Scope for Imagination

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"Shakespeare's speaker in 'Sonnet 73: That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold' (pages 102-103), for example, emphasizes that he is getting older and therefore closer to the time of his death.  Rather than stating this idea so uninterestingly, however, Shakespeare dramatizes it through the introduction of images of autumn, evening, and a dying fire" (130).
                    Edgar V. Roberts, Writing About Literature

As Roberts details in this chapter, though not in these exact words, imagery is the key factor in showing versus telling.  Shakespeare could have simply said the speaker was dying, but that would be hardly interesting at all.  By providing the imagery of things that relate to death in some way, the writing has a greater impact on the reader.  Instead of just acknowledging that the speaker is dying, the reader gets a deeper understanding of that death through the imagery.  He was once like a bright day, until twilight comes "after sunset fadeth in the West."  These words are much more effective because of the emotion behind them - an emotion the reader can feel instead of just read.

"In effect, you [the reader] are recreating the work in your own way through the controlled stimulation produced by the writer's words" (129).

The reason to show instead of tell when writing is to allow the reader to do their own interpretation.  As people have said in class (I think it was Josie, specifically), a writer's work belongs to the reader once it's been published.  I, personally, can't feel that connection and attachment to a piece of writing unless there's room for me to determine how the piece relates to me based on my own interpretation.  If Shakespeare, in the above sonnet, had said "this speaker is dying," that plainly, I wouldn't really care.  However, through the imagery, there's so much more room for imagination, and I can put myself in the speaker's or listener's place, thereby making my bond to the poem much stronger.  Does anyone else feel that way?

Here's a quote from L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables that seems to fit the mood of this blog: "Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"

Check out Melissa's blog for a different, but very valid, opinion.

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I started reading Anne of Green Gables to my daughter, but sadly she lost interest. The Hobbit has kept her attention. We'll try Anne again in a few years, maybe.

I was about 10 when I read Anne of Green Gables. I still reread it once a year or so because it's had such a huge impact on who I am, and I never tire of the series (except books 6-8... they focus on Anne's kids, and it's just not the same). Anne is definitely a character you either love or feel apathetic towards. The book isn't really action-packed... it's more like a bildungsroman, focusing on potentially real-life events (though sometimes exaggerated) in a small Canadian town. L.M. Montgomery actually based a lot of her stories on her life growing up in Cavendish, PEI. I don't think I would have appreciated the book as much if I had read it at a different time in my life, so I can definitely understand why your daughter wouldn't be interested yet. I hope she eventually is, though!

Josie Rush said:

I definitely agree with your characterization of the Anne series as a bildungroman. The series is basically Anne growing up, turning into who she is...etc. I think I may have been a little older when I read the Anne series. Maybe I was 13 or so? I had the unfortunate experience of watching the movie first, and Anne is not nearly as likeable in the movie as she is in the books. And then one of my friends suggested the books, so I gave them a chance (I'll read basically anything recommended by a friend). Dr. Jerz, the moral of the story is, keep your daughter away from the movie until she reads the books!
And Karyssa, I am taking part in your dismissal of books 6-8. What was Montgomery thinking ending the series in a melancholy manner? It's *Anne*. I was "in the depths of despair" for weeks after I read the last book.

"Keep your daughter away from the movie until she reads the books!"

Absolutely! I also watched the movies first because my grandmother bought them for me. It was hard to make it through the first one, and I didn't touch the second one (she only bought the first 2, not the third. I'm not sure if the third was out yet, actually). However, I read the books anyways and fell in love with them. The movies are much more enjoyable after you've read the books :) Which reminds me, Josie, that we still need to watch them. I have them all on DVD now so we need to make plans to watch AOGG and more Veronica Mars.

Josie Rush said:

I know! But one of us is going away this weekend. It's not me, but I'm not going to say any names. And thus, our Veronica Mars and Anne time is imposed upon. We will get through the first season of VM before Xmas break, though.

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