“The character isn’t just another voice that speaks and isn’t heard.”

There’s something so forlorn about this!

On the surface is a failure of logic, but there seems to be something going on under the surface. I wish I had noted the context of this statement, because there might be some clarification of intent lurking there; without it, all I hear is echoes of “a voice crying in the wilderness.”

The book of Isaiah says said voice cries “Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This is Isaiah 40, from which Handel drew so much of the text of The Messiah. Evidently, according to the Free Dictionary, the expression “voice crying in the wilderness” has come to mean “a lone voice expressing an unpopular message.” Hmmm. God isn’t going to be happy that Isaiah’s message is considered unpopular: it takes a lot of hands to build a highway.…

But back to my student. The phrase “not just another pretty face” suggests that there are many pretty faces, but the person in question isn’t like them (because, for example, she is a high school graduate as well as a pretty face). By this pattern, my student is saying there are many voices that speak and aren’t heard, but this character is different (a voice that isn’t heard, yes, but also something else). Would Cassandra fit this description? What does my writer have in mind? And is she thinking solely in terms of fictional characters when she says “voice,” or does she extend her observation into the world of real people? All those voices speaking, no one listening.

So forlorn…


About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

One response to ““The character isn’t just another voice that speaks and isn’t heard.”

  • Mary Jane Schaefer

    Perhaps it’s bad manners. Perhaps it’s the worship of status and hierarchy that determines if a person’s voice will be heard. I have had experiences where I was made to feel both invisible and inaudible. It can be very unnerving. It’s almost enough to make you wonder if you’ve died and you just haven’t noticed yet.

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