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Monday, October 11, 2010

A Literary Analysis of the Webster’s Dictionary as a Piece of Fiction

      When I was first asked to analyze Webster’s Dictionary and its amount of literary merit, I was humbled. Surely the Dictionary, a book that almost every family owns, is above such criticism. However, when I began reading the first page, I was less than impressed. Firstly, I was confused by who exactly is the protagonist of the Dictionary. At first I was sure it was a fellow named “aardvark,” but then as I continued to read, I noticed “aardvark” was never mentioned again, but now I was hearing about new characters like “airplane,” and “apple.” Eventually I landed upon a character whose name was “astrology.” What does Webster think he’s playing at?
      Aside from the characters, I was very confused by the marking of chapters. Instead of numbering chapters, Webster lettered them (the first chapter was A, the second B, and so on). I was surprised that such a highly-regarded “reference guide” would use such a cheap and tacky method of trying to do something outside the “norm,” in order to get people to buy their book.
      When one finds themselves analyzing the symbols and themes in Webster’s Dictionary, they will not be disappointed. Upon halfway through the book, I realized every word in bold was followed by a definition of that word (undoubtedly this is one of the hidden themes that Webster tried to mask). This theme symbolizes that life is like a book, and that it can be defined by many different things. Readers may also realize that when putting together words from the Dictionary together, we too may form our own sentences, and maybe even our own paragraphs. In fact, you may be surprised to hear this, but every single word I have just written is in Webster’s Dictionary. Criticisms aside, this is an impressive feat to accomplish.


  1. Wow...never thought of reading a dictionary this way!
    Just imagine all of the possiblities. Seriously...there are shelves and shelves of various types of dictionaries in the Reference college at the library.

  2. I think I must analyze my Spanish-English dictionary this way--except that would be even more confusing because then there are TWO chapters labled A and B and and some extras labled LL and RR. Maybe once I finish analyzing my dictionary in this manner I will find myself able to only use words from the dictionary instead of adding spanglish words I've made up.