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Old Leisure - Literary Devices

Topics: Personal life, Lifestyle, Rhetorical techniques / Pages: 3 (714 words) / Published: Oct 9th, 1999
History has seen advancements in technology, philosophy, and industry, all of which radically changed the lives of those witnessing such developments. Slower, more relaxed lifestyles have given way to lifestyles of a faster paced nature. George Eliot describes her preference for the leisure of the past, conveying the message that the rushed leisure of her time is hardly leisure at all. She accomplishes this by using several stylistic devices, including personification, imagery, and diction.
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<br>The most obvious stylistic device used by Eliot is that of personification. She uses this device to create two people from her thoughts on old and new leisure. The fist person is New Leisure, who we can infer to be part of the growth of industry in the 19th century. He is eager and interested in science, politics, and philosophy. He reads exciting novels and leads a hurried life, attempting to do many things at once. Such characteristics help us to create an image of New Leisure as Eliot sees him.
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<br>Old Leisure is quite contrasting to New Leisure. Being a stout country squire of the 18th century, he is laid back, simple minded, well fed, and financially well off. He reads but one newspaper and favors Sunday services that "allow him to sleep." "He never went to Exeter Hall, or heard a popular preacher, or read Tracts for the Times or Sartor Resartus." He is not bothered by his "inability to know the causes of things" and sleeps "the sleep of the irresponsible." Eliot describes Old Leisure more than New Leisure because today's readers are familiar enough with living a life as hurried and fast paced as New Leisure's. Her description of Old Leisure is nostalgic of a slower paced way of life.
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<br>While Eliot uses human characteristics and actions to describe Old and New Leisure, she also creates images of both personages to further depict their contrasting lifestyles. The images of Old Leisure include him "scenting the apricots when they were warmed by the morning sunshine." They also depict portraits of life in Old Leisure's era as "slow waggons," "spinning wheels," and "pedlars, who brought bargains to the door on a sunny afternoon." They also tell of how Old Leisure "fingered the guineas in his pocket" and was "fond of sauntering by the fruit-tree wall."
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<br>New Leisure, on the other hand, does not live in a world where such images are present. He is ""prone to cursory peeps through microscopes" and is "prone to excursion- trains, art museums, periodical literature, and exciting novels." His lifestyle is described as "a vacuum for eager thought to rush in." His world involves intellectually stimulating activities and does not include simple-minded persons such as Old Leisure.
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<br>Perhaps the most important device evident in Eliot's work is her use of diction to effectively convey her ideas. Under careful inspection, it is apparent that Eliot views Old Leisure in a nostalgic way and is aware that even though the advance of civilization is not easy, progress is necessary, for who would want to remain as simple-minded as Old Leisure? When she describes Old Leisure as "irresponsible" and "slow," her awareness of Old Leisure's faults is apparent. The use of the words "contemplative," "fine," and "undiseased" clearly show the sarcastic tone she takes when describing Old Leisure. She is not mean to Old Leisure, nor does she mock him. She merely shows the stagnation of Old Leisure's country lifestyle.
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<br>Eliot's use of diction also shows her respect for New Leisure, the hard working pioneer of advancements. She refers to him as "eager" and "exciting." Never insulting or mocking New Leisure, she makes it apparent that even though he is fast paced and hurried, he is taking upon himself the progress of a society, which must advance.
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<br>Eliot reminisces about a slower and simpler way of life, Old Leisure, now obsolete and forgotten. Yet she acknowledges that New Leisure, while hurried and rushed, is the necessary element in an advancing civilization. Using the stylistic devices of personification, imagery, and diction, Eliot is able to convey her message clearly and show the attraction of Old Leisure and the advantages of New Leisure.

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