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Critical Narrative

Zachary Tooman, in his article “Her ‘whole soul was ear’” (2017), argues that Shelley includes a language of sound and music into The Last Man to boost the mental and emotional resonance of her novel. Tooman does so by looking into the musical reflection in Shelley’s letters in the months during The Last Man’s making.

Tooman’s purpose is to point out the ways that The Last Man ties the language of narrative with the language of written music. Given the language in the article, Tooman is writing to a well-educated audience with knowledge of music in literature.

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Shelley herself said that music opens more doors for communicative abilities and strength of speaking how she really feels; it increases her thought process and inspires/encourages her writing. This becomes the key with which to interpret her novel. Tooman says that language can transcend just as soundly as music, and that Shelley’s use of music in literature privileges the powers of language and music equally.

Music unlocks and even intensifies the mind’s ability to authentically communicate that experience. Tooman says “If writing music makes ethereal sound more tangible, then so too can language capture thoughts: and if sheet music can capture the essence of music, then literature can likewise compose our thoughts, our experiences, ourselves.” This is true because you can connect on a different level with music and the lyrics.

The beat within the song tells you alone if it’s a sad or happy song. Literature can do the same thing with describing something into detail and using a lot of similes and adjectives. “I became the victim of ingratitude and cold coquetry—then I desponded and imagined that my discontent gave me a right to hate the world. I” ― Mary Shelley, The Last Man. Here Shelley uses the word cold show the darkness and sadness within her words and hate to let us feel her truth.

Lucy Morrison, in her book essay “Listen While You Read: The Case of Mary Shelley’s The Last Man.” (2010), asserts that music is inspired within Shelley’s The Last Man. Morrison proves this by letters Shelley wrote during the timeframe of which she wrote The Last Man and explains how it helps her show emotion and feeling in her work. Morrison’s purpose is to show how the inspiration of music helped create emotion in her novel. Given her knowledge with the novel and connections with music she’s writing to an audience with knowledge of music in literature.

Mary Shelley conveys the drama of her scenes through both language and sound. Readers who are willing to listen with an open mind will find themselves in awe as language can then compel them to music. “I spread the whole earth out as a map before me.

On no one spot of its surface could I put my finger and say, here is safety.” ― Mary Shelly, The Last Man. This quote is a good example of drama and sound. You can imagine and hear her pull out the map and feel maybe her scared or mad that the earth is not a safe place. Being able to use your imagination and memories can have better understanding and feeling with the text by remembering the sounds of the pieces read. Most people remember things that become more significant to them. If people connect to a poem, story, or song they’ll hardly ever forget it.

So, using music in the literature can help connect the reader to the story or what the author is trying to say. Using both eyes and ears with reading Mary Shelley’s work allows readers greater ability to understand and relate to historical and social contexts. Morrison stresses that the novel “suggest an underlying theme of soul-lifting; in a novel despairing of existence, music takes human spirits to another level, one upon which comfort for sorrows can be found”.

In October 1823 wrote to Leigh Hunt that she was going to start writing a novel. She said “As I listen to music new ideas rise and develop themselves, with greater energy and truth that at any other time- thus I am becoming very fond of instrumental music of which before I was more careless- singing confines ones thoughts to the words- in mere playing they form a son for themselves which if it be not more in harmony with the notes at least is more so with ones tone of mind”.

In this letter you can see how music inspired her. Listening to the lyrics gave her ideas and maybe even create a storyline. As she says “with greater energy and truth that at any other time” she could be saying that she connected to the music like never before. The instrumental could have helped her gain some emotion to the music.

Both articles are expressing how Shelley uses her knowledge with music in literature. With the letter she wrote talking about how music inspired her to expressing how if music can capture thoughts so can language. There’s always a story behind a song, lyric, beat. If you ask a writer what inspired them to make this song 99% of the time they start telling a story.

A book is a story, so I see how a book and specifically The Last Man can be partly inspired by music. After reading Tooman and Morrison’s articles proves just how music can inspire a writer. With music you can not only hear but feel the emotion with how the artist is singing it. Using those skills can help with a writer show emotion with their words. Shelley says that music unlocks communications of truth and abilities.

“Poetry and its creations, philosophy and its researches and classifications, alike awoke the sleeping ideas in my mind, and gave me new ones.” (Mary Shelley) Here, Shelley expresses in the book how poetry and philosophy gave her new ideas. Music is a type poetry, so she may be saying how music is what inspired her. “Perfect happiness is an attribute of angels; and those who have it, appear angelic” ― Mary Shelley, The Last Man

I never would’ve thought or see how music could be a part of literature. Songs are poems, so I see the connection. It makes me realize how important the music is. It inspires writers like Mary Shelley to write a story like The Last Man. The Last Man was inspired by music and shows music in the literature. Her doing that helps readers better understand what she’s trying to say and what her purposes are. The readers can connect on another level. This makes me wonder if other writers ae inspired by music.

The music industry is very popular most people are in their cars, school, work, and at home listening to music and memorizing lyrics. If writers wrote in a way that others can connect and having emotion towards it then there would be a lot more readers in this world. I am personally not a reader but maybe I’d gain interest if I could understand and relate in a way to the storyline. Mary Shelley write The Last Man under the inspiration of music and it became a very popular book.

Works Cited

  1. Morrison, Lucy. “Listen While You Read: The Case of Mary Shelley’s The Last Man.” Mary
  2. Shelley: Her Circle and Her Contemporaries, edited by Adam L. Meklar and Lucy
  3. Morrison, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, pp. 151–68.
  4. Her ‘whole soul was ear’: Novel Sound, Experimental Music, and Artistic Community in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man. Style, 2017, Vol. 51 Issue 2, p167- 186; 20p,2017, 20p.
  5. https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/835097-the-last-man

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Critical Narrative
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Zachary Tooman, in his article “Her ‘whole soul was ear’” (2017), argues that Shelley includes a language of sound and music into The Last Man to boost the mental and emotional resonance of her novel. Tooman does so by looking into the musical reflection in Shelley’s letters in the months during The Last Man’s making. Tooman’s purpose is to point out the ways that The Last Man ties the language of narrative with the language of written music. Given the language in the article, T
2021-09-18 10:16:00
Critical Narrative
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