Like any good writer, J.R.R.Tolkien is a master of using literary devices to “paint” the reader a picture of the ancient and dangerous Mirkwood Forest. The dangers of the forest are foreshadowed when the narrator says, “Now began the most dangerous part of all the journey.” Since our adventurers have encountered stone giants in the mountains, the goblin attack and escape through their tunnels, and the Wargs trapping them in the trees, it has to give the reader pause to be told that these were not the most dangerous things to come!
Chapter 8, Spiders and Flies, begins with three paragraphs of supporting detail used to paint the picture of this new setting for the Company’s adventures. Using detail, diction, figurative language, imagery, and syntax, the picture created is dark and ominous. Tolkien’s use of concrete imagery paints a sinister picture of the ancient forest. A copy of this page is included as well as a 2-page detailed analysis of the page for the teacher to use to help students find the elements of the writer’s voice.
By considering the terms that artists are acquainted with, such as chiaroscuro, value, and line, students can begin to “see” the image the author creates in the reader’s mind using words instead of paint. This is an excellent way to help students who have trouble visualizing what they are reading as they see how good readers use words to paint the scenes as they read. It is also a good way to introduce art terms to students who may not have encountered them before.
The passage is analyzed for figurative language (metaphor, simile, personification and hyperbole), Imagery (auditory, visual, including light, color, and linear, and tactile), syntax (sentence length and type, and punctuation), diction, and detail. After completing the analysis of voice, an guided expository writing activity is included with detailed instructions for students on how to write the thesis, and how to address literary devices that they discovered during their passage analysis.
Handouts included are:
• Definitions of Terms – one page
• Copy of page 139 of the text - one page
• Teacher Guidelines – three pages
• Expository Writing Guidelines – one page
Common Core Standards are included - 2 pages