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Are the Rich Happy

In: English and Literature

Submitted By winthersasha
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Are the rich happy?

Sasha Winther 2.p – Solrød Gymnasium
Stephen Leacock’s literary achievement is largely in the mastery of the comic sketch. He has written a collection of short pieces that are unrelated to each other. He writes styling is miniaturist, and his focus is on the small details. The subject he usually writes about, are extensive, but usually appeals to the average man. The humor is a form of frustration or mild victimization, in this case the rich man’s sadness over the resignation of his butler.

’’Are the rich happy?’’ is written by Stephen Leacock, 1916. It is from the collection Further Foolishness: Sketches and Satires on the Follies of the Day.
The text has an episodic structure, and there is a lot of narration. He tells a story of his encounters with people he thought to be rich. He sarcastically tells the story using vague descriptive language. The descriptions are unclear, one cannot see or feel, but it is easy to understand who he is talking about, their expressions, and their lifestyles. He makes a clear comparison between the rich and the poor. In his text he speaks of a man who makes fifty thousand dollars a year and has told him that it is impossible to keep up with the rich and that it is better to accept the fact of being poor. He describes how a man can only give him a plain meal that he calls a home dinner, but that it takes three men and two women to serve it.

Stephen Leacock shows his opinion by using sarcasm. It is the irony and the sarcasm that makes the text worthwhile. By his use of personal experiences, the reader gets more engaged in the text and it helps him gain credibility.

Amiability is a key characteristic of the Leacock manner. The narrator is a genuinely kindhearted character in the piece. Never cruel or savage, the narrative voice is one of gentle bemusement, of benign recognition of life’s follies, with a compassion for those who fall victim to them. As a satirist, Leacock lacks the bite of anger. His humor does not seek to point out the ills of society, least of all to redress them.The narrator is a kindhearted character and is bemused by the other people. He is compassionate when he encounters the stupidity of the world and is sympathetic for those who falls victim to it. As a humorist, Stephen Leacock does not use anger nor resentment. His humor does not try to point out the wrongness of society or try to find a solution. He only wants to expose and laugh at the trivial troubles people have.
This part examines whether the rich are happy. Stephen Leacock refers to personal experiences and things he has observed in the matter of the rich’s happiness. Stephen Leacock criticizes what the rich consider problems or difficulties. He mentions that when they lose a servant, it is considered as a tragedy for a rich man: ‘’ ¨It’s hard, isn’t it?¨ he said. ¨Franklin left last winter -- no fault of ours; we did everything we could -- and now Meadows.¨ There was almost a sob in his voice.’’ Stephen Leacock tries to examine the rich problems, and afterwards he tries to figure out whether they are happy. Stephen Leacock doesn’t clear up if he believes them to be happy, but conclude that most of their problems are related to money. And by their lack of money, they become bitter.
‘’My judgement is that the rich undergo cruel trails and bitter tragedies of which the poor know nothing’’.

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