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Essai - un extrait du roman "Une paire d'yeux bleus"

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Par   •  13 Juin 2013  •  Lettre type  •  804 Mots (4 Pages)  •  422 Vues

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This text is an excerpt from the novel A Pair of Blue Eyes, written by Thomas Hardy and published in 1873. The extract begins in medias res, at a moment of climax. Indeed, about halfway through the novel, the young and somewhat fickle heroine, Elfride, daughter of a Cornish vicar, takes a telescope to the top of a high cliff overlooking the Bristol Channel, to view the ship that is bringing home from India the young architect to whom she is secretly engaged. She is accompanied by Henri Knight, a friend of her stepmother's, a man of maturer years and intellectual interests, who has made overtures to her, and to whom she is becoming guiltily attracted. As they sit on the cliff top, Knight's hat is blown towards the edge, and when he tries to retrieve it he finds himself unable to climb back up the slippery one-in-three slope that terminates in a sheer drop of several hundred feet. Elfride's efforts to assist him only make things worse […] Elfride disappears from Knight's view, presumably seeking assistance, though he knows they are miles from any human habitation.

As we said, the story begins in medias res when Elfride disappears from Knight's view, presumably seeking assistance, though he knows they are miles from any human habitation. It is an instance of narrative hook to create suspense as the reader wonders what will happen next, if the protagonist will survive and, if so, how ? Suspense can only be sustained by delaying the answers to these questions ; so / thus, the narrator lingers over the scene so that / with the result that tension reaches its peak.

Thus, the narrator restricts the narration of the scene to Knight's point of view. From the beginning to the end of the passage, the reader follows has privileged access to the protagonist's thoughts.

From line 1 to 5, the protagonist endows a concept, “Nature”, with human characteristics and feelings : hostility, especially. “He could only look sternly at Nature's treacherous attempt to put an end to him, and strive to thwart her”, the narrator says (lines 4-5). Thus, “Nature” becomes the antagonist Knight is in conflict with. On the other hand, the struggle against Nature and the fact that he is in mortal danger, arouse Knight's instinct of self-preservation.

From line 6 to 12, the narrator describes the slope where Knight is trapped. The description of the scene is structured spatially, as the eye of the protagonist discovers it : from top to bottom, especially, to convey a sense of vertigo. The wealth of visual details and spatial landmarks make us aware of the [situation : Knight will not get out of it without help. […]

From line 13 to 23, we get a closer view of the cliff-face : Knight realizes that he is staring into the eyes, “dead and turned to stone”, of a fossilized arthropod millions of years old.

His work is notable from such breathtaking shifts of perspective, which display the fragile human figure dwarfed by a Universe whose vast dimensions of space and time were just beginning to be truly apprehended. And invariably his characters, fallaciously but understandably, read into this disparity of scale a kind of cosmic malice. Confronting the dead eyes of the fossil, which have replaced the living, seductive blue eyes of Elfride in his field of vision, Knight acquires a new understanding, both poignant


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