Definition of Audience
An Audience is the person for whom a writer writes, or composer composes. A writer uses a particular style of language, tone, and content according to what he knows about his audience. In simple words, audience refers to the spectators, listeners, and intended readers of a writing, performance, or speech. For instance, Stephenie Meyer’s novel series, Twilight, has targeted primarily younger female audiences. Similarly, J. K Rowling’s Harry Potter series became a blockbuster hit, with a target audience of youth, and adult fantasy fiction lovers.
Examples of Audience in Literature
Example #1: Fahrenheit 451 (by Ray Bradbury)
Ray Bradbury, in his novel, Fahrenheit 451, has targeted both adults and young adult readers as his audience. This story is equally appealing to the people of all ages, because its themes concern nuclear destruction, and readers see a battle between nature and technology. It depicts how technology is replacing curiosity, intellectualism, and literature. Above all, it has become a replacement for friendship, family, and real conversation. In this story, the audience sees a future in which the world has evolved into technology, and how government in such a time treats its people differently.
Example #2: To Kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee)
Harper Lee tells the story, To Kill a Mockingbird, through the eyes of a character named Scout; reflecting upon the life of an adult. Throughout the narrative, readers observe her perspective from the lens of one person’s recollection, which appears on the very first page of the story. It begins as, “When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to [Jem’s] accident.” After this, the author takes the readers back to the times of Scout’s first grade, and then onward to her eighth birthday. She is not only a first-person narrator, but also a participant in the story. The story evolves uniquely, through both a child’s eyes, and from a mature perspective. This benefit of hindsight is what makes this story so appealing for both children its adult audience.
Example #3: Animal Farm (by George Orwell)
The intended audience for George Orwell’s, “Animal Farm,” is the general public, particularly the people of the former Soviet Union. The author intends to inform his readers about dangers of Communism, and its logical outcomes during the Second World War. Furthermore, Orwell wants to inform the next generation about Communism, and its negative impacts on people’s lives. By using different styles and writing techniques, Orwell has conveyed his message in such a way that it is easy for the common reader to understand hidden meanings. He has also used satire and allegory, which have made some seemingly worthless and useless characters, which were notable in Russian history, appear as important figures in history. This technique targets the Russian audience.
Example #4: The Declaration of Independence (by Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin)
“The Declaration of Independence” had three types of audiences: American colonists, the British government, and the general public. For American audiences, the purpose was to explain to them why they needed to create a new nation, and why their leaders needed their support. Immediately, they distributed the Declaration throughout the states and colonies to, pushing it out to reach as many people as possible.
The second target audience was the British Parliament. By putting blame on the king, and delivering eloquent arguments on freedom and democracy, they were hopeful that the British would support the Americans. This won support of some of the British Parliamentarians, such as Edmund Burke. The third intended audience included the peoples of the world, particularly European nations that were at odds with the British, in an attempt to convince them to support the revolution. The Declaration of Independence did, in fact, affect the American allies: Spain, France, and the Dutch Republic.
Since the term audience refers to the readers, many writers prefer to adopt different styles of voice – mixed, formal, or casual – depending upon their intended audience. Knowing his audience helps the writer to determine what level of details he should provide, and what type of word choices he may make, because the word choice and tone should match the expectations of the audience.
The role of the audience in dramas and stage plays is unique, as the audience members transmit their energy and emotion to the players and actors through their responses during the performance. In this example, the function of the audience is to respond to the performance of the work.