Epilogue Examples In Literature

Definition of Epilogue

Epilogue is a section at the end of a book, play or movie. It concludes the story. It usually comes when the main events wrap up or they are providing more detail about what happens to the characters subsequently, and how the story ends.

Epilogue also shows that how the main events of the story affect the future. It is like a final thought or comment on the big ideas in the story. These ideas give the reader and audience a sense of closure and a better understanding of the long-term impact of the story.

Functions of Epilogue

  1. Provides closure – An epilogue allows the writer to tie up loose ends and provide a sense of completion or finality for the reader after the main narrative ends. It brings closure by revealing what happens to the characters later on.
  2. Offers reflection – An epilogue may reflect on the key themes, messages or lessons of the main story. It allows the writer to offer one final commentary about the significance of events or the growth of characters.
  3. Glimpse into the future – Epilogues give readers a glimpse into the futures of characters and how their lives or the world they inhabit were shaped by the events of the central narrative long after its conclusion. It shows the lasting impact of the story.
  4. Transition device – Epilogues can transition readers out of the fictional world at the end signaling the story has been concluded. It helps the reader disengage.
  5. Explore secondary characters/plots – Loose ends from side characters or subplots can be tied up in an epilogue that the writer didn’t have space for in the main story arc but wants to resolve.

Epilogue Examples In literature

Example#1

“Emma” by Jane Austen

“The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own. ‘Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business!’”

This passage from Jane Austen’s Emma functions as an epilogue, briefly summarizing key events from the main characters’ futures many years after the central story concludes. Specifically, this quote describes the wedding of the protagonist Emma Woodhouse to Mr. Knightley, the landowner who had been both friend and eventual love interest throughout Emma’s matchmaking misadventures.

The description of Emma and Mr. Knightley’s wedding as modest and understated, lacking in “finery or parade,” fits with their reserved, sensible characters while contrasting humorously with the exaggerated vanity and pretentiousness of Mrs. Elton. Her judgmental disappointment comically references her own ostentatious priorities.

This epilogue ties up the romance plotline with Emma and Knightley’s long-term marriage, giving readers a satisfactory glimpse into their happy future together. The passage maintains Austen’s signature wit and irony regarding social absurdities and class differences. Overall it offers an economical but tonally appropriate closure through the lens of Emma’s enduring connection with the upright Mr. Knightley, elevated above the superficial concerns of minor characters like Miss Bates.

Example#2

Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck

“A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shallows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake…”

This vivid passage from the epilogue of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men paints a somber portrait of the natural world following the tragic events involving the main characters, George and Lennie. By returning to the tranquil setting of the Salinas River valley in the final paragraph, Steinbeck provides solemn closure after Lennie’s death, which George helped facilitate in an act of mercy.

The rich imagery of the water snake getting abruptly snatched by the motionless yet suddenly vicious heron reinforces key themes about the seeming indifference and cruelty of the natural cycles, where creatures must constantly struggle for survival and smaller beings face violent deaths. Yet there is also a hypnotic beauty and nonchalance conveyed through the economical but evocative language, as life along the river continues on as it always has in the shadow of human strife and shattered dreams.

The absence of any characters or direct mentions of George, Lennie and their broken hopes of owning a farm allows the landscape itself to mourn and transition readers out of this tragedy. But the final line also comments on the cyclical nature of life and death. Overall, this vivid snapshot of predation by the river provides an elegiac bookend conveying both the characters’ permanent absence and the timeless, unforgiving essence of nature itself long after their departure.

Example#3

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë

“…after a youth and manhood passed half in unutterable misery and half in dreary solitude, I have for the first time found what I can truly love…I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.”

This quote from the epilogue of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre sees Jane reflecting on her life’s journey from a place of present happiness and fulfillment with her husband Rochester. After enduring a lonely, grief-filled youth at Gateshead and Lowood, followed by work as a governess, Jane finally finds true love and belonging as Rochester’s wife.

Brontë employs the retrospective voice of Jane to tie up loose ends for the reader. The quote’s poetic style affirms that Jane has at last discovered a reciprocal love which gives her life profound meaning after so many years alone. Her phrasing almost takes on religious overtones regarding spiritual redemption through intimacy. Yet it also serves as a realistic bookend showing Jane emerging from her trials with hard-won wisdom on the other side.

Overall, this passage provides welcome closure regarding Jane’s central romantic arc with Rochester, which had faced barriers relating to madness, secrecy, class differences and even potential tragedy. The epilogue satisfies reader hopes for Jane to attain the domestic bliss so long denied her. In reflecting on past and present, it also allows Jane herself to articulate growth and contrast her present fulfillment as a wife to the emptiness which had defined so much of her formative life. The language is effusive in tone yet economical, crystallizing Jane’s emotions after a turbulent Bildungsroman leading to joyful resolution.

Example#4

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde

“Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not until they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.”

This gruesome passage from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray serves as the story’s epilogue, revealing the final, corrupted state of protagonist Dorian decades after his mysterious pact to remain young while his portrait ages instead. Upon discovering the stabbed body of an unrecognizably “withered, wrinkled and loathsome” old man, observers only realize it is Dorian himself based on identifying rings he wears.

Wilde uses this macabre scene to tie up the central narrative arc regarding the concealed, corrupted portrait. The epilogue exposes Dorian’s literal ugliness, reflecting the hideousness of his long-unrevealed soul. His physical decrepitude visually aligns with long hidden spiritual degeneration. Wilde hammers home a moralistic warning about vanity’s cost.

Example#5

“The Lord of the Rings” by J. R . R. Tolkien

“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water.”

This paragraph, probably from an epilogue, describes a significant moment of change and ending. The image of a ship going into the sea towards the west suggests a trip to a mysterious or final place, usually meaning an ending or a new start. The description of rain, nice smells, and singing over the water gives a feeling of calmness and satisfaction. This kind of ending is positive and makes you think, which is typical for an epilogue. It nicely concludes the characters’ adventure in a peaceful and meaningful way.

Example#6

“1984” by George Orwell

“In accordance with the principles of Doublethink, it does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, that victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous.”

This academic analysis serves as a sobering epilogue, giving closure decades later on the fate of the totalitarian, psychological control over Oceania’s citizens depicted in the story. The passage reflects critically on the propaganda tactics and capacity for population control through psychological manipulation, reinforcing key themes on power, information control, and perception vs reality that run throughout Orwell’s novel. Though Winston experiences defeat, this epilogue suggests the Party’s insidious reign could not last forever even if their methods linger, offering a historically distant sliver of hope. The academic style also transitions readers out of Winston’s intensely personal first-person narrative that dominates the book. This analytical glimpse into this sinister regime’s eventual collapse provides necessary long-term closure that ties up the disturbing Orwellian world while allowing some slight room for optimism by hinting that such dystopian systems cannot dominate humanity permanently.

Epilogue Examples In Literature
Epilogue Examples In Literature

Related Terms

Denouement

This term refers to the final part of a story where the plot threads are tied up and the story comes to its conclusion. It’s similar to an epilogue in that both provide closure, but while an epilogue often jumps forward in time to show the future of characters or the long-term outcomes of the story’s events, a denouement occurs immediately after the climax and resolves the conflicts within the narrative’s existing timeframe.

Frame Story

A frame story is when a smaller story or several stories are told within the main story. Usually, this kind of storytelling ends with an epilogue that wraps up both the main story and the smaller ones inside it. In this situation, the epilogue helps to finish the entire story, bringing the reader back from the smaller stories to the main one and giving a sense of completion to the whole narrative.

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