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《夏洛特的网》的美学特征浅谈-A Brief Analysis of the Aesthetic Features in Charlotte's Web--英国论文代写范文精选

2015-11-17 | 来源:51Due教员组 | 类别:更多范文

Ⅰ. Introduction
Elywn Brooks White was a leading American essayist and literary stylist of his time. He was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and the youngest child of a large family. After graduating from Cornell University in 1921, he worked in some miscellaneous jobs from the reporter for United Press, American Legion News Service, and the Seattle Times to the production assistant and advertising copywriter. From 1929, White worked for The New Yorker's weekly magazine for the rest of his life. His favorite subjects are: the complexities of modern society, failures of technological progress, the pleasures of urban and rural life, war, and internationalism.
And later in 1939 he moved to a farm in North Brooklin, Maine where he continued his writing career. It was in this barn that many characters in his children's stories came into being. Charlotte's Web was one of White's best child books created there. As to the origin of the story, White said: "As for Charlotte's Web, I like animals and my barn is a very pleasant place to be, at all hours. One day when I was on my way to feed the pig, I began feeling sorry for the pig because, like most pigs, he was doomed to die. This made me sad. So I started thinking of ways to save a pig's life. I had been watching. Gradually I worked the spider into the story that you know a story of friendship and salvation on a farm. Three years after I started writing it, it was published. (I'm not a fast worker, as you can see.)’’
Charlotte's Web tells a story of a runt pig named Wilbur, his owner Fern, and a grey spider named Charlotte. Born as a runt, Wilbur is scarcely killed by Fern's father, Mr. Arable. It is Fern who comes to stop her father for she, as a naive child, thinks it is unfair to kill a little pig just because its smaller size. So the runt is saved from Mr. Arable's ax and kept as Fern's pet. He grows up healthily and happily under the careful attention of the 8-year-old girl. Later he is moved to live in Fern's uncle, Mr. Zuckerman's barn. Wilbur can not make any friends there, though it is crowded with different animals: sheep, horse, cattle, goose and even the rat. At Wilbur's low point, a spider named Charlotte comes to be Wilbur's friend. And this friend turns out to be true and loyal till the end of the story, as she tries every means to save her friend from the butchering at the Christmas time without considering herself.
Charlotte's Web wins a great popularity since its publication and wins an unfailing charming on its readers from generation to generation. It is translated into more than twenty languages and regarded as one of the top ten popular books for children. So far, there has been much academic research on Charlotte's Web with various focuses and different angles. One of them is "What Makes a Good Children's Book? The Texture of Charlotte's Web" written by Peter Neumeyer. It argues that each character has its distinctive name which shares the suggestive characteristics of the owner. And further on, the language in the novel also reveals the unique features of a successful child book. The words in Charlotte's Web are distinctive and describable. Another piece is "Aesthetic Function of Charlotte's Web as a Novel for Children" with the author Ning Miaomiao. It focuses on the aesthetic function of the novel from the narrow sense and the broad sense. The narrow sense of the aesthetic function deals with the beauty in language, in kindness and in children's nature, while the broad sense discusses the educational function and the cognitional function.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
This thesis is to focus on the unique aesthetic features of Charlotte's Web which can be analyzed from two aspects: beauty of language and beauty of themes. The beauty of language is revealed from the picture-like language, musical language and dancing-like language which constitutes a solid foundation of such a high aesthetic child book. Friendship, love, loyalty and growth are the beauty of themes, which can render the readers a sense of high morals and also teach them an invaluable lesson. Besides, White’s gentle satire and vivid humor also make it even more thought-provoking.

Ⅱ. Aesthetic Features of Charlotte's Web
2.1 Beauty of Language
"The language in children's literature is an artistic language.” (杨实诚,1999:17-22) A good writer for children's book tends to use suitable forms and artistry to enable children appreciate beauty through reading experience. A good writer for children's book also needs to represent the language in a simple but vivid way, thus makes it desirable and acceptable for the young readers. The language in Charlotte's Web is just like the colorful paintings, fair songs and beautiful dancing which bring the reader into a miracle world full of fantasy and beauty. So the aesthetic features in the aspect of language can be appreciated from the following three aspects: the picture-like language, the musical language and the dancing-like language.
2.1.1 Picture-like Language
Picture-like language is the most common setting in children's literature: birds, flowers, brooks and clouds, especially in environmental description. Through the media of language, the readers can decode the author's intention so to achieve the goal of communication. With the help of picturesque language, the beautiful scenery observed by the author can be better and easier understood by the readers.
As for children, they are not capable of grasping sophisticated or abstract language, so literary work for children needs picture-like language to help to communicate between writers and readers, which can surely enable the readers to have a better understanding of the story. For example, in Charlotte's Web the description of early summer is a beautiful picture presented by the writer.

"The early summer days on a farm are the happiest and fairest days of the year. Lilacs bloom and make the air sweet, and then fade. Apple blossoms come with the lilacs, and the bees visit around among the apple trees. The days grow warm and soft. School ends, and children have time to play and to fish for trouts in the brook. Avery often brought a trout home in his pocket, warm and stiff and ready to be fried for supper." (White, 1993: 48)

The writer describes the early summer days on a farm with so many vivid images: lilacs' blossoms, sweet air, apple blossoms, busy bees, apple trees, playing children, and the trout. Such a natural scene full of the happiness of the rural life looks just like a rayon drawing. It reveals the vigorous life of the plans and animals on the farm and also children's joyful playing on the summer day.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
In such description of environment, Charlotte's Web shows reader a colorful and tangible picture, leaving the readers to imagine through the simple but typical things about the season and farm. Further on, the tone of the novel can also be sensed through such a lively picture. It is joyful, peaceful and pastoral. Another good example to show the beauty of picturesque language is the description of Charlotte's web.
"On foggy mornings, Charlotte's web was truly a thing of beauty. This morning each thin strand was decorated with dozens of tiny beads of water. The web glistened in the light and made a pattern of loveness and mystery, like a delicate veil."(White, 1993:85) Reading between the lines, such a beautiful, naturally built web comes on readers' mind: thin and delicate silk strand is shining with the dewdrops under the morning sunshine. It is no longer a common web, but just like a veil full of the glistening diamonds given by the nature and is a miracle to the little barn. With such a beautiful and vivid picture, the readers are naturally touched by the beauty conveyed by the writer. And certain adore to Charlotte is already formed, though being little and unnoticeable, her skillful spinning is shown clearly. It is the picturesque language that successfully renders the reader a sense of beauty.
2.1.2 Musical Language
In addition to the picture-like language, the musical language can be seen everywhere through the novel which brings another kind of aesthetic feeling to the readers. Musical language in children's literature refers to the sounds effect of language and the rhythms of language presented by the writer. Though not all the sounds share the distinctive features of music, through the careful observation and appreciation can they be woven into the music. This sense of audio aesthetics is reflected in Charlotte's Web in this way:

Early summer days are a jubilee time for birds. In the fields around the house, in the barn, in the woods, in the swamp--everywhere love and songs and nests and eggs. From the edge of the woods, the white throated sparrow (which must come all the way from Boston) calls: "Oh, Peabody, Peabody, Peabody!" On an apple bough, the phoebe teeters and wags its tail and says,“Phoebe, phoe-bee!" The song sparrow , who knows how brief and lovely life is, says," Sweet, sweet, sweet interlude; sweet, sweet, sweet interlude." If you enter the barn, the swallows swoop down from their nests and scold. "Cheeky, cheeky!" they say. (White, 1993: 50)

This part describes birds’ voices near the barn on the early summer days. The writer describes the birds' chirping from the musical aspect. Each bird is like a singer and sings their love for the life. Each bird is personified and has its unique way of "talking": call, say and scold. With those sweet sounds, a grand pastoral chorus is made up for the celebration of the coming of summer, with different melodies and different styles from each singer. This richness in sound can surly bring the readers into a musical realm and enjoy the summer life presented here. Those fair songs bring readers into a most flourish and happy season of the year. It renders a sense of audio beauty and makes reading such a story interesting and joyful.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
Besides the birds, the crickets in the book are also excellent musicians from the eye of writer. There is a good example at the very beginning of the chapter xv. "The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer's ending, a sad, monotonous song. ‘Summer is over and gone, they sang. Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.’"(White, 1993: 121)
This short paragraph makes use of the sound of crickets to show the passing of summer. Truly, cricket can never sing song but only chirp as been heard everywhere in the wild, which is the most common scene of the rural life. But the writer treats those monotonous sounds from a different angel: they are the songs from those pastoral singers. So even the insects' chirping is the melody of exchange of seasons and regretting of the ending of such a vital and lovely time. It successfully renders writer's feeling to the readers from this simple but typical song.
2.1.3 Dancing-like Language
Beauty of language not merely contains in the static forms such as picturesque and musical language but can also be presented from the dynamic form—dancing-like language. Dancing-like language refers to the description of beauty in action in characters and environment: the actions in nature or in people contain elements of beauty which can be associated with dancing. The writers exaggerate and focus such actions so as to convey them to the readers in the form of dancing-like language. Such kind of dynamic language is shown in the Charlotte's Web in the description of playing the swing.
"Then you would drop down, down, down out of the sky and come sailing back into again(not quite so high), then out again, then in again, then out, then in; and then you'd jump off and fall down and let somebody else try it." (White, 1993:77) The description of the actions of swinging makes readers feel dizzy as if they themselves are playing the swing in the sky. This is the special effect of the dancing-like language, as it represents the active, quick-tempered, moving and energetic actions of swinging. And the simple repetition and exchange of prepositions reaches a sense of quick speed and movement which is really like the experience of swinging. Such kind of language makes the swinging more dancing-like and vivid. What's more, it successfully elaborates the activity of swing on the barn.
The picture-like, musical and dancing-like language represents the beauty both in static and dynamic angles. Such forms enable children to grasp the intending meanings of the writer and gain artistic enjoyment. The unique language style in this novel is really full of aesthetic features, which serves greatly to the understanding and appreciating of such a brilliant child book.
2.2 Beauty of Themes
The aesthetic features of Charlotte's Web lies not only in the form of beautiful language but also the beautiful theme revealed in the novel which is another great contributor to its enduring charm on readers. White himself said: "a story of friendship and salvation on a farm." So this paper further discusses the beauty of themes such as friendship, loyalty, sacrifice and growth as they constitute the core spiritual aesthetics of this novel and is also considered as the most cherishing spiritual wealth of the human being.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
2.2.1 Friendship—Beginning of Miracle
It is not hard to say that without friendship the little runt will never have the chance to live after birth, nor to say grow up healthily and happily, escape from the doomed destiny of the pig family, get the fame and enjoy the whole life. All of these common miracles come from friendship as it endows hope and love for all those common lives involved in the whole story. The little girl Fern, Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig narrate the most moving and beautiful story of friendship.
The friendship between Fern and Wilbur begins at the very beginning of the novel. Born as a runt, Wilbur is so weak and helpless until the coming of Fern who not only saves him from her father's ax but also takes care of him with warm milk and careful attention. So the little pig and the little girl share a beautiful and happy time as Fern will take him out for a walk and when Wilbur gets tired, she would put him in the carriage alongside the doll. The intimacy between the little girl and the little pig can be seen from these words— "every morning after breakfast, Wilbur walked out to the road with Fern and waited with her till the bus came. She would wave good-bye to him, and he would stand and watch the bus until it vanished around a turn."(White, 1993: 16) It confirms that at the very beginning of life, animal and human beings are friends. Later Fern and Wilbur can not accompany each other so often because Wilbur lives in Uncle Homers’ barn with other animals on the barn. But as soon as Fern has the free time she will go to see her friend, which is the happiest time for Wilbur. Such warm and intimate friendship brings peace and happiness to both of them.
After Wilbur lives in the barn, he can not find any one who is willing to play with him, to care of him and to make friends with him. So he feels friendless, dejected and in a low spirit. At this moment comes a thin but pleasant voice—“Do you want a friend, Wilbur?” it said, "I'll be a friend of you. I've watched you all day and I like you."(White, 1993: 37) This claim makes Wilbur so excited that he has a sleepless night waiting for his unseen friend. And this friend turns out to be true and loyal at the very end. To Wilbur, Charlotte's coming does not merely mean that he has someone to talk with or disperse his loneliness but the one who can be a spiritual companion of him. It is Charlotte who uses her words to comfort him when he is lonely, encourages him when he suffers obstacles, sings to him to sleep and scolds him when he appeared fussy and weak. Charlotte's affection and care make Wilbur feel being loved, warmed and secured.
Life seems peaceful and harmonious until Wilbur gets the bad news from the old sheep that a spring pig would be killed at the cold weather which is the destiny of all his family members. It is Charlotte who promises to save him despite all the difficulties. Being as a weak bug-eater, Charlotte never gives up. After so many days and nights contemplation, Charlotte finally comes up to the idea of writing positive words for Wilbur and it turns out to be very effective as it finally attracts the amazement and attention of the local people. The slogans of "some pig", "terrific" and "radiant" woven by Charlotte gradually change people's attitude to him. He is no longer a weak and useless little runt, nor the delicious ham on the table, but a miracle to the community. Wilbur is granted a chance to go to the county fair and if he can win a prize there then he will not face the doomed fate of being killed. Then at the count fair Charlotte makes the last word for Wilbur—"humble" which secures the safety of Wilbur's later life. It is the dear friendship that weaves a miracle for both of them as Charlotte wins other barn animals’ respect and likeness through her help to Wilbur while Wilbur gets rid of the butchery from his masters and wins admiration from the community.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
Back from the county fair, Wilbur wins a medal and achieves his goal of a secure and safe living, however, he loses a most precious friend—Charlotte, who languishes after weaving the last web and giving birth to 514 eggs. However, life is a circle and death contains hope and new life. The next spring comes to Charlotte's children who bear the love and care of Wilbur. From then on, Wilbur is never lonely and friendless—there will always be several of Charlotte's children and grandchildren living together with Wilbur.
2.2.2 Mutual Loyalty
To be true friends, one important element is loyalty which has a good expression in this book as Charlotte's loyalty to Wilbur and later Wilbur's loyalty to Charlotte's children.
The peace of life is broken at the bad news brought by the old sheep as he tells that, as a regular conspiracy around the farm, every spring pig will be killed at Christmas time. The first reaction of Wilbur is screaming, bursting into tears and throwing himself to the ground because he is scared yet has not the ability to change his doomed destiny. But Charlotte is more calm and collected and out of affection; she comforts him and makes a promise that she is going to save Wilbur. It is this promise that makes Charlotte always keep hanging head-down at the top of her web, because she is thinking for a plan for the salvation of Wilbur's life, till she comes up a brilliant idea of weaving words on her web. So from "some pig" has her web some effect on people who begin to think about Wilbur from other aspect instead of delicious ham and bacons. Later on Charlotte begins to play as a leader of the animals to think out positive words for Wilbur. With the collaboration of all the animals on the barn, Wilbur finally obtains the permission to the count fair. When invited by Wilbur to the count fair, Charlotte finds it is difficult because "the Fair comes at a bad time for me. I shall find it inconvenient to leave home, even for a few days." (White, 1993: 124) Charlotte knows that she has not much time and she has a difficult task of giving birth to her offspring. But when the event comes, she still makes up of her mind to come along with Wilbur only because she thought she maybe needed at the count. That is loyalty—despite all the difficulties, one keeps the once made promise. And it turns out that Charlotte's decision is right—Wilbur really meets obstacles at the county fair. A much bigger pig wins the prize and if there is no last word "Humble" written by Charlotte, which wins people’s admiration and ensures him a special medal, he is still unable to get out of the doomed destiny. So Charlotte turns out to be loyal to her friend till the end of her life.  

As to Wilbur, he gets too much from his best friend including friendship, love and salvation, he is grateful. By the ending of the county fair, Wilbur learns that Charlotte can never come back with him nor can she nurture her offspring. The only thing he can do is to take back the egg sac of her and take good care of them. Wilbur is unable to fetch the egg sac at the corner of his pen within his own ability, so he pleads the rat Templeton to help him at the price of letting him eating his slops as long as he lives. That is also a kind of loyalty—especially for such a gluttonous pig to give up his meals! Back to the barn, all the winter Wilbur watches over the egg sac as though he were guarding his own children and for him nothing in life is as important as this small round object. He is taking care of Charlotte's children heart and soul. That is his promise to Charlotte and it turns out that Wilbur is also a precious and true friend as he waits patiently for the coming of Charlotte's children and willing to make friends with them and tell the story of their mother. He is happy and being loved and cared by his friends and masters at the ending of the story, but none of them ever quite takes Charlotte's place in his heart.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
2.2.3 Sacrifice Breeds Eternity of Life
In addition to friendship and loyalty, sacrifice is also contained in this classical child book. It is unselfish sacrifice of friends that ensures the happiness and love of life. Charlotte is the greatest one concerned with her sacrifice made for Wilbur. From the very beginning of her promise to Wilbur, she is determined to sacrifice as she, though hard and tired, concentrates herself on the web to think out some good ideas to help Wilbur. And when she gets the idea of writing positive words on her web for Wilbur, she gives up her time for resting. What's more, at the event of going to the count fair, she is really inconvenient to leave her home as she has some domestic things to deal with. But for the sake of Wilbur, her friend, she makes the last but the greatest sacrifice—going along to the fair to see if Wilbur needs her help. There she makes the last web and pleads Templeton to bring the suitable word to write for Wilbur, as it may be the last chance for Wilbur to win the prize so to get rid of the butchery. Despite of her old age and the great task of giving birth, Charlotte manages to spin a web with "Humble" on it which wins a special prize for Wilbur, but it also languishes her stigma. On the triumph of Wilbur, she is dying. While being asked by Wilbur "Why did you do all this for me?" Charlotte tells him that because "You have been my friend."(White, 1993: 136) From this simple answer, it let the readers understand that to be true friends means that one is ready to make sacrifice for the benefits of friends.
Wilbur is also a great pig who is willing to sacrifice his beloved food in order to save Charlotte's children. And for Charlotte, he would like to give off his life for her. That feeling comes out of his bottom heart as he senses that Charlotte has helped so much and is so selfless to him, even his life is saved by her. What he can do is to bring Charlotte's egg sac back home for making up his regret of not being able to save Charlotte's life. He asks Templeton to fetch the egg sac under the sacrifice of letting him eat his slops for lifelong. For a gluttonous pig, his meal is his greatest enjoyment of life. But in order to save his best friends' children, he is willing to make a sacrifice without a second thought.
2.2.4 Fern and Wilbur’s Growth out of Love
As a child book, growth is one of the most beautiful themes for children as it renders them the experience of growth. In Charlotte's Web growth is revealed from two aspects: Fern's role changes from an innocent girl to an adolescent and Wilbur's growth from a weak and fragile little pig to a mature and responsible one.
Not for Fern's innocence and kindness at the first chapter of the novel, Wilbur is probably killed by her father. In the adult world, a runt can only make trouble to them and the best way is to get it away; while for the children, there is no difference between a little pig and a little child—both are creatures and share the right to live. So purity and love is endowed to everyone here. To be a little girl, the animals on the barn appeal Fern more than any other things in the world. Whenever she has time, she would go to her uncle's barn and see her animal friends there. Fern really loves to sit on the milk stool at the barn, listening to the interesting talk between animals. Back home, she would talk these stories to her mother. However, as time passing, that girl grows up gradually, which can be seen from the later part of the story. At the preparation of county fair, she washes herself carefully and puts on her prettiest dress as she knows she will meet boys there. It shows that Fern begins to concern about boys beside her beloved little animal friends. And there she meets her friend Henry and plays with him at the merry-go-around. Even back home, she still enjoys the happy time together with Henry. All these show that Fern is no longer a little girl but an adolescent who steps into the sexual world. Till the end of the story, Fern avoids to sit beside Wilbur as before because she thinks it is childish. So Fern is really stepping in to the circle of maturity and no longer a little girl.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
As for Wilbur, he appears very naive and weak when he is a little runt. He has a strong reliance on his friends. When Fern does not go to see him as usual, he feels lonely; when trying to make friends with other animals on the barn but being dejected, his feeling is even worse and even does not have the appetite of his delicious slops; when he gets the news that he will be gracing the table at Christmas time he is so weak and scared—all these shows a little pig without the ability of independence and lacks a strong will. But later under the companion, guidance and influence of Charlotte, he gradually becomes mature. On the scene of Charlotte’s dying and leaving her children at the county fair, Wilbur senses that he should bring back the egg sac against all odds. After that, he takes care of the egg sac and warms it with his own temperature at the cold winter. When spring comes, he is waiting whole heartedly for the coming of Charlotte's children. At this time, he is no longer the one used to long for love and care from others but the one who takes responsibility to nurture the children." All winter Wilbur watches over Charlotte's egg sac as though they were his own children." (White, 1993: 184) Wilbur is like a mother who takes care of his best friends children with a loving heart. That is a shining point of growth. Only when the one learns to love and take responsibility for others, can he really grow up and be a useful man to the society.

Ⅲ. Conclusion
As a classical child book, Charlotte's Web is brimmed with the beautiful language and emotion, and thus wins an unfailing charming on readers from generation to generation. As for the naive, curious and naughty children who lack of social experience, they need to find out and appreciate beauty with their own eyes and they also need to be educated with high morals. So as a successful child book, the beautiful language in Charlotte's Web brings the young readers into a colorful, musical and dancing world. Reading between the lines, it is just like enjoying a colorful painting, hearing a fair song and appreciating a beautiful dance within children’s ability of understanding. Such kind of aesthetic experience will naturally arise children's interest of reading and learning.
Moreover, with its distinguishing aesthetic feature of theme, it enriches the readers' inner heart and nurtures them with high morals such as friendship, loyalty and sacrifice which are regarded as the most precious and invaluable spiritual attributes of the human beings. The story between Wilbur and Charlotte enables children to learn about what is friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. All of them will be encountered by their real life. Charlotte is a true, loyal, wise and affectionate friend who would even sacrifice her own life in order to keep a promise. She is noble and adorable for all of us. While Wilbur, the innocent and lovable pig, he loves life so much and longs for love and friendship desperately. With the help of his friends, he finally has the right to live happily.(51Due责任编辑:cari)
Charlotte's Web is such an excellent child book of the famous American essayist E.B. White. Besides what has been analyzed from the above, the author of this paper puts forward that White’s unique writing style also embodies a sense of beauty. Through careful study, White’s gentle satire and vivid humor can be sensed. For example, when Fern’s mother hears her daughter tell the story of her animal friends, she goes to visit a doctor immediately. For in the adult’s mind, animals can never speak, nor to communicate with human beings, if her daughter hears the talk, there must have some problems on her. It is the doctor’s wise answer that comforts her anxiety—“It is quite possible that an animal has spoken civilly to me and that I didn’t catch the remark because I wasn’t paying attention. If Fern says that the animals in Zuckerman’s barn talk, I’m quite ready to believe her. Perhaps if people talked less, animals would talk more.”(White, 1993:118) Instead of most adult’s constricted mind, children have a more imaginative way of thinking and learning of the world. White satires slightly those adults who are fixed with conventions. It is also a very humorous way to say that most people can really hear animals’ talking if they themselves could talk less. The special effect of rhetorical devices makes this novel much more thought-provoking and interesting for the readers. Charlotte’s Web, this classical child book, can be studied and appreciated from many aspects and different angles. Here in this paper the aesthetic features are mainly analyzed.(51Due责任编辑:cari)

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