In many fictional narratives, especially shorter ones, the plot exists in tension with a very different and powerful dynamic that runs at a deeper and hidden level throughout the text. I designate this undercurrent as “covert progression” and investigate how the implied author creates it for thematic purposes. Being characteristically ironic in nature, covert progression is first distinguished from known types of irony, then from other types of covert meaning. This is followed by an analysis of the covert progression in Katherine Mansfield’s “The Fly.” The analysis shows that to miss the covert progression is to get only a partial picture of the text’s thematics, a partial image of the characters, and a partial appreciation of the aesthetic values implied.

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