Elements of Style in Short Stories Essay Sample


Authors often use elements of style to effectively portray their story, and the overall message they want to convey. Well-known author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, provides his short stories with an abundance of stylistic elements, to engage readers, as well as providing an understanding to what he is trying to reveal in his story. Hawthorne’s Rappachini’s Daughter, and The Ambitious Guest, incorporate stylistic elements such as figures of speech, and use of dialogue to successfully tell his story, and portray the overall message/theme of the story. 
    
In both short stories, Hawthorne uses a form of figurative language, symbolism, and paragraph structure, to effectively portray the story. Typically authors use symbolism represented through objects, but in The Ambitious Guest, Hawthorne utilizes symbolism through his characters. When a young man shows up at a family’s house, he is filled with ambition and desire, otherwise known as “the ambitious guest.” It is clear that Hawthorne is using this character to provide a deeper understanding and image into a reader's head. Hawthorne uses symbols through characters in Rappchinni’s Daughter as well. A well-known, and successful scientist, Dr. Rappachini, symbolizes evil, and is referred to by main character Giovanni, with a face that could never express”much warmth of heart” (Hawthorne 2). In addition to this symbol, these words also provide a visual image to the reader's head. The main focus of the story is Rappacchini’s strange garden, and he will do anything to gain more knowledge. His daughter, Beatrice, is the opposite, and symbolizes innocence, and of a good soul. She is described with a “rich and youthful voice” which is the complete opposite of Rappacchini (Hawthorne 3). This good vs. evil portrayal helps to create each character's traits, as well as a mental and visual image of these characters.  the  This use of the figure of speech provides readers with a better understanding of the story, and allows the audience to see beyond a character, as well as presenting a bigger idea. In addition to symbolism, another stylistic element that Hawthorne uses in both stories is his use of dialogue. The Ambitious Guest incorporates large paragraphs which often contain all dialogue from a specific character.  Similar to The Ambitious Guest, Hawthorne also uses large paragraphs that consist of all dialogue.  This dialogue is often very descriptive, using large words as well. This unique use of dialogue from Hawthorne is used to “tell the story” and establish the plot, as well as providing a sense of emotion from the characters (Elements of Literary Style Doc). 
    
Hawthorne’s use of figure of speech and paragraph structure in the short stories, each contribute to the overall themes. The main meaning or theme in The Ambitious Guest, is that your ambitions will go a long way in determining and viewing your future. With his use of symbolism through the young guest, Hawthorne describes him with a “high and abstracted ambition” (Hawthorne). The man has a strong desire to accomplish any goals that come through his mind.  Furthermore, the symbolism in Rappacchini’s Daughter also sets up the theme of corruption, or making selfish decisions only for yourself will affect others in an unfortunate and bad way. Dr. Rappacchini, the symbol of evil, will do anything to succeed in his studies, and “would sacrifice human life” for adding “accumulated knowledge” (Hawthorne 4). This proves how he will do anything for himself, even if it includes killing, to succeed in his job of being a scientist. This also relates to his evil persona, and personality that is symbolized in the story. Beatrice, symbolized as a good person, is affected by Rappachini’s decision to fill his garden with poisonous plants for his experiments, and is eventually killed by these poisonous plants. Hawthorne also uses dialogue within large paragraphs to support the themes. Hawthorne uses dialogue with the young man to express his ambition to the family he comes across. He tells the family how he can’t die until he has “achieved my destiny” (Hawthorne 4). The paragraph that contains this quote where he is speaking to the family, is effectively conveying the young man’s, and the story’s message of ambition. He wants to feel successful, and accomplish his ambitions before his life ends. Rappacchini’s Daughter uses plenty of dialogue incorporated throughout the story that support the theme. A conversation between professor Baglioni, a rival of Dr. Rappacchini’s, and Giovanni, express Rappacchini’s evil ways. Baglioni is demonstrating how Giovanni is “one of Rappacchini’s experiments!”, and that Rappacchini is “making a study” out of him (Hawthorne 8). This is just another example of how Rappacchini is wicked, and will do anything for his studies.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories The Ambitious Guest and Rappacchini’s Daughter, both integrate stylistic elements including paragraph structure, and figure of speech, to unveil the story, and help reveal the overall message. Hawthorne’s unique use of figurative language, and structure are key to each of the two short stories main messages, ambition and Whether its figures of speech, or paragraph structure, successful writers use elements of literary style to generate a well-written, and gripping story.

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