Dialogic and Formal Analysis of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard
By combining the formal and dialogical approaches, patterns and voices within the text seemingly interplay and overlap to reveal a deeper sense of the author's intentions. While the formalistic analysis focuses on the text and the unfolding themes within, the dialogical analysis recognizes "...the essential indeterminacy of meaning outside of the dialogic - and hence open - relationship between voices" (HCAL 349). When applied to "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," these two approaches collaborate to emphasize recurring concepts and establish a twisted sense of authority.
Formal analysis identifies the initial elements of a work and determines their significance in relation to what remains. By selecting such a title as an "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," the author is providing the reader with an indication for what will follow. Amazingly, the poem is exactly what the title states. It is an "elegy," expressing grief and lamentation for the humble unknown villagers who have passed away. It is set in a "country churchyard," and throughout the work much effort is put forth in depicting this calm and unfortunate environment. As if the foreshadowing is not clear enough already, the first line continues to provide poetic insight. "The curfew tolls the knell for the parting day," clearly expresses a sense of conclusiveness (1). Curfew suggests that time is up, while "parting" is generally linked with goodbye. Already the author is conditioning and preparing the reader, hinting at what is to come in the end.
In the first stanza, evidence comes forth that this poem will be narrated in the first person when the ploughman "….leaves the world to darkness and to me" (4). The dialogical investigation seems to imply that...