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An Analysis Of Literary Techniques Used In A White Heron

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In this excerpt, from A White Heron, by Sarah Orne Jewett, a number of literary techniques were used. All of them contributing to the excerpt’s excellent flow. This essay will focus on three literary techniques Jewett used “” imagery, tone, and symbolism.

Imagery is an important literary device which, when used well, can enable an author to convey powerful and persuasive themes. Imagery can also be used to convey the mood of a book in ways that straightforward, factual descriptions never could. Jewett’s use of imagery is incredibly effective. She uses imagery to convey Sylvia’s surroundings and emotions to the reader. The following passage is a good example of how Jewett uses imagery: “Sylvia’s face was like a pale star, if one had seen it from the ground, when the last thorny bough was past, and she stood trembling and tired…(Line 55-57).” These lengthy and intricate sentences are filled with detail. This allows the reader to create a very detailed image in his/her mind of what is occurring in the excerpt. Nevertheless, Jewett still uses many short telegraphic sentences to focus the reader’s attention to what is happening at that moment. In Line 10 and Line 27 Jewett writes, “Sylvia knew it well,” and “Sylvia felt her way easily.” Both of these sentences are very “to the point” telegraphic sentences. Even though they are telegraphic it does not detract from their importance “” it adds to it.

Tone is an important aspect of literary style. It emphasizes the characters’ dilemmas, as well as contributing to the reader’s willingness to be captured and carried away by the author’s style. A skillful author uses tone to convince the reader of the truth of his or her themes. The tone of “A White Heron” is best characterized as a tranquil one. Jewett uses a great deal of connotations and euphonious words to express her tone. In line 25 Jewett writes, “a bird fluttered off its nest  Jewett could have chosen the word flew, took off, or numerous other synonyms for the word fluttered; however, the word fluttered puts a picture into the reader’s mind of a bird flying away gracefully; moreover, fluttered just has a more delightful sound then the alternatives. Jewett’s decision to use connotive and euphonious words was a wise because it allows the reader some control over the image he or she wants to create; therefore, giving the reader some sense of freedom, yet it still allows Jewett to control what images the readers is seeing.

Symbolism can be an effective literary tool. In the hands of a skilled author, the use of symbolic objects can emphasize the characters’ personalities and behavior, as well as speaking directly to the reader about the broader themes of the novel. In A White Heron, Jewett uses the great pine to represent a major goal in life, and its many branches to represent our daily struggles. In doing so, she shares with us how important it is not to give up, as we can see from the following passage “…and she stood trembling and tired but wholly triumphant, high in the treetop (Line 57-58).” All through the excerpt Jewett uses symbolism, the squirrel in Line 26 represents the interruption of others’ lives we can create will trying to reach our goals.

The overall result of Jewett’s use of symbolism, diction, and imagery is an effective accenting of the excerpt’s character, mood and theme, as well as an expression of Jewett’s particular style of writing, and makes the excerpt inspirational and enjoyable read.

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