Invisible Man Essay: Tone and Language

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Tone and Language in Invisible Man

There are not many novels that can produce such a feeling of both sorrow and jubilation for a character as Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. There is such a wide range of emotions produced by the novel that it is impossible not to feel both ways. Invisible Man is a wonderfully well written novel about an African American living in pre civil rights America. The novel is an excellent example of a bildungsroman, a character finding himself as the story progresses. The narrator (invisible man) starts off a naive college student and ends with the young man realizing that his world has become that of "infinite possibilities." Ellison's writing techniques include that of visual imagery, irony, occasional satire, and infinite examples of symbolism. All of these writing techniques help to further the novel, and benefit the book as a whole. Two techniques that Ellison used better than any others, however, are tone and language. Although Ellison used these techniques well, there were some harmful mistakes in his writing which damage the credibility of the story.

One of the most important aspects to any novel is its tone. Tone sets the pace of the novel and dictates what kind of emotional effect the anecdote will have on the reader. The tone of Invisible Man is, for the most part, a remarkable thing. Ellison's tone creates both a tragic and a comic response to the reader. Ellison's tone can be said to be "tragi-comic" (Bellow). This tone occurs "in the best pages of Invisible Man... in which an incestuous Negro farmer tells his tale" (Bellow) of seducing and impregnating his own daughter. Through tone Ellison reveals how his invisible man thought himself to be invisible, as he learns that...

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...ropriate to a character who has been presentd mainly as a passive victim of experience" (Howe).

With the exception of a few faults, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is an excellent novel. Ellison makes good use of many literary techniques necessary for writing a good novel. These include satire, irony, symbol, imagery, and especially tone and language. The novel appeals to all races and ages of people because of the language used and of the heroic story of the young Negro trying to make it in a predominantly white American society. This novel is truly a classic and should become more and more so as people of all races look back on the symbolic struggle this young man had.

Works Cited

Bellow, Saul. "Man Underground" Commentary June 1952

Ellison, Ralph. The Invisible Man 1952

Howe, Irving. "Review of Invisible Man", The Nation 1952

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