Multimodal Stylistics in Graphic Novel: Understanding the Visual Language Syntax in Art Spiegelman’s Maus
Keywords:Multimodality, visual language syntax, images, graphic narration, monochrome
Maus (2003) by Art Spiegelman is a graphic novel of unfolding his father, Vladek's, World War II ordeal and how he survived the holocaust. It is a gripping story of Spiegelman's own parents' experience in Poland during 1930s when Nazis invaded and persecuted the Jews. With a broken language, gaps in communication and visual strategy, Maus takes the readers across Europe unravelling the experiences of World War II and the Nazi Concentration camps. The characters are depicted as anthromorphic animals; the Nazis as cats, the Jews as mice and the Polish as pigs. It can be named as an autobiography or a memoir featuring a metareferential frame story with an author as narrator (Art) who tells his father (Vladek) that he wishes to write a comic book and so incited him to tell about " his life in Poland and the war" (Spiegelman, 2003). A graphic novel is written in a comic strip format which uses a combination of text and illustration in order to tell a story. The linguistic elements in a graphic narration are important as words and images cannot be analysed in similar terms. Multimodal stylistics represents this in the light of lexical and grammatical aspects of the verbal language. Maus (2003) represents a story of the holocaust and the traumatic experiences of Vladek. It is a heteroglossic text with the presence of foreign languages and an authorial voice. The novel not only gives a different meaning but also an altogether different perspective to the verbal and visual significance.
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