The stylistic analysis of a text is based on the theoretical knowledge of the available stylistic resources and is aimed at unfolding the author’s message through bringing out the implicit information created by such means as the choice of vocabulary, the use of stylistic devices of different language levels, the peculiarities of the presentation of characters and events. It must be borne in mind that there are no hard and fast rules about text interpretation but the following recommendations and logical steps can be helpful to the students.
The stylistic analysis consists of two stages: the analysis of a text and the synthesis of the main idea (message) of the text. The first stage, in its turn is subdivided into several successive procedures. Firstly, the student is supposed to speak on some aspects of the writer’s creative activities, mention his most important books and outline the peculiarities of the writer’s outlook. The necessary information can be obtained from the course of English and American literature. Besides, some relevant facts can be found in the preface to the book or the commentary at the end of it. However, the student is should not go into a detailed analysis of the writer’s creative concepts, in order not to make his answer too long, but concentrate more on the linguistic aspects of the text. After this the text should be divided (in accordance with its contents) into a few logical parts. The interrelation between different components of a literary text is called composition. The four structural components of the composition are exposition, complication, climax and denouement. Exposition contains a short presentation of time, place and characters of the story. It is usually to be found at the beginning of the story, but may also be interwoven in the narrative by means of flashbacks, so that the reader gradually comes to know the characters and events leading up to the present situation. The particular time and physical location of the story form the setting. Such details as the time of the year, certain parts of the landscape, the weather, colours, sounds or other seemingly uninteresting details may be of great importance. The setting can have various functions in a given story: 1) it can provide a realistic background, 2) it can evoke the necessary atmosphere, 3) it can help describe the characters indirectly. Complication is a separate incident helping to unfold the action, and might involve thoughts and feelings as well. Climax is the decisive moment on which the fate of the characters and the final action depend. It is the point at which the forces in the conflict reach the highest intensity. Denouement means “the untying of a knot” which is precisely what happens in this phase. Not all stories have a denouement. Some stories end right after the climax, leaving it up to the reader to judge what will be the outcome of the conflict. Thus, the above mentioned parts are not always found in the text, which can be homogeneous in its structure. If this is the case, the student should mention it. Sometimes a plot follows the chronological order of events. At other times there are jumps back and forth in time (flashbacks and foreshadowing).
The next stage is the analysis of the general character of the text, i.e. the way of presenting characters and events. The author’s choice of characters, events, situations, details and his choice of words is by no means accidental. Whatever leads us to enter the author’s attitude to his subject matter is called tone. Like the tone of voice the tone of a story may communicate amusement, anger, affection, sorrow, contempt etc.
Type of narrative and narrator: It is important to distinguish between the author, the person who wrote the story, and the narrator, the person or voice telling the story. The author may select a first-person narrative (subjectivized), when one of the characters tells of things that only he or she saw and felt. In a third-person narrative (objectivized) the omniscient author moves in and out of peoples thoughts and comments freely on what the characters think, say and do. The choice of the point of view: The way a story is presented is a key element in fictional structure. This involves both the angle of vision, the point from which the peole, events and other details are viewed, and also the words of the story. The view aspect is called the focus or point of view. * It may be the narrator’s point of view, which is embodied in a narrator-focalizer. It is called external focalization, also known as unlimited (non-concentrated) narrative perspective. * The character’s point of view takes the form of a character-focalizer (chief character or onlooker). It is called internal focalization (or: limited/ concentrated narrative perspective). Most often we deal with the combination of the two types (especially in the 3-d person narratives), when the narrator’s external (unlimited) point of view shifts to the internal character-focalizer’s limited positions. Form of presentation (or the combination of forms). In general any work of fiction consists of relatively independent elements – narration, description, dialogue, interior monologue, digressions, etc. The plane of the author/ narrator is represented by narration, description, digressions. Narration is dynamic, it gives a continuous account of events. Description is static, it is a verbal portraiture of an object, person or scene. It may be detailed and direct or impressionistic, giving few but striking details. Digression consists of an insertion of material that has no immediate relation to the theme or action. It may be lyrical, philosophical or critical. The character’s plane is represented by different forms of direct speech (inner and outer). Through the dialogue the characters are better portrayed, it also brings the action nearer to the reader, makes it seem more swift and more intense. Interior monologue renders the thoughts and feelings of a character. Represented (reported, non-personal direct) speech – a contaminated form, combining the features of both direct and indirect speech. It can be outer (pronounced) – actual words uttered by a character and inner (non-uttered) – conveys a character’s thoughts.
Characters and type of characterization: The description of the different aspects (physical, moral, social) of a character is known as characterization. When the author describes the character himself or makes another do it, it is direct characterization. When the author shows the character in action, and lets the reader judge for himself/ herself the author uses the indirect method of characterization. Characters are called round if they are complex and develop or change in the course of the story. Flat characters are usually one-sided, constructed round a single trait; if two characters have distinctly opposing features, one serves as a foil to the other, and the contrast between them becomes more apparent. Round and flat characters have different functions in the conflict of the story. The conflict may be external, i.e. between human beings or between man and the environment (individual against nature, individual against the established order/values in the society). The internal conflict takes place in the mind, here the character is torn between opposing features of his personality.