The perfection of a narrative depends on the symbiosis between content and form. Stylistic devices– particularly imagery– add to the result of the story, and according to Joseph Conrad “it is just through total, unbending commitment to the ideal mixing of form and compound; it is just through a constant never-discouraged care for the shape and ring of sentences that an approach can be made to plasticity, to colour, which the light of magic suggestiveness might be brought to play for an evanescent immediate over the commonplace surface area of words” (Conrad 1955).
Narratives frequently rely heavyly on imagery and visual language, for the quite obvious reason that authors have really little area at their hands to bring a based on life, to offer the audience a vivd impression of it. Where a novelist can take any variety of pages to establish an atmosphere, establish a character, unfold a plot etc., the author of a narrative need to use a very limited quantity of text and information.
It is therefore required, in order to obtain strength, to employ those stylistic gadgets that achieve an immediate impact on the reader.
In Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” and Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer”, meaning prevails. That is why I selected the subject of the value of images for short stories as theme of this paper. First off, I will have a close look at images in general; afterwards I will focus on “The Secret Sharer” by Joseph Conrad and “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield as examples for the interaction in between language and contents in short stories. 2 Stylistic Devices: Images The objectives and purposes of stylistic gadgets are manifold.
Stylistic devices are a method of expression, which give the author the possibility to utilize language beyond syntax, in order to make an incredible effect on the reader. Therefore, the artistic usage of language is relevant to attain the desired result on the reader. Among those needful stylistic devices is imagery, which is “a rather unclear crucial term covering those usages of language in a literary work that stimulate sense-impressions by actual or metaphorical recommendation to perceptible or ‘concrete’ objects, scenes, actions, or states, as unique from the language of abstract argument or exposition.
The images of a literary work thus consists of the set of images that it utilizes; these need not be mental ‘photos’, but might interest senses oter than sight.” (Baldick 106) Each and every expression must be thoroughly weighed to serve its function within the narrative construct. According to Edgar Allen Poe “every word tells, and there is not a word that does not tell” (Poe 64), which indicates that there are no ill-considered words and for that reason every stylistic gadget serves to develop the story.
Images is the cumulative term for such illustrative devices as metaphor, contrast, simile, symbol or allegory consisting of myth. Their typical function is to render abstract ideas, relations or goings-on plastic enough for the audience to grasp– but not necessarily more comprehensible. 2. 1 Images in Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” Katherine Mansfield’s narrative revolves around its one main character– Miss Brill– who dreams the life she would like to live. The author puts special focus on the surname of her heroine, although her given name is never ever discussed.
Already in the title as well as in the first sentence of the story, where the Sunday is referred to as being “brilliantly fine” (Mansfield 330), the heroine’s name is introduced. Moreover, there are at least 2 possible ramifications of the name “Miss Brill”. To start with it can be led back to the informal version of the adjective ‘brilliant’ or the French word ‘brillier’, which suggests ‘to shine’ (cf. Aczel 118). This is absolutely not the word to describe her life, because “Miss Brill lives up her name only in her creativity, where she truly does ‘shine’ in a marvelous world of endless possibilities.
” (118 ). Therefore, the name shows her longing for a more marvelous existence. However, her surname can likewise be connected to a brill, which is a flat fish and hints on the fact that in truth Miss Brill is an easy and cold person who lives an isolated and limited life. Miss Brill is not married and no family relations are discussed and therefore can be called an old spinster. She lives in a small “room like a cabinet” (Mansfield 335) in France where she feels lonely and produces her own world. The image of the cupboard mean the restricted, dark and isolated situations Miss Brill lives in.
The term “cabinet” is initially used when Miss Brill observes the other individuals in the park: “They were odd, silent, almost all old, and from the way they looked they looked as though they ‘d simply originate from dark little rooms or– even cabinets!” (332 ). This observation speaks of her wanting range in between her and these rather unglamorous people, and of severe self-denial, thinking about that she eventually turns out to be exactly like them, her view on people in general is reducing and sexless, often even caricaturing. She compares them to animals or toys, deteriorating them and stripping them of their self-respect.
Miss Brill mentions that the conductor of the band “scraped with his foot and flapped his arms like a rooster ready to crow” (331 ), or she sees a “little high-stepping mother, like a young hen” (332 ). Another woman in the park she dubs “an ermine toque” (333 ); the neatly dressed little girls in the park are “little French dolls” to her. Miss Brill’s judgments are certainly quite unreasonable and shallow. While it appears, in the start, that she abhors people for their inferiority, it ends up being apparent, towards completion of the story, that she truly despises herself. By looking down on those that match her profile, she ridicules her own life.
Another very important problem of symbolic worth within the story is Miss Brill’s fur and the method she deals with it. She considers her fur as a kind of family pet or buddy. Miss Brill lives for the days that she invests in the park, this can be seen when she rubs “the life back into the dim little eyes” (331) of her fur. When Miss Brill goes to the park on Sundays she takes the fur out of its box, but rather of treating it like a device, she concerns it as a companion. This is likewise shown in the dialogues she has with the fur. “She might have taken it off and laid it on her lap and stroked it” (331) and Miss Brill calls him “”Dear little thing!
” (331 ). The fur has “sad little eyes” (331) and its nose “wasn’t at all firm. It needs to have had a knock, in some way” (331 ). These descriptions of the fur suggest that the fur is not brand-new anymore. If the fur is a sign for Miss Brill herself, this implies that she is old and used up, too. And “even the truth that it bites its own tail is a reflection of the repetiveness and futility of Miss Brill’s existence.” (Aczel 119) When she names her fur “Little rogue” (Mansfield 331) she once more provides an insight in her own scenario of living.