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Use Of Imagery Essay

1131 words - 5 pages

Discuss the use of imagery in two stories of your choice. How do the various images work in a particular story to bring its subject matter into focus? Is there a central image? And how does this enhance or confuse or complicate the effect of the story?

Short fiction can be seen as a literary medium through which the writer concisely creates a story that is almost as fleeting in its detail, as it is in its length of words. Imagery can be used in varying manners depending on what the writer is trying to achieve. In the short story ‘Sleepy’ by Anton Chekhov, we see a more vivid and palpable type of imagery that’s almost figurative and has the ability to lull the reader into sharing the ...view middle of the document...

Chekhov creates a lulling cadence of dream imagery throughout the narrative, highlighting Varka’s fierce need for sleep and pacifying the reader into the same state. By creating analeptic dream sequences Chekhov is able to compact a larger picture in this limited time frame and cramped location, such that Varka is able to step out of the tiny room without actually leaving it. “Varka sees a broad high road covered with liquid mud; […] on both sides she can see forests through the cold harsh mist.” In certain instances, these vivid images can confuse the reader, yet Chekhov uses them to enhance the effect that the reader has been displaced from Varka’s reality, and has moved unconsciously into her dream state. The constant return to the tiny room, illustrates that the immediate reality of the room is linked to Varka’s dream experience and links the reader with it too. The soporific effect of the green light and the moving shadows, lull her to sleep but are also reflected in the images of her dreams, where the crying baby represents her desperate need for sleep, which even in her dream state is always interrupted. By creating such contrasting, yet parallel images that seem to merge into one another, the reader finds themselves seemingly falling into the different states unwillingly, just as Varka falls unwillingly into sleep. This enhances the effect that the readers themselves are faced with this overpowering exhaustion and are unable to separate Varka’s sparse reality from her vivid dreams.
In contrast, Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Her First Ball’ employs a more fleeting type of description to create the imagery throughout the story. Mansfield’s narrative is saturated with description, she uses it to create powerful imagery that seems to blur together with its immediacy, almost as though the reader is blurring with the speed of dance. The reader isn’t overly concerned with how the protagonist Leila feels, rather, the reader finds themselves drawn to the beauty of the dance itself, and the giddy excitement which seems to emanate from the description of the characters and the setting. Although somewhat subtle, the idea that this ball is Leila’s first seems to be the central image of the story, as Mansfield returns to it throughout the narrative. We see Leila continually...

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