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Analysis

In: Novels

Submitted By toryya
Words 1865
Pages 8
William Somerset Maugham is one of the best known English writers of the 20th century. He was not only a novelist, but also a one of the most successful dramatist and short-story writers. Maugham wants the readers to draw their own conclusion about the characters and events described in his novels. His reputation as a novelist is based on the following prominent books: “Of Human Bondage”; “The Moon and Sixpence”; and “The Razor's Edge”.

Though Maugham doesn’t denounce the contemporary social order, he is critical of the morals and the narrow-mindedness. Realistic portrayal of life, keen character observation, and interesting plots coupled with beautiful, expressive language, a simple, clear, unadored style, place Somerset Maugham on a level with the greatest English writers of the 20th century. In general, Maugham's novels and short stories could be characterized by great narrative facility, an ironic point of view, cosmopolitan settings, and an astonishing understanding of human nature.

His short stories gained the greatest popularity. And it’s right time to speculate upon one of the stories - “The Escape”- which impressed me deeply and made me think about its subject.

It is about a man (Roger) and a woman (Ruth), their complicated relations and scheming in order to achieve different aims. So they are the main characters. The author hides behind the narrator who is the secondary character.

The essence of “The Escape”, to my mind, is that Roger and Ruth have diverse approaches towards the relations. Of course, the men and the women like the first step: flowers, attentiveness, passion. But then their paths diverge. The romance disappears, the man looks for the way out, he craves for new emotions, but the woman deems that the relations should develop into the marriage. And “The Escape” is the example of such a mismatch.

From the very beginning the narrator convinces us that if a woman once made her mind to marry a man nothing but instant flight could save him.

One of his friends seeing the unavoidable hazard before him, took ship and spent a year traveling round the world. He hoped the woman who was considered to be his bride would forget him being fickle, but he was mistaken; when he got back thinking himself safe, the woman, from whom he had fled, was waiting for him on the dockside.

This funny thing supports the idea that the inevitable loom of the marriage frightens some men and they try to evade it. This portion of the text is some kind of preamble, it prepares the reader for the following plot-development and presents a piece of narration. Its syntax is complicated, there are compound sentences with many subjects and verbs of action not to loose the thought. The epithets “instant flight”, “the inevitable loom”, “menacingly” show us fear and trembling of such men. They don’t know and don’t respect women, the epithet “fickle” confirms it, that why they are afraid of difficulties of the marriage. And through these stylistic devices we feel the author’s tone, it is humorous, but this humor is with bitter flavor, so it’s natural to begin to reflect once more on the essential principles of the relations between the man and woman, but the story continues, let’s turn to the text again.

Further on the narrator says that he knows only one man who escaped successfully. Once upon a time his friend, Roger Charing told him he was going to marry. Roger was tall and handsome, rich, experienced middle-aged man. Of course, many women wanted to marry him. But he was happy to live the life of an unmarried man: the epithets “sufficient experience”, “careful” give the direct description of his lifestyle.

But then he met Ruth Barlow. He fell in love with her. He immediately wanted to look after her and make her happy. Ruth was twice a widow, she was younger than Roger. She was quite good-looking and she had big, beautiful, dark eyes and she had the gift of pathos. When a man saw those big, sad eyes, he wanted to help Ruth. The epithet “defenseless” expose the power of her look.

It was Ruth’s mode to get what she wanted because she had no other means (I mean money). This “gift” helped Ruth to reach her goals. The metaphor “the gift of pathos”, the epithets “splendid dark eyes”, “the most moving eyes”, “big and lovely eyes” and the repetition of the word “eyes” make us pay our attention to this peculiarity. And Ruth made her mind to marry Roger: he was rich, considerate, tactful and was glad to take care of her, so he was the best variant for her. He didn’t let down and made a proposal of marriage to her. They were going to marry as soon as possible.
While reading we came across a lot of pure literary words (gift, splendid, wonderful, hazards, sadness, lovely) and some clich?s (“the world was too much for her”, “stand between the hazards of life and this helpless little thing”, “how wonderful it would be to take the sadness out of those big and lovely eyes”) which are peculiar to the description of ordinary situations concerning love affairs, so we see what kind of story “The Escape” is. The narrator provoke us to perceive it ironically.

Through Roger’s vision, Ruth was very unlucky. Indeed, she seemed to be very miserable, everything was wrong with her. If she married a husband he beat her; if she employed a broker he cheated her; if she engaged a cook she drank. She never had a little lamb but it was sure to die.

The epithets “helpless little thing”, “rotten time”, “unfortunate”, “poor dear”, the metaphor “a little lamb”, parallel constructions “if she married… “ and pure literary words such as “sufferings”, “hazards”, “sadness” display hopelessness of Ruth’s life. Roger took an interest in her destiny and was ready to relieve it: the repetition of the pronouns “she” and “her” in Roger’s speech, the epithet “dreadfully sorry” prove my assumption. The epithets “very happy” and “pleased” make us believe that it wasn’t a nuisance for him.

But according to the narrator’s opinion, Ruth was two-faced woman of few ideas: he called her stupid and scheming. The epithets “stupid”, “scheming”, the similie “as hard as nails” add some points to her description, so the method of character-drawing here is direct.

We see two people, Roger and Ruth, as the future family, so this is the idea of this portion of the text. The author describes the first part of their relations which were rather standard. As thousands of men and women, they met, fell in love and decided to be together.

But then, on a sudden, Roger fell out of love. This was the second part of their relations. There was no evident reason. Perhaps, his heart-strings were no longer touched by Ruth’s pathetic look. Roger became acutely conscious that Ruth had a mind to marry him.
He gave a solemn oath that nothing would induce him to marry Ruth. But he was in a quandary. He was aware that Ruth would assess her feelings at an immoderately high figure if he asked her to release him. Besides, he didn’t want people to say that he jilted a woman.

The epithets “acutely conscious”, “a solemn oath” and “an immoderately high figure” stress the importance, significance of his decision; as to the epithet “pathetic look” and the metaphor “heart-strings” (at the same time it is a clich?), they produce the humorous effect.
Falling out of love is the most terrible thing I can imagine. Recently it was an acute pleasure for Roger to do everything for Ruth. He was charmed, but, as I suppose, it wasn’t a serious and profound feeling – Roger lost it too easily.

It is obvious Ruth was narrow-minded woman and she didn’t really love Roger. But there are some arguments to be said in her defense, she lonely and wanted to be protected. Probably she would be a good wife.
The repetition of the expression “to have a mind to” reveals the conflict of Roger’s and Ruth’s interests. Ruth desired to have relations of long duration - she cried for the moon. On the contrary, Roger wanted to escape with no loss. And again we are the witnesses of the usual continuation of the love story. It’s rather banal.

Roger kept his own counsel, he remained attentive to all her wishes. It was decided that they would be married as soon as they found a suitable house. Roger applied to the agents and visited with Ruth house after house. It was very hard to find a satisfactory one. Sometimes houses were too large, sometimes they were too small, sometimes they were too expensive and sometimes they were too stuffy, sometimes they were too airy.

The idea is that only such dishonest, shabby act as the flat-chase tactics seemed to be appropriate for Roger. I think, it was like a committing a crime. Roger’s behavior wasn’t fair, it was even disgraceful, but unfortunately such conduct is not uncommon, the men trick the women very often, because their attitude towards the relations differ.

Parallel constructions “sometimes they were too large, sometimes they were too small, sometimes they were too expensive and sometimes they were too stuffy”, the metaphor “house-hunting”, the epithet “innumerable kitchens” describe Roger’s scheme.

Firstly I took Roger’s side, because I consider that each person should have a right for free choice, but then I was sorry for Ruth, Roger tired her out, she didn’t understand what was happening. The epithet “exhausted” demonstrates her state brightly.

At last Ruth revolted. She asked Roger if he wanted to marry her. There was an unaccustomed hardness in her voice, but it didn’t effect the gentleness of his reply. Roger persuaded her that they would be married the very moment they found a suitable house.

Ruth took to her bed. She didn’t want to see Roger, but he was as ever assiduous and gallant. Every day he sent her flowers, wrote that he had some more houses to look at. The epithets “assiduous”, “gallant” display his dissimulation.

A week passed and he received the letter: Ruth let him know that she was going to get married and claimed that Roger didn’t love her.

He answered that her news shattered him, but her happiness had to be his first consideration. He sent Ruth seven orders to view. He was quite sure she would find among them a house that would exactly suit her.

This is the end of the story. At that moment there was no love, there was no even the sympathy between them. They became the enemies. It was Roger’s victory. He achieved measurable gains at this story. In this portion of the text the tone changes, it is still ironical, but there appears some serious element.

This story carried me with its eternal intrigue – the war between male and female, playing games between the sexes. We may be in earnest about it or may try to ignore it, but it really takes place and this problem will exist until the end of human history.

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