Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Figurative Language in "Glass" from The Rose and the Beast

When authors use figurative language, it is to draw unusual comparisons that lead the reader to focus on the similarities between the two items, the one literal and the one figurative, creating a specific image in the mind of the reader. Block (2000) uses figurative language in "Glass" to help the reader create a mental picture of the story, get a sense of the characters and their situations.

Primarily, Block uses similes to describe elements of the setting, in "Glass," to provide the reader with images and characterize the protagonist. When the protagonist "[arranges] flowers in the vase like dancing sisters" (Block, 2000, p. 56), the reader sees a bouquet with stems intertwining. That the flowers are described as "dancing" can also lead the reader to believe that there is a sense of joviality to this task, that it makes the protagonist happy. The glass goblets are described as having roses and grapes that "one could feel with the fingertips like Braille" (Block, 2000, p. 57) playing to the reader's sense of touch, showing that the images on the glass are raised, and that the protagonist is an imaginative character, creating history based on what she feels. The candlesticks are compared to crystal balls, in which "the girl could not read her own future" (Block, 2000, 58), suggesting an undertone of sadness to the previous evidence of cheerfulness.

For further characterization, Block uses paradox to describe the godmother character. Paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement that holds some truth in the contradiction. A simpler form of paradox is oxymoron, where two words are placed in juxtaposition (e.g. jumbo shrimp).  The godmother character is "young and old…blind and could see everything…spoke softly, in whispers, but her voice carried across the mountain ranges…" (Block, 2000, p. 59). These characteristics are contradictive, but lend to the fantastic nature of the character, one who is capable of many things outside the realm of ordinary life.

A metaphor that caught my attention, made me come up short for a minute was the explicit metaphor when at that dance when "he planted in her a seed of a white flower with a dizzy scent" (Block, 2000, 64). This following the word "one," and continuing to discuss the sisters' envy leads me to infer that there is an immediate physical aspect to this relationship, an aspect that would cause the two to become one, an aspect that would evoke jealousy in her sisters because she has what they want.

There is an extended metaphor that I can't get a handle on, so I'm putting it to anyone else to suggest ideas for. The first is the idea that the protagonist's words created her shoes. The godmother characters says, "and here are glass shoes made from your words, the stories you have told like a blower with her torch forming the thinnest, most translucent sheets of light of out of what was once sand" (Block, 2000, p. 61). Similarly, at the end of the story when her time at the party is finished, the protagonist "ran home through a tangle of words where the letters jumbled and made no sense and meant nothing…" (Block, 2000, 66). I draw the comparison between the words and the shoes, the words and the event, but I'm having trouble with the "so what?" element of the metaphor. What does it mean? What was the author trying to accomplish?

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