Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2013-2014 English Semester Report

English
   In this first semester of the Ron Paul Curriculum, I've learned more about literature and what goes into it. I have learned about genres, the many forms of literature, and the five parts of fiction. Also over this first semester, I have read some really good books by great authors. In this semester report, I will cover what I have learned. I hope you enjoy this essay!

Five Parts of Literature:
   The first thing I learned in English was the steps that go into writing a fiction story. Every story has five parts. These parts are the plot, setting, character development, theme, and author's style.
   So, coming up with the plot is the first step to writing any story. To make a good plot, there are five more more steps to complete. There is the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

   In any good story, the author must write a satisfying introduction to the story called the exposition. The exposition covers the beginning of the book and introduces the characters of the story. This first part of the plot shows what the main character's life is like and some of the things going on in his/her life.
   Next, the rising action is the part of the story that builds up to the climax. This usually introduces the big conflict that the characters have to face. The rising action usually takes up most of the story and can also introduce subplots as the story climaxes.
   The third part of the plot is the climax. Here, the story's conflict is at its height. This climax is where everything the story was building up to falls into place. The climax usually takes place in one exciting scene.
   Then comes the falling action. This is where the author starts drawing the story to an end. The characters solves all the conflicts that happened in the rising action and climax.
   Finally, the resolution. This is where the story is concluded. The characters may have won the big conflict or the author could have set up the ending for another book to continue the story.

   Moving on the next point in literature. The setting of the story is basically the backdrop to what happens in the book. Good authors can help you visualize where and how things take place. The setting is often described in the exposition, early on in the story. There are many ways for the setting to appear in a book. One of the ways for to have setting is juxtaposition.
   The juxtaposition of a book is where two opposite things are put together to create a contrasting effect. The book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain shows an excellent example of juxtaposition. The main character is pulled from his modern time and stuck in the time of King Arthur. Therefore, his actions and manner of speech are in contrast to those of old England.
   Another setting appearance is milieu. The milieu of the story is the social environment surrounding the characters. For instance, in a pirate story, the milieu would be the surrounding pirate environment.
   A third appearance of setting is tone. In books, how you read the story is based on what the tone is. If the book's tone has a romantic feel to it, then the the story is probably a romance.
   The customs of the story is the next look in building the setting. Based on where the characters go and how they get there, the customs of the story change. For example, if the characters went to Russia, all the different customs would be noticeable.
   Next up is satire. The satire of the story is the act of pointed mocking at anything the author thinks is ridiculous. If you discover satire in a book, the author might be trying to get a point across.
   Visualization is a very important bit of setting. Without details and descriptions throughout a story, reading would be very dull indeed.
   The final appearance setting has is mood. The mood of the story comes from the entire feel of the book. It helps you to understand the book better.

   The third point of literature is character development. Throughout a story, you should be able to see the characters develop and mature as the book goes on. The author describes details and creates an image of what the character look like, what the environment looks like, etc.
   There are different types of characters. The foremost main characters are the protagonists and the antagonists. The protagonist is generally on the good guy side and can be a single character or in a group. The antagonist is usually on the bad guy side and can be a single character or in a group. Then there are the primary and secondary characters. The primary characters are the main characters, the ones that are talked about the most. The secondary characters are the ones in the background and play more minor roles in the overall story.
   Dialogue is a huge part in characterization. How the character converses with other people helps to keep the story entertaining. It also shows how the character takes to different languages spoken.
   Next is rivalry. A healthy rivalry is very good for the characters, as it allows them to build a good sense of judgment towards situations with the people they don't like.
   The last part of character development is the static and dynamic characters. The static characters are the ones that don't really grow along with the story. They don't learn from mistakes that happen. The dynamic characters, however, do learn lessons and grow in maturity. They are often the “heroes” of the story.
   The fourth of the five points of literature is theme. This part of literary analysis is important to the story at large. The theme of the story can be interpreted differently by everybody. No two people have the same idea of the theme of the story. The them is generally the moral of the story or what the author is trying to say.

   The last and final part of literature is author's style. Every author has a different way of writing their books. The author's style is how they write characters, describe details, write the dialogue, etc. Author G. A. Henty writes personal historical fiction. His books are mostly centered around his main characters. Another author, Arthur Conan Doyle, wrote short detective stories. No two authors have the same style.

Five Types of Literature
   The next thing I learned in English this semester was how many different types of literature there are. There are five major types: novels, novellas, short stories, poems, and dramas.
   The novel is a long story that is written in the everyday language, prose. It's the longest of the five literature types. The novel is a narrative of fictional characters and events. Novels are often in the form of sequential stories or series. A few of my favorite novels include:The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson.
   Next is the short story. This type of literature is also written in everyday language. A short story isn't always “short”. It can be as long as a novel. A short story makes use of plot, resonance, and other dynamic components to a greater degree than an anecdote, yet to a far lesser degree than a novel. Some short stories include: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, To Build a Fire by Jack London, and The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allen Poe.
   The third type of literature is novella. Novellas are fictional stories too. These stories usually have fewer conflicts, unlike novels, which have more conflicts to span across a longer story. The story of a novella is longer than a short story, but has a far more simplified plot line than a novel. A few examples of novellas include: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Call of the Wild by Jack London, and The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway.
   Next is the poem. Poems use a sing-song rhythm, prose and word positioning in pretty and unique ways. Poems aren't supposed to be read as you would a novel, as there are many forms of poems. A haiku is a three line poem consisting of a line of five words, a line of seven words, and then a line of five words again. An epic is a really long book poem telling a story. An example of an epic is The Epic of Gilgamesh. Then there's a concrete poem which is a poem formed into a shape. Lastly, there's just regular poems that sometimes give you a peek into the author's life.
   The last type of literature is drama. This is a huge part of literature. Drama is written in a dialogue format. It is then interpreted in ballets, plays, and theater works. Plays are performed using literature drama, such as comedy and tragedy. The literature drama for plays is split up into scenes and acts. William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, is a form of drama.

Types of Genres
   A genre is a term for categorizing literature, art, and entertainment. It developed as new forms of literature became popular. There are two major genres: fiction and nonfiction. Under those two genres, there are sub-genres.
   Nonfiction is the first major genre. This genre only contains true facts and events. Included in nonfiction is newspapers, essays, journals, books, autobiographies and biographies. An autobiography is the writings of a person about his own life, making it a memoir. And then a biography is one person's writings about another person's life. The last type of nonfiction I'll talk about is historical accounts. These can be certain newspapers, documents, and eyewitness accounts.
   Next is fiction. This is the biggest part of genres. It contains everything that is not nonfiction. There are many sub-genres in this bigger one. There is historical and realistic fiction, science fiction and horror, allegory, fables and mythology, comedy, and mystery.
   First up is historical fiction. This genre is literature set in an actual time period. Historical fiction stories can contain made up characters in actual time periods and events that happened or just revolve in the setting alone. One of my favorite historical fiction authors is Phillipa Gregory. I've read a lot of her good books. Realistic fiction is any story where the characters and events are made up, but everything that happens could be true. It's also usually set in modern times. It's an accurate portrayal of what the world is like now.
   Science fiction and horror literature are paired together because they both use unusual creativity to provide entertainment. Science fiction is usually based around futuristic and high techy settings. It sometimes takes place on far away planets,and could feature aliens. Horror literature uses graphic words and scenery to instill feelings of dread and sometimes fear in both the characters and the reader. Horror is more common in movies and TV, but there is certainly existing horror in books as well.
   Next is allegory. This genre is a literary device in a literary and visual, or musical form represent or symbolize ideas and concepts. Allegory literature generally uses fictional characters and stories to present nonfiction truths. Allegory is often used to critique culture. Fables and parables are short narrations demonstrating a useful truth. Fable often use human speaking animals in legendary and supernatural tales. Myths are used to lift up or tear down, while fables are used to make a point. My favorite is Aesop's Fables. Mythology literature is legendary or traditional narratives often based in part to reveal human behavior and natural phenomena by it's symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods. The most commonly known mythological stories are those of the Roman and Greek gods.
   Comedy is any work or discourse generally intended to be humorous or to amuse by inducing laughter, especially in theater, TV, film, and standup comedy. No matter what form comedy comes in, it's purpose is always to humor. Comedic literature can be written with juxtapositions, jokes, or other literary devices. Satire is a genre in which humorous stories ridicule things such as the government and society in order to evoke change. Jokes are told to make the person laugh, and then think about the point that was introduced in the joke. Satires are supposed to make you stop and think about the meaning.      Lastly, we have mystery. This genre is fascinating because it usually follows a detective trying to solve a case. It allows you to keep up and see if you can figure out the case along with the character. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the earliest mystery stories created.



   All in all, I've learned so much in this semester of English. It's really helpful to be able to read a book and see what it lengths the author went through to get the finished product. Knowing how to analyze literature opens new doors for students who want to get into the publishing business. Literary analysis allows you to look at a story and know how to find the theme, sympathize with the characters, and eventually, to write your own story.