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Intertextuality and Comparative Analysis of Character and Themes

Intertextuality refers to the association between texts, and comparative analysis distinguishes items from one another and determines their resemblances and differences. Literary texts have four elements for comparison and analysis. They include the plot, theme, character, and tone. The plot refers to the succession of events, the theme refers to the main idea, and a character is a person, figure, or animal represented in literary activity. The main aim of the literary text is aesthetic, though it may contain political ideas and beliefs. The ‘Pillow book,’ Japanese literature, is a collection of poems, while the ‘Conference of the Birds’ is a Persian poem based on the journey of a flock of birds. Below is a discussion on intertextuality and comparative analysis of characters and themes in Conference of the Birds and the Pillow Book.

The plot in Conference of the Birds aims towards finding ‘Simorgh,’ a mythical bird. A flock of thirty birds sets out on a journey to find Simorgh, but it ends up in them not being successful in their search. Instead, after arriving at the dwelling place, Simorgh was not found, but they could only see a reflection of themselves in the water lake. The Conference of the birds aims to discover the unknown. In contrast, the plot in The Pillow Book varies based on the different narrations of the collection. In some of the narrations in the collection, an author narrates their feelings concerning an issue in a poem. However, some other authors describe their happenings and thoughts based on the experiences of different days.

The ‘Conference of the Birds’ theme is a single story about birds on a journey searching for a mythical bird, referred to as Simorgh. The theme of ‘The Pillow Book. On the other hand, it is a collection of different writings. ‘Conference of the Birds’ is a Persian poem that symbolizes the hunt for truth and excellence. A flock of thirty birds sets on a journey together. They go through seven valleys of love and pass through many struggles to achieve their aim of discovering true perfection and eternal success. The pillow Book has different themes since there are various collections. For example, in some, the plot is a narrative of the writers’ experiences.

The characters in the Conference of the Birds and the Pillow Book differ. Various kinds of characters are in a literary text. They are; the love interest, the antagonist, the confidant, and the protagonist. The love interest character takes the part of a lover. The antagonist character is the primary opponent, the confidant character is the one whom the protagonist confides in, and the protagonist is the one who engineers the title role. The flock, In the Conference of the Birds, is divided. Those who lose hope in the journey to discovery are antagonists, while those that decide to pursue the trip represent the protagonist. The characters used in The Pillow Book vary. In some parts of the collection, protagonists are identifiable.

The tone that is in a literary text communicates a feeling. In The Pillow Book, the narration has an ironic tone; a baby cries at night, yet a nurse cares for it. In another case, a lady is in love with a person who, at the same time, is jealous. The idea is that a nurse should know how to keep the baby calm, while a person who truly loves the other should not be jealous. In the Conference of the Birds, the tone used is enthusiasm. The birds are determined to meet the imaginary bird they believe should be their leader. That is why they go on a journey to discover the bird’s identity, even though they are unsuccessful.

The structural devices in the two books are different. The Conference of the Birds is a single story. It flows in a way that has a start, a middle, and a conclusion. The flock of birds begins by discussing the need for a leader they set out in search of; however, the journey ends when they fail to find the imaginary leader. The narrations in The Pillow Book have different structural devices since it is a collection of various authors, each with its style. The structural devices control how events follow, making the narration interesting for the reader. They are also used to grab the reader’s attention to understand the flow of a narrative.

The use of metaphor features in ‘Conference of the Birds. “If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could liberate from this prison for drunks” (Saebipour et al. 299). The same similarity in the use of metaphors is in The Pillow Book. “When one is ill in bed and hears people walking about, laughing loudly and chatting away as if they did not have a care in the world, how enviable they seem!” (Shonagon 171). The use of metaphors in the poems gives the reader a broader view of the message. Metaphors create empathy for the reader by providing deeper meanings of the context. Metaphors also help to manipulate the thoughts of a reader.

The significance of the similarities and contrasts between Conference of the Birds and The Pillow Book enables the reader to have more expansive interpretations and other meanings in understanding the poems’ content. The students gain independence in reading and thinking, which allows them to understand a text more comprehensively. Learners can explore new ideas across language barriers. For example, a poem originally written in a foreign language and translated makes it possible to compare the literary text of different cultures and understand other people’s way of life and the expression of their literature through poems.

Another significance is that it enables one to develop a solution to a problem. The reason is that those better strategies analyze similarities and differences. Hence valid basis emerges, and better judgments made. The information that is gotten tends to be vast compared to traditional ways of comparing and contrasting essays. The unique set of circumstances exposes readers to various disciplines across the globe. This results to the discovery and development of new and better ways of writing poems. In addition, a better understanding of literary texts enables the identification of gaps in one piece of art and how that could improve future writings.

Our understanding of the literary texts found in ‘Conference of the Birds’ and ‘The power Book’ deepens by enlightening us on the features used to develop poems. There are four literary texts; narrative, argumentative expository, and narrative. A better understanding of the message enables the learners to develop rhetorical skills to read, listen, write, and speak. It enables learners to traverse the relations of various literature with politics, philosophy, and history. Through critical thinking, one can analyze and interpret hidden information.

The understanding of literary text helps one in learning history and cultures better. There are different ways in which this is understood, such as through speech and manuscripts. Manuscripts are written papers which are handed in for publication. Understanding people’s way of life allows one to empathize with others and respect their culture. The ideas of other people help us in seeing the world through them. For example, someone does not need to travel to a specific place to understand how the residents live since they can obtain information through books written by others who may have been natives of those areas. An author who is a resident of a certain area tends to be more knowledgeable. People tend to pay more attention to sources from a person who hails from a certain area.

A learner understands more fully and richly that different cultures use literary texts that are almost similar in features. For example, poems have a way in which they begin and end. Different cultures have used poems for years to pass certain information for educational and entertainment purposes. Different generations are able to learn and understand their origin. Literary texts used by various authors may have some or all of the elements. They were composed for different purposes, such as entertainment, expressing one’s feelings concerning a certain issue, or even educational purposes. For example, in the Pillow Book, “Nuts and Bolts is a very technical notebook where I write down my thoughts on craft and technique, along with lines from poems that I admire” (Shonagon 198). In Conference of the Birds Book, one is made to understand that the flock of birds embark on a journey since they feel that they have a problem that a ‘king’ could solve

A close examination of one of the literary texts equips the learner with the knowledge that is required to better understand the content of poems in Conference of the Birds Book and The Pillow Book. There are certain features that are characteristics of poems and learners are able to identify them. The characters that are used in a piece of art can be identified and enable readers to open up their minds as they visualize the narratives. In Conference of the Birds, the flock of birds is the character used. In the comparison of one text to another, a learner gets a view of how a particular author uses different kinds of the literary text so as to make their work more interesting and eye-catching to the audience.

All in all, intertextuality and comparative analysis of character and themes in the two books, Conference of the Birds and, The pillow book have similarities and differences. In the Conference of the birds, the idea is based on a single story, while in The Pillow Book, it is a collection of different stories with different storylines. The authors of the two books have used elements of the literary text to communicate their ideas, such as with unique ideas and similarities, to pass information to learners and other communities concerning their thoughts and ideas. Intertextuality and comparative analysis of texts in books and translations to different languages have enabled learners to make independent decisions through critical thinking and exploration of newer ideas.

Works Cited

Saebipour, Mohammad Reza, et al. “The Conference of the Birds: An Old Artistic Concept Making Sense in Modern Sciences.” Basic and Clinical Neuroscience 9.4 (2018): 297.

Shonagon, Sei. The pillow book. Penguin UK, 2006.


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