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The perfection of a short story lies in the symbiosis between content and form. Stylistic devices - especially imagery - contribute to the effect of the story

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TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 Introduction 2 2 Stylistic Devices: Imagery 2 2.1 Imagery in Katherine Mansfield's "Miss Brill" 3 2.2 Imagery in Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Sharer" 6 3 Conclusion 9 Bibliography 12 1 Introduction The perfection of a short story lies in the symbiosis between content and form. Stylistic devices - especially imagery - contribute to the effect of the story, and according to Joseph Conrad "it is only through complete, unswerving devotion to the perfect blending of form and substance; it is only through an unremitting never-discouraged care for the shape and ring of sentences that an approach can be made to plasticity, to colour, and that the light of magic suggestiveness may be brought to play for an evanescent instant over the commonplace surface of words" (Conrad 1955). Short stories often rely heavyly on imagery and visual language, for the quite obvious reason that authors have very little space at their hands to bring a subject to life, to give the audience a vivd impression of it. Where a novelist can take any number of pages to establish an atmosphere, develop a character, unfold a plot etc., the author of a short story must make do with an extremely limited amount of text and information. It is therefore necessary, in order to attain intensity, to employ those stylistic devices that achieve an immediate impact on the reader. In Katherine Mansfield's "Miss Brill" and Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Sharer", symbolism prevails. That is why I chose the topic of the importance of imagery for short stories as theme of this paper. First of all, I will have a close look at imagery in general; afterwards I will focus on "The Secret Sharer" by Joseph Conrad and "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield as examples for the interaction between language and contents in short stories. 2 Stylistic Devices: Imagery The aims and purposes of stylistic devices are manifold. ...read more.


After listening to the conversation of the couple - and the rhetorical question "who wants her" (335) aroused by the young man - she suddently realises her own sad and isolated situation. On her way home Miss Brill does not go to the bakery as usual which signifies no less than breaking her routine. She puts the fur back into the box without having another glance at it and "when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying." (336) It seems that on the one hand Miss Brill is definitely a sadder person, but on the other hand not more realistic. Nevertheless she tries to compensate the sad epiphany she has gone through by keeping up her illusion. Thus, the ending of the story is ambivalent and open. 2.2 Imagery in Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Sharer" The nameless captain is the protagonist of Joseph Conrad's short story "The Secret Sharer". Appointed to the command only two weeks ago, he feels insecure about his position as captain and is alienated by the rest of the crew because of his youth and inexperience. He has not integrated himself into his new role yet is aware of the fact that "all these people had been together for eighteen moths or so, and [his] position was that of the only stranger on board" (Conrad 320). His journey on the ship stands for the journey through life in general. Although he is new on board he already built up a close and emotional relationship to his ship. One can see that in the comparison of the ship to a companion when the captain speaks of his "hand resting lightly on [his] ship's rail as if on the shoulder of a trusted friend." (319) A very subtle, but nevertheless important symbol is the scorpion. When the first mate discovers the scorpion in his cabin this leads to a fuss. The first mate is very fascinated with the scorpion and does not stop wondering how it got there. ...read more.


The details, or images, are intended to work in concert to create a mood or evoke a theme which is never directly stated." (Hanson/Gurr 22) In "The Secret Sharer" Joseph Conrad integrates a variety of images into the plot to emphasize the development and growing up of the young captain. At the beginning of the story, the captain is inexperienced and insecure. Throughout the course of the short story he gains maturity and becomes a real captain to the ship and the crew. Therefore the imagery serves to envold and reveal the hidden character traits of the main character. The themes of the short story are responsibility as well as guilt. However, also alienation, strangeness, development, integrity, identity, maturity and namelessness are important in the course of the story. Joseph Conrad uses imagery in order to deal with these topics and to create a realistic story with a deep meaning. In both short stories the authors reveal the life and thoughts of the main character by making use of imagery. Whereas Miss Brill is already an old and isolated spinster with a stuck impression of the world around herself, the captain is a young man who looks forward to the challenges to come. What both characters have got in common is the fact that they both have got a secret companion, of whom nobody else is aware of. In "Miss Brill" as well as in "The Secret Sharer" imagery is used to show their point of view concerning themselves and the outer world. Finally, it is the use of imagery - in the case of "Miss Brill" and "The Secret Sharer" especially symbolism - which brings the meaning of the story to life beyond pure telling. Within short stories the authors succed in achieving achieve a certain impact on the reader, and as Joseph Conrad himself put it: "My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see. That - and no more, and it is everything. ...read more.

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