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Comparing themes in literature

The process of evaluating and interpreting literature is to understand what type of philosophy it presents and to compare our own values with the text. Since literature enlightens and entertains, the text draws readers’ into its artistic worlds. In addition, certain factors in literature affect the readers’ assumption about the reading, such as character, setting, or theme. This paper will address a theme comparison between one poem and two short stories. Evaluations and interpretations are essential tools, which are constructive aspects in the literary connection process. More importantly, these viewpoints “help us to think critically about the text details and dialect” (DiYanni, 2007 p. 7).

According to Octavio Paz’s “The Street”, William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, and Kate Chopin’s “A Story of an Hour”, isolation was the common theme within their stories. Moreover, these literary works consist of feelings of lonesomeness in the major characters’ within their text. For example, the theme for these three literary works depicts lonely thoughts and isolated settings. The following characterizations are based on comparing literary works: observing and interpreting. Although there are themes that are mutual in various literary works, what type of connection and distinction do they share?

“The Street,” “A Rose for Emily,” “A Story of an Hour” Similarities

Observing and comparing literature is to explore the similarities of the stories. For instance, the poem “The Street” has a similar thematic idea of loneliness, to the following two short stories, “A Rose for Emily” and “A Story for an Hour”. In “The Street”, the poet describes a feeling of a man’s journey down a dark street. The passage, “Everything dark and doorless, only my steps aware of me” (DiYanni, 2007), illustrates that the atmosphere was gloomy and lack privacy. Since it is not clear why this character was alone in the street, some thoughts/questions did come to mind, such as was this person homeless, was this person mentally challenged or did this person just in need of alone time? Moreover, an illustrative phrase in this poem somewhat describes the character’s frame of mind. For instance, “if I run, he runs, I turn: nobody”, (DiYanni, 2007). A general assumption of this wording would be; was someone actually following him or was it only his shadow? In general, this character’s role in “The Street” encountered an emotive stroll down a long and still street, which appears to be an illustration of a solitude tone.

Similar to the solitude theme of “The Street”, the concept of loneliness and isolation are revealed in the short story, “A Rose for Emily” as an expressive description of Emily’s life after death of her father and lover. The writer expresses how Emily’s attitude transformed, physically and emotionally. Emily, the major character, experienced isolation after the death of her father. For instance, the author’s language suggested that after her father’s death, Emily did not care to interact with other people in the community and decided to live in her only little world. DiYanni (2007) state that “After her father’s death she went out very little…people hardly saw her at all” (p. 80). According to this phrase, isolation was Emily’s innermost mind-set, which was her way of coping calamity. In comparison with character in “The Street”, the thought of ‘mentally challenge’ or ‘insane’ came to mind when Emily wanted to buy a toxic item from the pharmacist. Since Emily never mentioned why she needed the poison, and since Emily remained indoors often after her father’s death, her actions did trigger a curious question—what was Emily planning to do with such a deadly element. Ideally, living a lonely and isolated life could cause an emotional way of thinking.

Another story that shares the solitude theme as in the short poem “The Street” is “A Story of an Hour”. The writer tells a story about a woman who isolated herself after hearing the news that her husband has died in a train accident. Ms. Mallard, the main character, expressed her emotions after the news of her husband’s death. Hence, Ms. Mallard’s reaction to the report caused a feeling of isolation—similar to “The Street” and “A Rose for Emily” character, a solitary event. After Ms. Mallard breaks down and cries, she goes to her room to be alone. DiYanni (2007) notes that “When [her weeping was over,] she went away to her room alone. She would not have no one follow her” (p.38).

“The Street,” “A Rose for Emily,” “A Story of an Hour” Differences

As for another method for comparing these three literary works is to detect their theme differences. A noticeable distinction that did stand out among all three literary works, were the character’s gender. The major characters in “A Rose for Emily” and “A Story of an Hour” are women; however, the major/solo character in “The Street” was a male. Although the author of “The Street” made no clear reference of the name of the main character that was walking in the street alone, the writers of “A Rose for Emily” and “The story of an Hour,” Emily and Mrs. Mallard were the names of main characters who shared a period of aloneness and sadness within their life. Furthermore, the ending of these literary works are different as well. The character in “The Street” remains in the street alone with no suggestion of a specific destination. As (DiYanni, 2007) points out, “Poems stimulate our imaginations” (p. 6). Therefore, the author— leading the outcome as a cliffhanger, implies guessing what happens next. Unlike the characters in “A Rose for Emily” and “The Story of an Hour”, their destination ends in death.

Conclusion

In summary, since the common theme in “The Street”, “A Rose for Emily”, and “The Story for an Hour” involves a feeling of aloneness as with the framework, the concept of being alone could be described in different ways. In other words, in comparing these themes, the isolated reactions of these characters derive from specific issues, such as sickness or death. Moreover, “…to characterize the relationship of [literary works,]…the cause leading to effect [and] external event triggering [the] internal response” ((DiYanni, 2007, p. 7), should determine their similarities and differences.

On a final note, the most interesting idea among the three preceding literary works was how the author expressed the character’s emotions through their thoughts and actions. In other words, the writer’s intention is to emphasize what the event would say, which would eventually reveal his or her goal—the theme of the story.

Similarities

· Is similar to

· Both

· Also

· Too

· As well

· Like

Differences

· On the other hand

· However

· But

· Although

· Unlike

· While

Cue Words

Cue words and other tips

To help your reader keep track of where you are in the comparison/contrast, you'll want to be sure that your transitions and topic sentences are especially strong. Your thesis should already have given the reader an idea of the points you'll be making and the organization you'll be using, but you can help her/him out with some extra cues. The following words may be helpful to you in signaling your intentions:

like, similar to, also, unlike, similarly, in the same way, likewise, again, compared to, in contrast, in like manner, contrasted with, on the contrary, however, although, yet, even though, still, but, nevertheless, conversely, at the same time, regardless, despite, while, on the one hand … on the other hand.

For example, you might have a topic sentence like one of these:

Compared to Pepper's, Amante is quiet.

Like Amante, Pepper's offers fresh garlic as a topping.

Despite their different locations (downtown Chapel Hill and downtown Carrboro), Pepper's and Amante are both fairly easy to get to.

Like in any essay, finish your essay by summarizing the points you made in the body.

Ex: Although each is a commercially grown tree fruit, growing temperatures and differences in processing apples and oranges clearly makes a distinction between the two fruits.

Appropriate use of transitions and cue words help make your essay conclusion easy to summarize. Writing a contrast and compare and essay is as easy as comparing apples and oranges!

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