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Skill of Narration - Essay Example

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The writers of biographies provide insight into the lives and times of their subjects. They employ a host of narrative techniques to delineate the character and the milieu in which they lived. There is a stark contrast between the disposition as writers of Plutarach and Bede and the subjects of their biographies…
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Skill of Narration

Plutarch's central argument is the possibility of anybody to rise above his circumstances by the exercise of his will and hard work. He gives a detailed portrait of Coriolanus. He explores Coriolanus' family background, culture, psychology, and morality. These determinants and the historical context shaped his character. Plutarch shows us how sentiments are the humans' strongest motivating force. The passionate urge in Coriolanus, operative from child hood to reach the stature of a great soldier, drives him to work for it with determination. Plutarch thus forcibly presents the psychological reasons behind the journey from ordinary circumstances to that of a significant figure in the Roman history glorified by generations of people.
Plutarch's strength as a narrator springs from his penetrating vision of the psychological side of his subject. The distinguishing feature of Corilanus' character was his detachment from personal glory usually found in most people of ambition. This trait is so very well expressed in chosen word that a flood of light is thrown on his subject as in this excerpt: And, whereas others made glory the end of their daring, the end of his glory was his mother's gladness; the delight she took to hear him praised and to see him crowned, and her weeping for joy in his embraces rendered him in his own thoughts the most honoured and most happy person in the world.
The aesthetic approach of Plutarch is in stark contrast to the didacticism of Bede who writes on a saint of heroic Christian virtues. The central concern of Bede to edify his readers by the exemplary conduct of Cuthbert deflects from the purpose of providing aesthetic pleasure. While Bede reveals the character of Cuthbert conforming to the Christian ideal, the inner side of the Saint is not sufficiently looked at nor is it understood in the style of narration. Cuthbert as a saint working miracles is in the realm of supernatural, while Coriolanus performing heroic feats is in the realm of the natural. Bede's life of Cuthbert is in the form of a string of miracles. Since the aim of the biography was to instill in the reader faith in the powers of saints in the performing of miracles, the literary flourishes are somewhat rudimentary. The sentences do not have the vigour of narrative found in the style of Plutarch. However a believer by the disposition of his mind might find relish in the style of Bede, as it elevates him to realize the power of God's saints in their miracles. The typical miracle conveys the ineffectiveness of human intervention in a crisis. Bede concludes the miraculous way in which the saint put our a fire: But it was not only in the case of an apparition of a fire that his power was shown; for he extinguished a real fire by the fervency of his tears, when many had failed in putting it out with all the water they could get.

The endowments of a writer are usually reflected in his technique of narration. Vasari was a painter and an architect and in the assessment of Donatello he is able to look at him from the angle of an artist that gives the writing a quality of credibility and hence, on the part of the reader, greater willingness to accept the piece of writing. However, the endowments of Audrey was some what limited compared to the standing the Thomas Hobbes enjoyed while ... Read More
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