AO3: ‘Visit to Naples’ by Bill Bryson and ‘Ram sees the Taj Mahal’ by Vikas Swarup by Subhan Bin Yousaf 11-E


Question: How have the writers of passage one and passage two addressed their opinions about visiting a new place/country?


The first passage is an extract titled ‘Visit to Naples’, written by Bill Bryson. The second passage, an extract titled ‘Ram sees the Taj Mahal’, written by Vikas Swarup. The first extract, extracted from the travel log diary ‘Neither here nor there’ and the second extract, taken from the book ‘Slumdog millionaire’. The intended purpose of the writers of both passages is to convey the journeys and the landscape and sights the subjects of both passages saw. Devices such as the likes of Imagery, Figurative language and Descriptiveness aid the two writers with their purpose.

Passage One is Narrative with a speck of descriptiveness accompanying this narrativeness. “I emerged from the hotel, a cold slicing rain falling”, In this example, the writer narrates his action in the first half of the sentence, then he begins to describe what he sees in the second half of the sentence. Passage two is similar to passage one, but the passage is descriptive with a speck of narrativeness accompanying this descriptiveness. “I pass through the metal detector, cross the red-sand stone courtyard with its arched gateaway…..Taj Mahal rises in all its beauty and splendor, shimmering in afternoon haze.”, Notice that in this sentence, One seventh of the sentence is narrative with the rest being descriptive about the Taj Mahal’s landscape. The intended purposes of writers of both passages is to emit conveyance of ideas using structure, but the only thing that differs in the works of both writers is the different ratio of descriptiveness and narrativeness in their passages, however, this difference still produces the same amount of interest for the reader to read this passage.

The purpose of the writer of passage one is to describe his journey and sights he sees. “I would blunder onto some shady square lined with small but decent hotels.” In this example, the writer explains that he would walk into shady spots which were encountered by small,decent hotels on both sides. Notice the writer describes to where he walks yet describe the thing he sees, in this case, small hotels. The purpose of the writer of passage two is congruent to the purpose of the writer of passage one, both passages describe the journeys of the protagonists of both passages as well as the sights they see. “Thirty minutes of brisk walking along the embankment brings me to an enormous red-sandstone entrance gate.” Notice how he describes his journey around Taj and describes the sandstone gate he sees. The purpose of both writers was to write in a way that when the reader reads the passage line by line, the reader could visualize themselves in the body of the protagonist, see through their eyes, walk their steps. Hence their purpose is achieved and the purpose to build interest for the passage in the reader’s mind, is also achieved.

One other common device used by the writers of both passages is the use of Statistics in the passages, “In the centre of Naples some 70000 families live”. In this example, the writer of passage one uses one of the statistics he knows about the city of Naples and writes it in his passage to convey this piece of knowledge to the readers, reading his passage. The writer of passage two, too has used a number of statistics about the Taj Mahal. “Taj Mahal, Eighth wonder of the World”, one of the many stats used in the passage. The writer of passage two also conveys this piece of info to the readers, reading his novel around the World, unaware about Taj Mahal’s history and importance. By using statistics in their passages, the writers teach some facts to the readers about the place the plot of the story is based in. By doing this, the readers become aware of what the protagonist might be facing or seeing, or taking a tour of, they become aware of what the places in the passages are actually like. These stats also enhances the general knowledge of the reader, either way, these stats maintain the will of the reader to carry on reading.

One other common device used by the writer of both passages is the use of Metaphors in the passages. “Plane of dead sea”- an example of a metaphor used in passage one. The use of this metaphor in passage one is to convey the concept of shores there. The shores are part of the dead sea and stretch over an unknown wide area of the Earth’s land. “Glitters in the sunlight” is an example of a metaphor used in passage two. To describe the reflection of sunlight from the dome of Taj, the writer uses the word “glitter” to describe this reflection. By using the metaphor in these passages, the writer explains a concept to the reader, by comparing it to unlike things to add in a bit of emphasis. The example “Plane of dead sea”, the word “Plane” replaces the concept of a huge, wide area. The example “glitters in sunlight”, the word “glitters” replaces the concept of reflection of sunlight. These metaphors help make the conveyance of concepts to be a bit of figurative. These metaphors capture the interest of reader and encourage them to read on.

One other figurative element used in the passage is the use of Personification. “Tumbling fog” is an example of personification used in the passage one. “Tumbling” is the word used to describe fog that arrives slowly and the writer uses this term in the passage to explain the patient arrival of fog. “Clouds drifting” is an example of personification used in passage two. The purpose behind using Personification is to compare unlike things to human like interaction. Personification adds in emphasis to the concepts conveyed in both passages. It helps the readers to understand the concepts conveyed in a better perspective which enhances not only interest but also their literary figurative use in writing.

One more figurative device used in the passage is the use of alliteration. “Steep and slippery steps”-an example of passage one, notice the use of words that begin with the same alphabets, used to describe a concept or visualize it. “Purity of perfection”, another example of alliteration used in passage two. This example is used to describe the concept of the timeline the protagonist had mapped out in his mind. Like said above, alliteration helps these writers to describe and visualize concepts effectively. These help add a bit of emphasis to the concepts. Alliterations can play the role of adjectives describing that concept. Hence, when the concepts are effectively explained with the assist of alliteration, the reader develops interest for the passage and maintains the will to carry on reading.

One other figurative device used in the passages is the use of Similes. “Hung like banners between balconies that never saw sunlight”-an example of a simile in passage one. The writer of passage one makes a comparison of the washed clothes left out hung to dry, to banners hung on the balconies of castles. “Turquoise sky like an ivory moon”- an example of a simile used in passage two. The writer compares the sky’s colour that day as if it looks like turquoise or like the colour of ivory. By using similes in the passages, both the writers emit a direct comparison of the concepts of the passages to unlike things, to add in not only emphasis but to place an effect of imagery in the reader’s mind. The reader becomes aware of the landscape of the place as he can visualize it while reading the passage. Using similes captures the reader’s interest as he has been explained the concept in more detail.

The audience of both the passages have something in common: similar interests with no differences. “The Vicaria, where I was now, is said to have the highest population density in Europe”, The writer of passage one writes this piece of fact  in the passage to be used by readers that might find this fact useful, such as tourists. “A group of prosperous Western tourists armed with camcorders and binoculars, listening to an elderly guide at the base of the dome”-the writer of passage two tells the readers of what to expect if they ever go to Taj Mahal. This fact can be useful for those such as the tourists. The audience of both passages can be anyone of any age, but the passages have actually been written to capture the attention of special interest groups, such as the tourists.

In conclusion, the writers of both passages have used common devices such as the use of  Statistics, figurative language, descriptiveness to achieve their goal: To provide the reader with an opportunity to visualize themselves in the shoes of the passages’ protagonists. Using these devices captured a reader’s interest, encourage him to finish reading the extracts. Hence both writers have used the similar devices to achieve a similar objective, successfully.


About froebelianwriters

I am an English Language teacher teaching O'Levels Edexcel and CIE A Levels at Froebel's International School, Islamabad. I am also working as a Subject Specialist Literacy consultant for the same school. Writing and reading has always been a passion and I try my utmost to instill these habits and hobbies in my students as well. I can be reached/contacted at or 03365287335 Happy reading!

Comments are closed.