Last Updated 06 Jul 2020

Descriptive Writing in Literature

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Literature indulges us in a different world by using descriptive writing that paints a vivid picture in our mind. Every author has a different way to accomplish that, but the main purpose is to draw the reader into the desired place and time of the literature.

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. First we will take a closer look how these authors accomplished their transition of us into their world and then we will compare if those works have something in common.

Grabbing the attention of a reader is not an easy thing especially that each person has a different view of the world, and one thing that can be understandable to some can be an enigma to others. In the poem “The Fish” written by Elizabeth Bishop we can see a simple act of catching a fish that is translated into a powerful descriptive poem that shows how this catch not only defined time, but is also a renewal of life after the release. When we hear a person describing a fish it is usually pretty simple: small, big, long, had large teeth, heavy etc...

In the poem Elizabeth Bishop uses great synonyms and metaphors (change the words) that grab our attention from the first verse:” I caught a tremendous fish and held him beside the boat half out of the water, with my hook fast in a corner of his mouth. ” We can clearly imagine the fish that has just been caught still breathing being held next to the boat. Next she uses synonyms that start to describe the appearance of it: “He hung a grunting weight, battered and venerable and homely.

But the great description does not end on those couple lines she goes into details about its skin and how it looks like an old wallpaper, discolored, faded, torn apart: “his brown skin hung in strips like ancient wall-paper, and its pattern of darker brown was like wall-paper: shapes like full-brown roses stained and lost through age. ” Just from reading this couple lines we can see that the fish was old, because of its skin and the color of it, some fish can even grow up to a hundred and now we can see that the catch could be even older that the fisherman.

The author goes into further detail about the age of the fish when he writes: “hung five old pieces of fish-line… with all their five big hooks” and “Like medal with their ribbons frayed and wavering, a five-haired beard of wisdom trailing from his aching jaw. ” These lines have great power of showing us that the fisherman realized that the fish had fought many battles throughout his years, and the reminders that were left in his jaw look like medals worn by soldiers after their fights.

The image that we can develop thanks to this descriptive writing is bright and clear this metaphor of medals is a great way to picture the old, tired fish that has overcame many obstacles on its path (Bishop, 2007). The story that we will look at that has also caught my imagination through its playful and colorful writing is “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” by Stephen Crane. In this short story not only the surrounding is described to details, but characters feeling and thoughts are written in a way that we can place ourselves in their shoes.

This way we can accomplish a greater similarity with characters and also show some emotion that we have never felt before “She continually twisted her head to regard her puff sleeves, very stiff, straight, and high. They embarrassed her. ” In those two lines we can see that the character is not used to this king of attire and it is making her uncomfortable. Same thing probably happened to everybody in their life once, when we had to wear something that was not chosen by us, but the dress code or the occasion required it, like a bridesmaid who wears a dress that thinks it is the ugliest in the world only to please the bride.

Those simple feeling transferred to paper can make the reader transfer in time and place to the action of the story. For example when Stephen Crane describes the drunken challenger and his eagerness to pick a gun fight with anybody he shows us how determined and fearless the man felt “Often he yelled, and these cries rang through a semblance of a deserted village, shrilly flying over the roofs in a volume that seemed to have no relation to the ordinary vocal strength of a man. It was if the surrounding stillness formed the arch of a tomb over him.

These cries of ferocious challenge rang against walls of silence. ” We can picture a man who is screaming so loudly that his voice can be heard across town almost begging to find a challenger, but his calls are unanswered and the silence of the town shows how serious this man is. Descriptive writing is a great way to narrate a story that way there is no room for misplacing the feeling that the author is trying to show us (Crane, 2007). The second poem that I have chosen is “I dwell in the Possibility” by Emily Dickinson.

This poem is much different than other two literature works, because it leaves more room for our imagination to fill in the gaps. Emily tells us through her poem how much she loves poetry and how limitless it is. She compares it to a house “A fairer House than Prose-“and with this single line she burns an image of a house in our mind, but how does it look? How big is it? In that split second after reading that line we can imagine a house of our dreams without limitations.

She goes on comparing windows to opportunities and endless options that can be achieved through poetry. Our house starts taking a sharper and clearer image in us, and to achieve her desired influence on us she paints an extraordinary picture in our imagination. The second stanza holds the key to the incredible descriptive writing that took us on a journey: “And for an Everlasting Roof The Gambrels of the Sky-“. No house could be complete without a roof; or could it? How could we imagine a house without a roof, or could the sky be our roof?

The options are limitless the metaphor is excellent and the descriptive writing although not detailed still fulfilled its purpose of invoking a vivid picture that will last in our mind forever (Dickinson, 2007). Each author used different method of descriptive writing; some left us more room to play with our imagination than others. What matters the most is that not only a colorful picture is painted in our mind, but also emotions are clearly portrayed. To indulge the reader all three authors use the power of words.

In poem “The Fish” I stared and stared and victory filled up the little rented boat... until everything was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow! ” We can imagine the sight of a fisherman that caught a tremendous fish and is really happy, and more importantly in those few lines we can fell that joy and positive energy that illuminates this image in our head. The emotions are almost screaming through the fisherman and the renewal of life after releasing the fish can be felt in us the readers as well. Also the author accomplished sympathy toward the fish without ever mentioning fear or agerness to escape the terrible future that was meant for it.

He accomplished that through descriptive writing of its appearance when he compared hooks left in his jaw to medals of soldiers which sway in the wind or when he looked into his eyes that were larger than fisherman’s. Those few moments subconsciously build sympathy in us toward the catch and also build some tension when we read from line to line in hope that it will somehow survive (Bishop, 2007). Stephen Crane also portrays great emotions in his story.

This story builds up a tension that was heading towards a gunfight were the main character Jack Potter could not even live long enough to enjoy his first day of marriage. When we compare typical Western movies to “The Bride comes to Yellow Sky” we can see allot of differences. Nobody has died or even been shot and most importantly even the tough Sheriff is scared of something; people’s reaction to his marriage. The author uses descriptive writing while narrating through the train ride, saloon, and mad gun slinger on the path for blood.

What might be a surprise from the first page we can see the emotions of Jack Potter which normally we did not see in Westerns where all lead characters are tough, emotionless, and invincible. The author wants to show real emotions even in a feared man like Jack that was freshly married on his way with the bride to his hometown. The emotions shown between the newlyweds are a big part of this story “A sense of mutual guilt invaded their minds and developed a finer tenderness. ”(p. 484).

The joy and happiness that people receive after their marriage is incredible; so many thoughts and feeling are experienced at the same time that are hard to describe and thanks to describing those feeling we become sympathetic with the couple. As we read we develop almost friendship with them and we can start envisioning the unstoppably gunfight which builds even greater emotions in us. Page after page Stephen Crane paints a clearer picture of tension in the town before the main battle erupts “Oh, there’ll be a fight fast enough, if any one wants it. Anybody can get a fight out there in the street.

There’s a fight just waiting. ” The description of the gunslinger shows that the man is serious and eager to kill which might be Jack Potter “His eyes, rolling, and yet keen for ambush…. He walked with the creeping movement of the midnight cat. As it occurred to him, he roared menacing information. ” Tension reaches climax at the end where both men collide unexpectedly. This story not only transferred us in time and place to a small Western town, but also painted a clear picture of emotions that even toughest man goes through when they get married (Crane, 2007).

Descriptive writing is one of the most creative ways to indulge the reader in literature’s world. Thanks to descriptive writing the authors can stimulate reader’s imagination that will leave an everlasting imprint. The proper usage of words can transfer us in time and location, and also into a different emotion that we might have never experienced. This method brings heart into any work that pumps blood which is so vital at keeping the reader interested and on the edge of their seat.

We could see it clearly in story “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” where tension builds up with each page turned and the closer we get to the end the closer we get to a tragedy than somehow never happens. Even in poem “The Fish” emotions are building up to sympathies readers with the fish although usually we do not associate feeling with fishes. The final literature work “I Dwell in the Possibility” incorporates a different descriptive writing

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Descriptive Writing in Literature. (2017, Mar 17). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/descriptive-writing-in-literature/

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