Terminology – Juxtaposition.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #theorythursday. Last week I talked about punctuation, I specifically talked about how to use a semicolon. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Today I am talking about terminology again and I am talking about the term juxtaposition.

What does the term juxtaposition mean?

In literary terms, the term juxtaposition refers to when an author or a director places two different concepts directly beside each other. Doing this has two purposes, it highlights the stark difference between the two things and sometimes it can highlight surprising similarities between the two things.

I think that the theatre is a brilliant place for a writer to use juxtaposition because it can be such a visual thing. A really good example of juxtaposition onstage is in the musical version of Les Misérables.

In the stage show there is a scene where young Cosette and young Eponine are onstage together. Cosette is treated very badly by Eponine’s family. She is beaten and dressed in rags and forced to work. In the scene, young Cosette is scrubbing the floors while being berated but then young Eponine enters, dressed beautifully, and she is doted on by her parents.

The juxtaposition of Cosette’s ragged state directly beside Eponine’s beautiful clothes shows the audience straight away that there is a stark difference in how these two little girls are treated.

Why is it important to know the term juxtaposition?

Understanding what the term juxtaposition means will allow you to recognise it in books, movies, and tv shows. When you can see something happening and understand why an author made that choice, it allows you to understand the piece on a deeper level.

This has been Theory Thursday, I hope you enjoyed it. Happy New Year’s Eve Eve.

Kate xo.

Punctuation – The Semicolon.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #theorythursday. Last week I discussed what the term ‘arc’ means so check that out of you haven’t already. Today I am talking about punctuation again so let’s dive in.

What is a semicolon?

A semicolon is a punctuation mark, it looks like this ;.

A semicolon is used when a writer wants to link two separate ideas or ‘clauses’ in a sentence that are different but closely related.

A clause is a group of words that have a subject and a verb. The subject and the verb will have a relationship.

A subject is a thing, and a verb is a doing action. So if I say something like “Mam was polishing the silverware.”, this is an example of a clause, and in this clause, the silverware is the subject and the verb is polishing.

A semicolon is used when a writer wants to link two clauses that are closely connected. An author could write two different sentences but by choosing not to and using a semicolon, it gives the two sentences equal importance.

An example of this can be seen in a sentence such as “I have work tomorrow; I can’t go out tonight.”

Here are a few more examples of a semicolon being used:

“John loves school; Sarah hates it.”

“Sarah hid under her bed until the storm passed; she’s always been afraid of thunder.”

I could write “Sarah hid under her bed until the storm passed. She’s always been afraid of thunder.”

In this clause, the subject is the storm and the action of hiding is the verb.

I could use a full stop instead of a semicolon, making them two separate sentences, but using the semicolon connects the two ideas and it also removes the pause one would take when reading that sentence aloud.

When using a semicolon, it is important to remember that when a writer is linking clauses with the use of a semicolon, the independent clause must come before the dependant clause.

An independent clause is a complete sentence that can stand alone, a dependent clause cannot stand alone because it is not a complete sentence that expresses a complete thought.

If one looks at a sentence such as “I cannot run in the race because I sprained my ankle.”

The subject is the race, to run is the verb, and the second half of that sentence “because I sprained my ankle” is the dependant clause.

You can’t say “because I sprained my ankle.”, without saying anything else because that is not a complete sentence so therefore it does not make sense.

“I cannot run in the race.”, is a complete sentence that makes sense by itself, making it the independent clause.

I could say “I cannot run in the race.” “I sprained my ankle.”

This works because these are two complete sentences, but I could also connect these ideas with a semicolon by writing “Sarah couldn’t run in the race; she sprained her ankle.”

This works because the dependent clause is following the independent clause, and this would not work the other way around.

Why is it important to know how to use a semicolon?

Understanding punctuation will always be useful. The semicolon is used very often and some people see it without knowing why it is there, and some people use a semicolon without understanding what it is or what it does, and if you don’t know how to use it then you could use it incorrectly. If you are studying English in school or college and you have essays to write then having a broad understanding of punctuation will be really helpful, but even if you are not a student, I still think it is nice to have an understanding of punctuation because it will simply enhance your reading experience.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Christmas Eve Eve.

Kate xo.

The Character’s Arc: Terminology.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #theorythursday. Last week I talked about the concept of the anti-hero so you should check that out if you haven’t already. 

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I use terminology and phrases that I am very familiar with such as ‘the character’s arc’ etc., very casually in my discussions on Katelovesliterature.com. I use terms and phrases like this very often because I study literature in great detail and I have become really comfortable using terms that are often found in literary theory discussions but, I have been thinking about it and not everyone is so comfortable using literary terminology so I have decided to break down some of the things that I talk about the most, starting with the term ‘arc’. 

What is a character arc? What does this mean? 

In most narratives, the main protagonist will have a story arc. This means that they will develop throughout the story and by the end of the story, the character should be a changed person somehow compared to the character we met at the beginning of the story. 

This transformation and development is what I am referring to when I say something like “Will’s character arc is very satisfying to watch.” Since it is December, and this month’s #bookofthemonth is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, I will use the character Scrooge as an example. 

Scrooge has a very touching arc and I will of course elaborate more on this point in my Book Of The Month discussion at the end of December, but when we meet Scrooge he is a cold, cruel, selfish man who does not care about others and by the novel’s end, he is transformed, he repents, he is more empathetic, and he is determined to make up for his cruel behaviour in the past. 

Scrooge becomes a changed person because of his experiences in the novel which I won’t talk about anymore because I want to discuss it properly in my Book Of The Month discussion but he is a great character to turn to when trying to explain the term “arc” because he famously becomes a changed person after his experiences in the novel. 

If a character does not have an arc then they will not change at all throughout the novel. They will not grow, they will not evolve, and I think if a character does not have any kind of growth or development then they can be a bit one dimensional. The arc is very often the most important part of a character’s journey because if Scrooge for example did not have a change of heart, then the entire journey he went on in the novel would have been for nothing because the whole point of the arc is that the character is supposed to learn and evolve. 

I talk about Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean a lot, but that is because he is a great character in so many ways and his arc is equally as important because on his journey he learned about himself, and his father, he became more confident, he polished up his natural skills and became more trained, and he was able to stand up for himself and what he believed in at the end of the movie. If he did not stand up to Norrington at the end of the movie then audiences would wonder did he learn anything on his journey at sea at all? 

Scrooge’s change of heart, and Will’s moments of bravery are just two examples of characters who have really satisfying arcs that we can see so clearly because when we read or watch these stories, we root for these characters in these moments. I could list examples all day, but the point is that the arc, and the evolution of a character is what is satisfying. Without an arc, the character is dull.Without an arc, the journey will have been for nothing, and that is not a satisfying narrative. 

So the growth and evolution of a character is what I am referring to when I am talking about a character’s arc. Why is this important? 

It is important to understand terminology because if I am talking about how touching a character’s arc is and you don’t know what that means, then the discussion is pointless. If you don’t understand something then it is not enjoyable, and like every aspect of literary theory that I talk about, I think having an understanding of the term “arc” will allow you to understand literature on a deeper level and when you understand what an arc is, you will begin to see arcs in literature, you will be able to appreciate character arcs because you know what that means, and when you can spot a really satisfying arc, I think you will enjoy that story and like that character so much more. 

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. 

Who is your favourite character in any book/show/movie? I’d love to know. Happy Friday Eve. 

Kate xo.  

The Anti-Hero.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #theorythursday.

Last week I started talking about punctuation and I concentrated on the importance of quotation marks so check that out if you haven’t already. I will continue talking about punctuation on different weeks going forward but today I am talking about the idea of an anti-hero as I have mentioned this concept frequently lately.

So let’s dive into #theorythursday.

What is an anti-hero?

An anti-hero is a protagonist in a story who embarks on the hero’s journey but does not have the archetypal heroic qualities that we might expect them too.

In my opinion, the ideal example of an archetypal hero is Will Turner from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He is kind, he is the underdog, he is brave, he is earnest, he is bursting with potential but he is still naive and he has a lot to learn. I have spoken about this in more detail in my Movie Monday discussion about the first movie in this franchise so check that out of you are interested.

An anti-hero is someone who is the exact opposite of Will. They are not wide-eyed and naive, the anti-hero is usually a jaded, cynical individual who has experienced some trials in life already. The anti-hero may have a backstory that makes them hesitate to embark on another journey because perhaps they have lost something or someone already. The anti-hero is usually a kind person but they are not bursting with the same obvious goodness as the archetypal hero would be. They will help others but they know there will be consequences for getting involved and the anti-hero will consider these consequences in more detail than the archetypal hero might. The archetypal hero tends to dive right in if they wish to help someone and they don’t always think their actions through.

The anti-hero is sometimes gruff and annoyed by the archetypal hero because they know that the rose-tinted view the hero has will soon wear off, but, the key thing to note is that in the end, the anti-hero will ultimately do the right thing because they simply cannot sit by and do nothing. The anti-hero is usually always happy that they did do something though and often the archetypal hero’s optimistic outlook will rub off on the anti-hero just a little bit. The anti-hero’s arc usually ends with them being less cynical, but they never revert to a wide-eyed state.

I would actually consider Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to be a good example of an anti-hero. He ends up a pirate because he went against the Royal Navy and because of this he was branded a pirate. The brand is what isolated him from the society he lived in and forced him to act as a pirate to get by, so ironically, it is the Navy’s fault that he has to act outside the law, and his actions make him the pirate that he was branded as. When he meets Will, he has carried around that pirate brand for many years and his name has become one of myth and legend. He agrees to help Will, but only when he learns that helping Will can also help him – despite this though, he does teach Will many things and Captain Jack Sparrow plays a big part in Will’s heroic journey as it is Jack who helps Will develop as a character so that is why I would class him as an anti-hero.

I’ve just discussed Die Hard and I would also class John McClane as an anti-hero because he is not wide-eyed or naive. He did not run into that building wanting to save everyone. He did what he had to do, on the spot, acting on instinct, because he got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He did not want this, but he cannot just sit idle, so he acts. It’s courage, but it’s begrudged courage, which is why anti-heroes can be really fun characters because they usually have quite a dry, sarcastic sense of humour.

Why is knowing about the anti-hero important?

It is important to understand what the term anti-hero means because otherwise reading this term could be very confusing. I also think it is important to understand this concept because if you are talking about a text that has an anti-hero narrative then you will need to understand this concept in order to appreciate the text and the character fully.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Friday Eve.

Kate xo.

Punctuation: Quotation Marks.

Hello everyone. Welcome to another #theorythursday. Last week I talked about Tone so check that out if you haven’t already. Today I am talking about punctuation so let’s dive in. 

What is punctuation? 

Punctuation refers to symbols used in sentences that are used to create meaning, or to break up the sentence. There are many punctuation marks used in English such as semicolons, quotation marks, apostrophes, and many more. 

These symbols all have different functions. Punctuation is so important so I am going to break down punctuation marks and what they mean over a series of Theory Thursdays and today I am starting with quotation marks. 

What are quotation marks? 

Quotation marks are used at the start and at the end of a quote. A quote is a sentence, phrase, or piece of information that is not our own. When I use quotation marks, I am illustrating that the sentence written is not my own, I am quoting someone else. 

Quotation marks look like this – “ ”. 

If I am going to quote a line from a book, poem, play, or movie, I will use these quotation marks. 

“Two days later, the weather cleared. For the first time, Mary could see the moor in full sunlight.” – This is a quote from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The quotation marks “-” indicate that this line is from a book and whenever I quote a book, it is crucial that I use quotation marks. 

Why are quotation marks important? 

Quotation marks are important because when you are quoting someone else’s work, it is very important that you make it clear that you are quoting someone else and not stealing their thoughts and passing them off as your own. Quotation marks are also important because they separate your work from someone else’s and they make it clear when the quote is over so the reader knows when they are reading your work that you have put time and effort into, and they also are aware of when you are quoting someone else. 

This leads me to the question why is punctuation important? 

Punctuation is important because it can change the entire meaning of a sentence. If I don’t use a full stop then my sentence is incomplete. If I don’t use a question mark then it is not clear that I am asking a question. If I don’t use quotation marks when I quote someone else or a text, then it appears that I am stealing someone else’s work as my own, so it is very important that punctuation marks are used as they provide meaning and clarity. They can sometimes be confusing, but like all aspects of literary theory, practise makes perfect and the more familiar you become with punctuation, the more you understand it, and the easier it becomes to use. 

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Friday Eve. 

Kate xo. 

Tone.

Hello everyone and welcome to another #theorythursday. Last week I talked about who the antagonist in the story is, so check that out if you haven’t already. 

Today I am going to be talking about the tone of a work. 

So let’s dive into Theory Thursday. 

What is tone? 

If I am talking about the tone of a particular work, I am referring to what mood I think the author is trying to put across based on certain choices they make. The tone of a work can also refer to how the text makes the reader feel. Many things impact the tone of a work, for example the writer’s word choice is very important because certain words can make us react differently. 

For example, if I were to say that I dislike something, I think that gives off a very different tone compared to if I were to say that something disgusts me. Dislike and disgust are two very different things, disgust is a much stronger emotion so if I were to use stronger word choices then the tone will be much more intense. 

Why is tone important? 

Tone, like all aspects of literary theory, is important because having an understanding of tone will only enhance your reading experience, and if one is discussing a work then it is important to be able to articulate what sort of tone you think the author was trying to establish. The tone of a piece can also be open to interpretation because you may base your opinion on the piece’s tone on how the piece made you feel. If a piece made you sad, or moved you in some way, then you may suggest that the author was presenting a tone that was sad and poignant, and you could suggest that the author’s intention was to move readers. 

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you all enjoyed it. Happy Friday Eve. 

Kate xo. 

Meet The Antagonist.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #theorythursday. Last week I talked about who the protagonist in the story is so check that out if you haven’t already. Today I am going to be talking about who the antagonist in the story is. 

So let’s dive into Theory Thursday. 

Who is the antagonist? 

In literature, the term “antagonist” traditionally refers to the main opponent of the main character, the person who is the thorn in the protagonist’s side, the person who is working against the protagonist. 

I mentioned last week how the term “protagonist” has become associated with the idea that the protagonist is the “good guy”, and that the term “antagonist” has become associated with the idea that the antagonist is the “bad guy”. Now, this can often be true, and when I am discussing movies, I tend to make this general association simply because it is easier, but while the antagonist of a story is often the “bad guy”, it is not the case every single time. 

I think that sometimes the antagonist is not a bad character, but they are simply the counterpoint to the protagonist. If one was to look at a movie like Legally Blonde as an example, I would argue that Vivian may seem like the “bad guy” at first, but actually she isn’t the bad guy, she isn’t even the antagonist, she is simply the opposite of Elle. This type of scenario can happen often too so it is important to not confuse counterpoints with the “bad guy”. I also think it is important to acknowledge that someone disagreeing with the protagonist doesn’t automatically make them the “bad guy”. 

It depends on the narrative, but some stories end with the protagonist and the antagonist finding a point of understanding, whereas in other narratives, they remain opposed. There is also the idea of the “anti-hero”, but this is a concept that I will discuss in detail on another Theory Thursday. 

Why is it important to understand who the antagonist is? 

It is important to know who the antagonist is because they are a key part of the narrative, they are where the conflict lies, and without an antagonist, the protagonist doesn’t have a challenge. I would argue that the antagonist functions to challenge the protagonist and make their arc meaningful. In the antagonist’s point of view, the protagonist is their challenge, and it is important to always remember who is telling the story, because a story told from the antagonist’s point of view could paint an entirely different picture. 

This has been Theory Thursday. Happy Friday Eve. 

Kate xo. 

Meet The Protagonist.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #theorythursday. Today I am going to be talking about who the protagonist is in the story. This may seem extremely simple and straightforward, but I have chosen to write about the protagonist because I want my website to be a place where literature and literary theory is accessible to everyone, and there may be readers who aren’t overly familiar with terms such as “protagonist” and “antagonist”, etc. 

I use the term “protagonist” a lot, and it is a term that anyone who is talking about literature should become familiar with. 

So let’s dive in. 

Who is the protagonist? 

The term “protagonist” refers to the main character (or main characters) in the text. It is the person (or people) whom the story revolves around. 

The word “protagonist” has arguably become associated with the idea of goodness, so the term “protagonist” is often used to describe the “good guy” and the term “antagonist” is often used to describe the villain of the text – I will talk about this on another Theory Thursday. 

I do think that although I usually describe the “good guy” as the protagonist out of ease, I think it is slightly more complicated than that as not every protagonist is purely good. Characters can be nuanced and complex, and of course there is the idea of the anti-hero etc, but these are topics for another day. 

Why is it important to know who the protagonist is? 

I think it is important to know who the protagonist is because they are the main character in a work, and when one is discussing a text, the term “protagonist” is used often so it is important to understand who that term is referring to.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you all have a lovely Friday Eve. 

Kate xo. 

Epistolary Form.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Theory Thursday. Last week I talked about tropes so you should check that out if you haven’t already. Today I am talking about epistolary form. 

Let’s dive into #theorythursday. 

I mentioned epistolary form briefly in my #bookofthemonth discussion about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein because the novel is a very good example of a text that is written in epistolary form. I decided that today I would talk about this form in more detail. 

What is epistolary form? 

As I said in my #bookofthemonth discussion, when a text is written in epistolary form, it means that the text is written through a series of letters and documents by one or several characters. 

Texts that are written in epistolary form are often more focused on thoughts and feelings instead of dialogue, and this makes sense because if a character is writing a diary entry for example, they will be writing down the experience through their eyes, and they will be writing down how they felt about it, so it is important to remember that all of the text’s events are filtered by the character’s memory. Two people could write about the same event and yet they could write two extremely different things. 

Another example of a text that is written in epistolary form is The Color Purple, written by Alice Walker. 

Why is understanding epistolary form important? 

I think that if you’ve never encountered this form before it can take a moment to get used to, because you’re not simply reading the story, you’re reading someone’s experience of the story, and it is the letters and diary entries that keep the plot’s events in order. For example if two characters are writing letters to each other, it is in their responses that the plot advances. It is a really interesting way to tell a story, and I think it is important to know that this method of telling a story through letters or diary entries is called epistolary form. 

I also think it’s important to know about epistolary form because having a broad range of knowledge about different forms and how they function, expands our understanding of literature, and I believe that in turn, we expand our enjoyment of literature. 

This has been Theory Thursday, I hope you all enjoyed it. Happy Friday Eve. 

Kate xo. 

Tropes.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to #theorythursday.

Last week I talked about subversive literature, and you should go and check that out if you have not already.

Today I am talking about tropes. Let’s dive right into Theory Thursday.

What is a trope?

It is important to note that the word trope can have many definitions, but in literary terms, a trope is a commonly used plot device or character trait that is used so often that it appears to be conventional.

An example of this is the ‘final girl’ trope that is often recognised in horror movies. This is the idea that there can only be one female character surviving at the end of the movie, and this female character is usually smart, studious, and she is usually a virgin. I’ve talked about this ‘final girl’ trope in greater detail in this week’s #moviemonday discussion as Laurie Strode’s arc in Halloween is an example of the ‘final girl’ trope.

Many fairy tales contain a ‘rags to riches’ trope where the protagonist rises from a situation in which they are struggling and they are rewarded for their kindness and courage along the way. The protagonists in ‘rags to riches’ tropes usually have hearts of gold. They are usually very endearing, and easy characters for us as the audience to root for. If we think about the Disney version of Aladdin, the character Aladdin experiences a rise from rags to riches. He exemplifies these kind, heroic, endearing traits because despite being given the title of ‘street rat’, Aladdin is also called a ‘diamond in the rough’, showing us that he deserves this good fortune.

Certain tropes can become associated with certain genres, for example, the ‘rags to riches’ trope could be argued to be associated with fairy tales, and the ‘final girl’ trope can be heavily associated with the horror genre, and these stories occur so often, that we begin to view the idea of the final girl in horrors as normal, we think that’s just how horror movies work.

Tropes become familiar, and I think that people have certain tropes that they enjoy.

Enemies to lovers is a very popular trope, and this trope explores the idea of two characters who start off hating each other, but over time they begin to have romantic feelings towards each other. This usually happens after the two characters were forced to spend a lot of time together for some reason, and although both characters hate the idea at first, as time passes they grow on each other. I would argue that this trope tends to be popular in young adult fiction.

Why is it important to understand what a trope is?

I think it is important to understand tropes simply because they occur so often in literature. When one is talking about literature, tropes will come up because they are so central to the stories so it is important to understand what they are. Tropes can also cause interesting discussions because some tropes are considered extremely popular, while others could be argued to be outdated. I will discuss this further at some point in the future.

This has been Theory Thursday, I hope you enjoyed it.

Kate xo.