Final Reflective Essay The word literature has a great meaning in everyday life and comes in so many different ways. The body of written works of a language, period, or culture with the imaginative or creative writing especially of recognized artistic value (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2011) is the dictionary meaning. Lyrics, poems, short stories are all kinds of literature and many authors will write something they are passionate about or have an interest in.
Many instances there are times a writer will write about a particular subject or within a certain genre and they write in a manner that sometimes had a hidden meaning. To know the hidden meaning the author will use symbolism, and as a writer and reader it helps to understand the elements that go into writing a poem, short story, and lyric. The writer goes through a process of creating a theme which helps to set the tone and will help them to develop the plot.
Many times an author when writing a poem or lyric will not always have a character, but will have some sort of setting that resulted from the theme. All of the elements of literature need to have been put into place, and in many times the writer will also put a hidden meaning into the story, poem, or lyrics which the reader needs to read between the lines. Symbolism can be revealed in the theme, the tone or the plot of the story, poem and lyric. To find the underlying meaning or the symbolism the author is trying to portray the reader needs to be familiar with the elements of literature.
The story “Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys, the poem “The Road not Taken”, by Robert Frost, and the poem “My Papa’s Waltz”, by Theodore Roethke, follow the elements of literature, and have the symbolism that if the reader was not familiar with could miss the meaning of the story or poem. In the arts, the use of symbols to concentrate or intensify meaning, make the work more subjective than objective (The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide, 2010).
To find the underlying meaning or symbol of the story or the poem, it is beneficial for the reader to understand how the elements form the basis of the story or poem. The author starts the process of writing by creating a theme. A theme is defined as a subject or topic or of artistic representation (Merriam-Webster, 2011). In the story “Used to Live Here Once”, the author Jean Rhys created the theme by making it about a woman who returns to where she used to once live. The theme is described in the story with using words such as “remembered” and “same-road”.
Using such words helps the reader to associate with the theme and understand what the writer is trying to convey in the theme. Poems are written in the same manner that they should have a theme for the reader to understand what the writer is trying to talk about. In Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, the theme is about making choices in life and sometimes making the decision that is not usually taken. The theme is not as obvious as it was in the story of “Used to Live Here Once”.
Robert Frost uses words that help the reader to relate to the theme like: “road”, “traveler”, and “one less traveled”. These words have an underlying meaning and even though they are used to help with the theme they also hold symbolism and repent choices in life. With the words that were used in the poem, it helps the reader to relate better to the theme and knowing that a word can be a symbol and have an underlying meaning helps the reader to better understand what message the writer is trying to convey.
The theme of the poem “My Papa’s Waltz”, by Theodore Roethke, theme was based around a child being abuse and used different words that included: “hung on”, “battered”, and “scraped”, and in using these words it had a description of someone being hit and abused. The theme of a story, poem, and lyric’s helps the writer to convey the basis of the story and how they want the literature to come across to the reader. Once the basic formation is created the author can work towards creating tone, and many times as a reader we misunderstand the tone which is also the attitude.
Jean Rhys took a hidden meaning to her tone in the story, “Used to Live Here Once”, in the way she described the children and how they did not see the woman returning to the home that she once lived. The tone and attitude that the writer was trying to convey was one that was quite solemn and somewhat sad, and the tone was a bit hidden in the manner that when first reading the story the writer portrays the character and tone used seems to indicate the story is about a woman who returns home after being gone for a while, when in actuality it is about death.
With the tone and attitude being hidden in the story and poems the tone does not become easy for the reader to detect and so it is considered an ironic tone. An ironic tone depends upon a contrast between what the writer’s words seem to say and what they really mean (The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide, 2010). Jean Rhys puts a twist on the story, “Used to Live Here Once”, and in order to pick up the irony from the theme the reader will need to read the entire story.
The theme was based around a woman who had gone back to a place in once she lived, but the irony was she is actually dead and she did not realize what she was seeing and doing was not real. It came to the realization when the writer wrote: “She was standing by the river looking at the stepping stones and remembering each one. ” (Clugston, 2010). This was part of the theme, and as the writer continues on in the story it is written, “The only thing was the sky had a glassy look that she did not remember. ” (Clugston, 2010).
This helped the writer when setting the tone, and as a reader a few lines later the irony comes into play. The female character had passed and even though she has returned to where she once lived she was actually dead. This was ironic, but in literature it is classified to be situational irony which occurs when a reader or character expects one thing to happen but something else happens. As a reader we expected the character to get a response from the children when she said, “Hi”, and put her arms out to touch them, but instead they turned their heads and said, “Hasn’t it gone cold all of a sudden.
D ’you notice? ” (Clugston, 2010). Writers of poems sometimes use the same type of irony and they leave it to the reader to read between the lines. The title of the poem “My Papa’s Waltz”, has an ironic tone because it suggests that it is about the narrator’s father, and “dancing a waltz”, and just like the story is situational irony. As a reader we would expect to hear how his dad dances the waltz and not expect the story to be about the young boy being hit by his father. Picking up on some of the lines in the poem like “at every step you missed my right ear scraped a buckle” (gawow. om). In this poem the irony was with the title not reflecting a dance but a beating. This poem like the story had the same type of ironic tone, and that is not always the case, and the ironic tone being so obvious. “The Road Not Taken”, by Robert Frost, the reader needs to read between the lines to get the meaning of the poem. The first lines in the poem are written “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (bartleby. com) and at first reading it reads as though someone was walking through the woods and came to two roads but was not sure which way to go.
Reading on through the poem it written “somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” (bartleby. com). The tone was set that someone came to roads and decided to walk down the one less people took, but the irony is that is not what the meaning was to the poem. The meaning is hidden and the irony is Robert Frost was not talking about a road but paths we take in life. There are times in life we need to choose the path and sometimes that choice makes all the difference.
The writers all took to writing in a manner that had an underlying meaning in an ironic tone, and can have a lot of symbolism. A symbol is the art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations (merriam-webster. com), and writers use symbols many times in their writings. Many times they use a symbol in an unconventional or traditional way. The military uses symbols to represent each branch of the service and those are generally obvious but when a reader is reading a story, poem, or lyric it is not as obvious.
Jean Rhys’ used the words glassy to symbolism an unclear vision that her character had that symbolized what she was seeing was not actually real. The symbol’s representation helped the writer to set the theme and tone of the story. Stories often have some type of symbolism and they really help the reader to visualize what the writer is trying to convey. Just like a tone the symbol may not be so obvious but the reader will need to read between the lines. Creating a symbol in a story or poem helps the reader better understand the piece.
In the poem, “My Papa’s Waltz”, the waltz was a symbol. The waltz was not to represent the dance around the floor, but an actual fight. The lines written in the poem indicates just that when it was written, “we romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf. ” (gawow. com). Just the line alone would not tell the reader that the waltz was a symbol of abuse, but the reader will need to read between the lines, and understanding that can help the writer convey the message by using symbolism. To some people a symbol has a great meaning and can represent a divine being or spirit.
Thinking of a divine being of spirit, we tend to think of someone from beyond coming back like in “Used to Live Here One”, but in “The Road Not Taken”, the symbol is a divine spirit. The person who came to an impasse in their lives had to make a choice and an inner spirit helped them to choose the one that was best. Using symbols to represent things in someone’s life can be one that you can physically touch or can be a representation of something that cannot be touched. A writer uses many of things to symbolism something else and to realize that it helps that a reader understand how literature is formed by a writer.
The writer takes many steps in creating a story, poem, or lyric in which the reader will enjoy. The way that the writer creates and sets a theme for their writing correlates too many aspects of using the literary terms. Once the theme has been set the writer needs to convey the tone in which they want the reader to interpret their writings. Many instances a reader will need to read between the lines in order to understand what tone the writer is writing in. The theme and tone all tie into the representation of a symbol and reading between the lines can help the reader.
The writer uses symbols to symbolize something in the theme, while setting tone of story, poem, or lyrics. The writer does their best to create an enjoyable story, poem and lyric so that the reader will continue to read or share it with others. Not always does a reader need to know the literary terms but it is a good idea to know what the writer is trying to convey. references The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide. (2010). Retrieved June 2011, from Credo Reference: http://www. credoreference. com/entry/heliconhe/symbolism Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey Into Literature.
San Diego: Bridgepoint Eduation, Inc. Frost, R. (1920). bartelby. com. Retrieved June 2011, from bartelby. com Great Biiiks Online: http://www. bartleby. com/119/1. html Houghton Mifflin Company. (2011). Thefreedictionary. Retrieved June 2011, from http://www. thefreedictionary. com/literature Merriam-Webster. (2011). Merriam-Webster. com. Retrieved June 2011, from Merriam-Webster A Encyclopedia Britannica Company: http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/theme? show=0&t=1309486471 Roethke, T. (1942). Retrieved June 2011, from Poemhunter. com: http://www. gawow. com/roethke/poems/43. html
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