Novella Examples In Literature

Definition of Novella

A novella is a piece of fiction. It is smaller than a novel but larger than a short story therefore, it is described as being mid length. A novella usually contains from twenty thousand to fifty thousand words and provides the reader with a single-plot line and more profound characterization as opposed to the short story. At the same time, it is shorter in its development compared to the novel.

The term novella is derived from the Italian word ‘novella’, which means ‘new’ or ‘news. ‘ Unlike novels or short stories that are typified by elaborated and developed plots, this subgenre of literature deals with one major theme or concept in detail but does not stretch into a strict formula of a novel format.

Difference between Novella and Novel

Novella and novel are the two forms of the long fiction and may be defined mainly in terms of the size and the degree of detail.

A novella is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel and is between 20,000 to 50,000 words. It enables the author to develop only one plot or theme at a time with the added advantage of higher rate of speed and narrow-mindedness.

Instead, a novel is always over fifty thousand words long, which results in multiple plots, a rather diverse and extensive characterization, and fleshed-out themes.

Novels offer great opportunities for detailed description, elaborated characters and complex structures.

On the other hand, novella is a brief in nature but contains a high literary concentration due to its specific and direct mode of communication.

Novels present broad and detailed portraits which provide insight into the characterization and various themes at play.

Difference between Novella and Novel
Difference between Novella and Novel

Function of Novella

The primary function of a novella in literature is to provide, more so extend, a narrative of medium length containing the essential elements of a full length novel.

Novella provides the authors to explore the themes, characters and plots to greater depth. It offers a reader a good reading experience which is more easily digestible within a shorter time span.

Novellas are useful insofar as they allow the writer to expand upon a concept or instance of a particular conflict and are more developed than short stories.

Moreover, novellas are used as playgrounds of new concepts or techniques giving the authors a rather liberal opportunity to experiment.

Examples of Novella in Literature

“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

The Metamorphosis is undoubtedly one of the greatest novellas that is devoted to the problem of isolation, identity, and one’s place in the world.

By excluding any back story of the main character and his family, Kafka plunges the reader directly into the dream-like metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa.

Thus, the turbulent effect of the novella is preserved, and at the same time, the writer is able to adequately describe Gregor and the feelings of his family members because the novella’s length permits it.

See also: Naturalism in Literature


Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad

The horror! The horror!

The novella shows the primeval savageness inside a man and themes of imperialism.

It depicts the event when Marlow goes up the Congo River to look for the mysterious Kurtz, the phrase “The horror! The horror!” at the end of which the novel ends.

The literary work that entitle ‘Heart of Darkness’ penned by Joseph Conrad is acknowledged for the phrase ‘the heart of darkiness’, its intense and heavy wording, and the provocative themes of moral ambiguity and imperialism.


“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James

The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.

‘The Turn of the Screw’ may be viewed as a gothic novel that laden with psychological elements to come up with a sense of horror.

The reader is kept on the edge technically as the novella is short and the author innovatively creates suspense around potential visions of the spirit.

Thus, the novella’s relative brevity serves to make the horror and lack of resolution all the more powerful.


“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

It is a novel with a clear satiric and, at the same time, political message which portrays the life of the animals on a farm which rebel against their master.

Thus, the essence of Orwell’s novella is also in the simplicity and clarity of the story, supported by the main character-animal and its deterioration of the society, which was nearly perfect.

Since it is a novella, it does not take long to read and understand and thus, remains a powerful political statement to this day.

See also: What is narrator in literature?


“Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” by Stephen King

I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.

The novella describes the events of the man with the given name Andy Dufresne, the victim of the miscarriage of justice, who tried to escape from the prison.

In its plot, revolving around the main character named King, and members of Shawshank Prison, the novella continues to depict hope, friendship and coming through hard stains.

For the same reason, it has strong character development and a good plot that culminates in the right happy/salvific ending of a novella.


“The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy

Ivan Ilyich’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.

The novellas provides the most compelling analyses of man’s existence and his attempts to find the meaning of life.

Tolstoy’s novella is based on the life of the main character and his thoughts and feelings after recognizing that he is a dying man.

Stylistically, the novella’s is short and this enables Tolstoy to elaborate on Ivan’s character, hence providing the reader with an intense and thought-provoking production.

Literary Devices Related to Novella

1- Foreshadowing

It is a style of writing where an author drops some indications of some occurrences relative to subsequent events in the narrative. In foreshadowing, suspense and anticipation which are vital when creating the plot are developed and several layers are added to the main story.

See also: How to Use Foreshadowing in Writing?

2- Symbolism

Symbols are used to depict ideas and qualities beyond the literal sense. This makes symbolism a subcategory of irony. In novellas, symbolism can enhance the storyline by offering concealed messages; thus, it helps authors to explain difficult concepts and feelings.

Novella Examples In Literature
Novella Examples In Literature

To conclude, the novella is one of the powerful forms of the literature that bridges the gap between the short stories and the novels. Novellas give the writer the ability to explore multiple facets of themes, characters’ transformations, and intricate storylines within a confined space. Novella as a genre still holds a lot of charm in the sense that it is not as large as a novel but neither is it as small as a short story, yet it presents the readers with deep insights and interesting stories.

See also: Literary Devices That Start With N

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *