The difference between description and analysis
Description and analysis are two different processes, which focus in different ways on a person, place, event, or action.
The description is a rhetorical mode that consists in presenting characters, landscapes, feelings or states or objects, being used especially in literature. It can be used in poetry or prose. The description operates mainly with images and it re-creates the background where the facts take place or the visualization of characters.
In general, it presents the aspects, characteristics, or features of a subject, being used from a direct/ indirect, objective/ subjective perspective;
The description, also known as modes of discourse, can be static, when dominates the contemplative attitude -both the subject of description and the reader are immobile, or dynamic, when the subject or the one who watches, changes his position (for example, the description of a battle), being used verbs also, as they represent the movement.
The literary description, in opposition with the scientific description, exposes besides the topic described, a certain attitude or feeling or an exaggerated sentiment or pathos towards the topic, in order to manipulate the reader’s perspective.
The function of description is very important in literature, not only in poetry but also in prose, having the role to make the facts to seem more real and exposing the essence of the characters more than their facts or words do it.
Julien Cracq considered that the description offers a perspective image of the literary work, offering the feeling of freedom to the reader in the same time:
“In the distribution of colors, shadows and lights of a landscape, it is realized a material part much more related to details of the hour and season, creating a more expressive image, because it connects stronger the freedom related to space to the destiny that becomes part of temporality.”
This is the reason why Hugo Blair considered that “the description is the milestone of the poetic imagination), concluding that “a description of common places is always bad. The different ideas are always thought by beginning with particularities.” Gerard Genette also considered that: “the description is more necessary than the narrative, because it is easier to describe without telling than to tell without describing.”
The analysis is used in all the fields of activity, including: Medicine, science, literature, philosophy, business and mathematics. It consists in studying an object, a phenomenon, a character, a situation, place or event, by examining each element in part. The analysis can be also used to examine a text from different points of view. In chemistry, it is the process of identifying the composition of a substance. In mathematics, the analysis studies the functions, limits, derivates and their application.
As it can be noticed, the analysis has several meaning and ways of use, depending on each domain of study. But its common meaning consists in the process of studying a complex topic by breaking it in its component parts.
The analysis is a scientific method of research or a general method of studying the reality, which is based on the systematic study of each element in part.
It is a much deeper process than the description, as the analysis can not be subjective and doesn’t allow several interpretations, as the description does. While the description offers freedom to the reader or to the one that assists to a certain event, being in a way or another witness, the analysis is unique, based on universal principles and concrete details. The analysis can go further, getting improved, by the fundament remains the same.
The analysis is a complex process that involves several other processes. A criminological analysis will involve the analysis done by police, the one made by doctors, detectives, psychologists and others. The description will be reflected by the opinion of journalists, witnesses and those who know what happened, without being able to make a structural analysis in detail.
The financial analysis of a corporation evaluates the financial policy and the measures that should be taken based on these reports. It investigates two important domains: the financial balance and the efficiency. The detailed analysis of the results account is indispensable for making the financial analysis. Thus, the financial analysis is based on the documents of the company, but it also uses other resources. Besides the strict study of the activity, it searches for information about the quality of the management team, the personnel motivation, performances and the technology applied.
The description of the same company consists only in the information that is accessible to the public, to the ones from the outside. For example, the customers will watch an advertisement made by a PR agency and so, they will conclude if it worth or not to sign a contract with that agency, conclusion based on their personal opinions. They will be allowed further to study the history of the company, the financial results and the goals achieved by the agency, but they will not have access to the financial information in detail.
Description and analysis have both a crucial importance, but each manifests on different degrees of interest.
1. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Edgar V. Roberts; Robert Zweig; Publisher: Prentice Hall
2. Terry Eagleton: Literary Theory. An Introduction, Blackwell, 2nd Ed, 1996