Jessica Danielle Powell's English 170W Blog
The Long Development of a Short Story.
Mania !
Posted on November 30th, 2011 at 7:56 pm by Jessica Danielle Powell and

Madeleine had been trying to beat Alton [in tennis] her entire life without success. This was even more infuriating

Has Been Trying: Attempted and gave up

because she was better than he was, at this point. But whenever she took a set from Alton he started *intimidating her,

acting mean, disputing calls, and her game fell apart*. Madeleine was *worried that there was something paradigmatic in

this*, that she was destined to go through life being cowed by less capable men. As a result, Madeleine’s tennis matches

against Alton had assumed such outsize personal significance for her that she got tight whenever she played him, with

predictable results. (10)

Task: Perform a New Critical close reading that argues how Eugenides’s word choice develops the theme of mania.


: excitement manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior, and elevation of mood; specifically : the manic phase of bipolar disorder
a : excessive or unreasonable enthusiasm <a mania for saving things> —often used in combination
Words or phrases that imply mania
Even More: The phrase even more signals an increase which signals hyperactivity.
Better: Signals an increase in capacity or ability (an elevation in mood)
intimidating her, acting mean, disputing calls, and her game feel apart: The comma’s that are present in this sentence signal that there is hyperactivity going on. For example, the use of a comma is to make a pause and since Madeline is becoming so worked up they are necessary in order for us to clearly understand who and what she is talking about. Also when someone begins to list the reasons why for anything they usually get worked up and hyperactive like Madeline.
Worried: Worry often put unecessary pressure on the mind to think longer and harder on something that may not need that excessive attention. The word worry means to cause mental distress which can also be categorized as mania.
As a Result: Signals a drop in hyper activity because it brings all of the actions to a close.
Assumed suchoutsized personal significance for her
Such: Signals more
Outsized: Signals that “tennis'” significance was much larger than her which is an example of emotional elevation
Tight: In slang terms this means upset which illustrates emotional elevation
Predicatable: Her excitement about the object of affection [Tennis] did nothing to help her in anyway which is usually the outcome of mania…nothing.
Eugenides uses this paragraph to develop the theme of mania by using clever diction and syntax. All of the words above work together to come to a climax which is then dropped due to the fact that Madeline’s mania or emotional elevation for tennis and beating Alton did nothing to help her actually beat Alton.
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