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Lyricism in Coraline - Essay Example

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Coraline is a novel by Neil Gaiman, about a young girl named Coraline who has just moved to a new town. She has moved with her parents into part of a boarding house that is quite old, and to put it simply she hates the place. …
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Lyricism in Coraline
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Download file to see previous pages The other world is populated by people with buttons for eyes, and all sorts of fantastical and magical things happen there. The narrative is part ghost story, part adventure story, and partly a story of growing up to adulthood and not acting childishly any more.
Much of the story has to do with Coraline's interaction with what she calls the “other mother,” the version of her mother who lives in the other world and who, it turns out, is basically a monster pulling all the strings like a spider as she tries to steal Coraline's eyes and replace them with buttons, which will basically kill her or cause her to lose her soul. The theme of the story has to do with Coraline's growing realization that despite all the problems she has at home, sometimes things that seem ideal are much worse. Home is the best place even when it isn't perfect.
One interesting scene in the verbal text takes place at the beginning of chapter 4, from pages 35 to 38. In this scene, Coraline is in the other world and meets the cat who lives with one of her neighbors. The tone of the text is fairly straightforward at first, but as the scene continues that tone clashes with the action of the scene and makes it seem whimsical, if not outright nonsense. Coraline carries on a confusing conversation with it which seems to allude to Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. This allusion reinforces the whimsical tone of the conversation, where the cat responds to Coraline's questions with answers that are either so matter-of-fact they are useless or that do not seem to make sense.
The sequence is fairly tight for the most part, with the cat and Coraline exchanging dialogue with few interruptions. When there are interruptions, they are usually narrative intrusions which serve to make the scene seem somewhat strange. For instance, the cat's shrug is described in an odd way, or we learn that it's voice sounds like what Coraline hears in her own head. The scene's lyricism comes through in the way Gaiman chooses his words and also in the way he combines them with the action of the scene to create an almost detached, surreal experience for the reader. The same scene happens in the movie version of the story, as well, but several significant details are different. In the movie the scene takes place from about 45:00 to about 46:30. One major difference is noticeable right away. In the book the scene takes place during the day, but in the movie it is night. This immediately sets up a different mood that is easily visible. The conversation in the movie is very different as well, and the pacing of it is punctuated not by narrative intrusions but by the cat itself as he walks behind trees and reappears elsewhere, and generally does impossible things. This still creates a surreal experience—probably more of one, to be honest. However, the detached feeling of the text narrative is gone. The literal voice of the characters also plays a big effect on the scene is a way that is impossible in a text form. The cat's voice is sort of rough, but deep and calm like a jazz singer. Because of this he sounds mysterious. Coraline sounds good-spirited and sarcastic, but also innocent. Her voice is of a higher pitch and it makes her sound like the young girl she is. Formally, the camera in the movie version is very active. Instead of staying in one place and showing the scene, it moves almost constantly, but slowly instead of jumpily. This gives the impression of ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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