The Story of Herbert Ernest Bates The Beauty of the Dead.
Interpretation by Arkadiy Kurakin The story of Herbert Ernest Bates “The Beauty of the Dead”. The story is a unit of literary fiction. The author uses different expressive means and stylistic devices to show the reader the idea of the story, such as epithets, metaphor, similar, oxymoron, irony, hyperbola, understatement, etc. The protagonist of this story is Mr. Grimshaw. This is a complex character, reticent, gloomy. His surname is rather significant.
The adjective “grim” means harsh, merciless, severe; ghastly, joyless, sinister (has a grim truth in it); unpleasant, unattractive. – expresses here the impression to be made by him on a reader. We can see his mercilessness from the following phrase: he turned with satisfaction to look at his wife, who lay dying on the bed. From his interaction with the minor character it occurs that though his relative consider him to be another, he is so a man that his name gives our an impression.
The most important action of the protagonist is his inner thoughts, his choice in using sudden circumstances, his impulse to go through all the events happened. The minor characters is his wife. We do not know and the author do not let us know her name and it is significant because her name is of no account as her character is weak-willed, dull and infirm. What why he doesn’t care about her inner world and doesn’t interpret her as a person. Stylistic Analysis
The story “The Beauty of the Dead” by Herbert Ernest Bates is casual in its subject-matter, describing a particular place at a particular time. In analysing this story we must point out its three main features: 1) the effect of striking concreteness and simplicity; 2) the impression of a melancholy meditating tone; 3) the implication suggested by the author as the ultimate stylistic effect. These three peculiarities are linked and interwoven to produce a joint impression, the EMs and SDs of the story are aimed at achieving the desired effect.
SDs used in describing the picture are aimed at arousing a concrete image: epithets “yellow”, “grassy”, metonymical periphrasis “wanted wear” and “no step had trodden black” suggesting paths which are seldom used. A careful and inclusive analysis must consider linguistic items at various levels, as all stylistically significant features form a complex. The impression of colloquial intonation of reminiscence is mainly created in the story through enjambment. The pause in the middle of the line (see the third lines in the first and the last stanzas) makes the tone of the lines natural and meditating.
The combination of the SDs of enjambment and anadiplosis (the repetition of the pronoun “I” at the end of the line and at the beginning of the next line) in the last stanza produces the impression of a kind of afterthought uttered quite naturally after a pause: Lexical EMs and SDs emphasise the melancholy tone of the story. This SD is that of antonomasia. The proper name is substituted by a common noun which stands in certain relations to the name. Beatrice in her reply to Benedick treats the word “disdain” as a living being ascribing to it human qualities.
Hence here we have the SD of personification. Stylistic Analysis This story is one of Hemingway’s masterpieces. It gives a deep insight into human nature and a true picture of contemporary social and family relations in bourgeois society. The writer leaves the surface comparatively bare: the meaning is plain and simple. The impression of simplicity which strikes the reader from the first is brought out not only by the plain dialogues, the common matter-of-fact events at the beginning of the story but by the language itself.
A close study of the story for the purposes of examining its style involves a careful observation and a detailed description of the language phenomena at various levels. The text of the story is not homogeneous: the author’s narration is interrupted by the dialogues of the characters; inner thoughts of come characters (mostly Wilson’s) are imperceptibly interwoven with the narration. A rigorous analysis of the vocabulary of the story clearly shows that the author employs common words in his narration and a restricted number of colloquial words in the dialogue and represented speech.
Here are some examples of colloquial words: “… ”. In many instances the reader sees that the number of synonyms is deliberately restricted. Note the use of verbs of communication (“to say” and its synonyms) times; “to tell” — 3; “to ask” — 2; “to speak”, “to agree”— once each. No other verb of communication is used. Besides, the author does not usually add any adverbial modifier to show the manner in which the character speaks. See the first page where the author plainly states “”. The impression of impassive matter-of-fact narration is brought out also by a very limited use of words denoting feelings.
On the first pages we can find only the following words: “pretending”, “in triumph”, “smiled”, “liked”, Author’s scrupulous attention to minute details adds to the matter-of-fact and logical tone of the story. Underneath this simple exterior of restraint there lies a rich treasure of suggestions and implications. The very structure of the story adds to the effect of implication but the actual meaning of what is going on is not clear at the beginning of the story, as the feelings suggested by the writer are not precisely determined.
The reader however feels that something has happened and that the characters are strained and full of hidden apprehension and suppressed emotions. The effect of implication (???????????????? ?????????) and suspense (????????????????) is brought about in various ways, firstly by the direct means of stating that something has happened but not revealing what. Observe the repetition of the word “happen”. Note the word “pretending” which characterises from the start the atmosphere of suppressed emotion.
Note the various cases of logical periphrasis used by the characters to say in a round-about way what happened that morning. The reader is kept in constant suspense: “the whole thing”; “about it”; “that lion business”; “something like today”. Observe also the repeated use of the verb “to forget” stressing the intention of the speaker not to think of some unpleasant fact; the verb “to forget” is used four times and its contextual synonym “to drop” — twice. The hints and suggestive remarks uttered by the characters in their seemingly plain unpretentious dialogues are very effective in their implication.
The effect of implication and suspense is brought about indirectly too: The macro-context that comes after these words affects them and determines their meaning. The peculiar use of the verbs “to look” and “to smile” may also be regarded as an indirect means of creating the effect of implication. However additional contextual meaning and emotive colouring is received mainly from the macrocontext. This manner of describing the character’s reaction and emotions by presenting simple external actions may be considered a specific SD—metonymical description which is realised only in the macrocontext.
The SD of metonymical description makes the reader supply what is missing and creates the effect of implication. This is one of the ways in which Hemingway employs his “iceberg principle”: “I leave out what I know but knowledge is what makes the underwater part of the iceberg,” writes Hemingway. In a similar way the writer uses the verb “to smile”: the implication conveyed by this verb is also brought out in the macrocontext. The role of the macrocontext in Hemingway’s story is of utmost importance. Note instances where the verb “to smile” is used: ”
So author’s story devoid at the beginning of any apparent emotional colouring, of any apparent expression of the characters’ feelings is impassive and matter-of-fact only on the surface whereas beneath the surface can be found intense emotions, meditations, sufferings. Note that the feelings and emotional reactions of Mrs. Macomber and Wilson are mostly conveyed by this means. Note the role of repetition in heightening the impression of growing fear: the word “fear” is used here twice, and the word “afraid” is repeated three times.
One more note about author’s usage of words and how it is related to the description of his characters. The impartial tone and the absence of emotive words in describing Mrs. Macomber may be accounted for by two reasons: the writer’s principle to leave the surface comparatively bare of any emotion, and the desire to emphasise the woman’s nature by choosing relevant words and expressions (note the writer’s way to explain her purpose for desiring to marry again — “to better herself”). Analyse the use of the adjectives “red” and “blue” in the story.
Similarly, the adjective “blue” is affected by the surrounding words (it is constantly used in such combinations as “cold blue eyes”, “his flat, blue, machinegunner’s eyes”) and had acquired an additional contextual meaning making it an epithet in the macrocontext. It is the macrocontext that determines the meanings of some words and suggests their implication in author’s story, and therefore should not be underestimated. The grammatical peculiarities of the story serve the basic stylistic purpose — that of giving the impression of simplicity and mpartiality on the one hand, and creating implication and emotional tension, on the other. Long sentences which are so characteristic of the author’s narration in the story do not produce a sense of complexity. On the contrary, the long sentences give the illusion of simplicity. The impression of simplicity is generally maintained by a peculiar sentence structure. The most striking feature which is easily observed is the repetition of one and the same conjunction within the sentence. Read this sentence: ” ” Similar structures can be seen on the same page: “ ” The use of one and the same conjunction and one and the ame type of subordinate clause within the sentence (a complex sentence with successive subordination) creates a monotonous analogous description where the author seems concerned only with presenting a bare enumeration of details. It is interesting to point out that folklore contains clear-cut structures of this type with successive subordination as in the well-known nursery rhyme “This is the house that Jack built… “. The established syntactical pattern which is repeated within the sentence is a stylistically significant feature in the story leading to a seeming lack of variety and maintaining the effect of simplicity.
Note that this holds true not only of the sentence-structure but to a larger extent of the paragraph-structure. The established pattern (or patterns) is repeated with a slight variation throughout the paragraph giving the impression of analogy and logic in structure. Read the paragraph on p. XX beginning: “ ” The predominant sentence-type in the above paragraph is the complex sentence with a subordinate clause of time. The conjunction “when” is repeated five times, the conjunctions “while” and “before” are used once each. The paragraph being a unity of ideas presents in the story a striking unity of syntactic structure.
There is no conspicuous topic sentence, the paragraph gives a series of details or actions which go on and on, as if the writer assumes that his readers want only to learn as quickly and easily as possible what happens. The unity of the paragraph manifests itself in the established syntactical pattern used throughout the whole of the paragraph and in the one and the same conjunction. Repetition assumes in the story various structural forms. Catch-word repetition (anadiplosis) is frequently used giving the impression of plain, logical structure: “Margot looked at them both and they both saw that she was going to cry. “But more than shame he felt cold, hollow fear in him. The fear was still there… “. Note that anadiplosis produces the effect of a “chain-pattern” structure similar to that produced by successive subordination often used in the story. Anadiplosis is sometimes employed to connect successive paragraphs. The dominant conjunction which is employed frequently and variously in the story is “and”. The repetition of the conjunction “and” usually maintains parallelism and rhythm: “” The effect of a rhythmical arrangement is heightened in this example by alliteration at the end of the paragraph.
Suspense which is the basic compositional feature of the story manifests itself in the structure of most paragraphs. Read the paragraph by which the first part of the story culminates: “” Note that the paragraph tends toward balanced structure for the sake of contrast: “Macomber did not know… ,” “Wilson knew… “. The repeated use of the words “knew”, “did not know” adds to the effect of contrast and gives the impression of a certain established pattern of the paragraph.
Observe that parallel constructions are interrupted by inserting modifiers (three instances of subordinate clause of time introduced by “before”, “when”, “when”) and some other relevant detail. Syntactical parallelism supported and intensified by lexical repetition (four instances of “know”; “nor … nor”; “when, when … “; “how, how … “) lends an unmistakable rhythm to the passage. Note that the length of sentences and clauses is shortened and the number of inserted details is lessened by the end of the paragraph and so causing a change in rhythm: from a slow, even rhythm to a rapid, excited rhythm.
This change of rhythm heightens the emotional tension and reinforces the implication suggested by the last unexpected sentence of the paragraph: “He did not know how his wife felt except that she was through with him. ” The repeated words do not assume any definite compositional pattern, such a simple scattered repetition contributes to the impression of a colloquial simplicity of narration: “” The principle of repetition which reveals itself in the use of the established syntactic pattern and the repetition of one and the same conjunction often leads to the SD of cumulation: “” The clash between the yntactical analogy and semantic distance in the SD of cumulation brings about the effect of implication and hints at the real relations of the characters. All these similar features contribute to the impression of parallelism in the structure of the paragraph. Cumulation is striking as the clash between the grammatical identity and semantic difference is sudden and strong. Cumulation gives rise to implication and presents the first obvious hint at what happened before the story began. The main dramatic force is achieved by syntax — by the writer’s masterly utilisation of the resources concealed in the syntactic structure of the language.
Stylistic tendencies and peculiarities of the story manifest themselves in the passage most intensely and palpably. The passage tends to rhythmical structure: parallel constructions, various types of repetition, a peculiar scheme of sense-group division — all contribute to this impression. All these features lend balance to the passage. A change in rhythm from slow to rapid reinforces the effect of suspense and climax. Suspense is created by a number of interrupting but relevant details postponing the completion of the thought.
The length of the interrupting phrases and coordinate clauses is shortened by the end of the passage (note once again that the last three clauses contain two sense-groups while the first four — three or six) and causing a change in rhythm adds to emotional tension. The sentences are not so long, not so fragmentary, the relevant details are not so numerous. Note that some details are repeated (“like slate” — “like hitting a slate roof”). The rhythm of the paragraph is even and quiet giving the impression of an impassionate description.
The paragraph may be regarded as a kind of comment on what happened. Note the use of the Past Perfect which plainly refers the actions to those which have been mentioned. The idea of suspense and the effect of implication is masterfully revealed at the end of the story — the writer does not say plainly whether it was an accident or murder. The writer presents only a sequence of outward actions and the reader is left to imagine more than the words themselves convey. Assignments for Stylistic Analysis: 1. Speak on the subject-matter and the idea of the story. . Analyse the structure of the poem (its stanzas, rhythm, rhymes), note instances of enjambment and speak on its stylistic function. 3. What characters of the novel are described in the passage and what does the reader learn about them? 4. Who are the major and minor character/s? Describe them shortly. 5. What impression do you get from the protagonist? Discuss his/her character and his/her views as they are revealed through his/her speech. Describe the protagonist’s state of hopelessness and frustration. Comment on the protagonist’s words: “”. 6.
Analyse the direct speech and speak on its peculiarities. 7. Discuss the meaning of the saying: “” and comment on its stylistic peculiarity. Say why he/she uses it. Speak on the way he/she interprets the above mentioned saying. What SD is used by him? 8. Find cases of periphrasis in her speech and speak of their function. 9. Discuss she attitude towards the situation, comment on lexical and phonetic EMs and SDs used in her speech and speak of the effect achieved through the use of these devices. 10. Pick out various types of metaphors and comment on their stylistic effect. 1. Comment on the meaning and stylistic peculiarities of some lines. 12. Dwell on the implication suggested by the author. 13. Pick out epithets, state their types and structure and speak on their stylistic function. 14. Comment on the exclamatory sentence 15. How do you account for the sudden transmission from literary vocabulary mostly used by the author (“under the auspices”, etc. ) to the colloquial words (“a confounded quarrelsome highbred jade”)? What stylistic effect is achieved by this device? 16. Comment on the stylistic effect of the rhetorical question: 17.
Speak on the author’s attitude towards the society he describes. Pay attention to the EMs and SDs employed by the author (note the vocabulary of the passage, metaphors, metonymies, allusions, rhetorical questions and their stylistic function). 18. Speak on the scene and the characters introduced in the excerpt and SDs used to describe them. 19. Find various forms of repetition in the author’s narration: the repetition of a sound (alliteration); of a conjunction (polysyndeton); of a notional word; of a syntactical pattern (parallelism) and speak on the role of repetition in the structure of a paragraph. 0. Analyse the SD of repetition from the point of view of its compositional design (anaphora, anadiplosis etc. ); note what kind of repetition prevails in the excerpt; speak on the stylistic functions of repetition. 21. Take the Xth paragraph for rigorous analysis; in doing so dwell on the following points: 1) the main thought of the paragraph and the way it is developed; 2) the SD of polysyndeton; 3) the metaphor, the way it is prolonged and the stylistic effect achieved; 4) represented speech, its type and stylistic function; 5) antithesis as the culmination point of the paragraph. 2. Comment on the different ways author manipulates with the remarks of the characters. 23. Summing up the analysis of the chapter pick out all passages where the author’s ironic or sarcastic attitude towards high society and its corrupt morality is acutely felt and analyse the main SDs used to achieve this effect. 24. Summing up the analysis of the chapter/extract/passage/story, speak on the allegoric character of the story and on various SDs used to make the particular effect..