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Imagery And Characterization In Redwall Essay

1759 words - 7 pages

Brian Jacques was born on June 15, 1939, in Liverpool, England. As a child, he attended St. John's School in Liverpool. When he was 10 years old, he was given an assignment to write a story about animals. Jacques wrote about a bird that cleaned that cleaned a crocodile's teeth. His teacher could not believe that a ten year-old could write so well, and accused the young Jacques of copying the story. Jacques refused, and he was then called a liar. At fourteen, Jacques took up an interest in poetry and Homer's epics thanks to his English teacher. On the Redwall website, he mentions that he “saved up seven shillings and sixpence to buy The Iliad and The Odyssey at this dusty used book shop.” Jacques finished school at 15 and became a merchant seaman. He travelled to many places around the world, including the United States and Japan. He eventually returned to Liverpool, where he held many other jobs, including a truck driver, a bus driver, a boxer, and a stand-up comedian.
Redwall was written for the children at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind, where Jacques delivered milk. He did not expect it to be published at all. Jacques' childhood English teacher, Alan Durband, read Redwall and showed it to a publisher without first informing Jacques. Because of Durband, Jacques got a contract for the first five Redwall books. Due to the fact that the children for whom the story was originally written were blind, Jacques wrote Redwall as descriptively as possible, and used real-world accents for his characters. He continued in that style in all other Redwall books, which he wrote until he died on February 5, 2011. Jacques' diction in Redwall creates vivid imagery and believable dialogue in his characters.
Jacques often uses the sound, feel, and connotations of a word to create effects and images. This is seen when the voice of a creature called the Shadow is described as “a whisper of wet silk across a smooth slate” (Jacques 63). This sentence has the effects of alliteration with the letters W and S, plus the connotations of words such as whisper, wet, silk, and smooth. Those things together give the reader the idea that Shadow's voice is flowing and smooth, like liquid. Jacques also describes characters in this way, such as the snake called Asmodeus being called an “efficient undertaker” (180), and opening his mouth to eat a rat in “a nightmare of a smile” (180). The words used give the reader the image of something dark and evil.
Different types of words are also used in different situations. During a happy scene, exciting and cheerful words are used to make the reader feel the same way. This can be seen at the beginning of the story, during a feast. The words like loud, jolly, and comically, plus the fact that the otters in the scene are dressed as clowns, remind the reader of laughter and excitement, such as in a circus. In more serious situations, such as battles, Jacques uses powerful words like clash, throttle, and strike (Jacques 344).

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