The Silmarillion

“And he issued forth clad in black armour; and he stood before the King like a tower, iron-crowned, his vast shield, sable unblazoned, casts shadow over him like a storm cloud. But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals; and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

The first sentence depicts a powerful man who emits a cryptic vibe, hence the selected vocabulary for his description, specifically with words and phrases like: “Black armour,” “like a tower,” “iron-crowned,” shadow,” and “storm cloud.” Tolkien repeats the word “and” over twice, making a specific statement on the man entering the room and solidifying his final position before the King. The man is dressed in a manner that presents him as an evil entity. As classic armour is usually constructed of silver metals, the “black armour” erases the shine and the hero-like quality of the traditional knight. Instead of the armour being one of a knight, it is black like the night. “Iron-crowned” depicts he is one of royalty or of power. The emblazoned description of his person, shows the importance of the gesture and statement he is making.

“But” Fingolfin displays another kind of power contradictory to the other man. Underneath the “[storm-like] shadow,” Fingolfin “gleamed.” In contrast to the other man’s darkness and night-like energy, Fingolfin emphasizes the light found in the dark. Making a similar and yet contradictory statement, the characters both build upon a certain powerful vibe they both carry, yet Fingolfin retains a knight-like image. He is described with colors of “silver” mail or armour and a “blue shield.” And a sword described like “ice.” The brighter and clearer colors depict a purer image, one of good rather than evil. Finally, giving the sword a name (“Ringil”) depicts power because, typically, things of great power or importance receive names.

Because of the position that the scene creates within the first sentence, “he stood before the King like a tower,” the mood emphasized is tension. “Glittered like ice” emphasizes a sharpness to his character, a sharp force against a stronger, denser force of a “storm.” One immovable force is pitted against another, as a leader.

The Scarlet Letter

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Out of context, we, as the readers, did not know the extent of the exclusion of what Hester Prynne went through. We didn’t know how many years she was persecuted by the society she lived in. So, based on the one sentence, the anonymity of the subject makes the sentence applicable to others, specifically to the reader. And part of the application to the reader evokes an emotional response. Readers are able to relate the sentence to the their living situations and other aspects of their lives.

The greatest aspect of the sentence is the melancholic mood that is created. This is because a difficult past is implied and the fatigue of the subject is especially distinguished. The reader may feel exceptionally emotional, specifically relief because that means whatever the subject was going through has finally ended. But another emotion was grief or sadness. “Had not known” shows that the women was unaware of the turmoil or struggle that it caused her. It may imply the long time that she struggled and the numbness that came with it. Having the ability to feel once again also implies the past numbness of the struggle. The “weight” creates the oppression or pressure she faced. “Freedom” emphasizes the relief and implies that the weight was inherently bad. In order for something to be freed, a great struggle with oppression or persecution is usually what was the restraining factor on a person. Although it may not have been a physical weight, it’s presented that way, which implies a great burden that may be physically difficult to endure.

The sentence is barren. The simplicity of the sentence carries a lot of “weight” and although it does not present much information, that is implication of the sentence. The simplicity of the sentence presents the exhaustion of the subject and the cessation of the struggle. Because the weight is unknown, it can be applied to any oppression or struggle the reader is facing or has faced. It acts as a revealing factor to the reader because it unveils a pressure that may have built up gradually unbeknownst to the reader and the subject. Finally, even as the sentence is barren or, in better terms ‘simple’, the sentence still manages to carry much “weight” of the struggle and grief of the unknown burden on the subject.


“Beyond the landing field where the night’s faint dew had touched life into the hurried seeds of Arrakis, he saw great puddles of red blooms, and running through them, an articulate tread of violet… like giant footsteps.”  -Frank Herbert, Dune, pp. 101

As an overview, Herbet is describing a scene looking out over a fabricated environment (“the landing field”) into the natural environment. The beginning of the sentence, “beyond the landing field” pushes the reader away from the actions of the “landing field” where one assumes much would be happening and could be considered louder and bright. The “landing field” implies machinery and technology– unnatural things created by humans.

Bringing the audience away from that technological environment creates a peaceful feeling and setting within the nature away from the landing field. Words chosen to describe the area, like “faint dew,” “articulate tread,” and “nights” create a quiet and calm image. The mood subtlety changes when Herbet uses verbs like “hurried” and “running” to describe the passage of the flowers and seeds, showing nature to be quite awake and wild even in the dark. The “red blooms” and the “tread of violet” seen past the landing field offers a bold image in the night, where one would imagine darkness away from civilization, there is actually great color and vibrance. Even as the “violet” flowers are presented as “articulate,” it still has much weight in the environment. No matter the sizable presence, all organisms are distinguishable.The image created makes a statement on the brilliance of nature, still significant even in the shadow of technology and human settlement.

“Like giant footsteps” is nature’s imprint on the land like the “landing field” is of humans. This sentence works to compare the natural and the unnatural. It works to imply the freedom of nature and the constraints of society and technology. “Beyond the landing field” is beyond technology, beyond established and civilized society, and finally shows the insignificance of humans within the dominant, wild, natural environment.