Sunday, March 23, 2008

Resonance of Invoking Death

Invoking death resonates because it foreshadows. You can invoke the specter of death with imagery, a metaphor, an omen, or a premonition. If the story ends with the death of your main character, invoking death at the outset really resonates.

Shakespeare invoked death in Juliet's first words about Romeo after meeting him:

Go ask his name. If he be married,
My grave is like to be my wedding bed.

Shakespeare invoked death before the outset, in the titles of his tragedies, such as The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hemingway did likewise in Death in the Afternoon and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Of course, you can invoke the specter of death literally too, as Shakespeare did in Hamlet's tremendous opening scene with the ghost and as Charles Dickens did with the last apparition that comes to Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol."

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