methods of reading



Bennett and Royle argue that, far from having a merely “decorative” function, “figuration is fundamental to our world, to our lives” (“Figures and Tropes” 82).

Keeping this sentence in mind, explain two (2) tropes/figures of speech in one of the stanzas below, and relate these lines to larger conceptual ideas of sexual difference or secrets.

(Note: as learning journals 1 & 2 overlap on the topic of Figures and Tropes, you are permitted to integrate a revised version of your learning journal 1 into learning journal 2. Do NOT simply cut and paste your learning journal 1 into your response to learning journal 2. Rather, apply the concept of figures and tropes to one of the passages below.


1. If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels, had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree—such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word ‘choose’! I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard […] that I cannot choose, nor refuse none (7)?


2. I pray you think you question with the Jew. You may as well go stand upon the beach And bid the main flood bate his usual height; You may as well use question with the wolf

Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb; You may as well forbid the mountain pines

To wag their high tops and to make no noise When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven; You may as well do anything most hard

As seek to soften that—than which what’s harder?— His Jewish heart. Therefore I do beseech you

Make no more offers, use no farther means,

But with all brief and plain conveniency

Let me have judgement, and the Jew his will (69).




Explain what Bennett and Royle mean by the following assertion:

“The language of truth, language supposedly purified of figures and tropes, is simply language to which we have become so habituated that we no longer recognize it as figurative” (81).


Bennett and Royle in their text ‘An Introduction to Literature Criticism and Theory’ suggested that the language of truth is figurative language that has been so commonly used it does not appear figurative anymore. Linguistically, it is impossible to separate the semantics of language with the figures associated with it. The illustration of the “Invisible man” by Ralph Ellison, where he states that those who approach him see themselves, the surroundings, and even figments of their imagination but do not see him” is a perfect example of this claim.

Apparently, the invisible man is a black man in the United States of America where the blacks were looked down upon and were not visible. This kind of language exposes the racism factor by figurative language- invisibility. However, the usage of ‘blackness’ to resemble ‘nothingness’ has been used so widely that people do not realize they are forms of figurative language. In fact, some do not realize that the text is talking about a black man but rather think that the invisible man in the text does not exist.

The use of this figuration underlines the truth in the political, social and economic status in the U.S.A. It has presented the understanding of this black man regarding how the whites in the U.S treat him. It can be said, therefore, that figures make and unmake our world by giving it meaning and sometimes removing it. The truth is presented with figures and tropes because as readers we get a touch of the real situation facing blacks in the United States. We get to experience the racism factor from the invisible man’s perception.



Royle, N., & Bennett, A. (2015). An Introduction to Literature Criticism and Theory (3rd ed., pp. 77- 84). London: Prentice Hall. Retrieved from





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