Analysing the Black Cat Using Labov’s Narrative Structure
OBJECTIVES For this assignment, the study aims to: 1. produce a frequency chart according to the elements of Labov’s Narrative Structure 2. discuss the way Edgar Allen Poe structured his short story to form the elements of tragedy, mystery and terror as presented in the short story In completing the task, I will use Labov’s Narrative Theory to conduct narrative analysis of the short story, The Black Cat written by Edgar Allan Poe. The structure of this essay begins with the introduction to narrative and narrative analysis.
The second part develops in the literature review where I will explain Labov’s Narrative Structure and introducing the author of the story, Edgar Allan Poe. The section ends with the discussion of The Black Cat from non-linguistic perspectives proposed by different scholars. The peak of the task is in the third part which is the analysis of the story where the discussion mainly covers the most appealing element from Labov’s Theory used by Allan Poe to structure his story to create terror and horror sentiments.
The analysis will be seen from linguistic point of view on how linguistic features or forms are associated with certain functions. INTRODUCTION Defining Narrative The word ‘Narrative’ derives from the Latin narre which means ‘to make known’, so narratives frequently convey information. (Lacey,N. ,2000). If we are using this definition, perhaps it may cover a wide range of format or genre in which may not be considered narrative as in timetable or lab report.
Lacey,N (2000) points out that what distinguishes narrative from other forms is that it presents information as a connected sequence of events and these events are structured logically and causally; each event is derived from the previous event. Wikipedia, (2010) explains in a broader context that narrative is a story that is created in a constructive format in a form of writing, speech, poetry, prose, pictures, song, motion pictures, video games, theatre or dance in which describe a sequence of fictional or non-fictional events.
The simplest way of describing the term narrative is someone telling someone else that something happened (Barbara Herrnstein Smith, 1981). Barbara’s definition of narrative reflects the idea that narrative occurs in most of daily conversations and involves personal experience and interest. In All American: Glossary of Literary Terms, narrative is seen as a collection of events that tells a story, which may be true or not, placed in a particular order and recounted through either telling or writing.
It is a recapitulating event that is told by someone and it is naturally and purposely arranged in an acceptable way. Literary Terms and Definition proposes narrative as a story or an account in which it is usually creative and imaginative rather than strictly factual, as evidenced in fairy tales, legends, novels, novelettes, short stories, etceteras. The involvement of personal touch in many of narrative work allows readers to create an imaginative atmosphere that brings the readers into the authors’ world and even in some narratives, they persuade the readers to view the world through their eyes.
The motives behind literary work are perhaps hidden behind the characters’ disposition and also the description of scenes and situations. Other scholars like Seymour Chatman and Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, point out that narrative is a structure which is made up of narrative statements (Chatman,S. , 1990) and narrative consists of characteristics as follows; 1) events, governed by temporality, or – more precisely – a double temporality (the chronology of the events and their presentation in the text); 2)telling or narration, as an act of mediation or transmission which, in literature, is verbal.
Labov (1972) defines narrative as consisting minimally of two temporally ordered clauses, and reversing the order of the clauses would change the story. In his hypothesis with his friend, Waletzky, fundamental narrative structures are to be found in oral versions of personal experience which is the ordinary narratives of ordinary speakers. By looking at many narratives, they wish to identify and relate formal linguistic properties of narratives to their functions. Labov and Waletzky have come out with a framework functions as a tool in analyzing narrative literary text linguistically.
The understanding behind this framework is narrative can be seen as socially situated through sociolinguistic approach. Cortazzi (1993) stresses that narrative is more than a linear order of narrative structure. In fact, if a narrative plainly follows the order or sequence of this circular structure, perhaps it may be abnormal. Narrative is an author’s personal touch and it serves as an additional function of personal interest, determined by a stimulus in the social context in which the narrative occurs.
Definition given by Toolan (2001), is comprehensively acceptable that narrative is defined as a perceived sequence of non-randomly events, typically involving, as the experiencing agonist, humans or quasi-humans, or other sentient beings, from whose experience we human can ‘learn’. He also extends the definition by stating that our preference is often for the sequence of connected events to take shape around a state or period of turbulence or crisis, subsequently resolved that is while a sequence of events entails some sort of change of state, a sequence containing a resolved crisis or problems entails a pronounce change of state.
The Importance of Narrative Analysis (NA) of Literary Text Stories are in important aspect of culture and many literary work convey stories and motives (Wikipedia, 2010). Narrative analysis has contributed for development in many disciplines and has been a tool for better understanding of the literary text and anything underlies behind it. The importance of NA is that, it allows analyst to draw connections between linguistic form and the function (Labov and Waletzky,1972).
The clauses as functional linguistic units appeared in narratives are structured and formed to meet the need of the author to logically create narrative sequence. The linguistic features exist in narrative text, have somehow portrayed certain patterns of structures in which help to develop particular genres and this pattern too has helped readers to create better imagination in mind. In other words, through such analysis, we can relate the formal properties of narratives to their functions.
The analysis is formal where it is conducted based upon recurrent patterns characteristics of narrative from the clause level to the complete simple narrative and the analysis is functional and will be considered as one verbal technique for recapitulating experience- in particular a technique of constructing narrative units that match the temporal sequence of that experience. . (Labov & Waletzky, 1972).
The idea behind Labov and Waletzky’s notion is to isolate the elements of narratives that serve certain linguistic functions where fundamental structures which are to be found in oral versions of personal experiences usually interconnected with the functions they serve. NA is also engaged in other educational disciplines. Narrative has been the subject of intensive research in a variety of disciplines, with work in contemporary literary theory leading the way (as represented in such “movements” as post-structuralism, reader-response criticism, deconstructionism, feminist theory, and neo-Marxist approaches to texts and society) (Paul.
G. J. , 1991). Researchers use narrative analysis to deal with the problems of effective communications and class and ethnic differences (Cortazzi,M. ,1993). Researchers in education find NA allows access to study teachers’ culture and thinking, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Cortazzi (1993) stresses that the use of NA encourages us to develop descriptions of teacher’s culture which preserve their voices. NA is best use for exploratory purpose, sensitizing the researcher, illustrating but not by itself validating theory and a common focus is the exploration of ethical, moral and cultural ambiguous. Garson,G. D. ,2000). Alvarez and Urla (2002) have pointed out that in the field of information system implementation; NA provides richer data than is obtained by conventional system requirements analysis. Discovering narrative is a point of departure to discovering culture and its society. In the early periods of literature, writers share intellectuals, linguistics, religious and artistic influences (http://web. cn. edu/kwheeler/documents/Periods_Lit_History. pdf).
These thoughts are put into writings and each period (such as Classical period, Medieval period, Renaissance and Reformation period, Neoclassical period, Romantic period, Victorian period and Modern period and Postmodern period) represents the background of its society and even political changes. Chafe (1990) sees narratives as ‘overt manifestations of the mind in action: as windows to both the content of the mind and its going operations. Narratives can therefore be seen as opening a window on the mind, or, if we are analysing narratives of a specific group of tellers, as opening a window on their culture. Cortazzi,M. , 1993). In Malaysian context, the knowledge of analysing narratives would encourage better participation and engagement from both teachers and students. The ability to isolate the elements of narratives and to identify the functions of the forms, motivate the learning for better understanding of the literary work. However, it depends how creative the teachers are to implement and make use this tool (NA) to incorporate literature in language classroom.
Besides that, by studying oral or written accounts of personal experience, the students would be able to see the author’s representations and explanations of experience. (Cortazzi,M. ,1993). Primary and secondary schools students should be taught and exposed with technical terms and structure of literature to promote interest and attitude towards literature. Besides that, attitude towards literature should be inculcated since their early in order to promote appreciation towards the work of literature.
Since the late 90s, many Malaysian writers have been into the trend of producing romantic novels (in Malay, such genre is called novel picisan). Compared to other genres, producing novel picisan has been the side income for many of Malaysian writers. Malaysian should be encouraged to produce diverse genres and government plays vital roles in promoting reading culture among Malaysians. The idea behind this is to increase the development of Malaysian publishing industry.
But it is undeniably that this industry faces obstacle and challenges in which it may require major revamp of the present National Book Council to give it more strength in overseeing the implementation of the policy and the existing book related laws (Dato’ Ng Tieh Chuan, 2005). Malaysia has some of the important ingredients of a successful publishing industry: considerably high level of literacy, strong government support for education, relatively modest technical resources that are required, commitment towards the development of information technology, and dedicated entrepreneurs willing to take risks in a difficult economic climate.
However, our book publishing sector is far from successful and there are several obstacles hampering the development of books in terms of their availability, accessibility and affordability. (Dato’ Ng Tieh Chuan, 2005) Analysing Narratives Linguistically Since narratives demand at least two connected events, then, using linguistics, we could say that ‘gramatically… the minimum requirements for a story are two clauses, whether these occur in a single complex sentence or two simple sentences’ (Pope, 1995).
Lacey (2000) illustrates that the statement “The King is dead” is not sufficient enough to be considered as narrative but by adding another clause, “and the queen has died of grief”, then narrative exists. When the clauses are connected with certain linguistic functions, a series of events occur. Although narrative can exist without any words at all, the fact that its structure is comparable to the structure of sentence is evidence of its universality. (Lacey,N. ,2000). He also emphasizes that the concept of sequence is crucial and without the development of sequence there is no narrative.
Narrative analysis is an analysis of chronologically told story, in which concerned with how narrative elements are sequenced and why certain elements are evaluated differently from others and how past experience shapes perceptions of the present and how present experience shapes perceptions of the past and how both shape perceptions of the future (Garson,G. D. ,2000). LITERATURE REVIEW Labov’s Narrative Structure Sociological and sociolinguistics views of narrative have been developing since the 1960s (Cortazzi,M. 1993) and have influenced many scholars to challenge traditional narrative models to come out with better framework to narrative text analysis. Labov’s Narrative Structure is a sociolinguistic approach which examines formal structural properties of narratives in relation to their social functions. (Labov and Waletzky, 1972). The objective behind this theory is to show that there is correlation between form and its function. Labov’s model of narrative analysis comprises of six element (certain elements are optional); Abstract, Orientation, Complicating Action, Evaluation, Result or Resolution and Coda. STRUCTURE |EXPLANATION | |ABSTRACT |one or two clauses summarizing the whole story | |ORIENTATION |the time, place, persons and their activity or the situation | |COMPLICATING ACTION |tells us ‘what happens next’ | |EVALUATION |Establish and sustain the point, the contextual significance and tellability, , or | | |reportability, of story.
Narrator’s personal involvement in the story | |RESULT OR RESOLUTION |Explains what finally happened. | |CODA |Signals the ‘sealing off’ of a narrative. | | |Return to the conversational mode, in ‘real’ present time. | TABLE 1: Labov’s Narrative Structure Abstract This category represents the summary of the story. In certain narratives, Abstract is optional (Cortazzi,M. ,1993) and there are some which do not have any because the title of the narratives often serves as the abstract as in ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber’ for instance (Black,E. ,2006). Abstract usually initiates the narrative.
It is important for certain narratives to insert this element since it conveys general propositions which often go beyond the immediate events in narratives (Cortazzi,M. ,1993). Orientation The Orientation specifies the participants and circumstances, place and time of the narratives and it is equivalent to setting (Toolan, M. J. ,1992). This element is often embedded within sentences as in Abstract and Complicating Action. Orientation sometimes initiates the narratives and this structure play major roles in creating the narrative atmosphere desired by the author. It sets the scene psychologically as well as literally (Black, E. , 2006) to serve the function of being descriptive.
Toolan (1992) states that in Orientation, we can expect verb forms other than extensive verbs (such as transitive or intransitive verbs involving action) in the simple past tense. Besides, Orientation is indicated by past perfectives and past progressive verb phrases and intensive verbs such as be, become, seem, etc. Orientation information in most of the time is encoded in free clauses usually placed at the beginning, sometime coupled with the first event of the Complicating Action (Cortazzi, 1992). Complicating Action Complicating Actions can be referred to the core of the narratives. It consists of a series of narrative clauses in the simple past tense, or sometimes in present tenses.
This part of the narrative, the bones of it, gives the event sequence which is often terminated by the Result or Resolution (Cortazzi, 1992). In addition, the verbs often indicate the complicating actions, to show what happen in the story. Evaluation Cortazzi, M. ,(1993), explains that the Evaluation commonly precedes the Resolution and it avoids the withering rejoinder from listeners of ‘so, what? ’ since every good narrator is continually warding off this question. The evaluation is realized by a number of evaluative devices listed below which can be distributed at various points throughout a narrative, although they are commonly positioned before the Resolution.
Evaluation category consists of external and internal evaluative devices. In brief explanation, external evaluative device has a strong interpersonal function which applies to written texts and in literary fictions, external evaluation devices are most likely in first person narratives (Black,E, 2006). Black (2006) also mentions that internal evaluative devices are generally more subtle than external evaluation. Such self-questioning, and moving between past, present and future are all characteristics of evaluative devices. Result or Resolution and Coda The Result often signals the end of the story proper and Coda is a final rounding off, tiding up of the lives of characters. (Black, E. , 2006) [pic] Figure 1
Figure 1 shows the relation between all the elements under Labov’s model of narrative analysis. It begins with the present time, indicating the Abstract of the narrative, followed by the introduction of the participants, time, circumstances, and places that fall under the Orientation. The next sequence of a narrative is complicating action, to indicate ‘then, what happen? ’. Evaluation category is not placed in a fix position. It often appears between sequences in a story. The author draws the readers to the ending by indicating the Result or Resolution and finally the Coda. For instance, a story told by someone coming late to an appointment might look like this: I had a terrible time getting here (abstract).
I started out an hour ago, and I only live a couple of miles away (orientation). I was standing at the bus stop for ages, and then when the first bus came it was full, and I had to wait another 20 minutes for the next one (complicating action). I was getting so worried; I really thought you’d be gone by the time I arrived (evaluation). Still, I got here in the end (resolution). I’ll know to start earlier if we meet here again, though (coda) Discovering Edgar Allan Poe This section mainly discusses on the American writer, Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) who was also known for his genres; horror fiction, gothic romance, crime fiction and detective fiction.
He is one the greatest and unhappiest of American poets, a master of the horror tale, and the patron saint of the detective story (Petri Liukkonen, 2008). The information presented below is cited from Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopaedia, The Poe Studies Association (PSA) and PoeStories. com: An exploration of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. [pic] Figure 2: Family Tree of Edgar Allen Poe. (Wikipedia, 2010) Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusette on Jan 19, 1809. He was the second child of actor and actress, David Poe, Jr. and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe. His elder brother, William Henry Leonard Poe (January 30, 1807 – August 1, 1831) was a sailor, clerk and also an amateur poet. David and Elizabeth’s daughter Rosalie was born in December 1810.
Edgar may have been named after a character in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, a play that the couple was performing in 1809(Nelson, Randy F, 1981). When he was three years old, David Poe left the family and left his wife and his children in 1810. A year later, his wife died from consumption. Edgar was taken care of by John Allan, successful Scottish merchant in Richmond, Virgnia who involve in variety of goods including tobacco, cloth, wheat, tombstone and slaves. The Allans serve as a foster family gave him the name Edgar Allan Poe and baptized him in 1812. John Allan alternately spoiled and aggressively disciplined his foster son. In 1815, the Allans sailed to England and while they lived in England, Poe and his stepfather began to argue fiercely and frequently.
Poe was sent to grammar school in Irvine, Scotland, where John Allan was born. He attended the school just for a short period of time and in 1816, he returned and joined the family in London. Mrs. Allan died, John remarried, and he and Poe became even further estranged. In 1826, Poe attended University of Virginia, but he was expelled later that year. He attended West Point for a short time; while there, he accumulated some gambling debts. John Allan, who was frustrated with Poe’s behaviour and attitude, would not help him to pay his debts and Poe had to leave the Academy. He went to Boston in 1827 and, finding that he could not support himself, he enlisted in the United States Army under the name Edgar A. Perry.
After two years, he was released and moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where his maternal relatives lived. During this period, newspapers and literary magazines began to be published Poe’s work. Tamerlaine and Other Poems appeared in 1827 and Al Aaraaf in 1829. His Manuscript Found in a Bottle won a literary contest in 1833. Three years later, however, his life would change drastically. In May of 1836, he married his 14-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, who convinced Poe to settle in Philadelphia, where he obtained regular employment as an editor. In 1844, Poe moved to New York City, taking a job as editor for another literary magazine, The Evening Mirror.
His most famous and popular poem, The Raven, was published in this magazine; through this one poem, Poe finally achieved his well-deserved reputation as a great writer. In January of 1847, however, after a long illness, Virginia died of tuberculosis. Poe’s grief, combined with the stress caused by years of caring for his invalid wife, caused him to collapse emotionally after her death; it is believed that this loss accelerated his drinking problem. Yet two years later, in 1849, he moved back to Richmond and planned to wed Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton, a woman Poe had been engaged to marry earlier in life. (John Allan had forced Poe to abandon any thoughts of marrying her because of lack of money. ) Poe and Shelton, both now having lost a spouse, renewed their relationship.
They would, however, not marry due to Poe’s untimely death, the circumstances of which remain a mystery, even today. He had left Richmond for Baltimore on September 27, 1849, and was found unconscious in a gutter there on October 3rd. Poe had collected approximately $1,500 for subscriptions to his literary magazine, The Stylus, but no money was found with him, leading to the speculation that he might have been robbed. He was taken to a hospital where he regained consciousness a few times, but Poe was never coherent enough to explain what had happened to him. Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849. [pic] Figure 3: Signature of Edgar Allan Poe (Wikipedia, 2010) The Black Cat The Black Cat” is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most memorable stories. The tale centers around a black cat and the subsequent deterioration of a man (Lombardi,E. , 2010). The story is about a man, who declaring that he will die tomorrow, describes himself as a caring and loving man, who from the earliest days of his youth was mocked by others for his timidity and concern for all living things (http://www. bookrags. com/notes/poe/PART1. htm). Based on literary analysis conducted by Cromwell, J. , (2010), the narrator (who is also chief character and author) remains unnamed, but for a purpose. Without a name he represents every man, or rather, every man’s potential.
In the opening of his story, the character describes himself as docile and tender natured with a fondness for animals, describing the affection of his pets as “unselfish and self-sacrificing love. ” Cromwell states that the main character faces the relationships of humans, however, with a cynical clipped tone, “the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man. ”(The Black Cat, line 12). He also stresses that the desires and feeling held in check by unwritten social law are cut loose by habitual drinking leading to verbal and physical abuse of the man’s animals and wife. The man’s desire was power: over his animals, his wife, and their affections toward him. For full text, kindly refer to Appendix A) ANALYSING THE BLACK CAT In analysing “The Black Cat”, I have used Labov’s Narrative Structure as my theoretical framework for the analysis. To be brief, for this section, I will explain on how I have analyse the short story based on labov’s theory of narrative and followed by the discussion on the findings of the analysis. My focus of discussion is on the elements that show highest percentage in which have constructed and contributed to the great horror effect of Edgar’s short story. As briefly discussed earlier, Labov’s Narrative Structure comprises of six categories in which they serve to structure the narratives.
Each sentence in the short story was given a number to ease the process of categorising the sentences into abstract, orientation, complicating action, evaluation, resolution and coda (u may refer to Appendix A). A close reading was conducted and it took quite some time for the completion of the analysis. The finding of the analysis of The Black Cat is presented through the bar chart below. [pic] Figure 4 : The Analysis of The Black Cat based on the elements of Labov’s Narrative Structure The bar chart in figure 1 shows the representation of each element of Labov’s Narrative Structure based on the frequency count of sentences in the short story, The Black Cat.
The structure of each sentence represents certain functions as highlighted in Labov’s Narrative Structure. As discussed earlier, Labov’s Narrative Structure consists of six elements which are abstract, orientation, complicating action, evaluation, resolution and coda. Throughout the analysis, the major finding is the elements of orientation and evaluation present in the short story, as indicated above, show the highest number of sentences. These two elements play major roles in constructing the horror sentiment in the short story. Edgar used these two elements comprehensively and most of the time, they were embedded together to show certain degree of emotional state of the character.
Obviously, the setting, symbolism, plot, word choice, and character development contributed greatly to the effect of shocking insanity in Edgar Allan Poe’s masterpiece, “The Black Cat. ” Poe’s skilful use of all of these elements, the least of these being setting and the greatest of these being character development, creates a shocking tale, which leaves the mind to ponder in all its horror (www. 123helpme. com, 2010). In the short story, ‘Orientation’ is widely used where Edgar has been descriptive concerning the emotional state and degree of value of the narrator, the situation or places that took place and also detailed elaboration on the crime scene, description on the characters’ attitude and world view. Examples of sentences that portray this element are shown below: SENTENCE NUMBER |TEXT | | |From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition | | |Pluto had not a white hair upon any portion of his body; but this cat had a large, although | | |indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast. | | |The cat followed me down to the steep stairs and nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to | | |madness. | TABLE 2: Orientation From the sentences listed above, it is obvious that Edgar pays critical attention in describing the mental and emotional state of the main character, which is the narrator.
In fact, for almost every sentence in the short story consists of orientation element which functions to create the atmosphere of horror. He begins the story with a clear picture of him being tortured and this had destroyed his life. The orientation can refer to a past event with an adverb of time in which will mark off the narrative from the previous talk, as an initiating mechanism (Cortazzi,M. ,1993). He also makes an innocent confession of his crime due to his unstable mental and emotional state through abusing his wife and pets, ‘I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. ’, ‘… I even offered her personal violence’ and “… even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper”.
These sentences have given direct impacts to the reader as he has initially stated how his life has been ruined and destroyed. In elaborating the character of the black cat, in which the narrator claimed to be to be the causal to his failure in life, Edgar has selected certain adjectives and connotations that most suitable and deep impact words to retain the feeling of horror throughout the story. The words like, ‘frightful appearance’, ‘.. a brute beast’, ‘.. my hatred of the beast.. ’, ‘.. the terror and horror with which the animal has inspired me.. ’ , and in fact, the word ‘black’ associated with the cat, is sufficient enough to promote the evil spirit derived from the cat.
The repetition of evil and dark connotations leaves the reader with the feeling terrified and suspend and it shows terror and horrified as the core atmosphere of the scenes. Towards the end, Edgar was being descriptive and he used orientation element majorly to describe the inhumane conduct of the narrator and provoke the readers with horror and unpredictable crime scene and each complicating action. The role of orientation is vital in this short story to design fear atmosphere and dreadfulness. | SENTENCE NUMBER |TEXT | | |I am almost ashamed to own-yes, even in this felon’s cell.
I am almost ashamed to own-that the | | |terror and horror with which the animal inspired me, had been heightened by one of the merest | | |chimaeras, it would be possible to conceive. | | |Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. | | |There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to | | |the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity| | |of mere Man. |
TABLE 3: Examples of Evaluation Category Evalution is the most interesting and complex category. In the story, this element is associated with the narrator’s bias point of judgement and value. The narrator’s personal involvement is a story is conveyed where he states that; In their consequences, these events have terrified-have tortured-have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but horror- to many they will seem less terrible than baroques. (The Black Cat, line 6 and 7) At one point, the narrator makes use of his personal involvement sentiment in the story as a way to gain sympathy and also as escapism of his brutal crime.
According to his evaluative statement, the blame to all sins and the prime murder are the black cat and the evil spirit that had caused him to conduct such inhumane crimes. As he puts his words; I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame. I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket!
I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity. (The Black Cat, line 31-35) And a brute beast – whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed – a brute beast to work out for me – for me a man, fashioned in the image of the High God – so much of insufferable wo! Alas! neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of Rest any more! (The Black Cat, line 103) Evil thoughts became my sole intimates – the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas! as the most usual and the most patient of sufferers. (The Black Cat, line 106 and 107) The Evaluation commonly precedes the Result. It delays the forward movement of the narrative clauses, which hold the listener suspended at that point in time (Cortazzi,M. , 1993). Other evidence such as below; It was now the representation of an object that I shudder to name – and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster had I dared – it was now, I say, the image of a hideous – of a ghastly thing – of the GALLOWS ! – oh, mournful and terrible engine of Horror and of Crime – of Agony and of Death ! (The Black Cat, line 101)
The Black Cat is not structured in isolation according to Labov’s Narrative Structure. These categories are actually embedded within sentences in order to derive horror and existence of evil elements in the short story. Edgar was being descriptive and at the same time evaluative from sequence to anther sequence in the story in which they support the design of each complicating action. CONCLUSION Analysing The Black Cat using Labov’s Narrative Structure is my first attempt to show relations of formal narrative forms and the functions that they portray in the narrative to highlight intended criteria or to bring the certain feeling to real as the readers further reading the narratives.
Poe had critically made perfect selection of adjectives, adverbials and free clauses to bring the motive of terror and horror in the narrative. Furthermore, Poe’s plot development added much of the effect of shocking insanity to “The Black Cat. ” To dream up such an intricate plot of perverseness, alcoholism, murders, fire, revival, and punishment is quite amazing. (www. 123helpme. com, 2010). The use of Orientation and Evaluation elements in his gothic story, has successfully promoted the feeling of fear and terrified. Poe had been descriptive in elaborating the physical and emotional state of the characters presented especially through the bias and unreliable narrator in the narrative. The evaluation made by the narrator from the eyes of an evil spirited murderer.
Labov’s model of narrative analysis seems to be very useful in my analysis to show the interconnectedness of the formal structure of the narrative and the sociological functions in the short story, The Black Cat. Through this method, I manage to point out the linguistic features exist in The Black Cat in which beneficial for building up the narrative and sustaining the interest and mood of the readers. This technique would be very useful to be implemented in language classroom to promote the attitude of appreciating literature. Besides that the learning process will be more interactive and alive when both teachers and students critically engaged. The motivation to learn and to participate in the class may be developed among students when they see the relevance of the learning material since it reflects their daily lives. ———————–