In Kate Beaton's graphic novel Hark! A Vagrant, how does the positioning of characters in the panels reveal their feelings?

Quick answer:

The positioning of the other characters in the panels about the Brontë sisters reveals their feelings because Emily and Charlotte are often arranged similarly, which marks their shared enjoyment and intrigue. Later on, in “St. Francis and the Birds,” the divergent positioning of the characters demonstrates that Francis feels affection for the birds while the man feels exasperated by them.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

None of the characters in the Brontë panels are spaced overtly far apart. Kate Beaton figures out a way to scrunch all three sisters into many of the panels. However, even in such close quarters, Emily and Charlotte are positioned as closer. They lean into one another and their heads often face the same direction. Their similar positions suggest corresponding feelings about the men they’re looking at. Their chummy arrangement indicates that both derive enjoyment from observing the men and speculating about their dispositions.

Anne, meanwhile, doesn’t like this activity. The position of Anne in the fourth and seventh panels portrays Anne’s separate emotional state. The placement of her head and the head of her sister creates a relatively noticeable amount of space. That gap might help one understand the gulf between Charlotte and Emily’s feelings of intrigue and Anne’s feelings of irritation.

In other panels, like “St. Francis and the Birds,” the position of the characters continues to convey their emotions and feelings. The man’s frustration with Francis’s close relationship to the birds is marked by the lack of space between the birds and Francis. Francis has warm feelings toward the birds, which is why he’s positioned with them. The man feels that the birds are ridiculous, which is why, once a bird lands on his head, his feelings of irritation intensify.

In the final panel, Beaton demonstrates the man’s fed-up emotional state by drawing him leaving. All one sees of the man is a bit of his body and one of his legs. The position of the characters in the last panel—with Francis covered in birds and the man only partly visible—highlights the two men’s opposite feelings about the birds.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial