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Describe literary elements with information from the novel Black Beauty.Anna Sewell's...

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mioumiou | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 29, 2010 at 1:34 PM via web

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Describe literary elements with information from the novel Black Beauty.

Anna Sewell's Black Beauty

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 30, 2010 at 4:16 AM (Answer #1)

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While Ann Sewell's Black Beauty became famous for the poignant story of a beautiful and gentle horse as well as the novel's effecting the promotion of humane treatment of horses, the most salient of literary elements in its narrative is the original idea of having the horse as narrator.   This personification of Beauty intrigues the young reader who follows the internalizing of the horse's observations and feelings.  Personification is used by Beauty himself as, for instance, he describes his experiences with a train:  "A terrible creature" that "shrieks and groans."

Along with personification, Sewell also makes frequent use of simile.  For example, in Chapter 1, Beauty describes Old Daniel who is "as gentle as our master."  Then, in Chapter 3, Beauty describes the feel of the bit:  "A great piece of hard steel as thick as a man's finger."  And, again in Chapter 5, Beauty describes how the groomsman used to make his mane and tail "almost as smooth as a lady's hair." In Chapter 33 Beauty writes that

Polly, [Jerry's] wife was just as good a match as a man could have.

Of course, there are horse metaphors employed in this narrative such as "the touch of the rein" which means the slight movements and signals that are given by an experience rider who knows how to manipulate the horse's reins. Sewell's theme is stated in Jerry Baker's remark which employs metaphor:

"My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or srong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt"

There is irony in Black Beauty.  In Chapter 7, Ginger relates her history to Beauty, and she tells him,

"Then one man dragged me along by the halter, another flogging behind, and this was the first experience I had of men's kindness..."

 

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