Exploring Literary Elements and Language Through Short Stories
Literary Elements Guide
Conflict What people/forces/ideas/interests/values/institutions oppose each other? What decisions must the characters make? Between what two things is he/she deciding? What do these things represent?
Characterization What kinds of person/people are the character(s)? Their beliefs/hopes/dreams/ideals/ values/morals/fears/strengths/weaknesses/vices/virtues/talents? How do they conduct themselves? What do they say and do to reveal themselves? What do others say and do about them? What are your opinions or feelings about them? Classifications of types of characters include: protagonist and antagonist.
Foreshadowing How does the author give an advance hint of what is to come later in the story? How does foreshadowing help the reader develop expectations about the coming events in a story? How does this relate to the overall meaning of the story Symbolism What concrete, specific objects have been used to represent abstract ideas? What colors, names, settings, recurring objects have been referred to? What ideas do these represent?
Setting Setting refers to TIME and PLACE: Time: of day, year, era/age? Place: city, country? Outside, inside? Rich and extravagant or poor and simple? Stark and barren landscape? Rainy or sunny? Beautiful or adversarial? Dark or light? Dangerous or safe? The weather? How does all this affect meaning? What feelings (atmosphere) are evoked just by the setting?
Figurative Language What kinds of comparisons are made that add layers to the meaning of the story? A metaphor is a direct comparison: my love is a rose, or he was a snake. A simile is indirect, using "like" or "as": my love is like a rose, or he was as mean as a snake. Hyperbole is an exaggeration: I am so hungry I could eat a horse! Personification gives human qualities to an animal or object: The chocolate cake was begging me to eat it. Advanced writers will use the PLOT STRUCTURE to discuss the different parts of the story in your literary essay. Here is a review of the parts of the plot structure.
Exposition Background information? About characters, setting, situation?
Rising Action When does the first conflict/problem arise and develop ? What other problems start to arise and continue to develop? When is the character faced with his/her internal conflict and realizes she/he must make a decision?
Climax When does the character MAKE his/her decision and ACT on it? What actions results from this decision? What is the highest point of interest (in terms of action) in the story? When is the suspense (regarding what the character will do to solve the problem) over?