Monday, June 20, 2011

Literary elements present in "Miriam"

Theme – The consciousness of people
Characters - Mrs. Miller, Miriam.
Characterization – The story has two types of characterization; on the one hand, direct characterization as seen in Miriam’s first description:.
  • “Her hair was the longest and strangest Mrs. Miller had ever seen; absolutely silver-white, like an albino’s. It flowed waist-length in smooth, loose lines. She was a simple, special elegance in the way she stood with her thumbs in the pockets of a tailored plum-velvet coat” (Capote, 38)
The other type of characterization is indirect, which means a description of the character’s personality or information through actions, words, thoughts, etc.
  • “Her activities were seldom spontaneous: she kept the two rooms immaculate, smoked an occasional cigarette, prepared her own meals and tended a canary” (Capote,37)

  • Introduction: Mrs. Miller lives alone in a house, where she has a routinely life. She had plans for every day; it was the same plan for each week.
  • Conflict: Someday, Mrs. Miller goes to the movies where she finds a little girl that calls her attention, asking her if she could buy a ticket for her.
  • Climax: Since that day in the movies, Miriam starts visiting Mrs. Miller; she arrives at Mrs. Millers’s house and from that day on, Miriam appears to Mrs. Miller every day, making her become tired of those visits because they break with her routine.
  • Anticlimax: This happens when Mrs. Miller tells Miriam to go away from her house, letting her alone for her to continue with the routine.
  • End: It seems that Miriam disappeared and she wouldn’t come back, but when Mrs. Miller was already calm down, Miriam reappears.
Causality – The permanent visits of Miriam lead to Mrs. Miller’s desperation

Foreshadowing – Miriam appears

Mood - Suspense

Resolution/Denouement – Mrs. Miller finds herself again, her identity
  • “… For the only thing she had lost to Miriam was her identity, but now she knew she had found again the person who lived in this room, who cooked her own meals, who owned a canary, who was someone she could trust and believe in: Mrs. H. T. Miller” (Capote, 49)
Setting – Mainly, Mrs. Miller’s house:
  • “Mrs. Miler entered her apartment softly; she walked to the center of the room and stood quite still. No, in a sense it had not changed: the roses, the cake, and the cherries were in place. But this was an empty room, emptier than if the furnishings and familiars were not present, lifeless and petrified as a funeral parlor. The sofa loomed before her with a new strangeness: its vacancy had a meaning that would have been less penetrating and terrible had Miriam been curled on it” (Capote, 4 9)
Point of View – third person

– Limited omniscient: All-knowing narrator about one or two characters, but not all

Personification - Miriam

Symbolism – Miriam symbolizes death

Capote, Truman. The complete stories of Truman Capote. New York: Vintage Internacional, 2005.

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