Once Upon a Shop | Analytical essay

“Once Upon a Shop” is an essay written by Jeanette Winterson and published in The Observer in 2010. The essay deals with the story of Jeanette Winterson opening her own, little store together with a business partner, who both share their devotion to selling quality food located in the streets of Spitalfields in London. Using tools such as personal pronouns, value-laden words, fairytale inspired style of language and a positive approach to early London history helps creating contrasts to Spitalfields in London back then versus now, which supports Winterson’s main points such as her wish to inspire others to stay local, buy quality, fairtrade products, not give in to the chain-stores and appreciating the value of history and tradition.

The style of the writer’s language is characterized in the very beginning as Winterson chooses to give the essay the title “Once Upon a Shop” which works as a fairytale-reference that most people connect with the well-known phrase “once upon a time”. By doing this, the author pulls the reader into some sort of fairytale-like universe while also taking the reader on a journey learning more about early London times while also adding a feeling of nostalgia.

The language is also characterized by the use of many value-laden words - both positive and negative. Winterson wishes to affect the reader by sharing her own points of views: “The chilly world of corporate retail” (p. 10, ll. 259-260) versus “...the delightful sustainable small shops we all adore in France or Italy” (p. 9, ll. 182-184). The use of these value-laden words such as “chilly” against “delightful” and “adore” affects the reader indirectly, because of the very clear contrast between the positive words and the negative words. This helps making her opinion and her message clearer to the reader. The style of the writer’s language is also characterized by the use of personal pronouns: “I was vegetarian for nine years, not because I object to eating animals, but because I object to factory farming.” (p. 8, l. 76-80).

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