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Critical appraisal of DH Lawrence's short story, 'Odour of Chrysanthemums', making use of stylistic and structuralism principles.

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Introduction

Critical appraisal of DH Lawrence's short story, 'Odour of Chrysanthemums', making use of stylistic and structuralism principles. The practice of Stylistic and Structuralist principles in literature has been explored since the turn of the century and has been great expanded upon in the latter half of the century by linguists such as Roland Barthes and G.N Leech and M.H Short. Their \approaches to textual analysis can be easily applied to the majority of literature and in this essay I will make use of both stylistic and structuralist principles in my critical appraisal of DH Lawrence's short story "Odour of Chrysanthemums". However it should be noted that both these approaches have limitations and cannot be solely used to attain a well-rounded criticism of a text. Many other forms of criticisms often need to be incorporated for analysis depending upon the context and content of a piece. The Stylistic approach attempts to find meanings and style though analysing the actual grammatical make up of a piece of literature. Stylistic thinkers break down texts into their bare forms of diction, grammar and devices in an attempt to locate how through the use of words meaning and style is achieved. Leech and Short in the book "Style in Fiction" claim that literature can be stylistically analysed through the use of four main linguistic and stylistic categories: 1 Lexical, Grammatical, Figures of speech and Cohesion and context. ...read more.

Middle

He identifies five codes, which can be used to successfully analyse a piece of literature. His five codes were as followed: The proairetic code, (which provides indications of actions) the hermaeneutic code, (which provides suspense or mystery) the cultural code, (which identifies existing knowledge or images in the readers mind) the semic or connotative code, (The code of character or theme) and the symbolic code (This is also linked to theme but looks more closely at contrasts and binary opposites.) I will use Barthes' codes to continue my analysis of DH Lawrence's "Odour of Chrysanthemums" The proairetic code is the most obvious code to identify in the piece. The action of the piece develops constantly because it needs to move quickly as it is a short story. The action of the piece begins with train (The small locomotive engine...) and continues throughout with the arrival of her father through to the death of her husband and the washing of the body. When assessing the hermeneutic code it is clear that suspense is a central device used by Lawrence to maintain reader interest in the story. He creates mystery by leaving out details throughout the story. For example, her relations with her father appear distant and leave the reader wondering what her past with her father is. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though marxists and Feminists are essentially structuralists themselves Marxists would state that stylistic and structuralist approaches give no room to explain the class differences in a piece. For example in "The Odour of Chrysanthemums" Marxists would put an emphasise on the main them of the story being the oppression of the people in the story under a capitalist regime. Their suffering comes from the life style that is forced upon them and the death of the miner shows the hardships which the working class face. Again Feminists would expect a deeper reading of the texts than the stylistic and structural thinkers provide. They would place emphasise upon the oppression of the women in the story. They would stress the monotonous life that they lead and how it revolves around the men in the society. Equally psycoanalists would expect a closer look at the psycological meanings and themes of the story. Such as Elizabeth's feelings that she is superior to her neighbours and why she feels this. Or the mental importance of the Chrysanthemums and why the mean so much to Elizabeth. Overall it is clear that the Structural and stylist thinkers have played a crucial role in the development of literary analysis and their methods can still be applied today however other approaches are also necessary for a deeper in sight into a text. 1 Style in Fiction 1981 by Geoffrey N. Leech & Michael H. Short 2 Beginning Theory 1995 by Peter Barry ...read more.

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