Exclusion in "Props and the Man" by John L. Allen

Essay by 2hvy4grvty August 2006

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In his essay, "Props and the Man", John L. Allen utilizes several literary devices. Through the use of these structural devices, Allen is able to severely limit the audience of his work. Allen accomplishes his goals through his use of his vocabulary and diction. The author uses advanced vocabulary and diction to focus his audience, excluding many readers in the process.

Allen's vocabulary excludes many readers because of its complicated nature. Throughout his essay he uses words that exclude readers due to their intellectual complexity. Words such as "harried", "avidly", "denouement" (Allen 5), are outside of most readers' vocabulary. By using words such as these, Allen sends a clear message to the reader about who his target audience is. When a person outside this audience reads Allen's essay, they are overwhelmed by the sense of being part of a conversation that is beyond their comprehension. A reader may even stop reading the essay, simply because they are being excluded through Allen's use of a complicated vocabulary.

In this way, Allen is able to his target audience, excluding much of the general public in favor of a more cosmopolitan audience.

Allen also excludes readers through his diction, which is highly specific and targeted towards a small group of people. Allen's exclusionary diction consists of very specific places and works of literature. If one does not possess prior knowledge of New York City, many of the references to places such as the "Lincoln Center", "the Julliard School of Music" (Allen 4) and times such as "afternoon rush hour" (Allen 4) are lost on them. If a reader is not familiar with specific literature or theatre, they will not comprehend allusions to "Godot" and the "Theatre of the Absurd" (Allen 4). Because many readers do not know New York or the theatre, they do not appreciate Allen's essay. These readers are excluded in favor of a more focused and specific audience through Allen's use of diction.

By focusing his essay, Allen excludes some readers, but makes the essay more relevant and familiar to those included. Allen's skillful utilization of structural devices allows him to include some readers, while excluding others. Exclusion is used in this essay, but through it many readers are more thoroughly included.