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Christopher Enloe
Mr. Caleb Nelson
AP English Literature and Composition
12 September 2014
The Narrators Attitude
In the passage presented, elements such as diction, imagery, and narrative style reveal the
attitude of the speaker towards the gentlefolk. Through these techniques, the narrator expresses
his condescension, disdain, and disapproval towards the characters.
Diction plays a key role in this passage. The speaker uses condescending words and
phrases in his description, such as poor souls, poor empty head, poor idle hands, and
stupid curiosity. The reiteration of the word poor three times in the passage emphasizes its
importance in the eyes of the narrator. The selection of words with negative connotations
provides an overall darker tone in his attitude.
In his diction, the narrator also portrays the characters as passive slaves to their own
idleness. This implies an attitude of condescension, not harshness. Consider the phrase, how
often they drift blindfold into some nasty pursuit. Drift blindfold implies the speaker thinks
they are engaged passively, spurred on only by their own frivolousness. The attitude of the
speaker is not hatred for these people, but disapproval towards their delusion.
Note carefully, however, that the speakers attitude differs between the characters and
their actions. Diction reveals the attitude towards the actions is far harsher. The narrator calls the
dissection of spiders cruel nastiness towards miserable wretches, and considers flower
dissection as spoiling the flower. The narrator does not mince words in describing the actions
of the characters, but he portrays the characters themselves more reservedly.

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Additionally, the speakers use of imagery portrays the narrators attitude. Using the
metaphorical awkward rock to refer to the idleness of the gentlefolk, the speaker intends to
immediately associate the reader with a pessimistic emotion towards the characters. The narrator
then uses gloomy imagery, describing the pinning of insects and dissection of spiders. This
slightly darker image displays a more disturbed tone in the narrators voice. Lastly, the images of
the spoiled canvas, the tadpoles in a glass box full of dirty water, and photography are all
described disapprovingly. All of these uncultivated images point to a disgusted attitude in the
Lastly, narrative style reveals the speakers attitude. The style of narration breaks from
standard narration in two sentences; once in a rhetorical question, and once in an imperative
statement. These devices are used to emphasize the position of the speaker and shed light on his
emotional position.
The narrator asks the rhetorical question just after describing the pointless flower
dissection. In disgust, he retorts, Is its colour any prettier, or its scent any sweeter, when you do
know? Through this device, the narrator unveils his attitude of condescension once more
towards the gentlefolks. The next change in style, the imperative statement, comes at the end
of the prose. In it, the narrator invokes an unspecified you (either the reader or the hard
workers) to compare your hardest days work with idleness and thank your stars that your
mind and hands have got something they must do. Workers who earn their living through hard
labor attract the only positivity in the entire passage. This imperative statement implies that the
speaker believes himself to be superior to the gentlefolks.
After an analysis of diction, imagery, and narrative style, the speaker reveals his
condescending attitude, inflected with tone of superiority. Without outright antagonism, the

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narrator describes these characters according to his predisposition against them, their actions, and
ultimately their undesirable quality of idleness.

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