Tuesday, September 18, 2007

3.2--Plot Summary

A. Here’s the problem:
Instead of stating ideas and illustrating them with examples and relevant passages from the text, sometimes you get careless and write several sentences re-telling a part of the story or novel, perhaps making a half-hearted attempt at the end of the summary to draw an inference (“this shows. . .”). Sorry, but that’s a no-no.
B. What to do:
Select the entire section of summary, delete it, and decide what point you want to make. Then begin by stating the point; after that, find one clear example or passage to illustrate what you’ve just said and give only that example.

C. Example: After Jane Bennet visits Mr. Bingley at Netherfield, she becomes ill. Elizabeth elects to go to Netherfield to care for her older sister. Since Elizabeth dislikes riding horses, she is forced to walk three miles in the rain to Netherfield. When she arrives at Mr. Bingley’s house, Mr. Bingley’s sisters are shocked and dismayed by her appearance. She arrived alone, with dirty stockings and petticoat and a flushed complexion.

Corrected Version: Austen shows us how often characters are judged falsely, according to narrow-minded standards. When Elizabeth walks across three miles of muddy fields to see her ill sister, Bingley’s sisters comment archly about her appearance. Only Mr. Bingley is impressed by Elizabeth’s concern for Jane’s health.

D. Now you try—write an improved version of the following passage.
1. Darcy feels that he cannot live without Elizabeth’s love, telling her that “my feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Elizabeth could see that “he had no doubt of a favourable answer,” as he proposed to her. Darcy, unaware of the bottled up anger which Elizabeth possess towards him, was shocked by Elizabeth’s response. Elizabeth not only declined the offer, but expressed her reasons for doing so. Darcy’s “astonishment was obvious,” and he apologized for wasting her time. The following morning, Darcy presents Elizabeth with a letter explaining his reasons for preventing the wedding between Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister. . . yadda yadda yadda.