Analyzing the Use of Contour Line in Classic Literary Works


Contour lines are a crucial element in the visual arts, used to depict three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface. They are also extensively utilized in the world of literature, though in a slightly different form. In literary works, the use of contour lines serves a similar purpose as in the visual arts, helping to create depth and dimension in characters, settings, and conflicts. From ancient Greek literature to modern bestsellers, the employment of contour lines has been a consistent and powerful tool for writers to enhance their storytelling. In this article, we will delve into the world of literature and explore how authors have incorporated contour lines in their works to leave a lasting impact on readers.

Firstly, it is essential to understand the concept of contour lines in literature. In its most basic form, a contour line refers to a line that defines the shape or form of an object. In literature, the term is used metaphorically to represent the outlines and boundaries of characters, plot, theme, and other essential elements of a story. It is through the use of these lines that authors create a three-dimensional world within the pages of their books, drawing readers into the story and making the events and characters feel more tangible.

One of the earliest examples of contour lines in literature can be seen in the works of ancient Greek playwright, Sophocles. In his play, “Oedipus Rex,” the protagonist’s tragic flaw, or contour line, is his stubbornness and lack of self-awareness. This line is evident from the beginning of the play, where Oedipus vehemently denies the accusations against him, to the dramatic climax when he realizes the truth about his identity. This contour line not only shapes the character of Oedipus but also drives the entire plot of the play, ultimately leading to his downfall.

Moving onto more modern literature, the classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen is another prime example of the use of contour lines. In this novel, the main characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, both possess strong personality traits that serve as their contour lines. Elizabeth’s quick wit and strong opinions create a distinct outline for her character, making her stand out among the other characters in the novel. Similarly, Mr. Darcy’s pride and initial disdain for Elizabeth form his contour line, which eventually softens as the story unfolds. These contour lines not only define the characters but also add depth and complexity to the central conflict and its resolution.

Moreover, contour lines can also be used to enhance the atmosphere and setting of a story. In “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the wealthy and extravagant lifestyle of the characters is the defining contour line of the novel. The luxurious parties, expensive cars, and lavish houses create a stark contrast to the less fortunate characters, highlighting the theme of the corrupting influence of wealth and materialism. This contour line brings the roaring 20s to life, making the setting an integral part of the story.

In addition to character and setting, contour lines can also serve as a powerful tool to convey the theme and underlying message of a literary work. The popular dystopian novel “1984” by George Orwell is a prime example of this. In this novel, the oppressive government and surveillance are the contour lines that shape the story and ultimately convey the theme of the dangers of totalitarianism. The constant monitoring and repression depicted in the novel not only create a sense of unease but also serve as a warning against the abuse of power.

To conclude, the use of contour lines in literature is a highly specialized technique that requires skill and mastery. It may not be as visually evident as in the visual arts, but its impact is just as significant. Authors use contour lines to shape their characters, drive the plot, enhance the atmosphere, and convey their message to the readers. As readers, being aware of these lines can deepen our understanding and appreciation of literary works, and perhaps even inspire us to incorporate them into our writing.