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Literary Theory Of Formalism English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1556 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In order to help readers understand and analyze any text, there are a few comprehension strategies that can be used before, during, and after reading. Prior to reading the short story, “The Rocking-horse Winner,” I was able to utilize the before-reading strategy for better preparation of the reading. By accumulating information from reviewing the Key Question for this unit, I had a better understanding of the purpose of reading the short story and that I should read the story at a fairly moderate pace as I knew it was going to be a short story. Also, by reading lesson 1 thoroughly while taking notes, I had an idea that the topic may make relations to family and identity as well as financial issues between family members in a family since some examples was provided earlier in the unit. Because of the examples and issues discussed earlier in the unit, it was easier to make connections while reading the story. Also, it is easier for me to analyze a story when I can relate the characters to myself or stories I am familiar with. While reading “The Rocking-horse Winner,” both Paul and his mother’s situation was relatable since many of us feel like you always need more money. After reading, I always review the text and try to find the message, main idea or purpose of the text. In The Rocking-horse Winner,” the main message is Paul’s mother took the need for money too far.

After analyzing the literary text through formalism, the four textual elements can be found are as follows:

i) Protagonist: In most literatures, a protagonist is presented and it is usually the leading character, hero, or heroine to overthrow the antagonist. In this story, the protagonist is the little boy, Paul, who becomes aware of the condition in his household and is set on helping his family. He seems to be blessed with the luck that his mother does not therefore he was able earn the money that she consistently desired. As a result of pleasing his mother by making money, he put himself in danger and eventually loses his life.

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ii) Antagonist: By definition, the antagonist is whatever opposing force the protagonist struggles with, such as another character, environment, or something within the protagonist. In “The Rocking-horse Winner,” the antagonist is Paul’s mother, Hester, who is held accountable for the death of her son, Paul. She is characterized as a pretentious, materialistic, greedy and selfish mother with very little care for her family. She clearly is more concerned for wealth and her own appearance and is described as beautiful with all the advantages, except luck. With the amount of money and possessions that she acquires, she is never content or satisfied. This in turn, causes dispute for everyone in her family, as Paul bend over backwards to earn more money and the rest of the family deals with the constant “whispers” that grow louder each day.

iii) Conflict: Conflict is the opposition between forces in a story. The conflict in “The Rocking-horse Winner,” is presented between person-versus-person or Paul versus his mother. As Paul earns more money, more Hester spends. Paul struggles to gain his mother’s love by working hard and she is oblivious to all of Paul’s hard work and the affect it was having on his health. This conflict becomes unsolved until after Paul’s death. The conflict structures the main plot and theme of the story.

iv) Theme: The theme is the broad idea, moral, or message of a story and is critical in a short story. It is the purpose of the text in which a combination of all of the elements is expressed into one solid moral or lesson. In “The Rocking-horse Winner,” Hester, the mother has come to the realization that perhaps money cannot buy happiness and as a result of Paul’s death, she now has to live with the guilt that she is responsible of her son’s death. Sometimes people may not realize what they have until it’s gone. This hopefully has taught her to learn to love her children and prioritize her children become more aware of the situation within the household. She should learn to appreciate significant things instead of destroying everything she has because of greed.

Key Question 4:

Archetypal Theory Analysis of “The Step Not Taken”

Monomyth or the hero’s journey is one of the dominant archetypal patterns found in many narratives and myths from around the world. The archetype of the monomyth refers to a cycle that consists of various stages in which a character moves through in his or her quest or journey towards an ultimate state of experience. The stages are separation, struggle or initiation, and return and reintegration. These stages are resemblance of the multiple roles the protagonist adopts at different points in the story. Through an in-depth analysis of The Step not taken by Paul D’Angelo, Through an in-depth analysis of The Step not taken by Paul D’Angelo, this essay will give an explanation of the three stages of a monomyth, the three stages of the monomyth can easily be revealed and identified.

The story begins with the separation stage. At this stage, usually a hero or protagonist undergoes many events in which he takes part in.The first stage of monomyth begins, the separation stage, when the narrator meets a well-dressed young man in the elevator as he enters the office-building elevator. At this stage, he is unaware of the strange events that are about to unfold before him. . At this point, the protagonist is faced with two options; take on this new challenge or not, keeping with the monomyth archetype. The protagonist did not notice anything unusual about the young man until the young man broke down into tears: “nothing at all to indicate what was about to take place,” he says. At this point, the protagonist takes notice of the situation and is confronted with a “call to adventure”. However, the protagonist does not do anything to help the young man nor did he offer any comfort by giving the young man the opportunity to “unload his sadness.” Similar situation occurs in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone,” when Harry is first told he is a wizard he refuses to believe it and denies his magical side, because he has been regular boy for so long the idea for taking on this new identity and the journey that comes with it, is at first hard to swallow.Eventually, the protagonist is haunted by his self conscience and “a sense of regret.” The guide throughout this entire quest is the protagonist’s own conscious that kicks in shortly after he steps out of the elevator. Despite the risks of the situation going wrong, the protagonist wonder if he should check up on the young man to make sure he’s okay, accepting the quest. He moves on to the second stage where he begins to seek for the knowledge he’d need in order to do the “right thing.”

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The monomyth continues through the second stage, the struggle or initiation, in which the protagonist begins his transformation where he faces a pool of emotions filled with fear and frustration. He begins to question and rationalize the young man’s behavior and wonders if he was”mentally disturbed, A manic-depressive, or A suicide just waiting to happen.”  With the “sense of regret,” he decides to seek for other’s advice. They tell him he did the proper thing by leaving the young man alone. Further consideration of the situation, he is convinced that the “right proper” thing would have been to be there for the young man and listen to his problems instead of walking away. The protagonist’s goddess figure, internal force, or realization brought out the thought of unconditional love and acceptance. The epiphany is when he discovers the meaning of unconditional love and the right thing to do as a human not as some executive, co-worker or stranger. He then thinks about his son and what he “would want someone to do if they ever found [his] son crying in an elevator.” With all possibilities considered, this is when the protagonist moves on to the final stage of his journey.

The stage of return and reintegration begins as the protagonist dwells on the incident, regretting his decision, so he refuses to return home. Eventually, the goddess figure or realization helps him understand that the past is unchangeable and he should move with the lesson learned from the journey. In the end, the protagonist does finish his journey because he is enlightened and ultimately has become a more compassionate person. From this story, it is learned that if the protagonist were to come in contact with the young man again, he would choose to do the “right thing” over the “big-city thing”. This story is relevant to today’s world, because it is such a face-paced place that many people ignore the suffering of others and “walk on by” while forgetting to be compassionate and nice because they are so caught up in themselves. In the time of need, it’s good to have someone, even if it is a stranger.


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