Dramatic monologues revolve more around speculation as opposed to offering actual details to the reader. The objective is always to impel the audience to imagine different images regarding the real personalities, time and place or social situation that the characters in the narrative occupy.
Joyce Carol Oates in Answers: A Short Story accomplishes this feat with excellent accuracy as she impels the reader to examine various underlying psychological issues troubling the storyteller. The narrative puts significant focus on the subconscious processes having originated in the narrator’s early childhood and their implications on her personality as an adult. In this case, the direct effect is an inherent distrust of men as felt by the speaker throughout the monologue. This subconscious effect is what the paper seeks to reflect upon using literary techniques in the narrative to understand the link between childhood and adulthood.
Joyce Oates delivers a monologue distinct from the early works of Robert Browning during the Victorian period. The subtle nature of the monologue is what gives it its uniqueness. The narrative is dramatic because it entails the narrator, who is sitting across a mental examiner, addressing her plight as a child. The examiner asks a series of unwritten questions that explore the narrator’s mindset. The term ‘dramatic’ does not imply the sensational or emphatic sense of the word as seen in works of newscasters. Instead, the narrator and the medical examiner address each other with direct subtleness, which makes the piece of literature interesting. For instance, when asked about her father, the narrator responds that he enjoyed keeping everyone guessing, which made her feel afraid of him (Oates 46).The beauty in this passage is that it shows how the narrator adopted the repressive tendencies of her father as she never talks about the memory of her daughter’s demise. While the conversation is direct, the underlying issues are always subtly impelling the reader to imagine and explore possibilities.
The ability of the author to give the reader the cue about what is to be imagined reveals her storytelling mastery. In plays or dramatic monologues, the narrator’s remarks are what cue in the reader, whose responsibility is to pick and unfold them. In some instances, the signals that are given are definite and particular. For example, at one point during the mental examination, the narrator accuses the questioner of being angry. The narrator states, “Yes, you are angry. I think you are angry” (Oates 52). The fact that the speaker is accusing the examiner of being angry because of her distrust of men is a direct clue that prompts the reader to believe the questioner is a male.
Dramatic monologues have the intent to invite the reader to play a game of imagination. This helps readers learn about their basic curiosities and different experiences of the narrators. Joyce Carol Oates accomplishes this feat in an exemplary fashion in Answers: A Short Story. From the onset of the conversation, the reader is made aware that there is an underlying mental issue given that the narration entails a psychological examiner. However, there is no revelation of the primary problem. Throughout the narrative, the reader is given cues that facilitate his or her integration into the discussion, or rather an exploration, of the narrator’s mental state. Oates defies the tenets of dramatic monologues by employing a subtle approach, which makes the narrative not only interesting but also profound in a constructive manner.
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Oates, Joyce Carol. Answers: A Short Story. Demco Media, 1973.