Reading, Comprehending, and Analyzing Literary Works

Reading, Comprehending, and Analyzing Literary Works

Herri Mulyono


There are two notifications that I’m going to give more attentions; reading and comprehending. In language context, reading is of receptive skills beside listening that deals where message is digested from any written materials and absorbed as understandable information. Reading is an effort to create meaningful information one might conduct to achieve at particular level of comprehension. Comprehension itself is understood as “understanding meaning of the written materials and covers the conscious strategies that lead to understanding” (Sheng, 2000: 12).

Instead of their similarity, Sheng (2000: 12) also notifies that there is significance difference between reading and comprehension. Within process of arriving at level of understanding from written material, the reading activity mostly deals with language form while the process comprehending a written language discourse emphasizes on the language content. Language contents lead someone to pursue more complex psychological involvement. It is intended to meet same understanding between the author and the reader including the author’s personal feeling around the reading environment.

Hence, it can be viewed that reading comprehension is understood as one’s effort to arrive at particular level of understanding where the readers’ point of view might meet the original one’s from the author. The deeper part of reading comprehension is when reader might also feel the author’s feeling which mostly influences the reading materials.

Comprehension is first requirements to understand literary works. Reader must initially comprehend any literary works he is reading by recognizing what, who, where, and when. This means, the area of comprehension might go along the issue (introduction of the theme and topic), characters, and setting of time and place.

Every work in literature is written for any definite aims and proposed for certain reader. It is because the writer is willing to transfer his understanding or to communicate his ideas, thoughts, or opinion through the work. Of course, when he wants to communicate certain information to experts he may use dictions that experts are familiar while at the other side casual readers would need extra time to understand. Moreover, writer’s tone or his attitude would strongly affect his work and certainly make any bias concerning to issues he delivers.

Hence, to arrive at proportional understanding toward any literary work, many of us have to endure some efforts of analyzing literary works. Of course, objects of the analysis are directed to examination on elements of the work; such as plot, characterization, settings, and some others. It could be deep investigation and long hours to go through. For such investigation, we may firstly recognize type of genres the work uses (see the type of genre above in section B and each unit explaining the elements of it).  For example, if you have already noticed that the genre is typically prose, start your investigation of knowing the elements of prose. This also occurs when you want to retrieve intended information from piece of drama. Of course, you are to recognize the elements the drama may convey. By knowing typical genre used, readers have already done a half way to examine the elements of literary work genre.

So what with the element investigation? By doing so we may find out the pattern used by the writer while our notes on characters, situations and actions (conflicts) will span. Of course, it might be valuable information and wise ways to make any judgment on the work we are examining for reactions and thoughts would be obviously displayed.

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