Thursday, February 11, 2010
Response to "Gesture" by Francine Prose
"Gesture" by Francine Prose is an essay in which the author attempts to describe the importance of gestures as related to characters in novels. She begins the essay by giving a traditional definition of "Gesture", describing it as "small physical actions, often unconscious or semi-reflective, including what is called body language and excluding larger, more definite or momentous actions." To reenforce her point, she also illustrates examples of how gestures have complimented character development within novels. Not only used as a form of character development, gestures can be used to advance a story's plot and giver depth to the setting in which the characterr lives. Two examples that Prose gives us from the text are excerpts from the novel "The Dead" and a story from Isabella Rosselini's memoir. The first excerpt from "The Dead" is an exchange of dialogue between Lily and Gabriel. The dialogue as well as the small inflections from the characters while speaking is a perfect example of how gestures can develop a character without needing the character to speak. The second example comes in Isabella Rosellinis memoir, where she places a call to her ex-husband to vent about how she was eft by her lover. In this example, we can see and understand volumes about Isabella's character. All at once we feel her loneliness and her need to be validated by another man, which we assume is why she called her ex. Within the context of writing, Gesture is a tool that can be used for many aspects of a character, either psychological or physical. Reading this essay helped illustrate many points to me about how Gesture can be used to build character in subtle ways.