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The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Left Hand of Darkness Analysis

Literary Devices in The Left Hand of Darkness

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

We Come From the Land of Ice and SnowThe world of Gethen is currently undergoing its ice age, so it's not exactly tourist destination number one. The weather is cold, bitter, and hard, and affects...

Narrator Point of View

The BasicsFor the most part, The Left Hand of Darkness has a First-Person Central Narrator and said narrator is Genly Ai (we'll get to the not-so-most part in a sec). This means Ai is telling his p...

Genre

Science Fiction FTWCome on, you must seen this coming. Obviously, The Left Hand of Darkness is science fiction. Le Guin draws on scientific ideas like Einstein's Twin Paradox, alien cultures, and...

Tone

As we mentioned in the "Narrator Point of View" section, Le Guin presents the novel as Genly Ai's field report to the Ekumen. It naturally follows that the tone should also have a field reporty fee...

Writing Style

Le Guin imagined an entire world with The Left Hand of Darkness, and her writing style is going to take you on a platinum, double-decker tour of it. She packs each chapter with paragraphs describin...

What's Up With the Title?

You'd think with a title that snazzy Le Guin would be referencing some famous poem or play, probably something by Shakespeare or Blake. But you'd be wrong. Le Guin does reference a now-famous poem,...

What's Up With the Ending?

Oh, man, so much. Where to even begin?Ai has just completed his mission for the Ekumen. Karhide has agreed to parley with the aliens. Tibe has stepped down as prime minister, and in Orgoreyn, Ai's...

Tough-o-Meter

In a way, The Left Hand of Darkness isn't a difficult novel to read. Le Guin is a fluid, vivid writer, and her prose never feels trying, boring, or difficult to read. You always know what she's tal...

Plot Analysis

All the Whos Down in Gethen-villeExposition provides the who's who and the what's what of any given story. It's the part of the plot that sets up what the story is about and helps us get to know th...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

The CallIn a Quest story, we meet the hero just before he's called on a journey to save the world from oppression, destruction, and all-around evil thingies. Usually, he's sent on the journey after...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Mission ImprobableAct 1 establishes the characters, the setting, and the gist of the story, and for this novel, that's Chapters 1 to 5. Here, we meet Genly Ai and Estraven and come to understand Ai...

Trivia

Le Guin received some flak from feminists because she used the "he" third person singular to describe the Gethenians, despite their androgynous nature. To balance this, Le Guin revised her short...

Steaminess Rating

And it's a very soft PG-13 at that. The simply fact is The Left Hand of Darkness is as about as sexual explicit as a biology text book. Here's an example of what we're talking about. Fair warning,...

Allusions

Le Guin seemed far more interested in creating her own world than making specific allusions to ours. As a result, the direst shout-outs are minimal in the novel. With that said, she does draw paral...
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