Woolf & Petrunkevitch Model Response

Here’s what I wrote–it follows the arrangement from the previous post:

An author’s point of view is often revealed through his or her language choices, including their words and the length of their sentences; both Virgina Woolf and Alexander Petrunkevitch do just this while they are describing the subjects of their essays: the moth and the wasp respectively. While both authors focus on an insect, Woolf’s view differs greatly from Petrunkevitch’s because Woolf’s view of the moth and herself is dynamic whereas Petrunkevitch’s view of the wasp’s activity is static and consistent throughout his essay. This variation in view point in each author’s case is communicated to the reader through the underlying rhetorical pattern each author employs–Woolf uses a contrast pattern, where Petrunkevitch takes a process approach to his subject. Woolf’s view of the moth meanders from life affirming on a hopeful, fall morning to a feeling of abject helplessness by the essay’s end. The change Woolf undergoes is most easily seen in her first and fourth paragraphs. In paragraph 1, her view of the world and the moth is light in nature. She describes the scene outside her window and then transfers the life giving energy of the scene to the moth, “The same energy which inspired the rooks…sent the moth fluttering from side to side of his square of the windowpane.” At least at the beginning of the essay, her view is hopeful and energetic–this viewpoint comes through the active behavior of all lifeforms surrounding her and this sets up the stark contrast to paragraph four, after the moth has begun his final struggle and Woolf herself has become listless. This listlessness is forecast to the audience through her surrender of the pencil, the pencil being the only remaining hope the moth has, “I laid the pencil down again.” Undoubtedly life has drained from the author; she has surrendered the very symbol of her profession and refused to come to the moth’s aid. The active atmosphere early in her essay quickly morphs to inactivity and that rapid change signifies the same change that takes place in the author’s view of the moth. What was once “a pure bead of life” has become “insignificant.” Quite contrary to Woolf’s dynamic view is Petrunkevitch’s consistency throughout his address of the Wasp’s behavior toward the tarantula. He moves deliberately from the wasp’s first move to its last with little divergence. Like Woolf, his underlying pattern relays his point of view to the reader, and like Woolf it is most easily seen in a four paragraph stretch from 14-17. In paragraph 14 he begins by addressing the wasp’s mission, “The mother wasp goes tarantula-hunting when the egg in her ovary is almost ready to be laid.” And he ends in paragraph 17 with the direct result of the wasp’s objective, “Then she emerges, fills the grave with soil…Then she flies away, leaving her descendant safely started in life.” Unlike the great change that occurs in Woolf’s view of the moth and herself, Pertrunkevitch’s view is linear, intrinsically connected and relayed to the audience through the strict process the wasp follows to overcome the tarantula and lay her egg. What comes between her hunt and the eventual death of her victim is the preparation of the grave and paralysis of the spider, both which are natural second and third steps. There is no speculation about greater meaning or wondering what might have been if the tarantula would have fought back–there’s only certainty, and Petrunkevitch’s arrangement mimics this certainty almost perfectly. Hence, Woolf and Petrunkevith’s views of their subjects are wildly different, just as their underlying rhetorical patterns are different–while Woolf is dynamic and meandering, Petrunkevith is immovable.

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One Response to Woolf & Petrunkevitch Model Response

  1. M.O says:

    Helped a lot!

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