By N. F. Blake (auth.)
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Extra info for An Introduction to the Language of Literature
This omission of the agent puts even more stress on the subject since it is no longer clear who is doing the sending or how the arms arrive. The tone of the sentence is changed drastically. The way in which the passive can be exploited can be seen from an example in Mansfield Park. Although it is not a finite verb, but an infinitive, the principle is the same. It occurs in sentence 1 where 'Miss Maria Ward ... had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady'.
In both the final complement of the first sentence and the opening object of the second it is difficult to decide whether all the units of language go to make up a single clause element or whether they should be regarded as parallel examples of the same element. Does the second sentence open with four objects or are the four units part of a single object which are placed in some form of apposition to one another? In ordinary language it is more usual to make the grammatical link between the various parts of a noun group clear; but in poetry this is less true.
The recipient of the action appears not to have planned what took place and is made to seem as though she acquiesced in it rather than welcomed it. The role of these women is that of those to whom things happen rather than that of those who make things happen. They are at the whim of others. Verbs indicate an action or a state, referred to respectively as dynamic and stative. The latter are those like the verb to be which indicate a state which does not change or at least appears not to. In Sonnet 129, as we have seen, all the main verbs are stative and this is why the poem appears to be descriptive and proverbial in tone, because it describes what is permanently true rather than something which is changing.
An Introduction to the Language of Literature by N. F. Blake (auth.)