Analysis of Charles Dickens' - Sketches by Boz

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‘The Streets-Morning’ by Charles Dickens is an extract taken from ‘Sketches by Boz.’ It is a descriptive piece and follows prominent features of the literary sketch technique, as it contains no prominent plot. The speaker narrates the “appearance presented by the streets of London an hour before sunrise on a summer’s morning.”

The extract is in the first person narrative. This feature adds intensity and supports the use of details. First person narrative is generally considered unreliable due to lack of witnesses and external verification; however, the detached and objective narration by the speaker prompts readers to think otherwise – “now and then a rakish looking cat runs stealthily…bounding first on the water-butt then on the dust hole…” The sentence structures used support the use of detail and imagery. The speaker uses complex-compound sentences that are long with two or more sub-clauses. The use of these help create the atmosphere and heavy early morning slumber –

“There is an air of cold, solitary desolation about the noiseless streets which we are accustomed to see thronged at other times by a busy, eager crowd, and over the quiet, closely shut buildings…”

Through this narrative, readers are made aware of the close attention to detail the speaker employs. The mood of the extract is established through the sentence structure and setting. A relaxed and comfortably detached perspective is evident. In many ways it is similar to the morning itself, gently unfolding as the darkness fades.

The narrative time and context is established through the subjects described in the setting. “Coach-stands” lying deserted in the larger thoroughfares remind readers of the 19th century. This is supported by the fact that they are described as ‘coach stands’ and not bus stands.

Imagery plays an essential role in a literary sketch and is seen widely in this extract. The speaker uses concrete and abstract imagery. The use of metaphors lends a sense of what the...
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