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Eng Comparing and Contrasting Literary Forms sample essay

Poetry, drama and short story are literary forms that provide readers with entertainment, insight, pleasure, escape and sometimes information. Readers can find satisfaction in any of the three genres because the styles, variations, language and themes cater to everyone’s preference: tragedy, comedy, profanity or just for pleasure. There is a piece of literary work to suit every taste. Poetry, when performed live, gives the words rhythm, music and life. John Updike in his poem Dog’s Death in lines one to sixteen, the rhythm and pattern are not as distinct as in lines seventeen to twenty; where the beats are strong and there is a certain level of intensity leading up to the finale…”Good Dog.” “Back home, we found that in the night her frame, Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame Of diarrhea and had dragged across the floor To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.” (Clugston, 2010) Usually one performer presents a poem to the audience whereas in drama there are many actors, stage settings and music that combine to create a complete stage production. Drama is written for theatre production. Actors impersonate the characters by reciting the words that are written in the play.

For example, Maurya the main character in the play Riders to the Sea, says the closing words to her son before he left home: “You’d do right to leave that rope, Bartley, hanging by the boards…for it’s a deep grave we’ll make him by the grace of God.” The actors must also follow the author’s directions. She kneels down and the curtain falls slowly. (Clugston, 2010) Drama and play are written for specific purposes. The poem, when it is performed, is similar to an actor doing a soliloquy in a play. For example Macbeth’s speech: “I have lived long enough: my way of life Is fall’n into the sere, the yellow; And that which should accompany old age, As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have; but, in their stead, Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honor, breath Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.” (Clugston, 2010) This speech is poetry within a play unlike the short story.

The author of a short story on the other hand, depends on imagery, symbolism, similes and other literary devices to awaken the reader’s imagination, create the big picture and to pull him/her into that place. Unlike poetry and drama, the short story is not written for performance but for the reader’s pleasure and escape. The plot, setting, theme, point of view, characters, style, the actual story line and the ending of a short story all combine to give the reader a slice of the experience of the specified era. Alice Walker in the “ Welcome Table,” paints a picture of racial segregation in the church in the state of Georgia.

She wrote about a black old woman who entered a whites-only church. “The reverend of the church stopped her pleasantly as she stepped into the vestibule…..”Aunty, you know this is not your church?”….Inside the church she sat on the very first bench from the back.” (Clugston, 2010) This picture is of the old woman/main character sitting at the back of the church and the reverend reminding her that she is in the wrong place. In other words she is out of place. Short stories appeal more to the reader’s imagination and senses and are not usually performed unless they are adapted for stage.

Clugston, W. R., (2010). Journey Into Literature, San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education Inc.

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