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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Monday, May 5, 2014



By Albert B. Casuga


ANALYSIS (Common to all three forms)

A. Subject Matter. What is the subject matter of the short story/novel/drama? Does it deal with a universal or particular experience? Explain why you consider it either universal or particular.

B. Fiction Type. What type of novel/short story/drama is it? Story and Novel: Novel/story of Plot, of Setting, of Character, or of Idea; Drama: Comedy, Tragedy, Melodrama, Farce, Tragi-Comedy, and Satire. Why did you classify it as such? Based on this recognition, can you “guess” at the purpose of the author? Explain this purpose.

C. Setting-Atmosphere-Mood. Do you have a clear picture of the locale of the fiction? Describe it. Is it justified?

D. Plot. If it is a fiction of plot, can you summarize the series of events that are used to objectify (concretize) the subject matter (content)? What event do you consider as the initial or inciting action of the story? Why? What is/are the conflict/s or complication/s being presented? Why do you consider this/these the complications? What event/s do you consider as the turning point or crisis of the story? Why? What do you consider as the climax or discovery of the plot? Why? What event/s do ou consider the denouement or resolution of the novel/story/drama? Why?

E. Characters. (Protagonist, Antagonist; Foil; Typical Characters or minor characters; confidante/s). Who is/are the protagonist/s of the story? Describe and classify him/them (round vs. flat; developing vs. static) into one of the types. Explain your classification. Who/What is/are the antagonist/s? Why? Describe and explain briefly the characterization and roles of other characters in the fiction.

F. Theme-Idea-Thought. What is the primary/secondary theme/s of the work? Why?

CRITICISM (Style and Technique)

A. Style. How does the author’s style serve the artistic purpose of objectifying and subjectifying (emotionalizing) the experience (theme?)?

1. Diction. (Dialogue in the Drama). What type of diction is used by the author in creating a virtual reality of the theme? Is the diction of each character consistent to their natures and roles? Is it consistent to the demands of the subject matter? (For Drama) Does the dialogue move the story forward? How? Does the dialogue characterize the personae? Does the diction/dialogue help achieving a verisimilitude?

2. Imagery-Symbolism and Other Language Devices. Does the author use images or narrative events as allegorical symbols for the objectification of the theme or aspects of the theme? Illustrate (quote from the text). Why does the author use these? How do they help in creating a verisimilitude of human action and/or situation? Does the author use figures (of speech, thought, or language) in objectifying moods or attitudes in the narrated events? Why does he use these? Illustrate (quote from text.)

B. Technique. How does the author’s technique serve the artistic purpose of objectifying and subjectifying the theme or experience? (Answer to this depends on the answers to the following):

1. Selection of Details. Are all the details (incidents, events, actions-reactions, attitudes, moods-feelings, characters) in the Plot-Action necessary? (Meaning: Do they fulfill the demands of the subject matter? Do they contribute to the creation of a verisimilitude? Do they help in objectifying and subjectifying the otherwise abstract theme? Do they follow the logic of the Plot? Are they consistent to the nature and roles of the characters? ) Illustrate (quote from the text.)

Is the initial action or exposition necessary? Why? Is the inciting force appropriate, adequate, effective, and necessary? Why? Is the complication or rising action properly motivated such that they spring from the nature of the characters? Why? Is the crisis or turning point necessary and effective? Does it proceed as a logical result from the complication? Why? Is the climax or discovery a logical conclusion of the incidents or events in the preceding actions --- initial, complication, crisis? Why? Is the denouement necessary and effective? Why? Are all these actions carried out by the characters as they interact among themselves? Do all these actions help in the concretization (objectification) of the theme or experience? How?

Order. Describe the order or manner of unfolding events used by the author. Why does he use this order? Does this order help in creating a verisimilitude? Is this order artistic? Why?

2. Characterization. Why did the author shape the characters the way he did? How does this characterization of the protagonist, antagonist, and minor characters help in creating a verisimilitude of the experience? Does the dialogue of each character help in making a more vivid and convincing characterization? How? What other modes of characterization does the author use? Why does he use these? How do they help in achieving a believable characterization (suspension of disbelief).

3. Point of View. What point of view is used by the author in the narrative parts of the story/novel? (Omniscient, controlled-omniscient, witness-narrator, Protagonist-narrator, dramatic-objective narrator). Is this a qualified point of view? Why? Why does this choice help in creating a virtual reality of the novel’s/story’s plot-story?

4. Scale. Length of story, episodes, paragraphs, sentences, words, dialogue lines, expositiory narrations. Pacing of actions in the story.

5. Other techniques. (Novel/Short Story only). Do you find evidence of other artistic techniques like “stream-of-consciousness” (James Joyce, Virginia Woolf) in the story? “Automatic Writing” or “Surrealism” (Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, Antonin Artaud)? “Centripetal-Centrifugal Poetic Method (Wilfrido Nolledo’s technique)? Does the story’s technique remind you of any other author’s technique? Why does the author use such a technique? Does it help in carrying out the artistic purpose?

(For Drama). Do you find any evidence of other artistic techniques used in the play; i.e., classical techniques of the use of masks, asides, chorus; the Elizabethan techniques of films or moving pictures to project flashbacks; Absurdist techniques of minimizing sets and maximizing bodily movements, and their use of nonsensical speech? Do these things help in concretizing the play’s theme? How?


A. Is the fiction (short story, novel, and drama) artistic? Does it have formal excellence? Why?

B. Does it have the marks of a good Novel? Play? Short Story? Explain your judgment.

C. Is it good literature? Does it reflect the literary values?

D. What is its value to you? Did you find the aesthetic pleasure in appreciating it? Why or why not?

(NEXT: Continuation of the series: Theories of Literary Analysis, of Literary Criticism, and of Literary Evaluation of Literature as a Humanistic Discipline.)

(See the previous entry on The Language of Poetry for Guide Questions in the Appreciation of Poetry.)

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