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Dialogical and Formalistic Approach to Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard

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Dialogical and Formalistic Approach to Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard


Elegy in a Country Courtyard, by Thomas Gray, can be looked at through two different methods. First the Dialogical Approach, which covers the ability of the language of the text to address someone without the consciousness that the exchange of language between the speaker and addressee occurs. (HCAL, 349) The second method is the Formalistic Approach, which allows the reader to look at a literary piece, and critique it according to its form, point of view, style, imagery, atmosphere, theme, and word choice. The formalistic views on form, allow us to look at the essential structure of the poem.

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray shows aspects of both Dialogical and Formalistic Approaches. Gray's uses dialogic opposition, the way the author chooses to form his work so that the reader can interpret the characters' actions and words without the direct intervention of the author. (HCAL, 354) Gray lists the lifestyles of many different people in lines 32- 60. These stanzas cover all the different types of people that are buried in the churchyard. We can interpret the lifestyle and actions of the other characters because we have the ability to associate and connect what the narrator is telling us. By using the dialogic opposition, this allows the reader to identify the multiple types of characters in the poem, even if they don't all have dialogue.

Bakhtin's definition points toward a parallel between issues of knowledge and power among the characters and those between the author and the reader. In both cases, knowledge is best thought of as dialogic rather than monologic, as open to the other rather than closed, as addres...


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...defining words. The symbolism is to show the reader and the audience that life is only for so long. Once that old age is reached your youth is over. Try and accomplish all that you can when you have the time and the energy, because we are all going to be in the same place as all the characters in the churchyard before we know it. Gray uses imagery and symbols very well, and smoothly pulls the attention of his readers in to the poem.

Gray's use of language and other literary devices allows readers to look at the poem from two different aspects. Dialogical and Formalistic, two completely different types of critiques. However, both let the reader look at the poem in completely different ways and see the many different aspects of the writing. Thomas Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard", is a fine example of showing the dialogical and formalistic approach in a poem.


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