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However elaborate the exposition, the above, simple as it is, presents its universal forms and laws. Whether the student is constructing the science of the adjective or of the animal kingdom, the process is the same.
Interpretation. — Suppose Whittier's “ Maud Muller" be selected for interpretation.
1. The selection must be read carefully to ascertain the purpose of the author, for his purpose pervades and controls everything that follows. The purpose in this is to touch the emotions - specifically, the universal regret of the human heart, expressed in the words :
“For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these : · It might have been.'”
2. The theme, which sums up the unity of the whole, is the emotion of regret. The theme is general, not particular. He wishes to express the regret in every individual. Hence the process is that of exposition.
The author does not proceed by the scientific precision of logical definition and division. His purpose not only does not require this, but would be defeated if he should thus proceed. He follows the more concrete method of exemplification.
He chooses two examples from the class to be presented — Maud and the Judge. This choice enables him to emphasize the extent of his theme, and yet present the extent in its unity; for he has chosen from the extremes of life, and represents each as passing over to find happiness in the conditions of the other. If
such regret is experienced by the extremes of life, it will the more certainly be found in the intermediate grades.' This regret arose from a remembered vision of better things than had been attained. In this case, each dreams of happiness in the condition of the other. To give to this vague longing of each for the condition of the other specific point and poetic interest, each is represented as desiring to wed the other — to become one with the other. This desired union that each may secure his happiness in the condition of the other is a logical necessity of the situation. Thus the author does not simply present the extremes of life in order to carry with them the intermediate grades, but that he may express a phase of the general truth, namely, that each individual imagines happiness in the extreme of life farthest removed from himself, and if each could lose his identity in the other, happiness would follow. The bright dreams of each of the extremes not having been realized, and regret following from the contrast of the after life with the dream of youth, show the universality of regret arising from a contrast of the ideal with the real. .
The exemplification is carried on by the process of narration. The poem appears to be a narration, yet the narration is subordinate to the generalization, which modifies the narration to the end of exposition. The changes selected and the method and completeness of their presentation are determined by the general truth which the changes are to exemplify.
a. The first change is the longing and the anticipation of each for the condition of the other. To produce this in the Judge, Maud is pictured in beauty, health, and joy, with the background of the poetry of haymaking. This further serves to make it seem unwise for Maud to long for better things. To produce this feeling in Maud, the far-off town, with its seeming busy life, and the Judge with his wealth and life of luxury, are brought before her. This serves to make it seem unwise in the Judge to long for better things. The vague longing in each takes the form of a definite wish of each to wed the other.
b. The second change is the feeling of regret on the part of each arising from the contrast of their real life in later years with their former dreams of what life might be.
In this narration each change is essential to illustrate the theme. Only two are given, — joy in anticipation, and regret in retrospection. To have chosen any other changes in their lives would have violated the law of unity, they having nothing to do with the purpose. Unity requires the changes in each to be given simultaneously, since they so happen. But language will not permit this. Instead of tracing each line of changes through separately, unity is better maintained by giving the longing of one and then of the other, and the regret of one and then of the other. And since each is the object the other longs for, and since the regret of each is produced by a remembered dream of the other, unity is as perfectly maintained as if the changes could be related in parallel lines.
Exercises. — I. Construct, analyze, and test definitions of the following:
1. A sentence. 2. A table. 3. A house. 4. A church. 5. A school. 6. A plant. 7. An animal. 8. A preposition. 9. A phrase. 10. A factor. 11. A state. 12. A river. 13. A pyramid. 14. Rhetoric. 15. Discourse. 16. Prose. 17. Poetry. 18. Oratory. 19. Description. 20. Partition. 21. Purpose in discourse. 22. Unity in discourse. 23. Method in discourse. 24. Completeness in discourse. 25. Definition.
II. Compare and contrast the following:
1. The adjective and the adverb. 2. The sentence and discourse. 3. Poems and orations. 4. Monarchic and Democratic governments. 5. The Northern and Southern colonies of America. 6. The horse and the ox. 7. Plants and animals. 8. Steamships and railway trains. 9. Waves and ocean currents. 10. Planets and satellites. II. Pyramids and cones. 12. Spoken and written language. 13. High schools and colleges. 14. Politeness and justice. 15. Professions and occupations. 16. Vocations and avocations.
III. Exemplify the following : —
1. Exemplification. 2. Politeness. 3. Patriotism. 4. Treason. 5. Design in nature, using the heart. 6. Egyptian art, using the Great Pyramid. 7. Roman manners and customs, by a description of an imaginary family. 8. What general truth does the story of the Prodigal Son exemplify? The parable of the Sower ? 9. Point out in text-books and in literature many examples of exemplification.
IV. Treat the following themes by the process of division:
1. Rivers. 2. Winds. 3. Ships. 4. Firearms. 5. Books. 6. Orators. 7. Ministers. 8. Teachers. 9. Religions. 10. Governments. 11. Languages. 12. Arts. 13. The senses. 14. Schools. 15. Sentences. 16. Parts of speech. 17. Activities of the mind. 18. The pupils in your school. 19. Money. 20. Commerce. 21. Man. 22. Nations. 23. Select and test by the laws examples of division found in text-books.
V. Write complete expositions of the following or analyze those already constructed. Note what processes are employed, and whether the law of unity is obeyed.
1. The noun - either a construction or a criticism of the exposition in some text-book. 2. The planets — construction or analysis. 3. A criticism of this chapter by the laws developed in it. 4. Friendship, as found in the “ Merchant of Venice " or in “ The Courtship of Miles Standish.” 5. Grammar, as treated by some particular text. 6. Orations.