This essay seeks to provide a critical reflection on three topics that are covered in the engaging narrative unit. With this reflection, the essay aims to facilitate the depth of information and understanding gained by the author on the chosen topics and help readers better grasp the meanings and applications of the three chosen topics in different scenarios.
Representations are a form of textual construction that refers to habitual modes of acting or thinking in the world. Even though it looks like it's talking about the real world, it's actually talking about the cultural world that people in society live in. This implies that the words, symbols, language, and pictures that are used to depict the real world are ambiguous and greatly affected by the environment in which they were developed (Moon, 1992, p.109). This makes me believe that the statement by Brian Moon holds true and that representation cannot always be assessed on the basis of accuracy and must instead be assessed on the basis of its social consequences.
It simply indicates that we may learn to effectively represent our thoughts and beliefs using language, pictures, and symbols, as well as position our viewers or listeners in a certain way that we may like. As I mentioned earlier, representations are ambiguous in nature and can be greatly affected by the environment (Moon, 1992, p.108). Hence, another significant aspect of this topic that I identified is that all representations typically carry cultural and personal meanings, having both personal and social impacts. These interpretations are sometimes the result of deliberate language or structural choices, but they can also be unconscious replications of their environment's behaviours, values, and beliefs.
To demonstrate it better, I would like to use some excerpts from the story “Dirty Dancing”. In this story, the dance instructions that the baby received from Johnny symbolize two significant values, including self-responsibility, and independence within a partnership. It shows that the story represents dance instructions with trust, faith, and courage needed to have believable characters and their stories. Similarly, Johnny and Baby’s dancing is another instance that represents way more than dancing. It represents an invisible yet real division existing between them, their class, and society.
The difference in their sub-societies and classes is represented through their dance because the wealthy guests who were from upper class societies dancing come across disjointed, silly and devoid of emotions. Whereas, the staff from lower or working class use it as a form of connection and joyous expression. Hence, these two examples from the “Dirty Dancing” story make it clear that representations are ambiguous in nature and can be greatly affected by the environment. They also carry cultural and personal meanings, having both personal as well as social impacts.
“In medias res” is a widely used Latin phrase in narrative writing which means “In the middle of something”. Thus, it is widely used to describe a story that begins with its characters in the middle of things. I have seen that traditionally most of the stories usually begin with “Ab Ovo”, meaning from the beginning, though a few stories are also written in such a way that they begin from the middle. However, for me using “In medias res” serves as a powerful tool too and it helps narrators capture the attention and interest of their audiences and bring them to the front into the central fray (Rimmon-Kenan, 1983, pp. 44-58).
Now, to the application part, using “In medias res” in stories entirely depends on our choice of how we want our stories to begin, as well as plots demanding the application of media res, such as writing a mystery story. In such cases, I believe that “In medias res” can be used to begin the narrative by simply plunging into some crucial situation, such as talking about past events related to a chain of events. Here are some instances of how we can recognise a narration that begins in the middle of the action:
To convey the meaning easily, I would like to use the famous novel “Twilight” as an example to discuss the practical application of “In medias res." The prologue of this classic story, which we all must have seen, depicts a young woman named Bella being pursued by someone/something. Although it is evident that she was in grave danger, people do not learn who was pursuing her or if she was going to survive the hunt until the climax of this story.
For me, direct characterisation is more like a literary device that uses little or even no ambiguity to inform the readers about any character. Consequently, what I believe is the main idea behind this characterisation is that, in contrast to more delicate descriptions that allow certain elements to enter the reader's imagination, the author is conveying a firm truth about a character. Direct characterisation, also called as "Explicit Characterisation," is thereby used to inform readers about specific details linked with character's appearance, motive, job, passions, and/or past without allowing the reader to develop their own perception or judgments about the character and aids readers in visualising a realistic persona in their heads (Lacey, 2000, p. 49). This is specially crucial for character development and demonstrate how the character evolves throughout the story. In this way, direct characterization serves as a powerful tool for narrators and assists them in enhancing the story and its quality.
Indirect characterisation is the second type of characterization that does not directly explain the character to its readers. Rather, as far as I observed while studying this topic, it uses various forms of actions, dialogues or monologues to inform readers about the character discussed in their narrations (Atwood, 2014, p. 7). By assuming a hypothetical situation involving a person not liking children, I am presenting a few examples that would outline the key differences that exist between these two types of characterizations:
Direct characterisation: The old man never liked children, not even his own.
Indirect characterisation: The old man Peter stiffened the very moment as the children arrived and erupted suddenly stating get out from here, I’m sick of you all, in the context of reader engagement.
Hence, as demonstrated earlier, the indirect characterization of the previous statement can be done as: “The old man, Peter, stiffened at the very moment as the children arrived and erupted suddenly, stating, "Get out of here, I’m sick of you all." Therefore, in the context of the reader’s engagement, my opinion from this reading is that using indirect characterization may also be used as a better choice for connecting with the reader.
Atwood, M. (2014). “Lusus naturae,” The Australian, 30 August. [Online] Available at: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/lusus-naturae-a-short-story-by-margaret- atwood/news-story/98d64e54ad8e8a960e0eed64d8e969f4
Lacey, N. (2000). Narrative and Genre: Key Concepts in Media Studies. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 46–58. [Online] Available at: https://archive.org/details/narrativegenreke0000lac
Moon, B. (1992). Literary Terms: A Practical Glossary. Scarborough, WA: Chalkface Press, 77–79; 107–12. [Online] Available at: http://www.brianmoon.com.au/docs/ltsample1.pdf
Rimmon-Kenan, S. (1983). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London and New York: Methuen, 43–58. DOI: 10.2307/1772268
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