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Invisible Man Essay: Tone and Language

Tone and Language in Invisible Man

There are not many novels that can produce such a feeling of both sorrow and jubilation for a character as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. There is such a wide range of emotions produced by the novel that it is impossible not to feel both ways. Invisible Man is a wonderfully well written novel about an African American living in pre civil rights America. The novel is an excellent example of a bildungsroman, a character finding himself as the story progresses. The narrator (invisible man) starts off a naive college student and ends with the young man realizing that his world has become that of “infinite possibilities.” Ellison’s writing techniques include that of visual imagery, irony, occasional satire, and infinite examples of symbolism. All of these writing techniques help to further the novel, and benefit the book as a whole. Two techniques that Ellison used better than any others, however, are tone and language. Although Ellison used these techniques well, there were some harmful mistakes in his writing which damage the credibility of the story.

One of the most important aspects to any novel is its tone. Tone sets the pace of the novel and dictates what kind of emotional effect the anecdote will have on the reader. The tone of Invisible Man is, for the most part, a remarkable thing. Ellison’s tone creates both a tragic and a comic response to the reader. Ellison’s tone can be said to be “tragi-comic” (Bellow). This tone occurs “in the best pages of Invisible Man… in which an incestuous Negro farmer tells his tale” (Bellow) of seducing and impregnating his own daughter. Through tone Ellison reveals how his invisible man thought himself to be invisible, as he learns that…

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…ropriate to a character who has been presentd mainly as a passive victim of experience” (Howe).

With the exception of a few faults, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is an excellent novel. Ellison makes good use of many literary techniques necessary for writing a good novel. These include satire, irony, symbol, imagery, and especially tone and language. The novel appeals to all races and ages of people because of the language used and of the heroic story of the young Negro trying to make it in a predominantly white American society. This novel is truly a classic and should become more and more so as people of all races look back on the symbolic struggle this young man had.

Works Cited

Bellow, Saul. “Man Underground” Commentary June 1952

Ellison, Ralph. The Invisible Man 1952

Howe, Irving. “Review of Invisible Man”, The Nation 1952

Essay on The Awakening

Critical Views of The Awakening

The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, is full of ideas and understanding about human nature. In Chopin’s time, writing a story with such great attention to sensual details in both men and women caused skepticism among readers and critics. However, many critics have different views with deeper thought given to The Awakening. Symbolism, the interpretation of Edna’s suicide, and awakenings play important roles in the analysis of all critics.

Symbolism in The Awakening is interpreted in many ways. It is important to understand the meaning of each explanation of symbolism given by every critic to fully appreciate the novel. Art, for example, becomes a symbol of both freedom and failure(Wyatt). It is through the process of trying to become an artist that Edna reaches the highest point of her awakening(Wyatt). Clothes are also significant in discovering symbolism. When Edna is first introduced she is fully dressed. Gradually, she disrobes until finally she goes into the water to die, completely naked. Her undressing symbolizes the shedding of societal rules in her life, her growing awakening, and it stresses her physical and external self(Wyatt). Two modern critics, Neal Wyatt and Harold Bloom, agree that Edna is symbolized for her “quest for self-discovery or self-hood.” Edna feels caged, which makes her quest very difficult. The use of birds in the story helps the reader understand Edna’s feeling of entrapment and the inability to communicate(Wyatt). Much like the shedding of clothes, birds symbolize freedom and escape from being caged. The ability to spread your wings and fly is a symbolic theme that occurs often in the novel(Wyatt).

Many readers do not like the ending…

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…r that many people of her time found unladylike or even perverted. However, as time has passed and readers as well as critics find it easier to talk about sensual emotions, Chopin is now known as one of the most respected and brilliant writers that ever lived. Women had the feelings she wrote about and life was as discriminating as she described it, but only Kate Chopin had the courage to tell about it. Critics have given deep thought to The Awakening and with each analysis one reads, comes a new and unique awakening.

Works Cited

Gilbert, Sandra J. “The Novel of the Awakening.” Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: The Awakening, Kate Chopin

Rosowski, Sandra M. “The Second Coming of Aphrodite.” Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Kate Chopin; Chelsea House : New York, 1987.

Wyatt, Neal. “Suicide”. http.//

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