Object Correlative in Essay Writing
What is object correlative? The answer is obvious: it is an object that you can correlate to specific emotions in your essay writing.
Here are several simple examples to help you understand better:
- The One Ring in Lord of the Rings. If you know the story, you also know that it is not just a ring. It represents power and greed, the way power can corrupt, and the way it can help do amazing things like turn invisible, for example.
- The wilting enchanted rose in Beauty and the Beast. It is not just a flower, as we all know. It represents the selfishness that got the prince turned into a beast. Moreover, it is a ticking clock: we all know what happens once the last petal falls off.
So, how can you use an objective correlative to make your reader feel a particular emotion?
First, program the chosen object with specific qualities and emotions. Meaning, once you introduce the object, associate it with a few values or feelings. Here is one more example:
In the movie Toy Story, we can see that Andy, Woody’s owner, has written his name on the bottom of Woody’s shoe. This episode, when he handwrites “ANDY” on the shoe, represents all the love and friendship that connect Andy and Woody.
As soon as you have associated the chosen object with values and emotions, you will have turned this object into a complex objective correlative that you can further do stuff with, such as making your audience feel anything.
The next thing you have to do is presenting the objective correlative in a new context.
In Toy Story, when Buzz Lightyear appears in the movie and Woody is demoted to Toy #2, the creators of the movie only show Woody looking at “Andy” scrawled on the bottom of his shoe to let the audience know that he is now sad. And even more than just sad — he is jealous, angry, and even these emotions cannot be quite put into words.
There are three great things about this technique:
- When you simply throw the object, you allow room for the audience to project his/her own emotions into the experience. For example, in the Toy Story, when the viewer sees Woody looking at “ANDY” on his shoe, and we realize that he is no longer Andy’s favorite toy, we are reminded of the time we probably felt replaced or forgotten. Just imagine — all that the moviemaker had to do to evoke these emotions in the viewer was showing Woody looking at his shoe!
- This technique draws the viewer more deeply into the story as now they are feeling with Woody.
- It allows the audience to understand that the character has grown or changed somehow.
Okay. Now, here are eleven tips for using an objective correlative (OC) in any kind of essay:
- Set the OC early.
- Begin “programming” the OC early, as well.
- Ensure the reader understands what the OC represents.
- As soon as you have established the OC, include an inciting incident. Typically, authors use the answer to “What is the worst thing that could happen?”
- Let the reader know why the inciting incident is that meaningful.
- Use other OCs.
- Remove your OC to show how everything that it represents goes away.
- Create the lowest point for the character.
- Add suspense by having significant things happen “off-screen.”
- Provide a clear and straightforward example that connects back to the prompt.
- Bring back the OC in a new context so that your audience could see how the main character has changed.