What are the styles of these four writers: James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Kate Chopin, and Nathaniel Hawthorne?

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James Joyce is a Modernist. His style includes experimentation with structure, dialogue and characterization. For instance, in A Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist, vignettes of critical life events form the structure thus rendering the narrative void of a conventional beginning, middle and end. Dialogue blends into the narrative text without benefit of quote marks or standard paragraph indentation. He incorporates course and sometimes vulgar language and events in his stories while at other times revealing the refinement of higher social spheres as in The Dead.

Virginia Woolf is also a Modernist who sought a female style in literature that would be liberated from male domination of written expressions. Her style depends heavily upon stream of consciousness (ideas coming to the page seemingly in the random order that thoughts occur to an active mind, though in truth, there is much deliberate order to Woolf's selection of random stream of consciousness thought). Woolf's characterization depends largely upon a characters' thoughts, and relationships between characters are often built by threads in mobile settings that connect individuals, such as the sky-writing airplane that connects characters in Mrs. Dalloway.

Kate Chopin has the least admirable style. First considered a local colorist, Chopin was later reclassified an an American Realist and proto-Modernist. Her characterizations are flat though highly emotive. She is not above leaving threads of stories dangling without fulfillment as in The Awakening. Her syntax is often restricted to repetitive patterns, often of short, simple sentences enlarged by appended subordinate clauses. Her tone reflects the depressive feelings of the characters and of the story mood. "Désirée's Baby" and "A Pair of Silk Stockings" may be her best worked out stories.

Nathaniel Hawthorne stands in stark contrast to the other three. He is an American Dark Romantic writer. He has a penchant for spelling out his thematic meanings instead of being content to allow the characters, actions and events to reveal them as in "The Artist of the Beautiful": he is didactic in style. This is not necessarily a flaw in style if one is a patient reader. His style relies heavily on symbolism. His syntax is elaborate and his vocabulary augmented by descriptive adjectives and adverbs. The mood and tone of his stories are dark.

This contrast between authors' styles might be briefly summed up by saying Hawthorne aims for beauty in linguistic style even while discussing life's darker secrets (the sun puts silver linings on the clouds of life for Hawthorne and his style) whereas the Modernists aim for reality and exposure of life's darker emotions through darker, starker stylistics.

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