Examples of Montage In Literature

Introduction

Montage is a term derived from the use of films where in the process of shooting, the film is taken in different sections and joined together so that in the end; a continuous film is produced. However, the concept has already been employed extensively in literature since it is a strong means of telling a story and being stylistically effective.

Definition of Montage

Montage is a storytelling technique. The word montage derived from the French word “monter”, which means to assemble or to mount. It is a technique whereby the scenes, images or fragments are integrated in order to tell a story with coherent meaning and to express a given idea.

In literature, montage is used for many purposes: such as, to combine different segments of a story, the integration of more than one plot, and for cultural and provocative imagery and concepts.

Unlike most of the other forms, montage allows for a more fragmented and multifaceted approach. It calls attention to possibilities and potential by relating different things and helping readers derive significance from such relations.

This technique can, therefore, work towards giving the impression of dynamism and complexity, elements which are characteristic of human beings and the way they interpret experiences.

Function of Montage

Montage performs many functions, such as:

1. Creating a Sense of Dynamism

Essentially, through the arrangement of two or more different scenes or pictures, montage conveys a feeling of dynamic continuity.

It may represent rapidity of modern existence or the disrupted manner in which memories and thoughts may come to one’s mind.

This dynamic is something that can sometimes add excitement and interest to a story while getting the viewers and readers deep into a highly-developed reality.

2. Enhancing Thematic Complexity

Montage offers an opportunity to disclose complex concepts or ideas by juxtaposing the contrasting material.

For instance, a writer employs montage to portray class division, the struggle between the old and the new, effects of post-colonialism among other things.

This technique can add thematic density to a work and provide a more extensive picture of thematic issues to readers.

3. Reflecting Psychological States

It is good for montage to capture feelings of characters, which can be exhibited in different ways. To convey the existence of a meta-awareness, where emotion and thought processes cannot be linear, writers can utilize the presentation of smooth interconnecting imagery of fragmented scenes.

It can also give readers glimpses of the characters’ interior psychology and help them understand what the character is going through.

4. Building Narrative Tension

Through montage, the different story components are placed in combination so as to generate a sense of suspense and anticipation.

Based on this, it is possible to connect more characters or show different scenes applied in constructing suspense. The application of this technique can also present an element of confusion as the readers are frequently transitioning from one character’s or complication’s point of view to another one.

Montage Examples in Literature

Example#1

“The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.”

The opening stanza of the poem juxtaposes the images of spring and winter, in order to create a sense of disintegration and disruption.

The blend of “memory and desire” with the natural cycles of the seasons shows the comprehensive theme of the fragmented modern world.

Here, the montage contrasts the images, that sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It highlights the clash between renewal and decay.

Example#2

“Ulysses” by James Joyce

“The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea. Epi oinopa ponton. Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks. I must teach you. You must read them in the original. Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet mother. Come and look.”

The author himself employs montage in terms of switching between multiple languages, allusions, and shocking images within mere paragraphs.

The use of the Greek phrases with the descriptions of the sea is a wonderful blend of variety and details, which has been used to weave a web of mystery and allure.

This technique shows how the film is structured in a fragmented manner and how the story is told and developed, in a manner that invites the viewers into the character’s subjectivity.

Example#3

“As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner

“Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in single file. Although I am fifteen feet ahead of him, anyone watching us from the cotton house can see Jewel’s frayed and broken straw hat a full head above my own.”

In the beginning of Chapter One, Darl deceives the readers with concentration on the exterior happening or the characters’ inner reactions.

His depictions are descriptive and spiritual, but also bewildering, which allows the reader to feel a misconception and dimension.

For example, the author’s initial mapping of Jewel from a distance first gives birth to the idea of division and personality at the onset. Subsequently, the thoughts on sleep and existence in the chapter 57 bear existential themes and the increasing uncertainty of the protagonist.

Example#4

“Maus” by Art Spiegelman

“When they registered us, they took from us our names. And here they put me my number… I am not Vladek any more. I am number 17,474. I looked in my arm – ‘Ah, well.'”
(Present time) Art: “And this was before you were sent to Auschwitz?”

This montage of past and present gives Spiegelman a place to examine how historical pain later affects generations.

This interweaving effect cleverly employs the use of different time setting of the flashback and the immediate story of a strained relationship between a father and his son.

This technique emphasizes the fact that holocaust is a tragedy that is still relevant to our society and with the difficulty of the portrayal of such lives.

Example#5

“Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

“Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. It ends like this: Poo-tee-weet?”
“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. … Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next.”

Here, the montage is appropriately utilized in telling the story of Billy Pilgrim who has been rendered “unstuck in time. ” The story jumps from one time frame to another in a fashion that captures the sense of Billy’s chronology.

This technique enables Vonnegut to destroy the conventional physical and psychological realities to convey the messages of trauma, memory, and the nonsense of warfare while offering the readers a confusing.

Example#6

“Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf

“She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”

The two main characters’ narrations i.e. Clarissa and Septimus, suggests the parallel but somewhat distanced lives they may be undergoing.

The thoughts of Clarissa on the beauty of the life and danger are mixed with strong feelings of oppression and discovery of Septimus. This blend creates a montage effect and emphasizes that how human experiences are connected, even when people are physically separated.

Related Literary Terms

1- Stream of Consciousness

Stream of consciousness and montage are used for fragmental and sequential narrative structures. Montage is a technique where scenes, images or points of views are combined to make one whole.

On the other hand, stream of consciousness is a technique in which the events in a character’s mind, are displayed in fragments, frequently, incoherent.

Both methods denounce the conventional linear structure and sequences presenting the multidimensionality of human perception and cognition.

2- Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is the basic element to montage. The different elements are placed next to each other, where montage relies on juxtaposition to create meaning through comparison and contrast.

This is appealing because the items together provide a new understanding of each object through their relationship. Juxtaposition is elemental because it creates a fresh perspective by placing elements side by side.

What is montage? Examples of Montage In Literature
Examples of Montage In Literature

Montage is a adaptable and powerful technique that enriches the literature in different ways. The writer by using the choice of scenes, images, and insights, achieves different effects of movement, themes, attitudes, drama, and passion. Thus, montage is an incredibly effective narrative method as it provides the author with the tools to depict a much more complex vision of the world and life, incorporating all its seemingly chaotic facets into a harmonious intrigue.

See also: Literary Devices That Start With M

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