Language techniques

Rhyme in Dylan Thomas’s The Hunchback in the Park

The hunchback in the park
A solitary mister
Propped between trees and water
From the opening of the garden lock
That lets the trees and water enter
Until the Sunday sombre bell at dark
Eating bread from a newspaper
Drinking water from the chained cup
That the children filled with gravel
In the fountain basin where I sailed my ship
Slept at night in a dog kennel
But nobody chained him up.
Like the park birds he came early
Like the water he sat down
And Mister they called Hey mister
The truant boys from the town
Running when he had heard them clearly
On out of sound
Past lake and rockery
Laughing when he shook his paper
Hunchbacked in mockery
Through the loud zoo of the willow groves
Dodging the park keeper
With his stick that picked up leaves.
And the old dog sleeper
Alone between nurses and swans
While the boys among willows
Made the tigers jump out of their eyes
To roar on the rockery stones
And the groves were blue with sailors
Made all day until bell time
A woman figure without fault
Straight as a young elm
Straight and tall from his crooked bones
That she might stand in the night
After the locks and chains
All night in the unmade park
After the railings and shrubberies
The birds the grass the trees the lake
And the wild boys innocent as strawberries
Had followed the hunchback
To his kennel in the dark.

Evaluating the language of a text

These are some of a writer’s techniques you should be able to identify:

  • Words: Simple or difficult, formal or informal, informative or emotive?
  • Sentences and paragraphs: Short or long? Are they all the same length, or do some stand out for emphasis or dramatic effect?
  • Personal pronouns: First person, second person, third person? Singular or plural?
  • Persuasive techniques: Rhetorical questions, groups of three, alliteration?
  • Discourse markers: Casual, chatty discourse markers (eg anyway, you know what I mean, so) or more formal ones (eg nevertheless, therefore, however)?
  • Exclamations: Angry or more thoughtful, emphatic or tentative?
  • Facts and opinions: Objective facts and statistics or opinions? To inform or to persuade, review or entertain?

Adapted from