THE TITLE, THE THEME, THE MESSAGE OF A LITERARY WORK
Passive Voice, verbs with two objects in the passive,
the passive with by and with, stative passive, passive structure.
Form I. We form passive verbs with the different tenses of be (e.g. is, was, isbeing, have been) + Past Participle.
1). Present Simple (am/are/is + past participle): The office is locked every evening.
2). Present Continuous (am/are/ is + being + past participle): The house is being painted at the moment.
3). Past Simple (was/were + past participle): My car was stolen last night.
4). Past Continuous (was/were + being + past participle): The bridge was being repaired last week.
5). Present Perfect Simple (have/has + been + past participle): Sarah has been invited to the party.
6). Past Perfect Simple (will + be + past participle): I thought that you had been told the news.
7). Future Simple (will + be + past participle): The letter will be posted tomorrow.
8). Future Perfect Simple (will + have been + + past participle): The texts will have been typed by 3 o’clock.
9). Perfect Continuous passives are very uncommon.
Form II. The rules for choosing tenses in the passive are the same as in the active. For example, to talk about something that is in progress now, we use the Present Continuous: The house is being painted at the moment.
We often use the passive when we do not know who or what does something: My car was stolen last night (I do not know who stole the car). We also use the passive when we are not interested in who or what does something: The factory was painted last year. / Sarah has been invited to the party. In these sentences we are interested in the factory and Sarah, not who painted the factory, or who invited Sarah.
We also use the passive when we do not want to say who or what does something. Compare: I made a mistake (active). ~ A mistake was made (passive).
Verbs with two objects in the passive. Some verbs (e.g. give) can have two objects: Someone gave Jimmy the money (the two objects are Jimmy and the money). In cases like this, we can make two different passive sentences: Jimmy was given the money. ~ The money was given to Jimmy. In general, it is more usual for passive sentences to begin with the person. Other verbs which can have two objects include send, offer, show, pay, teach, promise, tell and others. Examples: I was sent a telegram. She will be told the news.
The passive with by and with.
By + agent: compare → Columbus discovered America (active). ~ America was discovered by Columbus (passive). The strong winds blew down a number of trees (active). ~ A number of trees were blown down by the strong (passive).
We sometimes use the subject of an active sentence (e.g. Columbus, the strong winds) as “the agent” in a passive sentence. When this happens, we use by to introduce the agent in the passive. We only use by + agent when it is important to say who or what is responsible for something.
With + instrument. → We use with to talk about an instrument which is used by the agent to do something. Compare: I was hit with an umbrella. I was hit by an old lady.
With + material. → We also use with to talk about materials or ingredients, examples: The room was filled with smoke. Irish coffee is made with whisky.
Stative passive. Examples: a). I locked the door five minutes ago. b). The door was locked by me five minutes ago. c). Now the door is locked. d). Ann broke the window. e). The window was broken by Ann. f). Now the window is broken.
The passive form nay be used to describe an existing situation or state, as in (c) and (f). No action is taking place. The action happened before. There is no “by phrase”. The past participle function as an adjective. When the passive form expresses an exiting state rather than an action, it is called the “stative passive”.
am (are, is) + past participle
English is spoken here.
am (are, is) being + past participle
Excuse the mess: the house is being painted.
was (were) + past participle
I wasn’t invited, but I went.
was (were) being + past p.
I felt I was being watched.
have (has) been + past p.
Has Mary been told?
had been + past participle
I knew I had been forgotten.
will be + past participle
You’ll be told soon.
will have been + past participle
Everything will have been done by Tuesday.
going to future
am (are, is) going to be + p.p.
Who’s going to be invited?
Examples of passive infinitives: (to) be told; (to) have been taken. Examples of passive –ing forms: being told; having been taken. Future progressive passives (will be being + pp) and perfect progressive passives (e.g has been being + pp) are unusual. Two-word verbs can have passive forms (e.g. The meeting has been put off).
The subject of a passive verb corresponds to the object of an active verb.
was built in 1486.
is spoken in Australia.
Active: They built
in 1486. Australians speak
With a passive, we can use by + noun if we need to say who does the action, example: This house was built in 1486 by Sir John Latton.
Task 1. Find the correct answer.
1). The day before yesterday we (invited) to the restaurant by John Jenkins (A. are invited. B. were invited. C. invite). 2). Look! The bridge (repair) (A. is being repaired. B. is been repaired. C. has being repaired). 3). The letter and the parcel (post) tomorrow (A. will be post. B. will have been posted. C. will be posted). 4). Margaret (know) to be a very industrious person (A. has been known. B. is known. C. is been known). 5). In Greece the Olympic Games (hold) once in four years (A. were held. B. are being held. C. are held). 6). The problem (study) for three years, but they haven’t got any results (A. has been studied. B. has being studied. C. was studied). 7). This book (republish) by the end of September (A. would been republished. B. will have been republished. C. will been republished). 8). The doctor said that Misha’s leg (X-rayed) the following day (A. will be X-rayed. B. would be X-rayed. C. will have been X-rayed). 9). A police car came when the injured man (carry off) the road (A. was being carried off. B. was been carrying off. C. has been carried off). 10). I (bear) in a small Russian town not far from Samara (A. was borne. B. am born. C. was born). 11). Ivan phoned us and asked if our luggage … (A. was already being packed. B. had already been packed. C. was packed). 12). What a pity, Oleg won’t come. He … about the meeting beforehand (A. should have been told. B. should be told. C. should been told). 13). Over 57 million students … in American schools which range from kindergartens to high schools (A. were enrolled. B. are enrolled. C. has been enrolled). 14). America’s first college, Harvard, … in Massachusetts in 1636 (A. is being founded. B. had been founded. C. was founded). 15). The story of the first Thanksgiving feast … among the Americans (A. is well-known. B. have been well-known. C. would have been well-known). 16). The students … on the Industrial Revolution at the end of the term (A. will be tested. B. are being tested. C. will have been tested). 17). Now London’s councilmen … to approve the erection of a life-size statue of Charlie Chaplin in the costume that the British-born Comedian made in his films (A. being asked. B. asked. C. are being asked). 18). Mr.White was sure that prisoners of conscience … in at least 70 countries (A. are being held. B. were being held. C. being held). 19). In more than 200 years the USA Constitution … 26 times (A. is amended. B. is being amended. C. has been amended). 20). The bridge … by tomorrow morning (A. will have been reconstructed. B. is being reconstructed. C. will be reconstructed). 21). It was announced that the international treaty against weather warfare … and had gone into effect (A. would have been ratified. B. is ratified. C. had been ratified).
Task 2. Open the brackets.
The Tower of London (1. build) by William the Conqueror in 1078 as a castle and palace. Since that time it (2. expand) to its present size, and (3. use) as an armoury, a zoo, a royal mint, a prison, and a museum. At the time when it was a orison a lot of people (4. lock) in the Tower for their religious beliefs or suspected treason. Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabeth the First (5. shut up) there, too. Spies (6. imprison) in the Tower during both World Wars. Some of the prisoners (7. allow) to walk in the grounds, live in comfortable rooms and receive visitors. Many convicted (8. publicly execute) on Tower Hill. They (9. behead) with the block and axe, which (10. keep) and (11. show) in the Tower Armoury now. The Jewel House (12. situate) at the Tower. The collection of the Crown Jewels (13. keep) in it. Saint Edward’s Crown, the Imperial State Crown, and the royal sceptre (14. guard) there. Saint Edward’s Crown (15. use) for the coronation ceremonies. 3000 precious jewels (16. contain) in the Imperial State Crown. In 1671 a daring attempt (17. make) to steal the Crown Jewels by a man named Captain Blood.
Task 3. Find the passive verbs in this text. What tenses are they?
IN DENMARK, 24 people were left hanging upside down when a roller coaster car made an unscheduled stop. The passengers were stranded 60 ft in the air for 20 minutes before firemen arrived with ladders. An official for the fairground, at Aalborg in Western Denmark, said the riders had been firmly locked in and had not been in danger. “They were given their money back,” the official said.
Task 4. Write passive sentences.
1). Chinese (speak) in Singapore. 2). The Taj Mahal (build) around 1640. 3). The new hospital (open) next year. 4). She (interview) now. 5). I realized I (follow). 6). (you invite) to Andy’s party? 7). He found that all his money (steal). 8). These computers (make) in Korea. 9). Passengers (ask) not to speak to the driver. 10). Sorry about the noise – the road (mend). 11). The village church (burn down) last year. 12). A Roman pavement (just find) under Oxford Street.
Task 5. Make the sentences passive. Use by…only if it is necessary to say who does/did the action.
1). Shakespeare wrote ”Hamlet”. 2). They are repairing your car now. 3). People in Chile speak Spanish. 4). My mother made this ring. 5). Electricity drives this car. 6). Somebody will tell you where to go. 7). The most ministers approved this decision. 8). Has anybody asked Peter? 9). Liverpool beat Manchester 3 – 0 yesterday. 10). The Chinese invented paper. 11). They don’t sell stamps in bookshops. 12). The directors are still considering your application.
THE TITLE, THE THEME, THE MESSAGE OF A LITERARY WORK
A. THEORETICAL PRELIMINARIES
Read the material about the title, the theme, the message of a literary work and be ready to answer the teacher’s questions.
The plot with its characters, actions and setting forms the so-called 'surface content' of a literary work. The surface content, which is represented in concrete individuals, situations and actions, may entertain and keep the reader curious. Some read only to learn what happens next. But a skilled reader discovers what lies beyond the surface content. In a literary work he looks for the theme. He understands all the implications encoded in the story. He is sensitive to the author's attitude towards the characters, events and problems in the story. In other words, he looks for and understands what is known as 'the underlying thought content' of the literary work, which conveys its message.
The theme of a story is the main area of interest treated in the story. There are stories on the theme oflove, or love for one's Motherland; there are books on the theme of family relations, or on the anti-war theme.
The plots of different stories on one and the same theme may be based on an identical type of conflict, as The Lady's Maid by K. Mansfield and Arrangement in Black and White by D. Parker. The theme of both the stories is human relations in society, both are based on the conflict between man and the established order with its racial hostility, injustice and exploitation. But K. Mansfield and Parker have embodied the similar theme and conflict into unique artistic forms, incomparable characters and events, and have managed to do it in a most effective way. The stories reveal different aspects of human relationship and arouse different responses on the part of the reader.
The theme performs a unifying function. It is clearly seen in The Oval Portrait by E. A. Poe. The theme of each part of the tale is the power of beauty and art to stir emotions. Despite the differences in the described events and the style, both the parts reveal the storm of emotions which beauty stirs up in man. The two episodes develop the same theme. Hence, they both express it and thus bind the two parts into an organic whole. The effect that the artistic unity produces is brilliant, vivid and enduring.
The theme of the story implies the problem which the writer raises. His view and attitude to this problem is revealed in the way he develops the theme of the story. The most important idea that the author expresses in the process of developing the theme is the message of the story. The theme is therefore organically connected with the author's message.
The message is generally expressed implicitly, i. e. indirectly, and has a complex analytical character, being created by the interaction of numerous implications which the different elements of the literary work have. It is only by analysis of those implications that one may reveal the message of a literary work. Implication is the suggestion that is not expressed directly but understood.
The author's message is not always a solution of the problems raised in the story. At times the writer raises urgent and relevant problems, the solution of which it is as yet difficult to foresee. His intention may not be to suggest a certain solution (the problem may hardly admit solution), the writer may intend only to raise the problem and focus the reader's attention on it. In such cases the message of his literary work will not suggest any solution. It will pose the problem and reveal its relevance. Moreover, the message depends on the writer's outlook, and the reader may either share the writer's views or not. On account of all that, L. I. Timofeyev distinguishes the following types of messages:
(a) messages that suggest definite solutions ("čäĺ˙ – îňâĺň"),
(b) messages that raise a problem ("čäĺ˙ – âonpoc"),
(c) messages in which the solution of the problem is not adequate (čäĺ˙ – îřčáęa").
The author's message is closely connected with the author's attitude. A literary work "is not simply a fictitious record of conduct, but also a study and judgement of conduct...". Even if the writer attempts to conceal his attitude by shifting the responsibility of storytelling on to a character in the story and assumes an impartial or detached tone, he cannot prevent his characters from suggesting a definite attitude in the reader's mind.
The message of a story is inferred from the synthetic images created by the author and does not exist separately from them. The synthetic images embody the message. The protagonist, in particular, is often considered to be the message itself. Therefore, it is mainly through the characters that the message is revealed. Besides that, the message cannot be revealed without taking into account the theme of the story, as well as the author's attitude. When analysing the message contained in the work one must also take into consideration the title of the story.
The title is the first element to catch our eye, but its meaning and function may be determined only retrospectively. The title acquires it precise meaning when related to the whole story. Then it may acquire a totally different meaning, contrary to what its components generally mean. The title of S. Maugham's story Mr. Know-All illustrates that A "know-all" has a derogatory connotation, but when related to the main character of the story, it acquires a positive meaning, as Mr.Know-All turns out to be not only a knowledgeable man, but also a good psychologist and a real gentleman.
The story may clarify the meaning of one of the components of the title. In Winter in July by D. Lessing "winter" appears to be not a season, but a period of decline. In The Quiet American by G. Greene "quiet" acquires an ironical shade, as the "quiet" Pyle turns out to be vicious and brings a great deal of evil and harm.
The title may acquire a symbolic meaning. Thus the components in the title The Moon and Sixpence by S. Maugham symbolize different sets of values.
The title may have the following functions:
1. It may serve as a means of conveying the author's message. There are titles which actually formulate the author's message (e. g. Say No to Death by D. Cusak, or Live with Lightning by M. Wilson).
2. It may serve as a means of cohesion — it may unite the components of a story to form a whole. In The Apple Tree by J. Galsworthy, for example, the "apple tree" links all the scenes. When Ashurst first met Megan and she brought him to the village, the apple tree is "in leaf, and all but in flower — its crimson buds just bursting." When he first kissed Megan, "the pink clusters of the apple blossom" and "the unearthly beauty of the apple blossom" form the setting of the scene. The story ends with the words "The Apple tree, the singing and the gold!" The final phrase repeats the epigraph. By framing the story, this phrase unites it into an indivisible whole. The repetition of "the apple tree" and its constant associations attach to it a symbolic meaning — that of love, spring and beauty.
3. The title may serve as a means of focussing the reader's attention on the most relevant characters or details (e. g. The Lady's Maid by K. Mansfield, Hamlet by W. Shakespeare).
4. The title may characterize the protagonist (e. g. The Man of Property by J. Galsworthy).
5. Any title orients the reader towards the story. It may then serve as a means of foreshadowing (e. g. Mistaken Identity by M. Twain). It may also disorientate the reader, when it contrasts with the story and acquires an ironic ring (e. g. The Pleasures of Solitude by J. Cheever).
Therefore, the title is another aid for the reader, which he should not neglect when probing into the underlying content.
On revealing the author's message, the reader generally analyses his own rational and emotional response to the story, draws his own conclusions. These conclusions may not necessarily coincide with the author's message. That is why M. B. Khrapchenko and L. I. Timofeyev distinguish between the so-called objective message and the author's message.
The objective message is the final conclusion that the reader draws from the analysis of his own response to the story and from the author's message, contained in the story. The objective message may be broader than the author's message, because it is based on more profound historical experience. Every new generation judges the literary works created a century or more ago in a new way, as the new generation possesses more information about the outcome of many historical processes than the writers of those works could foresee.
The effectiveness of the writer's presentation of the message depends on how credible and exciting the plot is, how lifelike and convincing the characters are, how expressive the language is, how well the literary techniques are used.
Answer the questions:
1. What is the theme of a literary work? What is the central function the theme of a story may fulfill? Give examples of the themes the authors may dedicate their works to.
2. What is the message of a story? What are the points one should take into account trying to reveal the writer’s message? Do the message of the author and the one (s)he managed to convey to the reader always coincide? Why (not)?
3. What are the functions the title of a story may have?