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A comparison not only makes the thought more vivid, but more interesting and beautiful. Read the following stanzas and notice what comparisons are used :
Oh, her eyes are as cornflowers 'mid the corn
How beautiful is the rain !
She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool,
My good blade carves the casques
The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
From an eagle in his flight.
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Hope is like a harebell, trembling from its birth,
- CHRISTINA ROSSETTI.
A great deal of the literature that you will read consists of descriptions of people, or character sketches. The writer does not usually say that such and such a character is good or bad; he lets the character reveal himself by his own words and actions. Sometimes a writer gives us an index to a man's character by telling us how tidy or untidy his clothing is, how shabby his home or farm is, or even how neglected his horse or cow looks.
In reading a description of any sort, but especially in reading a character sketch, the important thing is to visualize
That is, read the sketch so carefully and so frequently that you can actually see in your imagination all that you have read.
Here are some sketches for the study of character. In the first, Enrico, an Italian boy, describes his playmates. In these descriptions he tells things that not only give us good pictures of the boys, but that help us to get glimpses of their characters also:
Garonne is the biggest boy in the class. He is about fourteen years old. His head is large, his shoulders broad. He is good, as one can see when he smiles. But it seems as though he thinks like
Coretti pleases me. He wears chocolate trousers and a catskin cap. He is always jolly. He is the son of a huckster of wood.
On the bench in front of me there is a boy who is called “the little mason
” because his father is a mason. His face is as round as an apple, with a nose like a small ball. He wears a little ragged cap which he carries rolled up in his pocket like a handkerchief. He possesses a special talent: he knows how to make a hare's face; and they all get him to make a hare's face, and then they laugh.
What sentences describe Garonne's appearance? Which give us glimpses of his character?
Which sentence tells why Coretti pleased Enrico?
From Enrico's description which boy can you see most clearly? Which one do you like best?
II Fifteen-year-old Jo was very tall, thin, and brown, and reminded one of a colt; for she never seemed to know what to do with her long limbs, which were very much in her way. She had a decided mouth, a comical nose, and sharp, gray eyes, which appeared to see everything, and were by turns fierce, funny, or thoughtful. Her long, thick hair was her one beauty; but it was usually bundled into a net to be out of her way. Round shoulders had Jo; big hands and feet, a fly-away look about her clothes, and the uncomfortable appearance of a girl who was rapidly shooting up into a woman, and didn't like it.
Elizabeth — or Beth, as every one called her was a rosy, smooth-haired, bright-eyed girl of thirteen, with a shy manner, a timid voice, and a peaceful expression, which was seldom disturbed. Her father called her “Little Tranquillity," and the name suited her excellently.
Amy, though the youngest, was a most important person, - in her own opinion at least. A regular snow-maiden, with blue eyes, and yellow hair curling on her shoulders, pale and slender, and always carrying herself like a young lady mindful of her manners.
-LOUISA M. ALCOTT: Little Women.
Tell what you discover about the character and appearance of the girls described. Which do you like best?
The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open, that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who, in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coalbox in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.
“A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you !" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation Scrooge had of his approach.
“Bah!” said Scrooge; "humbug !"
“Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don't mean that, I am sure.”
“I do. Out upon merry
Christmas! What's Christmas time but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I had my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart! He should !”
“Nephew, keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."
“Keep it! But you don't keep it.”
“Let me leave it alone, then. Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!”
- DICKENS : Christmas Carol.
What do you learn of Scrooge's character from his treatment of the clerk? from his replies to his nephew? What do you think of the clerk? of the nephew ?
In fact, he [Rip Van Winkle) declared it was of no use to work on his farm; it was the most pestilent little piece of ground in the whole country; everything about it went wrong, and would go wrong, in spite of him. His fences were continually falling to pieces; his cow would either go astray, or get among the cabbages; weeds were sure to grow quicker in his fields than anywhere else; the rain always made a point of setting in just as he had some outdoor work to do; so that though his patrimonial estate had dwindled away under his management, acre by acre, until there was little more than a mere patch of Indian corn and potatoes, yet it was the worst conditioned farm in the neighborhood.
His children, too, were as ragged and wild as if they belonged