The novel owes its existence to man’s interest in other men and the great panorama of human passion and action. Both the drama and the novel are compounded of the same material but in drama and the literary element is bound up with the elements of stage settings and interpretations through acting. So, Marion Crawford terms the novel as “Pocket theatre”. The novel may be defined as long narrative prose detailing the actions of fictitious people. Meredith calls it a ‘summing of actual life’. The novel combines narration and description, history and philosophy, poetry and fantasy, social criticism, and a particular view of life.
Elements of the Novel:
The novel has various elements.
- In the first place, it should have a plot. The novel deals with elements and actions and how these are presented is the plot.
- Secondly, the men and women who are involved in these elements and actions appear as characters in the novel.
- The third element is the dialogue the mean of interaction among the characters.
- The fourth element is the scene and the time of action because the characters must interact, do or suffer at some place or time.
- The fifth element is the style in which the narration is done.
- The Sixth Element is the view of life presented by the novelist.
The plot in a novel is the organization of incidents. The theme should have substantial value and human interest. It is primarily concerned with the things which make life strenuous, intense, and morally significant.
There are two types of plots – organic and episodic. In the first, the characters and events are well interwoven that no character or incident can be removed from the novel without causing damages to the whole. The plot and Jane Austen novels are examples. The second type of plot is loosely formed and characters and incidents have no essential bearing on each other. The picaresque novels of Fielding and even some of the novels of Dickens have episodic plots. How the various elements in the plot or organized to achieve a definite artistic purpose is called the structure. Unity in structure and plot is to be observed.
Characterization is the act of presenting the characters alive and real to our imagination. The men and women in the novel must move through it like living beings they should remain in the readers’ memory after the novel is laid aside. There are two types of characterization – the direct or the analytic and the indirect or dramatic. In the analytical method, the novelist portrays his Characters from outside, dissects their passion, thoughts, and feelings, and even passes judgment upon them.
Dialogue is well managed, gives vividness, and actually to the plot and the characters. Dialogue reveals the passion and the emotion of the character and advises the movement of the plot. Dialogue should Constitute an organic element in the story. It should be natural, appropriate, and dramatic. It should be in keeping with the personality of the speaker.
The Time and Place of Action:
Time and place of action in a novel refer to the whole setting of the story, both social and material. They are novels of sea life, military life, industrial life of district life, and life of different classes of people. There are novels with a regional background; there are novels written in the historical background. whatever may be the setting, the novelist should master its details and then present a lively picture of it.
The novel is concerned with life and so the novelist’s view of life may be revealed in the novel. A novelist may make creative observations on human life. By the selection and organization of the material, and by the presentation of character and development of the plot, the novelist can show us what he thinks of life. However, the novelist should not indulge in propaganda or preaching. His philosophy is a part of the structure of the novel and should reveal itself through the interpretation of life, thought, character, and temper of the work as a whole.