The Figurative Language, Surreal Tone, and Romantic Indirect Characterization in The Thunderstorm, a Short Story by Vladimir Nabokov

Perceptions of a thunderstorm are undoubtedly altered as author Nabakov

conquers the traditional fear by introducing a unique approach his excerpt. The author paints an immense impression of a mystical atmosphere in “The Thunderstorm” through the application of embellished figurative language, creation of a surreal tone and romantic indirect characterization. Through creating this type of setting, the author is successful in establishing the whimsical environment in which his narrator has the capacity to unravel. The selected excerpt allows the reader to perceive the author’s purpose of depicting a mystifying instant through experiencing a sense of beauty due to the exceptional usage of the aforementioned stylistic features.

The excerpt initiates with the usage of figurative and is employed due to its emotional appeal on all the reader’s senses. This can be evident when the narrator describes himself as “enveloped by a fierce fragrance” and when “a blind phantom. . . swept low through the deserted street in lusterless darkness”. Nabakov intends for the reader to transform their surroundings to accommodate this passage and is effective in the sense that it allows for the reader to embrace the setting by experiencing the concept of magic realism, which is particularly emphasized at night. Phantoms are introduced in this dream as not evil, which skillfully contradicts the universal belief that ghosts are torturesome, which reinforces and reassures the reader into embracing the magnificent environment. The above quote further implies that the seemingly ordinary West Berlin street displays a much contrasted reality at nighttime, full of indomitable spirits and fragrances which intensifies the plot by creating suspense in the way that it leads the reader to anticipate what this evening atmosphere will bestow. The author chose to utilize

this technique because it sets up the basis for the entirety of the passage by generating a

sense of elegance and peace in which future events will fall upon.

Apart from the immense use of figurative word choice, the creation of a surreal tone is also reinforced to delineate the purpose. When the narrator is startled in his sleep, he imagines “A wild, pale glitter was flying across the sky like a reflection of colossal spoke. One crash after another rent the sky,” and “the Thunder-god,…dressed in the flying folds of a dazzling raiment,” which adds tremendous relevance to fanciful

description of a minor conflict presented in the passage. Nabakov inserts this extraordinary word choice and the mention of an authority figure to indicate that what interrupted his tranquil sleep generated a sense of grandiose action. This asserts a reaction of unexpected surprise in the reader and is compelling in the sense that it allows for the reader to confirm the presence of an enchanted being, which is precisely what Nabakov enforces: the rational production of the narrator’s dream. This purpose directs the plot forward, offering the reader more insight into their surroundings and sensations and thus piquing the reader’s anticipation for the future of this imagination and what the “god” will represent.

The preceding literary device and figurative language are crucial links in Nabakov’s main objective. However, the most captivating feature he promotes is nostalgic indirect characterization, as evident when the narrator states about himself, “I fell asleep, exhausted by the happiness of my day, a happiness I cannot describe in writing, and my dream was full of you”. According to this phrase, the reader is able to assume that the narrator possess a characteristic of optimism and fantasy, as it can be inferred that the dream was enchanted by the presence of someone the narrator was

longing for. This is relevant to the entire excerpt in the way that it creates a subconscious feeling of warmth and eagerness to the reader, which further amplifies the romanticism of the text in the narrator’s mind. This feature is the most essential because it directly correlates with the author’s intent in the way that it bridges a direct relationship between the reader’s mind and the physical sight and experiences of the narrator. Due to this, the reader acquires a feeling of satisfaction and elation, which becomes the lasting impression of the literature as a whole. The lasting impression carries the reader to depict the overarching theme of achieving satisfaction through the toughest measures and solidifies Nabakov’s idea of the chilling yet comfortable evening once again.

“The Thunderstorm” embodies the skillful articulations of Nabakov through many authentic usages of literary techniques of intensified figurative language, the buildup of a mysterious tone, and the skillful details provided for indirect characterization. These ingenious choices embellished his ideas of a fancied mind setting through a tone of gratification and enchantment. He is extremely successful in his passage and conveys to the reader the true essence of romance and the ability to happiness in this particular delusion. It is for these methodical expressions that the reader is truly convinced of this text and is “intoxicated” into the night on West Berlin street.

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