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The formalistic approach to an open text allows the reader to decide what is important about the words on the page as well as the reasons and actions of the characters themselves. The reader is then able to derive a reasonable explanation for the plot or even an overall theme of the text. "According to the Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature "when all the words, phrases, metaphors, images, and symbols are examined in terms of each other and of the whole, any literary text worth our efforts will display its own internal logic" (Guerin 75)." When practicing the formalistic approach, the reader must scrutinize the text for tools such as form, texture, style, symbolism, point of view, theme, and so on to portray the beauty of the novel. William Gibson's Neuromancer portrays many of these tools, but it is most important to focus on the overall tone of the story, which is quite evident in the setting. Concentrating on the portrayal of dystopia and the diction that is used to describe it, as well as the repetitive imagery of the color pink, the reader can detect the dark and dreary tone at a more critical level.
Neuromancer continuously represents a dystopia, which is a "bad place", in the setting. This is in contrast to a utopia, which represents a dream world. Neuromancer's settings remain dark, dreary, futuristic, and phony throughout the novel. These characteristics give the reader a sense of sorrow or even a foreshadowing of bad situations. The author portrays this type of setting in the very beginning when he writes, "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel," (Gibson 3). Already, the reader has an initial look at death and confusion, creating a dismal tone in just the first line. The words even create mystery, leaving the audience in question of what could possibly happen next. Later on in the story, the portrayal of dystopia is still evident when the text states, "Lost, so small amid that dark, hands grown cold, body image fading down corridors of television sky," (Gibson 31). The characters in the novel are unable to escape this dystopian lifestyle since it has taken control of their every thought and action.
Besides acting as a dystopia, or "bad place", a fake and phony setting illustrates the tone as well.
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The formalistic approach is only one way of breaking down parts of a novel, but it is one of the best ways to interpret certain literary tools that bring the story to life. In Neuromancer, the tone is easier to grasp when the reader can detect the somber dystopia and fake world, as well as the importance of the color pink. Once the tone is established, the reader is fully able to experience the lives of the characters in the setting to which they are coerced to inhabit and successfully perceive the formalistic approach at a new level.