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The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

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The picture book ‘the red tree’ written and illustrated by Shaun tan, conveys his perspective of the world with the effective use of literary and visual techniques such as symbolism, foreshadowing and the extended visual metaphor of the girl in the bottle on the ‘nobody understands’ page. These techniques search the thoughts and concepts of living and battling depression. This page demonstrates that there is hope for people with depression; they just need to work for it and find a way to break through the barriers.

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The extended visual metaphor of the girl sitting in the bottle conveys the idea of her feelings trapped inside. The protagonist is shown sitting in the bottle which connects to the idea of a ‘message in a bottle’. It is common that ‘messages in a bottle’ are lost and never found. Responders assume that she feels her thoughts and ideas are trapped inside and will not ever be discovered. The bottle is open however meaning that if she works hard and breaks through the barriers she can find an escape from the darkness that surrounds her.

Shaun Tan uses the literary technique of symbolism various times on the spread; this creates a picture of representations of emotions during depression. The most evident of the symbolism techniques is the big old scuba helmet. The scuba helmet is aged giving viewers insight that the painful situation is old, meaning it has been going on for a while. This goes back to the idea of battling depression and the concepts associated with it. Another example of symbolism is the protagonist sitting in the bottle.

This gives responders the impression that she feels isolated and as if she is the only one experiencing struggle and pain. As well as the idea that she has feelings that are trapped just like a long lost message in a bottle. The idea shown demonstrates Shaun Tans perspective of the world through someone else’s eyes living with depression. Shaun Tan’s double page spread displays foreshadowing with the weather and land in the background of the picture. As we read from left to right (reading path) it shows the direction in which the protagonist is traveling and what is to come.

The dark, gloomy weather she is currently experiencing changes across the page into a brighter day. As well as the sky changing, the lands texture changes too, it goes from rough and difficult to smooth and easy. This represents her happiness and good times are in sight and things will get easier. The audience sees that although it is difficult for the protagonist, we anticipate that she is on the way to becoming happier, she just has to work for it. This goes back to the perspective of Shaun Tan’s knowledge on people battling depression.

Hope is there, they just need to work for it. Through the effective use of visual techniques displayed such as symbolism, foreshadowing and the extended visual metaphor Shaun Tan communicates his perspective of the world to his audience of those both young and old. He has demonstrated to responders what he thinks battling with depression is like. The picture book creates an interesting story which can be interpreted many different ways, depending on your own personal context.

Cite this The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan. (2016, Oct 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-red-tree-by-shaun-tan/

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