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Friday, 27 December 2019

Justify the Appropriateness of the Title of Charles Dickens' Novel "Hard Times"

Justify the Appropriateness of the Title of Charles Dickens' Novel "Hard Times"

Dickens’ flair for expressing matters of common concern in his own style shows in the very title, Hard Times. The title usually suggest cliché or pun, the theme of human life count down by calculation and routine: for example, according to Cocker, Hard Times is of hard heads and soft hearts”. A mare question of figure proves it. “Hard Times” is the phrase which came most naturally where weariness or hardship had to be voiced to the people with whom the novel is concerned: the men, women, and children whose lives were being transformed by the industrial revolution. It is very much a vernacular phrase common in folk song especially between 1820 and 1865 but not in the pamphlets, speeches and papers, however popular or radical. “Hard Times” usually meant a period, often a slump where scanty food and low wages or unemployment bore particularly hard. Much less often it could meet the more pervasive state in which people felt that the essential condition of their lives confined them in inflexibility as in the refrain of a song from knitting mill of South Carolina around 1890:
                   “Every morning just at five
                   Gotta get up dead or alive
                   Its hard time in the mill, mu love
                   Hard times in the mill.”

In Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times generated by the spirit quenching materialism of the Victorian Socio-economic ethos have been concentrated in Dickens prose view of William Blake’s “Dark Satanic Mills” – with their suspended smoke and the suppression of labour hazard. The industrialised image that haunts Dickens runs itself as though without the violation of the human beings. It nonetheless compels to attend. “Time went off in Coketown like its own machinery, so much material wrought up, so much fuel consumed, so many powers worn out, so much money made.” The compliment to the institutional practice in Coketown have been hinted  with the worker as they are reduced hands – “ A race who would have found more favour with some people, if providence had seemed fit to make them only hands, like the lower creature of the sea-shore, only hands and stomachs.” The individual crushed under the “crashing, smashing, tearing piece of mechanism is Stephen whose anguish and miseries are caused by his successive defeats by the law, by the trade union, and by his employer.” Married to a woman of dipsomaniac habit, bore down by the demon power of the machine, socially boycotted and turned down by one and all, Stephen lives a life of abject wretchedness as the “hard time” prevailing in contemporary society. The graceful love of Rachael illuminates the gloom of his soul but cannot save his life which is pulled in pieces and has its deplorable end in the “old mine shaft.”

It is because of the hard times brought about by the industrial changes in the Victorian period that the method of ruling conduct in all works of life lacks sympathy, love and understanding. Agony of human beings is in the end not merely straight but bitterly destructive of all the moral virtues, beauty and everything that is based. The Boundary System of economics and the Gradgrind System of education have turned England into a rubbish- heft inhabited largely by slaves. Bounderby, a banker, merchant and manufacturer is as, F.R. Leavis rightly says in his “Analytic Note” in The Great Tradition, “Victorian rugged individualism in its grossest and intransient for a staunch adherent of the laissez-faire.” He is concerned with nothing buy self assertion of the monitory power and the materialistic success. The Gradgrind elementary school offers no scope for the exercise of fancy and the Gradgrind home known as “Stone lodge” is never alive to the resonance of poetic creativity. The school encourages a well-crammed pupil like Bitzer (whose definition of a horse “quadruped, graminivorous, forty teeth namely twenty four grinders, etc.”). Dickens’ novel is indeed a protest against all repression of the human spirit by the classroom, the constitution, the law and the so-called principles of political economy.

The correctness of Charles Dickens’s choice of the title, Hard Times and of his judgement on the Victorian mode of life largely governed by the concept of individualism can hardly be questioned. As a social realist the novelist uses the popular phrases for a novel which is not about a time of special neediness but rather about a kind of bondage to routine facts and statistics with calculation s of simple and complex nature so integral to the culture of industrialised societies that such bondage is obviously Utilitarianism by nature. It is concept propagated by the populist government. It produces a mathematical and metallurgical system that does not attach any importance to Sissy Jupe who combines vitality with goodness and exerts a delightful fascination on our minds because she is “generous, impulsive... finding self-fulfilment in self-forgetfulness all that is the antithesis of calculating self-interest.” (F. R. Leavis). The redeeming features of Dickens’ Hard Times the events concerning are indeed Sissy Jupe and to the sociology of man in an industrialised society – the exuberance of joy and happiness, spontaneity and warmth of creative impulse.

From the above discussion we may form the conclusion that the title of the Dickensian novel has a sociological ring to it. It presents the cross-section of the industrialised England during Dickens’ time. The title refers to the knitting mills which were in practise in the last part of the 19th century England especially in South Carolina. The title of this sociological novel epitomises the central theme of the novel. Therefore, the title of this Dickensian novel is apt and appropriate from the sociological context.  


Friday, 1 November 2019

Character Sketch of Behrman in O' Henry's "The Last Leaf"

Character Sketch of Behrman in O' Henry's "The Last Leaf"

Character Sketch of Behrman

In "The Last Leaf," by O. Henry, Behrman is a seemingly defeated character. Behrman is a very important character as his sacrifice is what eventually saves Johnsy.

His outer characterization presents him as a painter who is “past sixty”, “the body of an imp”, the “head of a satyr”, and a “Michael Angelo’s Moses beard”. The man lives on the ground floor beneath Sue and Johnsy’s studio, and he has experienced artist’s block for decades. His failure as an artist makes him drink “gin to excess” and the little money he earns come as a result of him posing for the younger artists in Greenwich Village. 

He is a "fierce little old man" who disparages weakness of character in anyone. Notwithstanding his crusty demeanor, Mr. Behrman has a tender heart for the two girls who live above him. In fact, he "regarded himself as especial mastiff-in-waiting to protect the two young artists in the studio above." 

But for all his bluster, Behrman has a loving heart. He declares New York as no place for the California girl. When he paints his masterpiece, he declares, they will all go away. In the meantime, he poses for Sue. As Johnsy sleeps, Sue points to the ivy vine that is quickly losing its leaves in the cold winter outside. Behrman and Sue look pointedly at each other. 

The next day, it is an apprehensive Sue who pulls up the shade, fearing that the ivy leaves have all fallen. But, there is "one lonely ivy leaf clinging to its stem against the wall." It is enough to encourage Johnsy to fight for her life and get well. When the doctor visits, he tells Sue that Johnsy will recover with good nursing. The next day he declares Johnsy out of danger. Sadly, however, Mr. Behrman has died of pneumonia. The janitor found him the day after he posed; he was soaked and helpless with pain. It was too late for the loving old artist, who finally painted his "masterpiece" that saved Johnsy's life by inspiring her to live with his painted leaf. 

The reader is taken by surprise when this fact is revealed at the very end when Sue tells Johnsy:

 "Didn't you wonder why it never fluttered or moved when the wind blew? Ah, darling, it's Behrman's masterpiece—he painted it there the night that the last leaf fell.”


Sunday, 27 October 2019

Journey of Indian English Drama


Drama is a composite art form. It is mimetic like all other performing arts in literature. It imitates life, particularly reflecting the three unities of time, place and action. “It is designed for representation on the stage by actors who act the parts of the characters of its story, and among whom the narrative and the dialogue are distributed.”

India has a long and fertile history in Drama, starting from Sanskrit plays of Vedic Age. Dramatists of Indian Writing in English have scaled the length and breadth of the experimentation in dramaturgy of India during and after independence. To fathom the depths of Indian Drama in English certain characteristic features are to be kept in mind. Basically, the Indian Writings in English during Modern Age articulate the budding and the already present writers as well as the influence of Existentialism, Globalisation, Surrealism, Dadaism, Magic Realism and the Post Colonial issues. India had been under the colonial shackles for a time period of three hundred years and as a matter of fact the colonial language and culture had cast its direct shadow on the Indian literary venues.

Classical Indian Drama: It’s Origin

Drama in India has had a rich glorious tradition. It begins its journey with the Sanskrit plays. Indian tradition preserved in the Natyasastra. The oldest of the texts of the theory of the drama, claims for the drama divine origin and a close connection with the sacred Vedas themselves. Origin of English drama can be traced to the ancient rules and seasonal festivities of the Vedic Aryans. The most renowned and talented dramatists of the ancient era are Ashwaghosh, Bhasa, Shudraka, Kalidas, Harsha, Bhavabhuti, Visha-khadatta, Bhattanarayana, Murari and Rajeshkhora, who enriched Indian theatre with their words like Madhya-Mavyaayoda, Urubhangam, Karnabharan, Mrichkatikam, Abhigyana Shakuntalam, Malankagnimitram, Uttar Ramacharitam, Mudrarakshasa, Bhagavadajjukam, Mattavilasa etc.

Pre-Independence Indian English Drama:

The Indian English Drama began in the 18th century when British Empire came and strengthened its political power in India. It is started with the publication of Krishna Mohan Banerjee’s The Persecuted in 1813. It is a social play in which the author tries to present the conflict between the East and the West. The real journey of Indian English Drama begins with Michael MadhuSudan Dutt's Is This Called Civilization which appeared on the literary horizon in 1871. Rabindranath Tagore and Sri Aurobindo, the two great sage - poets of India, are the first Indian dramatists in English worth considering. R.N. Tagore wrote primarily in Bengali but almost all his Bengali plays are available to us in English renderings. His prominent plays are Chitra, The Post Office, Sacrifice, Red Oleanders, Chandalika, Muktadhara, Natir Puja and The Mother' Prayer etc.. These plays are firmly rooted in the Indian ethos and ethics in their themes, characters and treatment. Sri Aurobindo’s complete plays are Perseus the Deliverer, Vasavadutta, Radoguna, The Viziers of Bassora and Eric and each of these plays is written in five acts.

Harindranath Chattopadhyaya added a new dimensions to Indian English drama. He sympathizes with the underdogs same like Mulk Raj Anand. His collection of social plays include The Windows, The Parrots, The Santry Lantern, The Coffin and The Evening Lamps.

Post Independence or Post Modern Indian English Drama

D. M. Borgaonkar’s Image-Breakers (1938) is a problem play that aims to break the conventions of caste system, horoscope, dowry, etc. S. Fyzee- Rahamin’s Daughter of Ind (1940) portrays the conflict between love and social barriers, featuring a low-caste girl loving an Englishman. Balwant Gargi’s The Vulture, Mung-Wa, The Fugitive and The Matriarchdealt with themes which are engaging the attention of people everywhere.”

Another dramatic voice on the Indian literary scene that demands attention is that of T.P. Kailasam. He wrote both in English and Kannada. Though Kailasam is regarded as the father of modern Kannada drama, his genius finds its full expression in his English plays such as The Burden (1933), Fulfilment (1933), The Purpose (1944), Karna (1964) and Keechaka (1949).

Bharati Sarabhai is the modern woman playwright during the colonial era of Indian English drama. She has written two plays The Well of the People (1943) and Two Women with some considerable measure of success.

J.M. Lobo Prabhu is the last great name in pre-Independence Indian English drama. He has written over a dozen plays but only Mother of New India: A Play of India Village in three Acts (1944) and Death Abdicates (1945) appear before Independence.

The use of blank verse is flawless and the last play compels us to remind of T.S.Eliot’ s Murder In The Cathedral. Other verse plays of the period include P.A.Krishnaswami’s The Flute of Krishna (1950) M.Krishnamurti’s The Cloth Of Gold (1951). S.D.Rawoot’s Immortal Song. Karm and The Killers (1959) Satya Dev Jaggi’s The Point Of Light (1967) Pritish Nandy’s Rites for a Plebian Salute (1969). P.S. Vasudev’s The Sunflower (1972) etc.

Nissim Ezekiel’s Three Plays (1969) including Nalini: A Comedy, Marriage Poem: A Tragi Comedy and The Sleep Walkers: An Indo-American farce are considered to be a welcome addition to the dramaturgy of Indian English drama.

Girish Karnad in the capacity of writer, director and actor substantially contributed to enrich the tradition of Indian English theatre. His well known plays are Yayati (1961), Tughlaq (1962), Hayvadana (1970), Nagmandala (1972). He borrowed his plots from history, mythology and old legends.

Vijay Tendulkar symbolizes the new awareness and attempts of Indian dramatists of the century to depict the agonies, suffocations and cries of man, focusing on the middle class society. In the plays Silence! The Court Is In Session (1968) and Ghasiram Kotwal (1972), the theme of oppression dominates. Sakharam Binder (1972) is a study in human violence amounted to powerful dramatic statement.

Gurucharan Das (1943- ) is known for his popular play, Larins Sahib (1970). Set in Punjab, it is about the political career of a British Resident in Punjab. Vera Sharma wrote a number of one act plays, including Life is Like That (1997) and Reminiscence (1997) which deal with the plight of women.

Badal Sircar too is a prestigious name in the realm of contemporary theatre. He represents New Theatrical Movement in India. His earlier plays are Evan Inderjit (1962) That Other History (1964) and There Is No End (1971). All these plays are based on political, social, psychological and existential problems.

Post Independence era witnessed the birth of several one act plays. R. Raja Rao’s The Wisest Fool on Earth and Other Plays (1996) is on the theme of homosexuality. T.S. Gill’s Asoka (1983), V.D. Trivedi’s Gandhi: A Play (1983) and Prema Sastri’s Gandhi, Man of the Millions (1987), Gieve Patel’s Princess, Savaksha and Mr. Behram, Dina Mehta,s The Myth Maker (1959) and Brides Are Not for Burning, Uma Parameswaram (1938- )’s Sons Must Die and Other Plays (1998) are some to quote.

The Post Modern era ushered in new changes in the Indian English drama. Mahesh Dattani (1958- ) a playwright of World stature, has added a new feather to the Indian English drama. His plays deal with serious and sensitive issues like communalism, homosexuality, female infanticide, domestic abuse, child sexual abuse, condition of eunuchs in Indian society. His plays include Where There’s a Will, Tara, Bravely Fought the Queen, Final Solutions, Dance like A Man and Thirty Days in September.

Sum up:

Post-Independent Indian Drama in English falls short of the level reached by poetry and fiction in India. There are four reasons for this: i) drama is essentially a composite art involving the playwright, the actors and the audience in a shared experience on the stage-has its own problem of which the other literary forms are free. ii) As Srinivas Iyenger attributes “the failure to the fact that English is not a natural medium of conversation in India.” iii) Lack of living theatre in our country. iv) The Indian English playwrights do not give much importance to the rich and varied Indian dramatic traditions involving the native myth and Indian historical heritage.

In short, Indo-Anglican literature continues to grow and flourish and this despite all the misguided and prejudiced and politically motivated campaign against English as a foreign language, a language which comes in the way of its growth. More Indians are writing in English than ever before, and the Indo-Anglican writer is enjoying a much wider market. Indo-Anglican drama has, indeed, a bright future.


Monday, 21 October 2019

Narayan's "Man Eater of Malgudi" as a Picaresque Novel. or Character Portrait of Vasu in "Man Eater of Malgudi"

Narayan's "Man Eater of Malgudi" as a Picaresque Novel. or Character Portrait of Vasu in "Man Eater of Malgudi"

A picaresque novel deals with the adventures of a rogue or villain. Narayan’s Man Eater of Malgudi has almost all the spices to be a picaresque novel surrounded by the picaro man, Vasu. He has been shown as an adventurous and mysterious wanderer. He pretends to be a person of dual personality. Vasu, the prototype of Bhasmasur wishes the illusion of becoming omnipotent. The placid world of Malgudi is beset with his deeds.

Vasu like Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, Healthcliffe in Emile Bronte’s Withering Heights, Voss in Patrick White’s Voss “is the prince of darkness and in darkness his activities are to be conducted”. He has been called ‘man-eater’, ‘terrifying’, ‘unreasonable’, ‘man with the dark halo’, ‘cruel’, ‘rakshasha’, ‘arrogant by implication’ and one who laughs ‘diabolically’. Vasu, the person with hammer-fist, is farther attributed as wild animal hunter and a taxidermist.

Literally Vasu is not a man eater as he does not eat the flesh of persons. Being a secluded individual, he rather by constantly troubling and terrorizing the human beings with his demonic strength sucks their peace of mind. He blasts bullies, aggres­sions and hectors. He beats down the huge strong ‘phaelwah’. His Herculean strength makes him prepare to knock the tiger down with his hands and ram the built of his rifle between his jaws if it comes to that when Sen, the poet, Muthu and Dr. Joshi visit his attic to ask not to shoot kumar. He threatens them to pick up and toss them down the stairs. He forcibly snatches the green folder and the list of the donors from Natraj and collects the money from the Malgudians by threatening, keep the money for his own use. Vasu not only kills animals but kills the name and fame of Natraj; “he had destroyed my name, my friendship, and my world”. Vasu’s presence horrifies and fascinates Nataraj.

Vasu is an intellectual giant who gets his M.A in economics, History and English from the Presidency College Madras. He knows laws, talks of Vedanta, of the transmigration of soul and the omnipresence of God. Even Natraj admires vasu – “He worked single handed on all branches of his work. I admired him for it”. The pseudo-philosophy of self-willed and assertive Vasu is revealed in his speech “we are civilized human beings, educated and cultured and it is up to us to prove our superiority to nature. Science conquers nature in a new way every day; why not in creation also? That’s my philosophy, Sir.”  

 Being a dissolute womanizer when he can no longer hunt the jungle animals he takes to indulging in sex. His passion for hunting is transformed into the passion for lascivious lust. He likes to enjoy the inordinate immoral company of as many loose women as possible. That is why he is very much against the institute of marriage. He wants to stick to the Mephistophelian concept of enjoying sex. He freely satisfies his sexual desire with the excessively passionate Rangi and other prostitutes of the town.

Vasu is open- hearted, vivacious and sometimes appears kind hearted too. If he takes Natraj to the Mempi village it is not for any harm but out of his high spirits and playfulness. If Natraj fears that Vasu has kidnapped him, it is Natraj’s nothing but false fear. When Natraj visits the Mempi village and the axle of the bus is broken it is vasu who takes him to Malgudi in his jeep. Rangi praises him as brave and courageous. He fears no one on earth or in heaven. These abilities of Vasu show that though he has some weakness, he cannot be called as man eater.

H. M. Williams in his Indo-Anglian Literature observes Vasu as a mighty force which can hardly be controlled. He is to him, a mighty avalanche or a tempest. Williams believes that Vasu who is a revolutionary force, despises in his utter haughtiness and will, all that is established. He regards Vasu as the embodiment of will. Vasu’s greatest contribution for the Malgudians is that he exposes all the absurdities of Natraj and his friends. Vasu is certainly not Bhasmasur who brings doom on himself. However few critics opine the satanic traits in Vasu. Meenakshi Mukherjee in her book The Twice Born Fiction says: The Man-Eater of Malgudi resorts to the Puranic conflict between Sura and Asura.” K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar too in his Indian Writing in English finds in the Man-Eater an absolute evil- “anti-life, anti-nature, anti-faith.” This theme is implicit in R. K. Narayan himself who cites Vasu as the modern version of a Rakshasa.  

Even though, the death of Vasu is based on the mythology, the death of Vasu due to the mosquitoes- smashing- hands is not convincing. His death cannot be accepted by reason and logic. No one has ever been killed in this way. The death of Vasu is a matter of improbable probability. Vasu is not such vicious as he being projected by other characters; even such a man simply happens as Raju in The Guide. Therefore it is not always convincing to agree with some critics who observe that the man eater of Malgudi is a giant of man, a potent, dangerous bully, a wild threat to the norms of society. What we can only say that Vasu is the dark domain of ours. Crises, catastrophe and resolution of the novel is the outcome of picaro.


R. K. Narayan's "The Man Eater of Malgudi" is an Allegory of Good and Evil. Discuss. or Theme of Love-Hate Relationship. or What is the moral or central idea of the novel?

R. K. Narayan's "The Man Eater of Malgudi" is an Allegory of Good and Evil. Discuss. or Theme of Love-Hate Relationship. or What is the moral or central idea of the novel?
Narayan holds a distinct position in the realm of Anglo-Indian literature. In Man Eater of Malgudi, he depicts the canvas without sounding preachy or cynical. The quiet landscape of Malgudi provides a suitable background for his fiction. Malgudi is a microcosm, this is a world within a world. Meenakshi Mukherjee in her book The Twice Born Fiction says: “The Man-Eater of Malgudi” resorts to the Puranic conflict between Sura and Asura.” K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar too in his Indian Writing in English finds in the Man-Eater an absolute evil- “anti-life, anti-nature, anti-faith.”
                                                                                                                                           The Man-Eater of Malgudi is an allegory of good and evil. The good is represented by Natraj; on the other hand, Vasu is an embodiment of evil. Edwin Gerow, a perceptive analyst of the novel, has pointed out How closely the novel follows the allegorical pattern of Sanskrit literature.”

The Man-eater of Malgudi has a parallel development to an ancient myth projecting a clash between good and evil. The innocent world of Malgudi with her people and surroundings live poles apart from the attic of the press. Natraj and Vasu are symbols of two different sides of life. They represent virtue and vice in their true form respectively. Natraj is too meek to say 'no' to anybody. In the company of Sen, Sastri and the Poet, he leads his life in the press with nothing much to worry about the world. The life around Malgudi and far-off Mempi forest run on its orbit. Taking little care of the outer world they live at peace with themselves. They are true to their environment, their God and their own selves. The appearance of Vasu rejects the order and crunches the innocence and purity of Malgudi. He is a danger to the very existence of life there. Vasu is a taxidermist and he rejoices in the killing. The sportive fauna of the forest became the target of his bullets. He stuffs the dead body and sells them for money.

He is the prince with dark halo. Nothing can survive within his reach. Nature loses its rhythm but finds no way to get rid of this mighty demon. Gifted with immense strength, Vasu bullies and frightens. The whole lot seems to be spineless before the demonic creature. The smoldering anger cannot change into a blaze and Malgudi continues to breathe in-state air coming from dead life. Natraj along with his company imagines of protesting against his ways and wishes.  But these are plans not to be translated into action. They pin their faith in the supremacy of goodness and it is the last hope for them.

On a religious ceremony of Radha-Krishna, Vasu is determined to shoot the temple elephant dead. Keeping aside her loyalty to Vasu, the public woman, Rangi informs Natraj about the heinous scheme of Vasu which turns the festive mood of Malgudi into gloom. In their own ways, some people try to mitigate the Rakshasa or destroy him. All efforts go in vain. The classical myth tells of Bhasmasur destroying himself while dancing at the dictated posture of Mohini. In the similar manner the terrible demon, Vasu struck himself with his hammer-fist in the course of keeping away the flies. The dreadful blow brought his catastrophe.

Natraj and Vasu are contradictory characters. Natraj, no doubt, is the central figure and the action of the novel is viewed through his eyes. It is his point of view that we always get. But he is an unheroic hero, good at heart, but passive and inactive. According to Paul Verghese, “We can compare the good and evil in terms of Vasu and Natraj love hate relationship who show the opposition “between Satva and Rajas”. Vasu is a Faustian character with his virtually insatiable curiosity and thirst for power and knowledge. He holds his master’s degree in history, economics and literature. Natraj, on the other hand is a typical Narayan’s character with non-committal neutrality as his ideal.

The Man-Eater of Malgudi restores normalcy at the end of the novel. The end of Vasu is a poetic justice. In fact, Narayan's novel is a pensive comedy where darkness cannot reign forever. Sunshine has to follow the black shadow of evil. The story is also a moral indicator of the absolute fall of the vanity of power. 


Thursday, 19 September 2019

Impact of the World War II on English Literature

World War I, the war that was originally expected to be “over by Christmas,” dragged on for four years with a grim brutality brought on by the dawn of trench warfare and advanced weapons, including chemical weapons. The horrors of that conflict altered the world for decades – and writers reflected that shifted outlook in their work. As Virginia Woolf would later write, “Then suddenly, like a chasm in a smooth road, the war came.”

Among the first to document the “chasm” of the war were soldiers themselves. At first, idealism persisted as leaders glorified young soldiers marching off for the good of the country. English poet Rupert Brooke, after enlisting in Britain’s Royal Navy, wrote a series of patriotic sonnets, including “The Soldier,” As time wore on, the war’s relentless horrors spawned darker reflections. Some, like English poet Wilfred Owen, saw it their duty to reflect the grim reality of the war in their work.
As Owen would write, “All a poet today can do is warn. That is why the true poet must be truthful.” In “Anthem for the Doomed Youth,” Owen describes soldiers who “die as cattle” and the “monstrous anger of the guns.” His poetry includes “Strange Meeting”, “Futility” "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "Dulce Et Decorum Est"
Owen’s fellow army officer, Siegfried Sassoon, writes of corpses “face downward, in the sucking mud, wallowed like trodden sand-bags loosely filled” in his 1918 poem, “Counter-Attack.”
In one of the most famous works set during the “Great War,” American writer Ernest Hemingway offers a gripping love story between a soldier and a nurse set against the chaotic, stark backdrop of World War I. A Farewell to Arms is among the writer’s most autobiographical: Hemingway himself served as an ambulance driver during the war was severely wounded on the Austro-Italian front and had been sent to a hospital in Milan, where he fell in love with a nurse.
The disillusionment that grew out of the war contributed to the emergence of modernism, a genre which broke with traditional ways of writing, discarded romantic views of nature and focused on the interior world of characters. Woolf’s novel (Mrs. Dalloway) reflected this emerging tone, as did the works of Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness) and James Joyce (Ulysses). T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” considered to be one of the most significant poems of the 20th century, presents a haunting vision of postwar society. Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World questions once-accepted social and moral notions in presenting a nightmarish vision of the future.
World War I devastated continents, leaving some 10 million soldiers and 7 million civilians dead. But writers responded with profound and groundbreaking work as they and the rest of the world grappled with the war’s upheaval.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

William Congreve’s play the Way of the World as a typical Restoration Comedy of Manners or anti-sentimental comedy

“The Restoration comedy of manners reached its fullest expression in The Way of the World (1700) by William Congreve, which is dominated by a brilliantly witty couple.” The themes of the Restoration comedy of manners are love, marriage, adulterous relationships amours and legacy conflicts; and the characters generally include would be wits, jealous husbands, conniving rivals and foppish dandies.

The society depicted in The Way of the World is the upper class fashionable society of London. The action of the play takes place in three places. The first is the chocolate House which was used for socializing and entertainment during the Restoration. The second is St James’s Park in London where the upper class people walked before dinner. The third is the house of Lady Wishfort, an aristocratic woman.

Most of the male and female characters of the play are cultured, talented, formal, artificial, fashionable, depraved, ‘cold’ and ‘courtly’. Their qualities are actually a part of Restoration age culture.

The Restoration period was an age of loose morals and, and was devoid of moral values. The Way of the World contains this current through the illicit love and adulterous relations – e.g. relation between Fainall and Mrs. Marwood, between Mirabell, the hero, and Mrs. Fainal.

Love intrigues occupy an important place in the plot of comedy of manners. It is the major theme of the play. The Way of the World follows this convention. The entire play deals with the intrigues of Mirabell to gain the hand of Millamant. To achieve his aim, he pretends to make love to Lady Wishfort, an aged lady. When he fails, he hatches a deeper plot. At any cost Lady Wishfort wants to have a husband. Thus he gets her servant married to Lady Wishfort's maidservant.

In The Way of The World, we are acquainted with the vanities, affectations and fashions of the time. Mirrabell satirically remarks in the proviso scene on women’s fondness of wearing masks, going to the theatre with or without their husbands’ knowledge, idle gossip, slandering the absent friends etc.

The Way of The World brings before us witty Restoration ladies and gentlemen even their servants and fools are witty. As a result, the dialogue is throughout witty which is something unrealistic. Therefore the play, like other plays of its kind, is called an ‘artificial’ comedy.

The characters in the comedy of manners are of a set pattern. They are largely types. Sometimes their names show their characteristics. In such comedies we find fops and gallants in the company of gay ladies and butterflies of fashions. We find giddy girls, lustful women, deceived, jealous and impotent husbands. Fops and ladies spend their time to conspire against their rivals in love. 

Thus, Congreve’s The Way of the World has all the ingredients and flavor of a perfect comedy of manners.


A Comparative Study on Blake’s two “Chimney Sweeper Poems”

A Comparative Study on Blake’s two “Chimney Sweeper Poems”

The poem “The Chimney Sweeper” is set against the dark background of child labour, a crude horror of the Industrial Revolution that was well known in England in the late 18th century. The poems (Chimney Sweeper in innocence and Experience) are meant to convey two different views of human life, the view of innocence and the view of experience. Here we see the naturalistic world of childhood against the world of corruption. Blake writes these poems to let the reader knows that many kid’s lives are being exploited in the cities of England. He expresses his disgust about the plight of the majority of the chimney sweepers and how the society and church turn a blind eye of their sufferings. In the society they live in, innocent children are in anguish because of the harsh treatment of the adult population.

The “first poem” highlights the life of Tom Dacre, a chimney sweeper who is born to a world of abject poverty.  His mother is dead. His father sold him as a chimney sweeper, making him little more than a slave. Yet this boy still manages the type of optimism. Here is an immense contrast between the death, weeping, exploitations and oppression that Tom Dacre endures and his childlike innocence that enables him to be native about his grave situation and the widespread injustice in society. Tom Dacre’s imagination takes him on a lovely journey with his ultimate hope of being nurtured and cared for by his Father in Heaven. Despite the sadness of this poem a hint of hope still lingers. The same cannot be said of “The Chimney Sweeper” in Songs of Experience. The boy was abandoned by his hypocritical parents to die as a chimney sweeper while they go to church to pray.

The symbolism and pictorial beauty is textured by the warp and woof.  Tom’s hair is described as “curl’d like a lamb’s back”. A lamb is a common symbol of innocence and is one that Blake uses often in Songs of Innocence. While comforting Tom, the narrator says now “the soot cannot spoil your white hair”. The narrator is saying that the horridness of their situation cannot taint Tom’s purity and innocence as a child. However, by having his head shaved, Tom’s innocence is symbolically forcibly stolen. “Coffins of black” symbolizes their death in the chimney. Through their deaths, the boys actually regain their innocence because they become “naked & white,” which are symbols of purity and innocence. A line that rings of experience is “They clothed me in the clothes of death”. This child is acknowledging that he is going to die soon. 

The poem ends with the sentiment, “If all do their duty, they need not fear harm”.  Even though they both are living terrible existences, there is still hope in death. They want an Angel to come save them and bring them to green pastures where everything will be perfect. His faith in God is so strong that it becomes his only constant source of hope and inspiration. The optimistic outlook, which is real to Tom, is revealed to be unrealistic on earth.

William Blake’s two Chimney Sweeper poems from the Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience show a progression in the awareness of a young chimney-sweeper, from an innocent child clouded by childhood euphoria to a mature one whose awareness of his own life reveals a stark contrast between the privileged and the downtrodden. The first provides a lingering sense of hope. Tom and his friends can look forward to being at peace in heaven even though the hope of death is disturbing. The second does no such thing. Instead, it depicts a child whose innocence was stolen and replaced with experience.



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