Lesson #126: Mini-Lesson Monday (Part 1): Using Influential Adjectives in Written Texts

Mini-Lesson Monday (Part 1):

While admiring these white cyclamens in the pale autumn sunshine, I was reminded of the power of ADJECTIVES in description.

Especially when they are suitably chosen!

Adjectives are so important for several reasons. 

# 1 They are valuable in DISTINCTLY DESCRIBING a person, object or event’s ASPECTS.

# 2 They can also create a MEMORABLE ATMOSPHERE. 

# 3 They STRENGTHEN the PURPOSE of a piece of writing. 

Consider the passage below from Middlemarch by George Eliot (written in 1871). 

👉 Pay attention to how the adjectives go beyond merely describing a young woman’s physical appearance; they also convey a strong theme or purpose. 

✍️ Firstly, take a guess what this theme might be, and in the second part of this mini-lesson (next post) you will be able to compare your impressions with an analysis of the author’s objective in writing this passage as she did. 

📗’She was glowing from her morning toilette as only healthful youth can glow: there was gem-like brightness on her coiled hair and in her hazel eyes; there was warm red life in her lips; her throat had a breathing whiteness above the differing white of the fur which itself seemed to wind about her neck and cling down her blue-grey pelisse with a tenderness gathered from her own, a sentient commingled innocence which kept its loveliness against the crystalline purity of the outdoor snow. As she laid the cameo-cases on the table in the bow-window, she unconsciously kept her hands on them, immediately absorbed in looking out on the still, white enclosure which made her visible world.’

– George Eliot, Middlemarch, Chapter XXVIII

Please join me in the next post for a more in-depth analysis of Eliot’s use of adjectives.

by J. E. Gibbons

English language tutor and researcher at 'Learn English Through Literature' (2024)