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Understanding persona, tone and voice

Understanding persona, tone and voice

by Priya Agarwal

While we talk of literature, we usually think of a piece of writing meant to be read and get done with. But there is much more to this field of literature. 

The various styles and features used in the writing of these pieces of works tell the readers that the piece of art is not just meant to be read but also to be spoken orally so as to convey the beauty of the work. 

The three terms style, persona and voice refer to the critical tendency to think of narrative and lyric works of literature as modes of speech or what we now call as discourse. 

To appreciate a work as utterance means that there is a speaker of or in the work, who has determinate physical qualities and who expresses attitudes both towards the materials and characters within the work and also towards the audience to whom the work is being addressed. 

The three terms, as simple as they may appear to be, are complex and thus students studying literature and working on the style and structure of pieces of writing, may need assignment help in this case. 

Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, written in the fourth century BC, as well as other Greek and Roman rhetoricians, pointed out that while the process of oration is on, the orator projects an ethos, that is, a personal character, which itself serves as a means of persuasion for the audience. 

For instance, if the impression that the speaker conveys is that of a person being intelligent and of goodwill and rectitude, then the audience will automatically believe such a speaker’s arguments in contrast to a person of the opposite traits. 

The present concern of the function of author’s presence in a work of imaginative fiction as well as that of nature, is related to the mentioned traditional concept and this has become a part of rhetorical emphasis in modern criticism. 

The three mentioned concepts are a bit difficult to understand and several research paper writings have stated that they even employ the difficult concepts of psychology and philosophy like role-playing, self, personal identity and sincerity.

Persona was a Latin word for the mask that the actors wore in the classical theater. From this word was derived the phrase dramatis personae which refers to the actors who take part in the play. 

And with this did the English word person come into existence. On several occasions, the term persona is applied to the traditional first-person speaker who tells a particular story in a narrative form, 

or somebody whom we hear in a lyric poem. There are various examples of persona that we can see in the works of literature written in different eras:

  1. In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, there is this first-person narrator who discourse about himself in the opening passages of the various books of this epic)
  2. The ‘I’ in Alexander Pope’s satirical dialogue Epistles to Dr. Arbuthnot.
  3. In Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver himself tells us about his various misadventures
  4. In Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, the narrator paused frequently in order to have a leisurely discourse with his readers.
  5. In William Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey the speaker talks first to himself and then to his sister.
  6. My Last Duchess by Robert Browning and this Duke who tells the emissary about his former wife. 
  7. Of course the fantastic biographer and the narrator of Orlando by Virginia Woolf, also comes in this category.

When we refer to these people as personae, we mean that these characters have in some or the other way, fulfilled the artistic aims of a particular literary work. 

But one needs to make a clear distinction between the speakers who are close enough to the author and the speakers who are completely different from what the author is.

Tone, as defined by I. A. Richards in his research paper writing, refers to the literary speaker’s attitude towards his audience. This means that the tone is the expression of the standing of the speaker towards the person or persons he is addressing. 

The intonation in the speech pattern also tells the listeners about the way the speaker is trying to convey a particular point. The term tone of voice is applied to nonliterary speech and reflects the sense in which the term is used in critical discourse. 

The way we speak about a thing to a person, gives an in-depth reflection into our understanding of and perspective towards the thing, our conception of it, and our personal relationship with the auditor. 

In this manner, the tone of a person can be described as formal or intimate, critical or approving, solemn or playful, outspoken or reticent, angry or loving, arrogant or prayerful, 

condescending or obsequious and the list goes on depending upon the nuances of relationship of both attitude and speaker to object as well as to auditor. 

In various literary narratives, the narratee is sometimes explicitly mentioned while at other times remains an imposed auditor. Sometimes tone, as expressed in the current sense, is used coincidently with the term voice. 

What Aristotle mentioned as ethos in a speech of persuasive rhetoric, is termed as equivalent to voice in the current sense. It suggests the traditional rhetorician’s concern with the physical voice during an oration. 

In case of fiction, the term points out that there exists a voice different from the fictional voices in the work, and a persona behind the fanatic personae and even behind the first-person narrator. 

We all know that there exists an artistic brain that has created all these literary characters and materials in the way they appear to us. Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones has a glimpse of this author’s ethos or voice in the work. In fact, 

the writer himself had decided to create such a wise person who tells the story to the readers. Same style has been followed by other writers as well but there are a few that believe in the concept of authorial noninterference. 

Thus, this was all one needs to know about the concepts of persona, tone and voice and the points mentioned are sufficient enough to offer assignment help usa to students.

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