A Picture Of The Shadows Essay examples

1579 Words Nov 8th, 2016 7 Pages
A Picture of the Shadows: A Discussion of How Chiaroscuro Illustrates Remembering and Forgetting in In the Skin of a Lion

In the novel, In the Skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje uses the motif of chiaroscuro, or the relationship between light and shadow, to illustrate the themes of remembering and forgetting. A motif is a narrative element that reoccurs throughout a narrative, an idea that has a symbolic meaning. As described by H. Porter Abbott, it is not abstract but a concrete idea, which moulds the theme of a literary work. The concept of chiaroscuro, or shadow play, originally comes from painting, and is used to characterize works in which the darkness strongly contrasts with the light. In other words, the brighter the light, the heavier the shadows. Ondaatje uses the motif of chiaroscuro to link light with remembering and shadow with forgetting, by attributing more description and visual details to scenes occurring in light versus in darkness. He contrasts the relationship between light and shadow on a metaphorical level in the sense that wherever there is good, there must also be evil because light casts shadow; the two states co-exist. Throughout the novel, Ondaatje shows the reader snapshots of the forgotten stories of immigrants and marginalized individuals who contributed in building Toronto. The novel fictionalises the lives of these immigrants whose contributions never became part of the city 's official history. Photographs used by the city to preserve public…

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