A Linguistic Stylistic Analysis of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Paradise

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A Linguistic Stylistic Analysis of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Paradise

Abstract

This study explores how linguistic structures were deployed to bring out meaning in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Paradise. The analyses are carried out using linguistic stylistic methods and principles to investigate Morrison’s unique style in the selected novels. To achieve this objective, the research examines the lexico-syntactic and lexico-semantic features as well as the interpersonal, ideational and textual levels of meaning propounded by Halliday’s metafunctional theory. It adopts a random sampling technique in selecting the data. Beloved is divided into three parts and it has 28 chapters and data was randomly selected from each of these parts. Paradise has 9 chapters from which data was selected. This study uses the qualitative and quantitative method of analysis. The qualitative method analyses the conversations in the selected texts while the quantitative method shows the frequency and percentage of occurrence. At the lexico-syntactic level, the findings revealed, in both texts, the frequency of use of simple sentences more than the other types that is, 40% followed by compound and complex sentence 30% each in Beloved and 35% (compound) in Paradise and 25% (complex) respectively. Other stylistic features found in the texts include: African American Vernacular English, disorganized syntax, use of vulgar language, absence of graphic symbols, asyndeton, use of comma, dash, semi-colon and elision. At the lexico-semantic level, there is the use of lexical items, coinage, compounding, cohesive markers, lexical sets and rhetorical tropes and schemes which aid in describing the inhuman treatment and religious struggle between opposing camps. The metafunctional components in both texts reveal that interpersonal metafunction features declarative sentences, Yes/No and WH Interrogative sentences. The study reveals that the structure of a declarative sentence is: subject-finite residue; the structure of WH Interrogative sentence can be: subject-finite- residue or finite- subject- residue which is also found in Yes/No interrogative sentence. At the ideational level Morrison uses the three core process types: material clauses, mental clauses and relational clauses. Our findings reveal the dominant use of circumstancial elements of manner like mean, quality, comparison and degree, which were meant to add more information about the actions of the characters. The textual metafunction reveals theme and rheme structure, theme and mood, theme in declarative sentences, theme in interrogative sentences and theme in imperative sentences. The study further observes that Morrison’s linguistic style flourishes on simplicity of language use and the use of African American Vernacular English features prominently in both novels.

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