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Literary Skills in “Interpreter of Maladies” by Lahari


Literary techniques are the distinctive way of language used by authors to illustrate their intentions or meaning in their work. Usually, authors can apply a group of words, a phrase, or simple words. The literary forms are identified after a critical analysis of the piece of writing by a reader pertaining to the theme, presence of figurative language such as personification, use of similes or metaphoric language, the characterization, setting of the writing, presence of paradox, hyperbole, puns, allegories, foreshadowing, and flashbacks. The assignment discusses specifically the dramatic irony and characterization devices used by Jhumpa Lahari, the author of the short story; Interpreter of Maladies.

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Characterization is a literature feature used to give very exhaustive information about the participants in the story. The author goes deeper and explains their habits, behavior, thoughts, likes, dislikes, and every step as the plot advances. The literary form is critical to give the readers a better understanding of the characters’ behavior and their contribution. Lahari applies two types of characterization in the short story: direct and indirect. Direct characterization gives information based on the exhibited physical traits such as mode of dressing, hobbies, and job description.

Indirect characterization is the concluded character traits from their thought content and processes, speech, and actions. For instance, Lahari mentions Mr. Kapasi’s well-tailored outfit to show his sense of decency. Mr. Kapasi describes Mr. and Mrs. Das as being more siblings than parents to their children from their quarrels through the journey. An example of direct characterization is evident from Mr. Kapasi’s job description as a tour guide for seven years, and he was previously an interpreter in the doctor’s office while Mr. is a middle-school teacher. The audience can have Mrs. Das’s depiction as unfaithful from what she confessed to Mr. Kapasi that Bobby is fathered by Mr. Das’s friend who visited her when she was lonely.

Dramatic Irony

Dramatic irony is where the readers are entirely conscious of what is going on without the knowledge of the characters. The uncertainty created by irony allows the audience to appreciate the characters’ strengths and weaknesses. The actions of the characters after perceiving cases of irony allow the author to judge them. Dramatic irony enables the readers to have optimism and the urge to validate their assumptions and predictions made after the suspense. An instance of dramatic irony in the short story is when Mr. Kapasi is happy after Mrs. Das takes his address in order to share the photographs taken together.

He imagined how he would write her letters telling her how his marriage was unhappy and his dream of becoming a diplomat would be made possible. One instance, after lunch, Mrs. Das got a hairbrush to straighten her hair, and the paper with Mr. Kapasi’s address was blown away by the wind without her knowledge. The audience concludes that Mr. Kapasi is patient, which is contrary to most of the audience’s imagination or conclusion that he would alert her or pick up the paper by himself to ensure that they are in contact with Das’s family.


Literary devices facilitate comprehension and appreciation of the author’s work. Each device has its specific role. They improve the writers’ works by adding interest and vigor. They also enable readers to link characters with the themes explained and reflect on their meaning in real life. The readers should be careful in analyzing any piece of writing because there are useful ideas hidden inside indirect characterization and instances of irony, among other literary forms.

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