes in that _____.

  • The author develops a ________ mood in this scene in order to develop or foreshadow _______.

Structure

  • The author's non-linear plot challenges the reader to ______.

  • The use of flashbacks/foreshadowing/flashforwards serve to ___________.

  • The initial incident that propels the plot forward occurs when ________.

  • The action in this chapter leads to the climax in that ______.

  • The turning point in the novel is when the protagonist must make a decision to _________, leading to ______.

  • The shift in time in the narrative allows for _______.

  • The alternative perspectives impacts the reading of the story in that ________.

Word Choice

  • The author uses both concrete and abstract language in developing _______.

  • The overly-idealized or romanticized narration serves to _______.

  • The colloquial language of the characters portrays them as _______.

  • The blend of both connotative and denotative language in this scene serves to depict ____ as _____.

  • The language is more impressionistic than detailed in that _____.

  • The author uses exaggerated language in order to highlight ________ in the narrative.

  • The descriptive and vivid language serve to illustrate ____.

  • The understated and plain language serves to illustrate ____ and show that ____.

  • The often paradoxical language reveals that ____.

  • The language is often humorous and exaggerated in order to show ____.

Elements of Literature

  • The use of the recurring motif of _____ services to develop the idea of ______.

  • The symbol of ______ enhances the characterization and conflicts in the story by ______.

  • The satirical nature of the language provides social commentary on _______ in that _______.

  • The kinesthetic and organic imagery enhances the conflict in this scene by _____.

  • The gustatory and olfactory imagery in this chapter serves to ________.

  • The metaphor of ______ is significant in that _____.

  • The allusion to _____ highlights ______ in order to _____.

  • The allegorical nature of the characters is representative of a more universal meaning in that ___.

  • The use of personification helps develop the theme of ________.

  • The hyperbolic language is used for the effect of ______ in communicating _____.

  • The use of dramatic irony increases the tension in that ____.

  • The situational irony provides a twist for the reader in that ______.

  • The use of verbal irony provides humor in that _____.

Point of View

  • The first person narration provides a ________ perspective about the character in how he/she ______.

  • The third person limited point of view impacts the reading of the text in that ______.

  • The third person omniscient point of view effectively conveys _____ in order to ______.

  • The use of second person is used in order to _________.

  • The stream of consciousness style of narration impacts the reading of the text in that ______.

  • Having multiple narrators impacts the reader's experience in that ____.

  • The biased narrator influences the understanding of the text in that _____.

  • The unbiased narrator influences the understanding of the text in that _____.

  • The unreliable narrator influences the reader in that _________.

Tone

  • The author conveys the attitude of the character as _______ in this scene when ____.

  • The narrator's attitude becomes _______ when ____.

  • The narrator shifts the tone in this scene from ______ to ______ in order to show _____.

Theme

  • The progression of ideas in this chapter contributes the development of the theme that ________.

  • The author highlights that people often ____________ when confronted with _____________ (theme).

  • The author reveals that people might _______________ when challenged with _____________ (theme)





How do you approach analyzing prose, drama, and poetry (songs)?

PROSE, NONFICTION and FICTION NARRATIVES

Style Analysis

How were you SSWEPTT away by the author's language (Setting, Structure, Word Choice, Elements of Literature, Point of View, Tone, Theme)?

How does the author’s language shape the development of theme? The theme is a universal statement about human nature. This is like life because….

1)Setting

How does the author’s depiction of the setting influence the themes and conflicts? How is the setting significant in understanding the text?

geographical: climate, terrain

historical: politics, time period, events, wars, etc.

social: beliefs, custom, values, gender roles/expectations, class structure, etc.

atmosphere of the setting: mood developed by the author e.g. gloomy, ominous, foreboding, magical, etc.

2)Structure

How does the author’s structure help enhance the theme/argument or conflicts?

sentence structure: repetition, punctuation, rhythm, short vs. long sentences

organization of narrative: nonlinear vs. linear, chapters vs. vignettes

structural devices: recurring images or cyclical points

flashforwards, flashbacks, foreshadowing

order of details: action, gesture, dialogue, description, as well as shifts in direction, focus, time, place

selection of detail to develop the message or story: use of ethos, pathos, logos (appeals to build an argument), deductive vs. inductive reasoning, anecdotes, analogies, facts, descriptions,statistics, dialogue, etc.

3)Word Choice

How does the author’s diction or word choice contribute to the meaning?

connotative vs. denotative

concrete vs. abstract

colloquial vs. formal

impressionistic vs. detailed

realistic vs. idealized

crude vs. sophisticated

exaggerated vs understated

imaginative vs. prosaic

descriptive vs. plain, vivid vs. obscure

loaded language vs. understated language

paradoxical vs. literal

journalistic vs. narrative

humorous vs. serious

4)Elements of Literature

How do literary elements help develop or enhance meaning?

literary devices: irony (dramatic, situational, verbal)

symbolism, motifs, satire, allegory, parody

characterization: dynamic vs static, round vs flat, indirect vs. direct, internal vs. external conflicts

rhetorical questions

types of imagery: visual, gustatory, olfactory, organic, tactile, kinesthetic

figurative language: metaphor, simile, allusion, personification, hyperbole

5)Point of View

How does the author’s point of view affect the way the story or argument is told? What is gained by this perspective thematically?

different points of view: first person, third person limited vs. third person omniscient, second person

different styles of narration: stream of consciousness vs. objective, conventional dialogue, one narrator vs. multiple narrators, reliable vs. unreliable narrator, biased vs. unbiased narrator

6)Tone

How does the author convey his attitude in the work through his language? Are there significant tone shifts, and how do they contribute to the main ideas?

negative tones: melancholy, caustic, irate, satiric, critical, indignant, bitter, condescending, judgmental

positive tones: reverent, light hearted, optimistic, hopeful, loving, jovial

neutral tones:reminiscent wistful, apathetic, speculative, meditative, objective, reflective

7)Theme

Guiding Questions

  • How does the progression of ideas contribute to the development of a universal theme?

  • How does the language develop a universal insight of theme?


Theme refers to a lesson about human nature or a universal insight into the human condition

Writing a Thematic Statement

When developing a thesis statement, first determine the theme (literature). Finish this statement to develop the thematic statement: This is like life because people...

Examples

  • People find forms of expression to connect with others.

  • People will continue to fight for equality despite people’s ignorance.

  • War is brutal and callous in nature

  • Things are not always what they seem.

  • People may treat others as inferior by their appearance and speech.


Two types of themes:

Explicit: the narrator or character states the message about life

Implicit: the reader infers over time what themes are after examining the characters’ actions and conflicts..

DRAMA

Style Analysis

How were you SSWEPTT away by the author's language (Setting, Structure, Word Choice, Elements of Literature, Point of View, Tone, Theme)?

How does the author’s language shape the development of theme? The theme is a universal statement about human nature. This is like life because….

Setting

How does the author’s depiction of the setting influence the themes and conflicts? How is the setting significant in understanding the text?

geographical: climate, terrain

historical: politics, time period, events, wars, etc.

social: beliefs, custom, values, gender roles/expectations, class structure, etc.

atmosphere of the setting: mood developed by the author e.g. gloomy, ominous, foreboding, magical, etc.

2)Structure

Guiding Questions

How does the plot structure impact characterization, conflict, and themes?

How does the playwright develop momentum in developing the complication?

In the end of the tragedy, was the catharsis satisfying after the catastrophe?

What form and structure does the playwright use?

Terms

Dramatic forms (comedy, tragedy, tragicomedy, farce), stage directions, stagecraft (props, music, sound, constructing scenery, lighting, designing costumes, makeup, sound, etc.), proxemics, fourth wall , proscenium arch, apron, blocking, stichomythia, subplot, acts, scenes, dramatic force, plot structure (exposition, dramatic incitement, rising action, complication, climax, crisis, falling action, denouement, catastrophe, catharsis.

3) Word Choice

How does the author’s diction or word choice contribute to the meaning?

connotative vs. denotative

concrete vs. abstract

colloquial vs. formal

impressionistic vs. detailed

realistic vs. idealized

crude vs. sophisticated

exaggerated vs understated

imaginative vs. prosaic

descriptive vs. plain, vivid vs. obscure

loaded language vs. understated language

paradoxical vs. literal

journalistic vs. narrative

humorous vs. serious

4)Elements of Literature

How do literary elements help develop or enhance meaning?

literary devices: irony (dramatic, situational, verbal)

symbolism, motifs, satire, allegory, parody

characterization: dynamic vs static, round vs flat, indirect vs. direct, internal vs. external conflicts

rhetorical questions

types of imagery: visual, gustatory, olfactory, organic, tactile, kinesthetic

figurative language: metaphor, simile, allusion, personification, hyperbole

5) Point of View

Guiding Questions:

How do characters reveal themselves in a drama?

What elements are used in the text to develop the themes, characters, plot, and/or conflicts?

How does the text show the attitudes and emotions of the central character(s)?

Do you think the writer is particularly sympathetic towards one of the characters? What makes you think that?

narrator, minor vs major characters, asides, monologues, soliloquies, hero vs. anti-hero, hero vs. tragic hero, monologues, soliloquies, asides, pitch/inflection, split focus

6)Tone

How does the author convey his attitude in the work through his language? Are there significant tone shifts, and how do they contribute to the main ideas?

negative tones: melancholy, caustic, irate, satiric, critical, indignant, bitter, condescending, judgmental

positive tones: reverent, light hearted, optimistic, hopeful, loving, jovial

neutral tones:reminiscent wistful, apathetic, speculative, meditative, objective, reflective

7)Theme

Guiding Questions

  • How does the progression of ideas contribute to the development of a universal theme?

  • How does the language develop a universal insight of theme?


POETRY, VERSE

Style Analysis

How were you SSWEPTT away by the author's language (Setting, Structure, Word Choice, Elements of Literature, Point of View, Tone, Theme)?

How does the author’s language shape the development of theme? The theme is a universal statement about human nature. This is like life because….

1)Setting

How does the setting influence the themes? How is the setting significant to understanding the main ideas? If the setting is not concrete, how does the imagery in the poem create an overall mood or atmosphere in the poem?


geographical: climate, terrain

historical: politics, time period, events, wars, etc.

social: beliefs, custom, values, gender roles/expectations, class structure, etc.

atmosphere of the setting: mood developed by the author e.g. gloomy, ominous, foreboding, magical, etc.

2)Structure

How are the stanzas arranged? Is there a purposeful design to how the stanzas and breaks are arranged? How does the structure contribute to the meaning? structural devices: recurring images or cyclical points

stanza, rhyme, fixed rhyme,

genre (narrative, lyric, dramatic, epic), form (sonnet, limerick, etc.), repetition, anaphora, punctuation, enjambment, caesura, polysyndeton vs asyndeton

3)Word Choice

How does the author’s diction contribute to the meaning?

euphony vs. cacophony

connotative vs. denotative

concrete vs. abstract

colloquial vs. formal

impressionistic vs. detailed

realistic vs. idealized

crude vs. sophisticated

exaggerated vs understated

imaginative vs. prosaic

descriptive vs. plain, vivid vs. obscure

loaded language vs. understated language

4)Elements of Literature

How do literary elements help develop or enhance meaning? What tropes (figurative language) and sound devices are used to enhance the meaning?

types of imagery: visual, gustatory, olfactory, organic, tactile, kinesthetic

tropes: simile, metaphor, personification, allusion, hyperbole, litotes, apostrophe, symbolism, motif, synecdoche, metonymy, irony

sound devices: alliteration, onomatopoeia, consonance, assonance, cacophony, euphony

5)Persona

What do you know about the speaker of the poem? Is there a specific persona that is being presented (the way the speaker behaves, thinks, or feels)? Consider what pronouns are used.

speaker, persona, first person point of view, second person point of view, third person point of view

types of statements: declarative, imperative (commands), exclamatory, interrogative (questions)

6)Tone

How does the author convey his attitude in the work through his language? Are there significant tone shifts, and how do they contribute to the main ideas?

negative tones: melancholy, caustic, irate, satiric, critical, indignant, bitter, condescending, judgmental

positive tones: reverent, light hearted, optimistic, hopeful, loving

neutral tones:reminiscent wistful, apathetic, speculative, meditative, objective

7)Theme

Guiding Questions

  • How does the progression of ideas contribute to the development of a universal theme?

  • How does the language develop a universal insight of theme?