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Literary Elements

Short stories came into the literature world as brief, single sitting stories, yet containing an exclusively developed subject. A short story is packed with descriptive details that form together to grab the reader’s attention in a short amount of time. The authors indulge in rich details to create the narrative into a jaw dropping meaning story from the beginning to the ending.

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The author begins with constructing the story with the building blocks of literary devices. Short story authors apply the literary techniques of symbolism, irony and theme to create a meaningful connection with the reader.

Authors exploit symbolism into the works of literature to create strong connections between ideas, actions or persons that intertwine to represent a greater similarity throughout the story. Edgar Allan Poe’s terrorizing narrative, “The Pit and the Pendulum” included numerous kinds of symbolism yet the one that stood out by far was regarding the fear of the unknown world of darkness. The man has been “…left to perish of starvation in [the] world of darkness…” (Poe 8) symbolizes the thought of darkness being the terror of the man when death is seeking him in the prison. (I)ts outward or upward whirls” (14) of the bladed pendulum symbolized a clock’s pendulum represents time, meaning was death getting closer as it swayed back and forth. In “The Monkey’s Paw”, W. W. Jacobs goes in depth of bringing in symbolism through actions that one as a human can make because they want certain possessions that maybe they don’t necessarily need. The holy man that had placed the mortifying spell on the devious monkey paw that gave three wishes “…wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives…” (Jacobs 34) but it didn’t give out those wishes without getting something in return.

When the father had wished two hundred pounds, they were warned that they would have to “…in consideration for your son’s services they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation. ” (39) Now in Poe’s short story, “The Masque of the Red Death” symbolism is used all throughout to illustrate the meaning of the story. “Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp…” (374) the seven apartments symbolize what the human undergoes through in life and in life, there will not be a lamp that leads you throughout life.

The ebony clock’s sound was “…of so peculiar a note and emphasis…” (374) symbolizes the importance of living life to the fullest, because time is always ticking by, that death will be approaching at all times. Symbolism has a significant impact into making short stories connote to the readers to grasp the meaning behind the words. Authors then use through character or plot development, an intention of conveying actions or thoughts that are not what they seem to actually be. Josephina Niggli’s story, “The Street of the Canon” brings out irony from different angles beginning with the mysterious man.

While the suspicious man danced with the girl, she had said “… I think you are a dangerous man. ” (Niggli 275) giving the reader the thought that this man must be a disguised as someone that he portrays to be in her town because he knows he wouldn’t be welcomed. When Tio Daniel realizes“(t)his is no cheese from Linares,” (279) it generates the idea that someone had trespassed into their land and give them clues that it was someone from the land of Hidalgo to show hope that one day, their quarrel will end in peace.

While in “The Masque of the Red Death”, Poe applies a slightly different touch of irony into the story but it still has a vast meaning that ties it in together. “With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion,” (373) Prince Prospero was hoping that with locking the abbey, he and the others would prevent the deadly plague to cause death upon their lives. Prince Prospero became “…maddening with rage and the shame of his own momentary cowardice…” (379) made him aware that he could not run away from death, running away would only trigger death to seek him sooner.

Whereas in story, “The Bet” irony is exposed between the lawyer and the banker towards the end of the story. As the fifteen years began closing in, “…it is all over with me: I shall be utterly ruined,” (Chekhov 100) the banker realized he was doomed because he hadn’t been expecting the lawyer to survive imprisoned for the fifteen years which caused his pride to increase and his fortune to decrease. Lastly, irony is seen upon when in the letter that the lawyer wrote to the banker stating, “…I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world.

It is all worthless…” (102), the reader can see that the fifteen years of being imprison had evolved being in prison which led him to open his eyes to see what actually matters in life. Irony is the digging deeper of the obvious in a short story that perhaps changes the whole meaning of the story. Finally, theme is the repeated idea that the author weaves into the story which represents the purpose of the narrative. Anton Chekhov’s main theme in “The Bet” that is emphasized is that life is more precious than money. To live anyhow is better than not at all,” (97) the lawyer states from the opening believes that life is too valuable for one to give up the opportunity to live. He would rather live in prison the rest of his life then to be sentenced with the death penalty. Thus, short stories have been given the honor of entering the world due to their presence and the talented authors that have done a remarkable job of using literary elements. They have gone farther than just putting words on a paper; they have turned a gist into a tour de force with symbolism, irony and theme.