Language and Control in Children's Literature
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This study examines the work of children's writers from the 19th and 20th centuries in order to expose the persuasive power of language. Looking at the work of 19th century English writers of juvenile fiction, Knowles and Malmkjaer expose the colonial and class assumptions on which the books were predicated. In the modern teen novel and the work of Roald Dahl the authors find contemporary attempts to control children within socially established frameworks. Other authors discussed include, Oscar Wilde, E. Nesbit, Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis.
result of the authors’ implicit or explicit awareness that passivisation may cause comprehension difficulties for young readers (Perera, 1984:8). Where passives do occur, they often focus attention on a main character, as in the opening sentence of The Secret Garden: ‘When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor…’. However, as well as focusing attention on Mary, this sentence highlights the inactivity of her early life, a function which most passives with Mary as the affected entity in
doing. Very often say is used to frame a question or an imperative requiring an active or material process such as one of movement in response. This is frequently signalled by an ‘I say+ Christian name’ opening move. Typical examples from The Coral Island are listed below: ‘I say, Jack, how does it happen that you seem to be up to everything?’ (p. 21) ‘I say, Jack, you’re a Briton—the best fellow I ever met in my life.’ (p. 22) Traditional juvenile fiction 95 ‘I say, Jack, I’m sorry to say I
the power relations that exist between Matilda and Mr Wormwood. Note also the Mental processes of perception which generate a non-verbal exchange: glared (at), looked (at), looked (back) and which deliver a very powerful representation of the relationship between these two without a word being uttered. Although Matilda often overtly expresses her opinions she knows that ‘she was still hardly five years old and it is not easy for somebody as small as that to score points against an all-powerful
readers, writers tend to tell readers exactly what they need to know about the characters’ mental life (and possibly a little more for the sake of entertaining them), but to refrain from hints and insinuations: ‘And the king said to himself, “All the queens of my acquaintance have children…and my queen has not one. I feel ill used”’ (MacDonald, 1864); ‘“My own garden is my own garden”, said the Giant; “any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.”…He was a very
it; and on the black dress, her hair shone like silver. (1872/1990:14) This is followed by two further narrator references to ‘the old lady’, who then introduces herself to Irene: ‘“I’m your great-greatgrandmother.”’Irene replies, ‘“You must be a queen too, if you are my great big grandmother”’, as MacDonald continues, through a play with the small girl’s inability to comprehend the exact relationship between herself and the old lady, to reinforce the mingling of qualities in the latter. This