The 39 Steps: language

The 39 Steps: language

Language Techniques in “The 39 Steps”

  • John Buchan uses informal, colloquial language to create the authentic impression of dialogue between the characters, which aids the characterisation.
  • Tension is built through the use of sharply snapped, short responses, while detailed descriptions are used to create scene setting and to establish the mood.
  • Metaphorical language appears throughout the text, contributing to the novel’s overall cinematic feel. This is particularly useful in helping actors understand the atmosphere of different scenes.
  • Language is often used to generate humour throughout “The 39 Steps”, which lightens the otherwise suspenseful plot and offers moments of comic relief.

Dialogue and Characterisation in “The 39 Steps”

  • Buchan’s use of idiomatic expressions and slang appropriate for the time period gives the dialogue authenticity and aids in building a believable context.
  • Monologues and soliloquies are used to reveal characters’ internal thoughts which can guide performers in understanding their given role.
  • Fast-paced dialogue typically indicates a high-tense situation, whilst slower pace dialogue is associated with calmer scenes.

Descriptive Language and Character Interpretation in “The 39 Steps”

  • Buchan’s frequent use of descriptive language helps performers and directors to understand the setting and atmosphere of different scenes.
  • The complexity of the language often varies according to the socioeconomic status of the characters. This differentiates each character and helps actors in understanding their character’s background and motivation.
  • Character’s thoughts and feelings are conveyed indirectly through their dialogue which provides cues for interpretation and performance.