December 2018 ~ All About English Literature

For Exclusive Notes and Analysis

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Charles Lamb’s prose style as revealed in his essay The Dream Children: A Reverie

Charles Lamb’s prose style as revealed in his essay The Dream Children: A Reverie

Charles Lamb occupies a unique place in the history of the English prose by virtue of his unique style. All of Lamb's major trademarks as an essayist are to be found in this work: overall, a relaxed and colloquial voice and a genteel sensibility incorporating elements of humour, whimsy, strong personal recollection and touches of pathos. He himself characterizes his own style as a “self-pleasing quaintness.” All these mark him out as one of the great exponents of the familiar essay in English in the nineteenth century, along with Thomas de Quincey and William Hazlitt. However, he is unique by the virtue of his telling stories bearing his personality as forever sweet memories, the quality as one of “Elia's” distinctive hallmarks, along with his fondness for the obscure and other idiosyncrasies.
As already stated, 'Dream Children: A Reverie' exhibits all Lamb's strengths as an essayist. It is short but effective in encompassing a range of moods. It starts out on a convivial and realistic note with the picture of a cozy domestic setting in which the writer regales his two children with stories of the family past; yet by the end this picture has dissolved into nothingness, is revealed to be a mere dream, or ‘reverie’ on part of the writer. It is, in fact, the picture of the family that Lamb longed for but never actually had, as he never married, instead devoting a lifetime to caring for his sister Mary (who appears as Bridget in his essays) who was afflicted with periodical insanity.
The real achievement of this piece lies in the compact evocation both of the solid realism of family life and nostalgia for a family past, incorporating the memory of a lost love, Alice, and also of Lamb’s older brother, before merging into the air of dream. More, he also skillfully conjures a genuine sense of eeriness when the two children reveal themselves to be mere dream, the products of wishful thinking, before the dreamer wakes up:
 “We are not of Alice, nor of thee, nor are we children at all …. We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams. We are only what might have been ….”
Procter has pointed out that Lamb is unique not because of his ‘Elizabethanness’, but that one of the most invigorating aspects of Lamb’s style is his dramatic characterization. Though his ‘Phantasm; or imaginary characters are best revealed in his essays  The South Sea HouseMy Own Relation and The Dream Children, we also get a glimpse of – Lamb’s ability of characterization. James Elia of My Relations, but John L- The Dream Children, so handsome and spirited youth, and a ‘king’, Charles’ grandmother Mrs. Field, his sweetheart Alice Winterton are the living pictures in his picture gallery.
Lamb’s another essential component style is his profuse use of quotation and allusions to the older texts. Lamb was a prolific reader and the huge influx of quotations shows that they are constantly in his mind, and are a natural component of his style not raked up on occasion.
George Barnett Lamb has observed, "Lamb's egoism suggests more than Lamb's person: it awakens in the reader reflections of kindred feelings and affections" (Charles Lamb: The Evolution of Elia). To conclude we may say that Lamb’s style is a mixture certainly of many styles, but a chemical not a mechanical mixture.

Blending of humour and pathos in Lamb’s Essay Dream Children: A Reverie Or Discuss how Lamb’s Dream Children is dominated by feeling of ‘Loss’ and ‘Regret’

Blending of humour and pathos in Lamb’s Essay Dream Children: A Reverie Or Discuss how Lamb’s Dream Children is dominated by feeling of ‘Loss’ and ‘Regret’

Wordsworth’s  “Lamb, the frolic and the gentle” was a refined humorist whose smile could be both satirical and tender. In him humour and pathos are, indeed, very often allied. Lamb could not prevent his mind from passing at times to the sadder aspects of life, and there is belief that he laughed to save himself from weeping. Laughter is followed by tears of sympathy in many of his essays. In fact, Lamb’s personal life was full of disappointments and frustrations. But instead of complaining, he looked at the tragedies of life, its miseries and worries as a humorist. Dream Children: A Reverie is a true testimony of his blending of humor and pathos in a single row.

The whole essay permeated with a note of heart sob. With the “viewless wings of poesy” he journeys back to the good old days and pops up stories in front of his dream children. He relates his childhood days, of Mrs. Field, his grandmother and John Lamb, his brother. He describes how fun he had at the great house and orchard in Norfolk. Of his relations he gives us full and vibrant pictures – his brother John (John L-), so handsome and spirited youth, and a ‘king’. John was brave, handsome and won admiration from everybody Charles’ grandmother Mrs. Field is the other living picture. She was a good natured and religions – minded lady of respectable personality.

Charles Lamb’s sweet heart Alice Winterton is the other shadowed reality. The Dream Children, Alice and John are mere bubbles of fancy. Thus Lamb’s nostalgic memory transports us back to those good old days of great grandmother Field. But even in those romantic nostalgia the hard realities of life does not miss our eyes. Death, separation and suffering inject us deep-rooted pathos in our heart. Whereas Mrs. Field died of cancer, John Lamb died in early age. Ann Simmons has been a tale of unrequited love story of Charles Lamb. Notably the children are millions of ages distant of oblivion and Charles is not a married man but a bachelor having a reverie.

In his actual life Lamb courted Ann Simmons but could not marry her, he wanted to have children but could not have any. Thus he strikes a very pathetic note towards the end of his essay when he puts the following word in front of his imaginary offspring:
 “we are not of Alice, nor of thee, nor are we children at all … We are nothing, less than nothing, dreams. We are only what might have been”.

Lamb’s humour was no surface play, but the flower plucked from the nettle of peril and awe. In fact, Lamb’s humour and pathos take different shapes in different essays. Sometimes it is due to his own unfulfilled desires, sometimes it is due to the ill-fortunes of his relatives and friends and on some other occasions it is due to his frustration in love etc.

In any well-balanced piece of writing, humor is supplemented to pathos. Our present essay also appropriates this trademark features. Lamb’s widowhood and parenthood both arouse laughter and sorrow. But the most exuberant source of humor is his fictitious creation of children. In fact, the subtitle of the essay – ‘A Reverie’ which literally means a daydream or a fantasy – prepares us for the pathos of the return to reality although the essay begins on a deceptively realistic note.



Thursday, 20 December 2018

Show Ideas of Love & Marriage during Renaissance

Show Ideas of Love & Marriage during Renaissance

During the Renaissance, Europeans saw love and marriage as two important, but very different, parts of life. Poets described love as an overpowering force, both spiritual and sexual. For most people, however, marriage was a more practical matter. As the basic building block of society, it involved the expectations of families and communities, not just the wishes of two individuals. Although marriage was the normal state of life for most people, many remained unmarried for either practical or religious reasons.

The idea of romantic love took shape in the centuries leading up to the Renaissance. The literature of the Middle Ages developed the concept of courtly love, which treated the beloved as a pure ideal. Two Italian writers of the 1300s, Dante Alighieri and Petrarch, drew on this tradition in their poetry. Each of them presented a beloved woman as a source of inspiration and a symbol of female perfection. European poetry in the following centuries followed their lead, treating love as an experience above and beyond ordinary life. Some poets saw sexual desire as a vital part of love, while others presented love as a pure and selfless emotion. John Donne’s “The Good Morrow”, celebrates love and sexuality in marriage. Some others viewed "platonic" love as the highest and noblest form of love. They saw love as a path to the divine, which was the source of the beloved's beauty. Sydney’s Astophel and Stella, Spenser’s Amoretti , Shakespearean sonnet suggest spiritual aspects of love.

The Renaissance view of marriage had little to do with love. Most people believed that the perfect love of the poets could not exist alongside the everyday concerns of marriage. The reality, of course, was more complicated. Although practical matters played a major role in marriage, some rebels insisted on marrying for love.

At the highest levels of society, a marriage was not just a bond between two people but a union of two families and their fortunes. Marriages between ruling families could seal political alliances and even unite empires. Therefore, among the upper classes, parents took the lead in arranging marriages.

Courtship led to betrothal, which until the late 1600s was an important step in the process of getting married. The legal requirements for a marriage were a confusing mix of church law, local rules, and custom until the mid-1500s. After that time, the church became a legal part of the marriage ceremony. 

Beowulf as an Epic Hero or Character Sketch of Beowulf

Beowulf as an Epic Hero or Character Sketch of Beowulf

Typically, epic heroes are honest, hard-working, loyal, brave, of noble birth and probably good-looking, too. Beowulf has all these qualities. The hero of Beowulf, Beowulf is a Geatish warrior loyal to his king, Hygelac. Beowulf's father was the warrior Ecgtheow, and his mother is a sister of Hygelac. Despite his noble lineage, Beowulf was a bit of a juvenile delinquent, and little was expected of him. But he soon proved his doubters wrong and grew up to be a great warrior. He has the strength of thirty men in his grasp, and rather remarkable swimming ability. In addition to his great warrior skills, Beowulf eventually becomes a strong, powerful, and generous king.

Like a true hero Beowulf possesses enormous inhuman strength. With his skills and talent, he can overcome all. He fears no enemy. He defeats three monsters- Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the fire breathing Dragon. In his last battle, Beowulf was fatally wounded, but he won the battle before he died. This was the fall of a great hero.

Loyalty is the most respected characteristic in Anglo-Saxon society. Beowulf is loyal to king Hrothgar – who once saved his father – evidenced by his arrival to kill the monsters threatening Herot; loyal to his own king; loyal to his own men as evidenced by his decision to stay and with them and sleep in the same place rather than a place of honour. Beowulf is showing loyalty to Hrothgar because of family ties.

“Fame and success, even survival, were gained only through loyalty to the leader.” (Leeming 11)
Friendship is important because it shows another aspect of loyalty. The virtue of friendship is valued among Anglo-Saxons, even though it isn't valued so highly as loyalty.
"Beowulf, you've come to us in friendship, and because of the reception your father found at our court." (Beowulf 191-192)
Beowulf never thinks fighting the monster, that until his arrival, have done nothing but kill before him as evidenced by his courage can be found throughout the text.
Beowulf rounds out in epic quality by proving himself to be a capable ruler. He is not power-hungry guy as he initially refuses the throne of his country and only became king when there is no other option. His reign of fifty years showers peace and prosperity to his country.

Beowulf frequently references giving glory to ‘God’ or the ‘Lord’ after a victory; the traditionally pagan tale passed down orally was finally written by Christian monk, so the faith in God element was likely added as a means of spreading Christianity.

An epic hero is not thoroughly perfect and immortal but he certainly has a sort of super-human caliber. He is larger than life. Beowulf at the end sacrifices him fighting with a dragon to protect his kingdom. Beowulf as a remarkable leader with heroic feats arrests our mind.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Bring out the Significance of the Title of Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story, “Interpreter of Maladies”

The expression ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ suggests clarifying or explaining ailments of the body, mind, or moral. Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” is an outstanding short story of the vistit of a Bengali-American family, consisting of a couple, Mr. & Mrs. Das, and their three children, little daughter, Tina, and two sons, Ronny and Bobby for a sight-seeing to Sun Temple of Konark, Udaygiri and Khandagiri. The car hired by them was driven by a middle class well dressed gentleman, Mr. Kapasi.

However, apart from being a tour-guide Mr. Kapasi had another job. That was his regular duty. It was the job of the interpreter of different maladies in a doctor’s chamber. Infact his assignment was to learn the nature of ailment of an ordinary Gujrati patient and to explain that in English to the doctor who did not know Gujrati. Here in this story Mr, Kapasi’s function has nothing to do with as an Interpreter in Doctor’s chamber but his major role is associated as an interpreter while acting as a tour-guide to Das family.

As Mr. Kapasi drove the das family and listened to their talk, he felt fascinated by Mrs. Das. He glanced, time and again, through the car-mirror at her physical charm. The situation also brought them closer, as they sat side by side in the road side restaurant and had meal and drink together. Their conversation took an erotic turn when Mrs. Das revealed her long private correspondence. Out of exhaustion Mrs. Das decided to remain with Mr. Kapasi in the car. Mr. Das had to go with his children. It was a time when Mrs. Das told him deep secret and a great moral lapse in her life. Mrs. Das confessed the hard truth that her son Bobby had not been the child of Mr. Das. Mr. Kapasi was stunned and could hardly believe what he had heard. Mrs. Das continued to explain how the baby conceived on a sofa in course of her sexual intercourse with a Punjabi youth, a friend of Mr. Das. She did not make any form of protest.

That was the secret that Mrs. Das had long been concealed from every one. It was definitely a grave moral lapse on her part and totally upset her. This untold mental wound of Mrs. Das was like an internal haemorrhage. Though Mrs. Das would not get any proper remedy from Mr. Kapasi, the interpreter yet his candid confession to him could relieve his mental stress. Initially Mr. Kapasi felt astonished why a lady is disclosing this serious secret to a mere tourist-guide. After all, Mr. Kapasi used to act as an interpreter of maladies. That secret was tormenting her dreadfully. It was nothing less than a psychological malady of a patient.

But the matter remained inconclusive. Mrs. Das had to rush to the hill as a matter of Bobby’s problem with the monkeys. The Das family decided to return to the hotel and so Mr. Kapasi’s suggestion remained untold and unheard.

Mrs. Das’s secret has a significant relevance in the story, though it covers a brief space. Her moral lapse, her guilt-oppressed thought of having illicit sexual affair, though not rare in such a Indo-American family, need to be interpreted for a moral honesty in modern society.  Hence considering this angel the title is well-fitted.



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