What images does the author use? What does he/she focus on in a sensory (sight, touch, taste, smell, etc.) way? What types of figurative language does the author use? The kinds of images the author puts in or leaves out reflect his/her style. Are they vibrant? Prominent? Plain? NOTE: Images differ from detail in the degree to which they appeal to the senses.
Details - facts that are included or those that are omitted
What details are does the author choose to include? What do they imply? What does the author choose to exclude? What are the connotations of their choice of details? PLEASE NOTE: Details are facts. They differ from images in that they don't have a strong sensory appeal.
Language - the overall use of language, such as formal, clinical, jargon
What is the overall impression of the language the author uses? Does it reflect education? A particular profession? Intelligence? Is it plain? Ornate? Simple? Clear? Figurative? Poetic? Make sure you don't skip this step.
Syntax (Sentence Structure) - how structure affects the reader's attitude
What are the sentences like? Are they simple with one or two clauses? Do they have multiple phrases? Are they choppy? Flowing? What emotional impression do they leave? If we are talking about poetry, what is the meter? Is there a rhyme scheme?
Old: mature, experienced, antique, relic, senior, ancient
Fat: obese, plump, corpulent, portly, porky, burly, husky, full-figured
-Words can be monosyllabic (one syllable in length) or polysyllabic (more than one syllable in length). The higher the ratio of polysyllabic words, the more difficult the content.
-Words can be colloquial (slang), informal (conversational), formal (literary) or old-fashioned.
-Words can be denotative (containing an exact meaning, e.g., dress) or connotative (containing suggested meaning, e.g., gown)
-Words can be concrete (specific) or abstract (general or conceptual).
The use of vivid descriptions or figures of speech that appeal to sensory experiences helps to create the author's tone.
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun. (restrained)
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king. (somber, candid)
He clasps the crag with crooked hands. (dramatic)
Love sets you going like a fat gold watch. (fanciful)
Smiling, the boy fell dead. (shocking)
-FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE (examples) Metaphors- comparison of two unlike things Why?
Similes- comparison of two unlike things using “like” or “as”
Extended Metaphors- metaphors that continue past one line
Symbol- an object, person, etc that represents something beyond itself
Imagery- words that refer to the five senses (smell, taste, see, hear, touch)
Personification- giving inanimate objects or ideas human qualities
Allegory- a story or vignette that, like a metaphor, has both a literal and figurative meaning.
Oxymoron- a phrase that seems self-contradictory “an eloquent silence, jumbo shrimp”
Like word choice, the language of a passage has control over tone. Consider language to be the entire body of words used in a text, not simply isolated bits of diction. For example, an invitation to a wedding might use formal language, while a biology text would use scientific and clinical language.
• When I told Dad that I had goofed the exam, he blew his top. (slang)
• I had him on the ropes in the fourth and if one of my short rights had connected, he'd have gone down for the count. (jargon)
• A close examination and correlation of the most reliable current economic indexes justifies the conclusion that the next year will witness a continuation of the present, upward market trend. (pompous, pedantic)
Rhetorical Devices -- The use of language that creates a literary effect – enhance and support Rhetorical Question food for thought; create satire/sarcasm; pose dilemma
Euphemism substituting a milder or less offensive sounding word(s)
Aphorism universal commends, sayings, proverbs – convey major point
Repetition also called refrain; repeated word, sentence or phrase
Restatement main point said in another way
Irony Either verbal or situational – good for revealing attitude
Allusion refers to something universally known
Paradox a statement that can be true and false at the same time
SYNTAX (SENTENCE STRUCTURE):
Does the sentence length fit the subject matter?
Why is the sentence length effective?
What variety of sentence lengths are present?
Sentence beginnings – Variety or Pattern?
Arrangement of ideas in sentences
ASIMPLE SENTENCE contains one independent clause: ex: “The singer bowed to her adoring audience.”
A COMPOUND SENTENCE contains two independent clauses and is joined by a coordinating conjunction or by a semicolon: e.g. “The singer bowed to the audience, but she sang no encores.”
A COMPLEX SENTENCE contains an independent clause and one or more subordinate (dependent) clauses: e.g. “Because the singer was tired, she went straight to bed after the concert.”
A COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCE contains two or more independent clauses and one or more subordinate (dependent) clauses: e.g. “The singer bowed while the audience applauded, but she sang no encores.”
A LOOSE SENTENCE makes complete sense if brought to a close before the actual ending: e.g. “We reached Edmonton that morning after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences, tired but exhilarated, full of stories to tell our friends and neighbors.” The sentence could end before the modifying phrases without losing its coherence.
A PERIODIC SENTENCE makes sense fully only when the end of the sentence is reached. The modifying phrases come first. “That morning, after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences, we reached Edmonton.”
BALANCED SENTENCE: the phrases or clauses balance each other by virtue of their likeness of structure, meaning, or length: e.g., “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters”
PARALLEL STURCTURE (parallelism): refers to a grammatical or structural similarity between sentences or parts of a sentence. It involves an arrangement of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs so that elements of equal importance are equally developed and similarly phrased. “He loved swimming, running, and playing tennis.”
NATURAL ORDER OF A SENTENCE: involves constructing a sentence so the subject comes before the predicate. “Oranges grow in California”
INVERTED ORDER OF A SENTENCE: involves constructing a sentence so the subject comes before the predicate. “In California grow the oranges” This is a device in which typical sentence patterns are reversed to create an emphatic or rhythmic effect.
JUXTAPOSITION (THINK OF CONTRAST): a poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated or contrasting ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another, often creating an effect of surprise or wit. “The dark, dingy, repulsive killer skipped through the bright, colorful tulips.”
REPITITION: is a device in which words, sounds, and ideas are used more than once to enhance rhythm and create emphasis. “…government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”
RHETORICAL QUESTION: a question that requires no answer. It is used to draw attention to the point and is generally stronger than a direct statement: “If Mr. Ferchoff is always fair, as you have said, why did he refuse to listen to Mrs. Baldwin’s arguments?”
RHETORICAL FRAGMENT: a sentence fragment used deliberately for a persuasive purpose or to create a desired effect: “Something to consider.”
How a sentence is constructed affects what the audience takes from the piece.
Parallel syntax (similarly styled phrases and sentences) can create interconnected emotions, feelings and ideas.
Short sentences are punchy, intense, and can create emphasis. Long sentences can be distancing, reflective and more abstract.
Good authors are rarely monotone. A speaker's attitude can shift on a topic, or an author might have one attitude toward the audience and another toward the subject. The following are some clues to watch for shifts in tone:
• key words (but, yet, nevertheless, however, although)
• punctuation (dashes, periods, colons)
• paragraph divisions
• changes in sentence length
• sharp contrasts in diction
TONE: Tone is defined as the writer's or speaker's attitude toward the subject and the audience. Understanding tone in prose and poetry can be challenging because the reader doesn't have voice inflection to obscure or to carry meaning. Thus, an appreciation of word choice, details, imagery, and language all contribute to the understanding of tone. To misinterpret tone is to misinterpret meaning. Here is a short list of words to describe tone.
SOAPSTone--Critical Analysis of the Rhetorical Situation
S: What is the SUBJECT? The general topic, content, and ideas contained in the text. That is, what is this piece about? You should be able to state the subject in a few words or a short phrase. For example, is this piece about the sadness of aging, the glories of nature, or the need for abolition? Aging, nature and abolition are not subjects, but topics. There is a distinction.
O: What is the OCCASION? The time and place of the piece; the current situation which gave rise to the writing or speech. It is particularly important that you understand the context that encouraged the writing or speaking to happen. This includes historical information. An occasion may be impromptu, or a writer or speaker may be commissioned to deliver a piece for a particular occasion. For example, a writer may pen an editorial prior to congress taking an important vote, Dr. King wrote a speech particularly for the March on Washington, and Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible during the time of the HUAC hearings and the blacklist.
A: Who is the AUDIENCE? The group of readers to whom this piece is directed. The audience may be one person, a small group, or a large group. People tend to write or speak for a particular audience, not for just anyone. What qualities do the audience members have in common? Are they of a particular age, class, occupation or ethnicity? Do they share certain beliefs or values?
P: What is the PURPOSE? The reason behind the text. What does the speaker, writer, or filmmaker want the audience to do, feel, say or choose? In literature, we call this the theme of the piece.
S: What is the author’s STYLE? (Strategic and unique use of language)
The individuality of the author. Given the choice of many different options in regards to diction, syntax, figurative language (i.e. allusions), rhetorical strategies etc., which does the author choose to use and what effect does the author’s selections have on the piece.
S: Who is the SPEAKER? The voice that tells the story. In nonfiction, what do we know about the writer’s life and views that shape this text? In fiction or poetry, one may often mistakenly believe that the author and narrator of a piece are the same. Sometimes people fail to realize that the author may choose to tell the story from any number of different points of view. We may think that what the speaker believes is what the author believes. This misconception creates problems for some students as they try to unravel meaning. What can you tell about the speaker (not the author) from the text?
T: What is the TONE? Attitude towards a subject conveyed by the speaker. What choice of words and use of rhetorical devices let you know the speaker’s tone? Is the tone light-hearted or deadly serious? Mischievous or ironic? The tone informs us as to the speaker’s true point of view.