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Tuesday, October 11, 2016



Hyperbole is a figure of speech through which a statement or assertion is made with an obvious exaggeration of fact. In other words, it is a way of expression that makes a person or thing better or worse, or larger or smaller than he/it really is.


The term hyperbole originated in the late Middle English period via Latin hyperbolē, from Ancient Greek huperbolḗ, meaning “excess, exaggeration”, from hupér, meaning "to throw" + bállō, meaning "over or beyond".


Noun: hyperbolism
Adjective: hyperbolic; hyperbolical
Verb: hyperbolize
Adverb: hyperbolically


Hyperbole is not meant to be taken literally. It is primarily intended for understanding from figurative level only. The figurative level represents an unreal or exaggerated comparison to emphasize an actual situation or possibility. For example:
“I climbed mountains for this”

In the above sentence the speaker makes a point that he climbed mountains to accomplish certain goal, although it is apparent that actually he did nothing like that. He used this overstatement to emphasize the hard work and effort he put towards his goal. Let us consider the following illustration for further clarification:
In the above illustration Part-A represents the actual situation, whereas Part-B represents an overstatement of Part-A. Therefore, Part-B is the hyperbole of Part-A.

Hyperbolic Comparison: © Tanvir Shameem

Hyperbole is a favourite rhetorical device in literature and writers use it extensively in fictional works, such as poetry, stories, etc. However, hyperbolic comparisons are rarely used in serious non-fictional works. Although hyperbole is generally tagged with literature, it is also very common in everyday speech.

A hyperbole may employ other figures of speech such as simile and metaphor to produce the exaggeration. For example, the following simile consists of a hyperbole:

"My soul has grown deep like the rivers."

Function of Hyperbole

  • Hyperbolic exaggeration emphasizes a certain point.
  • Hyperbole incorporates humour to the story.
  • Hyperbole makes the story more interesting and arresting.
  • Encourages the readers to retain interest.


Gupta, A.N. and Satis Gupta. A Dictionary of English Literature. 2nd ed. Bareilly: PBD, 1995

Griffith, Benjamin W. A Pocket Guide to Literature and Language Terms. New York: Barron's, 1976

"Hyperbole”. Literary Devices. 2016. Literary Devices. 5 September 2016

"Examples of Hyperboles”. YourDictionary. 2016. LoveToKnow, Corp. 5 September 2016

"Hyperbole”. Literary Terms. 2016. Literary Terms. 5 September 2016
< >.

"Hyperbole”. Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 5 September 2016


Thursday, September 22, 2016



Allusion, in literature, is a figure of speech, which refers to a brief implied or indirect reference to a person, event, thing, or to a part of another text. In other words, allusion is an inexplicit hint to some piece of knowledge that the author presumes the reader will know. Most allusions serve to illustrate or expand upon or enhance a subject. For example:

“She is another Helen

In the above sentence the subject has been expanded by alluding to Helen of Troy, a mythological figure who was well-known for her matchless beauty. Therefore, the aforesaid allusion implies that the subject is outstandingly beautiful.



The term allusion was borrowed into English in the middle of the 16th century. It derives from the late Latin word allūsiō meaning “a play on words” or “game” and is a derivative of the Latin word allūdere, meaning “to play with” or “to refer to” or “to joke”.


Noun: allusiveness
Verb: Allude
Adjective: allusive
Adverb: allusively


Allusion presents a reference in a literary work to something outside of the work. It functions on the basis of background knowledge of the reader, usually on a famous literary or historical person, place or event, or ancient stories, or other literary work. Although little details are provided, the referenced phenomena are readily recognizable by the audience for their historical, literary, or cultural significance. Most frequently allusions are made to past events such as, references to the Bible and Greek or Roman mythology. However, allusions may also be made to contemporary persons or events. Although incompliant with traditional definition, less frequently allusion may also present a reference to something inside of the work.

Allusions are often used within a metaphor or simile. Such a comparison alludes to an event or person that every individual should understand without much explanation. For example: “Your backyard is a Garden of Eden.” (Metaphor); “Your backyard is like a Garden of Eden.” (Simile)


Based on the above discussion allusions could be categorized in the following manner:
  1. External Allusion: This is the principal and most traditional allusion type. It is called external allusion since it refers to something outside of the text. The audience can easily catch an external allusion since it refers to a person, thing, or event which has been popularly known for an extensive period of time. External allusions are of four types:
  1. Biblical Allusion: A brief and indirect reference to something in the Bible, which may include a particular scripture, character, or story. For instance, “You are a Solomon when it comes to making decisions.”
  2. Literary Allusion: An indirect reference to other famous literary works. Often literary allusion is employed to refer to a separate story, legend, myth, and mythological or literary character. For example, “He was a real Romeo with the ladies”; “Chocolate was her Achilles’ heel.”
  3. Historical Allusion: An indirect reference to history such as, a historical event, character, etc. For example, “He was acting more like Franklin Roosevelt than Adolf Hitler.”
  4. Pop Culture Allusion: Also called cultural allusion. An indirect reference to a person, place, or event within a specific community or culture. Most cultural allusions are made from popular songs, movies, cartoon shows, TV shows, video games, etc. For example, “You are acting just like Mr. Magoo!
  1. Internal Allusion: This is a less frequent allusion type. It is called internal allusion since the author refers to something that has been mentioned in the same work earlier. Internal allusions are hard to catch since the referenced knowledge either lacks popularity or its usage is restricted in the current work only.

Related Terms

  1. Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing refers to something that hasn’t happened yet. With this device the author gives clues about events that will happen later in the story. Often these clues are so subtle that they can only be noticed or fully understood upon a second reading.
  2. Quotation:  Quotation is a group of words taken from a text or speech and repeated by someone other than the original author in another text. The quoted expression is usually explicitly attributed by citation to its original source, and it is punctuated with quotation marks.
  3. Citation: Citation is the way by which a formal reference is made to another text. It gives the readers information necessary to validate the source of a fact, or quotation used from another text. With a sharp contrast to allusion, citation is always explicit and direct.


  • Allusions enable the writer to express an idea or emotion in a condensed and simple manner.
  • Allusions increase the trustworthiness of an argument.
  • Allusions help the reader to understand new information such as characters, setting, plot, etc. by relating them to previous knowledge.
  • The religious, mythological, and cultural references make the story more engaging and help the reader grasp the message of the text.
  • Allusions make a story grand, fanciful, funny, and surprising.


The chief disadvantage of allusion stems from its manner of description, which involves a brief reference to a person, thing, or event. Therefore, in order to understand an allusion the audience must have a prior knowledge of the stated reference. If the audience is unaware of it then he will fail to understand the author’s intended message. In such case the text will surely lose its coherence. Hence, sometimes allusions may appear suitable for cultured or educated audience only.

Allusion, delusion, or illusion?

Although sound closest, allusion and illusion are dissimilar in meaning. While allusion is an indirect reference to a person, thing, or event, an illusion is a false or misleading impression or perception, either by the senses or by the mind. Contrariwise, delusion refers to false idea or belief caused by mental illness rather than a wrong impression that somebody receives.



Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. USA: H & H, 1999

"Allusion”. Literary Devices. 2016. Literary Devices. 18 September 2016<>.

"Allusion”. Literary Terms. 2016. Literary Terms. 18 September 2016<>.

"Allusion”. Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 18 September 2016
< >.

"Allusion Examples”. Softschools. 2016. 18 September 2016

"Examples of Allusion”. YourDictionary. 2016. LoveToKnow, Corp. 18 September 2016

Griffith, Benjamin W. A Pocket Guide to Literature and Language Terms. New York: Barron's, 1976

Gupta, A.N. and Satis Gupta. A Dictionary of English Literature. 2nd ed. Bareilly: PBD, 1995


Monday, September 5, 2016



Personification is a frequently employed figure of speech in literature. With this device the human traits are attributed to inanimate objects or abstract ideas. More specifically, personification refers to treating objects and intangible things as persons without giving them human shape.

Let us consider the following instance of personification to understand its structure:

“Love stabbed him in the heart"

In the above sentence the subject "love" is an abstract idea while the verb "stab" is a human-specific attribute. The aforesaid human attribute has been transferred into the subject to realize the personification process. The output is a personified version of "love" along with its still-intact nonhuman form. Herein "love" is conceived as if it were a living person and is capable of stabbing someone's heart. The structure of  personification can be further clarified by the following illustration:

Structure of Personification


Based on the different cases of occurrences, personification could be classified in the following manner:
  1. Non-human entities performing human actions: e.g. "The flowers danced in the gentle breeze"; "The pistol glared at me from its holster".
  2. Non-human entities expressing human emotions: e.g. "The sea was boiling with rage"; "The trees sighed in the wind".
  3. Abstract ideas are given human qualities: e.g. "Hunger sat shivering on the road"; "Misfortune never comes alone".

Determinants of Personification

  • Careful reading of sentences.
  • Identifying words containing nonliving object or idea in the sentences.
  • Identifying description of any lifeless entity treated as living a person.
  • Identification of any implied meaning against any inanimate object or ideas.
  • Analyzing the imagery in the passages thoroughly.
  • Identification of a comparison between an object or idea with human traits.


  • Personification gives life to lifeless entities.
  • Personification generates vivid imagery.
  • Personification helps to emphasize certain point.
  • Personification makes the text more dramatic and complex.
  • Personification increases the reader's interest in the story and helps to retain his attention till the end.
  • Personification incorporates deeper meanings to ordinary objects.
  • Personification inspires the audience to see things from different angles.
  •  Personification helps to express human thoughts and motivations in a creative way.
  • Personification makes an abstraction clearer and more real to the reader by defining or explaining the concept in terms of everyday human action.

Related Forms

Anthropomorphism is an extended form of personification in which human shape, traits, and actions or abilities are attributed to nonhuman things and beings like animals, deities, and lifeless objects. To be specific, anthropomorphism is the treating of animals and objects as if they were human in appearance, character, or behaviour.

Structure of Anthropomorphism

The word anthropomorphism derives from the Greek words ánthrōpos, meaning "human" and morphē, meaning "shape" or "form". The term originally used to give human qualities to a deity. The Greeks and Romans used the idea in stories about their gods to bestow them human traits. Anthropomorphism is a recurring personification device in Aesop's Fables by the ancient Greek fabulist Aesop.  In English literature this device has been employed in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (1865), Anna Sewell's Black Beauty (1877), Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1894), George Orwell's Animal Farm (1945), etc. Anthropomorphism has always been a favorite device for cartoonists. Some notable classic anthropomorphic cartoon characters include Mickey Mouse (1928), Goofy (1932), Daffy Duck (1937), Bugs Bunny (1938), Garfield (1978), etc. A more contemporary example includes SpongeBob, the title character in SpongeBob SquarePants (1999).
Personification Vs Anthropomorphism
In majority of mainstream definitions the terms are used interchangeably and the result is an overlap of functions from the both ends.  Even most teachers as well as students are unfamiliar with the term anthropomorphism. What teachers label as personification in class rooms is actually a hybrid of personification and anthropomorphism. Again, the majority of textbooks also present a mixed-up definition.

Although their functions appear to be analogous from general point of view, in essence they exhibit slight differences:

Sl. # Personification Anthropomorphism
1. Personification is the attribution of human characteristics such as, emotions, sensations, etc. to abstract ideas like love, hate, anger, death, peace, etc. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to animals, deities and objects.
2. Personification occurs when human characteristics are ascribed to non-human entities without altering their non-human form. Anthropomorphism, occurs when a non-human entity fully and clearly embodies human traits, emotions and personalities, including a human form. That means anthropomorphized subjects look like human and they can walk, talk and act like humans.
3. Personification is a narrower term since its coverage of association of human traits is limited to object and abstract ideas only. Anthropomorphism is a much broader term since it can associate human traits to a wide variety of subjects, including animals, deities, natural and supernatural phenomena, and objects.
4. The imagery drawn by personification presents a connotative or figurative meaning. The imagery drawn by anthropomorphism presents a literal meaning.
5. Personification is gender-neutral since we can describe an object without naming it or specifying its gender. Anthropomorphism is gender-specific since we use name and ascribe gender-specific human shape to describe animals, objects, etc.
Pathetic Fallacy
The term pathetic fallacy was coined by John Ruskin in 1856. It is the technique for ascribing the mood and temperament of one or more characters in relation to a natural phenomenon. For example,

 “The sky darkened as the young damsel wailed for her deceased lover.”

In the above instance, the human emotion “wailing” has been attributed to a natural phenomenon i.e., the “sky” in order to reflect the character’s state of mind.

Structure of Pathetic Fallacy
Pathetic Fallacy Vs Personification
Personification is often confused with pathetic fallacy, which is illogical since it is distinct and different form personification in terms of function:

Sl. # Pathetic Fallacy Personification
1. Pathetic fallacy describes a temperament of the human mind referring to nature. Personification is used to convey a human emotion or quality directly attributing it to an object or abstract idea.
2. Pathetic fallacy often occurs by accident. Personification occurs on purpose.
3. Pathetic fallacy is a narrower term since it ascribes human quality only to natural phenomena like weather. Personification is a broader term since its attribution of human ideas is not only restricted to objects but also to abstract ideas.
Apostrophe refers to a direct address to an absent person (either dead or alive), inanimate or abstract entity as if the addressee is capable of understanding the addresser's feelings. The word "O" is often used to indicate such an invocation.

A classic example of apostrophe includes John Donne’s Death, be not proud (1609), where the speaker talks to death throughout the poem as if it were a person capable of comprehending his feelings:

“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.”

In his 1807 poem London, 1802  the English poet William Wordsworth apostrophizes the dead poet John Milton:
“Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;”

Shelley employs apostrophe in his celebrated poem Ode to the West Wind (1820):

“O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,”

The following illustration demonstrates how an absent addressee is being apostrophized by the addressee:

Structure of Apostrophe
Apostrophe Vs Personification
Apostrophe is different from personification to the following extent:

Sl. # Apostrophe Personification
1. An apostrophe makes reference to something or somebody who is absent in the scene. In personification the object under reference does not necessarily need to be absent from the scene.
2. Persons, objects, and abstractions are directly addressed as if they can understand human emotion. Objects and ideas are attributed human qualities.
Metaphor Vs Personification
Although both metaphor and personification is a type of comparison, yet they apply different techniques. In metaphor a comparison is made between two different objects with an implication that they are similar on single or some common characteristics. On the other hand, in personification human characteristics are attributed to an object or idea to describe it as human with an implication that they are literally the same thing.


Abrams, M.H.. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. USA: H & H, 1999

" Anthropomorphism”. Shmoop. 2016. Shmoop University. 2 August 2016

“Anthropomorphism.” Microsoft Encarta. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft, 2005.

“Apostrophe (figure of speech)”. Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 2 August 2016

" Characterization”. Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 2 August 2016

Griffith, Benjamin W. A Pocket Guide to Literature and Language Terms. New York: Barron's, 1976

" Personification”. Literary Devices. 2016. Literary Devices. 2 August 2016

" Personification”. Literary Devices. 2016. Literary Devices. 2 August 2016

" Personification”. Simple English Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 2 August 2016

“Pathetic Fallacy”. Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 2 August 2016

“Metaphor”. Tanvir’s Blog. 2016. Tanvir Shameem. 2 August 2016


Monday, August 15, 2016

Character in Literature


A character refers to a fictional person portrayed by the author in a play, novel, short story, or poetry. Sometimes animals and objects are also adopted as characters, but they are presented by means of personification. Characters play a vital role in the development of the central theme of a literary work through their dialogue, actions, mood and attitude.

Types of Characters

  1. Dynamic Character: A dynamic character is one who undergoes significant change in his traits/qualities such as, personality or outlook, etc. throughout the story. Through suffering, mistakes and experiment a dynamic character gains new experience which in turn makes him a changed man. For example, initially Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (1843) is portrayed as a mean, bitter, and covetous personality. However, after his encounter with the three ghosts he becomes a generous, kind, and beloved man. In fact, the term "dynamic" doesn't define the character's qualities, but rather refers to how those qualities change over time. Dynamic characters are usually central characters.
  2. Static Character: A static character is one who does not undergo any significant transition in his traits/qualities such as, personality, outlook, etc. throughout the events in the story's plot. In other words, a static character is mostly the same person at the end of the story as he was in the beginning and all his actions in between stay true to that personality. Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen is an example of static character since his character does not change until the end of the novel. Static characters are generally the minor characters.
  3. Round Character: A round character is a major character in a story that encounters conflicts and undergoes transformation by these with a sign of emotional and psychological development. The character is complex and it increases in complexity throughout the story. Although many people place the dynamic and round characters in one category, yet they are not the same thing.  A dynamic character does not tell about the traits of the character rather only tells about the traits that change over the time. A round character, on the other hand defines the complex traits of the character.
  4. Flat Character: A flat character is relatively uncomplicated and does not transform too much from the start of the narrative to its end. Flat characters are constructed round a single idea or quality and often said not to have either surprising ability or emotional depths, hence such characters are easily recognizable. Although both the static and the flat characters remain unchanged throughout the story, there is a slight difference between them. Whereas the former has two dimensions and can be as interesting as the central character, the latter generally has only one dimension and is only capable of playing a minor role.
  5. Protagonist: The protagonist is the main character or leading figure in a story, novel, drama, or poetry. Sometimes the protagonist is represented as an antihero. However, even as antihero the protagonist is able retain the audience’s interest and keeps propelling the story forward. For example, In Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet (1597), Romeo is the protagonist.
  6. Antihero: An antihero is a protagonist who is devoid of all conventional qualities such as, bravery, strength, charm, intelligence etc. Such character usually possesses traits like clumsiness, dishonesty, aggressiveness, fearfulness, etc.
  7. False Protagonist: A false protagonist is a trick used by the authors to bring about an unexpected twist in the plot. The false protagonist is presented in such a way that the audience takes him to be the central character. However, this misconception is resolved when the character is unexpectedly removed by killing or changing his role, often into a lesser character or antagonist.
  8. Antagonist: The antagonist is a major character in a story who stands in opposition or creates obstacles to the protagonist. The conflict between the antagonist and the protagonist often generates the action or plot of the work. However, an antagonist must not be confused with a villain. The role of an antagonist is to oppose and create obstruction to the protagonist's goal, while a villain is a character who acts in opposition of the hero with evil intentions. While not every antagonist is a villain, it is generally true that all villains are antagonists to the main character.
  9. Villain: A villain plays the role of the principal bad character in a work of fiction. The villain usually is the antagonist who acts in opposition of the protagonist. However, in some cases the protagonist may assume the role of a villain.
  10. Stock Character: A stock character is a stereotypical person who is instantly recognizable to most readers. These characters are types and not individuals. A Stock character is based on clichés and social prejudices. Examples include: the professor, the wise old man, the everyman, the gentleman thief, etc. They are not focus characters nor are they developed in the story. The stock character does almost nothing to affect the main characters and can be easily replaced with a new character.
  11. Foil: A foil is employed to enhance the qualities of another character through contrast. Usually a foil is the antagonist or an important supporting character whose personal traits contrast with the protagonist or a major character. However, foils are not focus characters nor are they developed in the story. They help us learn more about another character or aspect of a story. For instance, In Hamlet (1603), Laertes has been portrayed as a foil to Hamlet.
  12. Confidante (masc: Confidant): A character in a drama or fiction, such as a friend or servant, who the protagonist confides in and trusts. A confidant serves as a device for revealing the inner thoughts or intentions of a main character. Her role is to listen to the protagonist's secrets, examine his character, and advise him on his actions. Rather than simply acting as a passive listener for the protagonist's monologues, the confidant may himself act to move the story forward, or serve to guide and represent the reactions of the audience. For example Horatio in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1603).
  13. Viewpoint Character: Also called narrator. A type of character by whose perspective or eyes the audience witnesses the events in a narrative. Generally the narrator narrates the events from several points of view or perspectives. Based on perspectives a narrator  is categorized in:
    1. First Person Narrator: A first person narrator is said to have used when the story is told someone who identifies himself or herself as “I". This "I" can be the main character, a less important character witnessing events, or a person retelling a story they were told by someone else.
    2. Second Person Narrator: In second person, the narrator addresses the protagonist as "you." Often, this kind of story has the narrator speaking to a younger version of his self.
    3. Third Person Narrator is used when the story is told by someone who is not a participant in the action and who refers to the characters by name or as ‘he‘ 'she" and "they". In this case the narrator is not a character in the story. Third person narrator has two variations:
      1. Omniscient Narrator: This type of narrator knows everything about the characters and events, can move about in time and place as well as from character to character at will, and can, whenever he or she wishes, enter the mind of any character.
      2. Limited omniscient narrator: Also called central intelligence. In this variation the narrative elements are limited to what a single character sees, thinks, and hears.


In fiction, characterization refers to the artistic representation of a person. It is the step by step process wherein the author introduces and then describes a character.  With its help the author makes a fictional character seem like a real person. Generally authors resort to the following processes to shape and form their characters:
  1. Direct Characterization: Also called explicit characterization. It is a type of characterization in which the details and personality of a character are revealed in a direct manner. In other words, in such process the author makes straightforward comments about specific traits of a character, which may include but not limited to love, hatred, fear, habits, etc. An outstanding instance of direct characterization could be traced in Sonnet 130 by the English poet and playwright William Shakespeare:
“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.”

Direct Characterization
  1. Indirect Characterization: Also called implicit characterization. It is a process of character creation in which the author reveals the details and personality of a character by indication rather than by direct statement. Too be specific, it is the audience's task to study the character and draw a conclusion about it. Through his imagination the audience portrays a true and vivid image of the character. Hence, it is a more creative and engaging process than the direct characterization. However, it is not devoid of shortcomings since the audience may make an erroneous or inappropriate inference about a character. The audience generally infers what a character is like by analyzing:
  • his appearance.
  • his thoughts.
  • his actions.
  • his speech.
  • his interaction with other characters.
  • his manner of speech.
  • others’ remarks about him
  • what others do to him
  • his reaction to others.
  • his reaction to himself.
  • his or her environment.


Indirect Characterization

Character Traits

In literature each character reflects certain traits that guide the audience to draw conclusion about their specific roles. Some common character traits are as follows:
  • Greedy
  • Rude
  • Pessimistic
  • Wicked
  • Selfish
  • Funny 
  • Talkative
  • Shy 
  • Evil
  • Brave  
  • Cunning
  • Deceptive
  • Ambitious 

Importance of Characters

Literature is an artistic representation of the real world. More like the real world the fictional world is also incomplete without characters. Therefore, characters are inevitable elements in a literary work. The importance of characters could be outlined as under:
  1. Characters help the audience to understand the overall message or theme in a particular literary work.
  2. Characters are akin to an engine driving the whole narrative in a coherent scheme.
  3. Characters provide ample scope for developing unique plots.
  4. Well-drawn characters compel the readers to retain interest till the end of the story.
  5. Characters help the audience for better understanding of human motivations in the real world.
  6. Characters help the author to maintain the gradual flow of the story.
  7. Characters’ dialogues, actions, attitudes, etc. are considered important elements for development of the theme.



Abrams, M.H.. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. USA: H & H, 1999

" Characterization”. Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 26 July 2016
< >.
“Characterization”. Literary Devices. 2016. Literary Devices. 26 July 2016
“Characterization 1”. English 250. 2016. English 250. 26 July 2016
Gupta, A.N. and Satis Gupta. A Dictionary of English Literature. 2nd ed. Bareilly: PBD, 1995


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Word Formation Process


Word formation process (also called morphological process) is a means by which new words are produced either by modification of existing words or by complete innovation, which in turn become a part of the language.

Types of Word Formation Processes

Although different types of word formation processes are available, all of which basically bring either inflectional or derivational changes. Therefore, inflection (also called inflexion) and derivation are the two main processes of word formation. Inflection differs from derivation to the following extent:

Inflection Derivation
Produces grammatical variants of the same word. Produces a new word on the basis of an existing word.
Modifies a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, mood, voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case. Changes the word class (also called parts of speech; form class; lexical class; syntactic category).
Does not change the meaning of a word. For example: determine→ determines, determining, determined. Modifies the meaning of the root. For example: modern → modernize (to make modern).

The major word formation processes include but are not limited to the following:


It is a word formation process wherein an affix is attached to a root (also called stem; base) to form a new word. A root is a free morpheme (also called unbound morpheme) that can appear alone. On the other hand, an Affix is a bound morpheme which never occurs by itself, but is always attached to some free morpheme and can be either inflectional or derivational. An Inflectional affix modifies the form/grammatical category of a word, i.e., tense, person, number, gender, case, etc. For example: ratrats. Contrariwise, a derivational affix modifies the parts of speech of the root, while leaving the grammatical category unchanged. In this way there is a change of meaning of the root. For example: write → writer.

In English there are two types of affixations:
  1. Prefixation: In this morphological process words are formed by adding an affix to the front of a root. The type of affix used in this process is referred to prefix. For example: un + tidy untidy
  2. Suffixation: In this morphological process words are formed by adding an affix to the end of a root. The type of affix used in this process is referred to suffix. For example: fear + less fearless


This refers to the change of function or parts of speech of a word without adding an affix. Conversion is also called zero derivation or null derivation since the functional change is brought about by supplementing an invisible affix. Sometimes it is also called functional shift. Typically conversion is made from “noun to verb” and from “verb to noun”. Less frequently, conversion is also done from “adjective to verb” and “adjective to noun”. For instance:

 Noun to Verb:  
  • access
  • email
  • film
  • name
  • shape
Verb to Noun:
  • attack
  • alert
  • hope
  • increase
  • visit
  • cover
Adjective to Verb:
  • brown
  • black
  • slow
Adjective to Noun:
  • crazy
  • nasty


Back-formation is a morphological process in which new word is created by extracting affixes from another word. In this way it is the reverse of affixation, in which affixes are added. Back-formation is also different from clipping since it brings a change in the parts of speech or the word's meaning. For example: the noun insertion has been back-formed into verb insert by removing the suffix ion.


As the name suggests, clipping is the word formation process in which a word is reduced to a shorter form. With a sharp contrast to back-formation, clipping keeps the original word meaning intact. These words are very common in everyday speech. For instance: lab is the clipped form of laboratory. . There are four types of clippings:
  1. Back clipping: (also called final clipping; apocope) it involves the truncation of end of a word as in ad from advertisement.
  2. Fore-clipping: (also called initial clipping; apheresis) it is the removal of the beginning of a word as in phone from telephone.
  3. Middle clipping: (also medial clipping; syncope) it is the extraction of the beginning and end of a word as in flu from influenza.
  4. Complex clipping: is removing multiple parts from multiple words as in cablegram from cabletelegram.


Also called composition, by this process two or more than two words are combined together to create a single word, having a single idea and function. In English there are compound nouns, compound adjectives, and compound verbs. Customarily compound words are spelt as single word, or as two or more hyphenated words, and even as two or more separate words. For example:
  • life + style lifestyle
  • mother + in + law mother-in-law
  • shopping + mall shopping mall
There are no specific rules for hyphenated compounds. Generally, some new and original compound nouns are hyphenated, but the hyphen is ignored when they become more familiar. However, there are some compound adjectives that are always hyphenated. For instance: state-of-the-art. The hyphen is often retained when two vowels come together, such as: Co-operation. Hyphens are often used to tell the ages of people and things, for example: 10-year-old. The general rule is that words are combined with hyphens to avoid confusion.


This refers to the words adopted from other languages. There are two types of borrowings:
  1. Loan-word: By this process a word is borrowed from another language without translating it into the target language. For example: the phrase tour-de-force is borrowed directly from French, which means a masterly or brilliant feat.
  2. Loan-translation: Also known as calque, a morphological process wherein a word or phrase from another language is borrowed by literally translating it into the target language. For example: the phrase point of view has been translated into English from the French phrase point de vue.


Also called invention, is a morphological process by which new words are invented. Sometimes popular trademark names of various products are adopted by people so extensively that they ultimately become the everyday words of language. For example:
  • Heroin
  • Aspirin
  • Escalator
  • Xerox
  • Kerosene
  • Nylon
  • Band-Aid
  • Vaseline
  • Margarine
  • Videotape
Again, some words are being invented due to rapid cultural changes and the spread of information technology, mass media, internet, etc. For example:
  • Google
  • Blog
  • Hotspot
  • Netbook
  • Tablet
  • Tweet
  • Emoticon
  • Smartphone


Blending (also called portmanteau) is a morphological process in which the parts of two or more words are combined together to form a new word. Usually the parts consist of the beginning of one word and the end of the other word(s). Typically, the meaning of the blended word reverberates with the meanings of the original words. For example:
  • breakfast + lunch → brunch
  • motor+hotel → motel
However, blending should not be confused with compounding, which combines two words without truncation of parts of the roots of the blended words.


These words are formed with the initial letters or each of the major parts of a word or a longer phrase. With a few exceptions, acronyms are usually capitalized. Some linguists confuse acronyms with initialisms, which are also abbreviations formed in the similar manner as the former. In essence, there is a sharp difference between the two. In language, an acronym is pronounced as a single word rather than just a sequence of individual letters, which is characteristic of initialisms. For example:
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization → UNESCO
  • Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation → Laser
  • International Criminal Police Organization → Interpol
  • Personal Computer → PC
  • Asian Development Bank → ADB
  • Liquid Crystal Display → LCD


Reduplication (also called cloning; doubling; duplication; repetition; tautonym) is a word formation process in which a new word is created by repeating all or part of a root or a stem, often with a change of vowel or initial consonant. Reduplication is not a major means of creating lexemes in English, but it is perhaps the most unusual one. Based on their usage, the techniques of reduplication could be classified in the following manner:
  1. Repetition without Change: bye-bye, tick-tick
  2. Rhyming Reduplication: ding-dong, super-duper, bow-wow
  3. Repetition with Change of Vowel: tiptop, chitchat, flip-flop, ping-pong, dilly-dally, wishy-washy
  4. Repetition with Change of Initial Consonant: teeny-weeny





“English Word Formation Processes.” Really Learn English. 2016.
14 July 2016 <>.

 “Inflection.” Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 14 July 2016

“Morphological Derivation.” Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 14 July 2016

Yule, George. The Study of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1996.

“Word Formation.” Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 14 July 2016


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Theme in Literature


Theme refers to the general topic or subject, or the main idea in a literary work such as, a story, an essay, or a narrative. Some common examples of themes include: love, friendship, war, crime, punishment, death, revenge, nature, isolation, etc.


The basic characteristics of a theme could be outlined as under:
  • It acts as a framework for the entire literary piece.
  • It is a distinct, recurring, and unifying quality or idea.
  • It is usually universal in nature.
  • Generally conveys a moral or message about society, life or human nature.
  • Stated either direct or indirect manner.
  • Theme is abstract in nature.
  •  A theme does not necessarily need to be true in the real world.
  • Theme binds together everything: the characters, the plot and the setting.


A theme has two components namely, the thematic concept and the thematic statement. The thematic concept simply refers to the subject or topic of the work, while the thematic statement refers to what the author remarks or opines about that subject. The thematic concept thus is usually an abstract element, like “transgression” or “atonement”, while the thematic statement is generally the concretization of that abstract idea through images, setting, and most commonly through the characters’ actions, words, and thoughts. Whereas the former is expressed in word or phrase level, the latter is expressed in a sentence and is often a general statement about society, life or human nature.

Thematic Concept vs. Thematic Statement

Types of Themes

Themes are of two types: major themes and minor themes.  A Major theme is an idea which is repeated or given prominence throughout the story. Hence it acts as the central driving force in a literary work. A minor theme, on the other hand, is an idea that occurs for a short period. It is of less significance and usually appears for part of the story only to be replaced by another minor theme.

For instance, Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day (1956) consists of the following major and minor themes:
Major Themes
  • Alienation.
  • Meaningless of Life.
  • Affirmation of Human Life.
Minor Themes
  • Deceit.
  • Conflict between Father and Son.
  • Conflict between Husband and Wife.

Determining a Theme

A literary work may comprise more than one theme. The writer himself may infuse his work with multiple themes. Again, the same work may produce other themes due to reader’s individualistic way of interpretation. It is indeed, very hard to stipulate any specific yardstick for identifying a theme. This statement is very logical when we compare it with the point of individualistic interpretation as stated earlier. However, we can still try to identify themes by the following ways:
  • Studying character’s dialogues.
  • Studying character’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Studying character's actions, beliefs, etc.
  • Studying specific events and contexts.
  • Studying character’s change in mood and attitude.
  • Studying the author's background.
  • Identifying the main topics or subjects.
  • Analyzing the title of the work.
  • Determining the imagery, motifs, figure of speech, etc.
  • Identifying the presence of any universal topics, such as human struggle and so the like.





Gupta, A.N. and Satis Gupta. A Dictionary of English Literature. 2nd ed. Bareilly: PBD, 1995

Griffith, Benjamin W. A Pocket Guide to Literature and Language Terms. Newyork: Barron's, 1976

“Theme”. Literary Terms. 2016. Literary Terms. 15 July 2016 <>.

" Theme (narrative)”. Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 15 July 2016


Monday, July 11, 2016

D.H. Lawrence Quick Facts

D.H. Lawrence

20th century English novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright, and literary critic, best known for his 1928 infamous novel Lady Chatterley's Lover.

D.H. Lawrence

  • Birth Name: David Herbert Richards Lawrence
  • AKA: D.H.  Lawrence
  • Date of Birth: 11 September 1885
  • Place of Birth: Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
  • Zodiac Sign: Virgo
  • Death: 2 March 1930
  • Place of Death: Vence, France
  • Cause of Death: Tuberculosis
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Nationality: British
  • Place of Burial: Chapel East of Taos, New Mexico (Ashes)
  • Last Words: “I’m getting better.”
  • Epitaph: “Homo sum! the adventurer.”
  • Father: Arthur John Lawrence (1847 - 1924)
  • Mother: Lydia Lawrence (née Beardsall) (1852 - 1910)
  • Siblings:
1. Brother- George Lawrence (1876 – 1967)
2. Brother- William Ernest Lawrence (1878 -1901)
3. Sister- Emily Una Lawrence (1882 -1962)
4. Sister- Lettice Ada Lawrence (1887 – 1948)
  • Spouse: Frieda Lawrence (née von Richthofen) (b. 1879 - d. 1956; m. 1914 to until his demise)
  • Children: None
  • Alma Mater: University College of Nottingham, Nottingham High School
  • Known for: linguistic precision, mastery of a wide range of subject matters and genres, psychological complexity and exploration of female sexuality
  • Criticized for: presenting controversial themes with graphic and highly sexual content
  • Influences: Herman Melville (1819 –1891), Walt Whitman (1819 –1892), Thomas Hardy (1840 –1928), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 –1900), Sigmund Freud (1856 –1939), Ezra Pound (1885 –1972), Joseph Conrad (1857 –1924), Henri Bergson (1859–1941), Otto Gross (1877–1920), E.M. Forster (1879 – 1970), and Aldous Huxley (1894 –1963)
  • Influenced: Harriet Monroe (1860 –1936), Amy Lowell (1874 –1925), Meridel LeSueur (1900–1996), Elizabeth Bishop (1911 –1979), Tennessee Williams (1911 –1983), Carson McCullers (1917 –1967), Karl Shapiro (1913 –2000), Denise Levertov (1923 –1997), Robert Bly (b. 1926), Galway Kinnell (1927 –2014), Adrienne Rich (1929 –2012), and Ted Hughes (1930 –1998)


“But that is how men are! Ungrateful and never satisfied. When you don't have them they hate you because you won't; and when you do have them they hate you again, for some other reason. Or for no reason at all, except that they are discontented children, and can't be satisfied whatever they get, let a woman do what she may.” D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover
“So as long as you can forget your body you are happy and the moment you begin to be aware of your body, you are wretched. So if civilization is any good, it has to help us forget our bodies, and then time passes happily without our knowing it. Help us get rid of our bodies altogether.” D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover
“He always ran away from the battle with himself. Even in his own heart's privacy, he excused himself, saying, "If she hadn't said so-and-so, it would never have happened.” D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers

Major Themes

  • Male-Female Relationship
  • Human Psyche
  • Love and Sex
  • Class Barriers
  • Homosexuality
  • Misogyny
  • The Working Class
  • Technology and Modernization
  • Leadership

Notable Works

  • The White Peacock (1911)
  • The Trespasser (1912)
  • Sons and Lovers (1913)
  • The Rainbow (1915)
  • Women in Love (1920)
  • The Lost Girl (1920)
  • Aaron's Rod (1922)
  • Kangaroo (1923)
  • The Boy in the Bush (1924)
  • The Plumed Serpent (1926)
  • Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928)
  • The Escaped Cock (1929)
  • The Man Who Died (1929)
  • The Virgin and the Gypsy (1930)
Short stories
  • The Prussian Officer and Other Stories (1914)
  • England, My England and Other Stories (1922)
  • The Fox, The Captain's Doll,The Ladybird (1923)
  • St Mawr and other stories (1925)
  • The Woman who Rode Away and other stories (1928)
  • The Virgin and the Gipsy and Other Stories (1930)
  • Love Among the Haystacks and other stories (1930)
  • Collected Stories (1994)
  • Love Poems and others (1913)
  • Amores (1916)
  • Look! We have come through! (1917)
  • New Poems (1918)
  • Bay: a book of poems (1919)
  • Tortoises (1921)
  • Birds, Beasts and Flowers (1923)
  • The Collected Poems of D H Lawrence (1928)
  • Pansies (1929)
  • Nettles (1930)
  • Last Poems (1932)
  • Fire and other poems (1940)
  • The Complete Poems of D H Lawrence (1964)
  • The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd (1914)
  • Touch and Go (1920)
  • David (1926)
  • The Fight for Barbara (1933)
  • A Collier's Friday Night (1934)
  • The Married Man (1940)
  • The Merry-go-round (1941)
  • The Complete Plays of D H Lawrence (1965)
  • Study of Thomas Hardy and other essays (1914)
  • Movements in European History (1921)
  • Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious (1921/1922)
  • Studies in Classic American Literature (1923)
  • Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and other essays (1925)
  • A Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover (1929)
  • Apocalypse and the writings on Revelation (1931)
  • Phoenix: the posthumous papers of D H Lawrence (1936)
  • Phoenix II: uncollected, unpublished and other prose works by D H Lawrence (1968)
Travel books
  • Twilight in Italy and Other Essays (1916)
  • Sea and Sardinia (1921)
  • Mornings in Mexico (1927)

Did You Know?

  • D. H. Lawrence was the fourth child of the five children of an illiterate coal miner Arthur John Lawrence and his wife Lydia Lawrence, a former school teacher.
  • His mother had to manual work in a lace factory in order to support her financially unstable family.
  • Lawrence’s mother was from a middle class religious family.
  • Lawrence inherited his love for literature from his mother.
  • When he was twenty seven, Lawrence fell in love with Frieda Weekley, the wife of Ernest Weekley, his former professor at Nottingham University. Frieda, who was six years older than Lawrence eloped with him to Germany leaving behind her husband and three children. Before returning back to England the couple travelled to Bavaria, Austria, and Italy.
  • In Germany Lawrence stayed with Frieda’s parents’ home at Metz, where he was eventually arrested and accused of being a British spy. He was then released following an intervention from Frieda's father.
  • Following her divorce from Weekley, Frieda and Lawrence got married at the Kensington's Registrar's Office, in London on 13th July 1914.
  • Although the couple intended to return to Italy in August 1914, the outbreak of the First World War confined them in England.
  • Leaving post-war England they travelled widely, finally settling at the Kiowa Ranch near Taos, New Mexico due to his continued health decline.
  • The Kiowa Ranch is now known as D. H. Lawrence Ranch.
  • After Lawrence’s death in Vence, France in 1930, Frieda returned to Taos to live with her third husband, Angelo Ravagli.
  • Lawrence was originally buried in the old Vence cemetery, but was exhumed in March 1935. His ashes were then handed over to Angelo Ravagli so that they could be transported to the shrine at Kiowa Ranch, New Mexico.
  • There are some speculations that the ashes were dumped by Ravagli somewhere between Marseilles and Villefranche and that he subsequently procured alternative ashes which he eventually took to Taos. Again, another rumor is that that the ashes arrived safely at Kiowa Ranch and Frieda opted to have them added to the concrete of the shrine.
  • Only ten people attended D. H. Lawrence’s funeral, one of the notable mourners was his friend Aldous Huxley.
  • Before falling in love with Frieda, Lawrence proposed to his college friend Louie Burrows. But he ended the engagement soon after he decided to elope with Frieda.
  • Although chiefly venerated as a novelist, Lawrence’s first-published works were poems.
  • D.H. Lawrence's first novel The White Peacock was published in 1910.
  • Lawrence's mother died of cancer shortly after his first novel was published, with Lawrence reported to have given her an overdose of 'sleeping medicine', to end the pain that she was suffering.
  • His quasi-autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers is considered Lawrence’s first great novel which was published in 1913.
  • The Rainbow was published in 1915 but was condemned for its sexual content.
  • His Lady Chatterley's Lover was published in Italy in 1928, but it was banned in the United States until 1958 due to its graphic sexual content. It was banned in England till 1960, until a jury ruled in favor of Penguin Books. Some feminist critics now claim the novel to be deeply misogynistic, because part of its argument is that women will reach true fulfillment only by submitting themselves to men.
  • D.H. Lawrence's birthplace has been transformed into a museum, and has been converted back to how it would have looked when Lawrence was a child.

Photo Gallery

D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence with Frieda Weekley in Chapala, Mexico in 1923


" D.H. Lawrence.” Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 21 June 2016

" DH Lawrence.” The website. 2016. A&E Television Networks. 21 June 2016

" DH Lawrence 1885 - 1930.” Gavin Gillespie. 2014. Gavin Gillespie. 21 June 2016



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