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Remarkable Creatures Essay

3656 words - 15 pages

The Remarkable Tale of Mary Anning: An Analysis of Remarkable Creatures and its
Merit as Historical Fiction
Novels can do more that simply tell stories. Novels can enhance or emphasize thoughts and ideas. They can excite a wide variety of emotions. They can be the product of imagination, or they can be influenced by historical fact. Whether or not the events in a novel are true is left entirely up to the author, but it is truly an incredible feat to take a piece of history and turn it into a work of fiction that is plausible and logical. For our Senior Seminar, we have studied the aspects of fiction that have a basis in historical fact. They do so by applying certain literary devices ...view middle of the document...

These two terms have an intertwined relationship. The familiar is the element in fiction that coincides with our own experiences, or emotions, and thus is recognizable as a part of human life. It is what the reader connects with on a personal level. It establishes intimate connections with emotional ties that vary from person to person and draws us into the world of the novel. The familiar is applied to me as I read. I draw upon my fascination of fossils and the prehistoric eras of the world to make a personal connection with the novel. I once found a fossilized fish, just like Mary Anning. It is related to the accessibility of the novel, which is the sense that we are drawn into the world of the novel with emotional ties. The novel is accessible to me due to my personal connection with the main character. Even though I do not know much about the period in which Remarkable Creatures takes place, it is accessible and familiar to me because of my personal and emotional connections to it.
The following three literary devices are historicity, authenticity and the strange. The strange is the element in historical fiction that makes us believe that we have been transported to a new and unknown place. It is what excites us and brings out new thoughts because we have an intellectual basis with which to study. The strange is promoted by factual knowledge, rather than emotional appeal, and it is intensified by authenticity. The authenticity of the novel is not “real” in the sense that it is the tone of the novel. A novel is authentic when it is based on research and knowledge about the period, places, events, and people that the text represents. This is also where the historicity comes in. This fictional work has many foundations in historical fact. There are dozens of instances of authenticity in Remarkable Creatures. Mary Anning was a real person, and all of the dates listed in regards to her life are historically accurate. All of the cities mentioned in the novel and travelled to by the characters are geographically accurate, including the English cities of London, Brighton, and most importantly, Lyme Regis. The addition of Lyme Regis is crucial because it is where Mary Anning was born and raised, and where the novel is predominately set. One of the first things mentioned in the novel is that a war is going on. That war is the French Revolution. The war and the people it is associated with, including Napoleon, are mentioned have a large impact on the lives of the characters in the novel. By implementing all five of these devices, Tracy Chevalier authenticates Remarkable Creatures and goes a long way to support its position as a part of the historical fiction genre.
The final element of the historical fiction genre is the application of romance. Romance in this aspect is not the formulaic expression of emotional attraction between characters. It is applied when the inner thoughts of the characters are enhanced, and it engages in speculation regarding...

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