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The Analysis of the Story "The Miraculous Revenge"

In: English and Literature

Submitted By NastyaDi777
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By Anastasiya Pozdnyakova, group 502


The text under analysis “The Miraculous Revenge” is created by the famous Irish writer G. Bernard Shaw. The story represents fiction and is written in a righteous tone with the elements of comic tone.
The text relates the misadventures of an alcoholic investigator while he probes the mystery of a graveyard—full of saintly corpses—that migrates across a stream to escape association with the body of a newly buried sinner. The author’s attention is focused on the problem of disparity between people belonging to various classes. “The Miraculous Revenge” was written in 1885.
Through his writings G. Bernard Shaw addresses prevailing social problems, but he also has a vein of comedy in his works which makes their stark themes more palatable. Issues which engaged Shaw's attention included education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege. He was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. He gained equal rights for men and women, alleviated abuses of the working class, rescinded private ownership of productive land, and promoted healthy lifestyles.


The action of the text under analysis takes place in Dublin on the 5th of August. Zeno Legge arrives to visit his uncle the Cardinal Archbishop, but he doesn’t find the uncle at home, and not satisfied with the offered food, goes to the hotel. There he has his dinner and then he goes for a walk. He comes to the Theatre, where he sees the play, seen before. Zeno is not satisfied with the acting and goes away to the hotel where he tries to read a book. But the man is distracted by the lodgers of hotel wandering about corridors, so Zeno decides to go out. Passing along the passages, he sees an open door of the empty saloon, where an open piano stands. Zeno dares to play the piano and awakes 6 annoyed lodgers, who immediately come to find out who breaks their leisure. They look enough threatingly with the revolver and a bootjack. But Zeno dexterously finds the way out by pointing the indignant residents to their ignorance, and leaves away to his uncle cardinal Archbishop. Zeno comes to his uncle late at night, awakes him and begs to let in and talks to him. The severe uncle agrees not at once, but lets his nephew , who in conversation reports that he is wretched and asks about compassion and help. Cardinal softly rejects Zeno’s request but instead of it gives to his nephew a task which greatly surprises Zeno. The uncle sends him to investigate a Miracle in Wicklow

The author’s message

The “The Miraculous Revenge” is built on the collision of impossible, improbable and ordinary things. The author wants to attract the reader’s attention to the problem of inequality between different sorts of people. He shows on the one hand Zeno Legge – the egoistic, haughty, well educated and intelligent person, atheist, who doesn’t live according to the rules, but deeply understand the art and on the other hand is uncle Archbishop, an indurate ecclesiastic, who wants to make all the world be as saint as he considers himself to be. This images are set against each other to designate more strictly their defects and passions, an atheistic outlook and at the same time fascination of a plot with its unexpected subject turns.
The novel can be read as the revenge to church fanaticism in general and belief in impossible miracles which managed to be surpassed Show by the invention, having reduced a miracle to a rank of "a banal miracle" and logical ordinarity.


This story can be logically divided into four connected parts. The first part can be called “Unjustified Expectations ” with the key sentence “I desired to be with a true hearted man, and to mingle my tears with his”. In this part the author describes Zeno’s arrival to his uncle and his eternal search.
The second part could be entitled “The Night Concert” with the key sentence “My fingers throbbed as I sat down before it, and expressed all that I felt in a grand hymn which seemed to thrill the cold stillness of the shadows into a deep hum of approbation, and to people the radiance of the moon with angels.” In this passage the author tells about the incident in the saloon.
The third part named “Long-awaited meeting” represents the key sentence: “Your door is never shut against the wretched, I am wretched. Let us sit up all night and talk.” This part shows the reader the conversation of Zeno and his uncle.
And the closing part can be entitled “A Mysterious Task” with the key sentence “I want you to investigate a miracle”. This part is about the uncle’s offer to Zeno about the journey to Wicklow for finding a Miracle.

Characters of the story.

There are two principal characters in the story: Zeno Legge and his uncle Cardinal Archbishop. Zeno is protagonist and his uncle is antagonist.

The narration of the story is presented from Zeno’s point of view, so the author doesn’t provide his character with some physical description, but through his actions and repliques the author shows us, that Zeno Legge is a well educated person – he reads a lot, because through the story he mentions at list 2 pieces of literature Raven written by Alan Poe and Goethe’s Faust. He is fond of theatre – the first place he visited after dinner is a theatre. Zeno considers himself to be a creative person – he plays the piano. He is rather extravagance, because lets himself to play the piano at midnight, or to come to his uncle lately, but at the same time the author shows him well-bred, when describing his conversation with six annoyed lodgers. The author presents self-criticism as one of the characteristic features of Zeno. He tells about himself “I am wretched”, but at the same time Zeno appears as a very haughty person, with his condescending attitude to the lodgers of the hotel. “Unaccustomed to my habits and ignorant of music as they probably were…” He stands himself above the society. His soul desires an intelligent conversation with someone, who can understand him. “I desired to be with a true hearted man, and to mingle my tears with his.” His uncle was never kind and tender with Zeno, he was “cold” and “”deficient in feeling” By the use of these epithets the author creates the image of the uncle’s attitude towards his nephew. The loneliness hangs up Zeno, he is in “internal search” maybe that is why the problem of alcohol seems to be actual. “I have totally forgotten about doctors. At dinner I had a bottle of Grave”. The image of this character is very contradictory.

And on the other side stands uncle Cardinal Archbishop. The author shows him with the help of such stylistic devices as metaphors: “he is waited upon by angels”, “father to a great flock of poor», epithet: “austere and saintly man” etc. In the description of Zeno’s uncle He is very severe but fair-minded person. Cardinal helps everybody who desires compassion. In the face of true hearted man Archbishop performs his mission in serving for God and wretched people. His life appears very ascetic. The house in which Zeno’s uncle live is very “dingy” and gloom. Even food seems to be miserable. All his life is a scene of humility and holiness. But Archbishop forgets to be kind and attentive to his nephew. He acts like he doesn’t understand Zeno’s behavior. Uncle criticizes the style of Zeno’s living.

Forms of narration
In his novel the author uses the narration with the elements of description. The descriptions meeting in the short story, generally belong to dynamic type. During all the novel you can't meet any portrait or a household sketch. The landscape description is also absent in the story.
The atmosphere of hotel is given in several phrases, but we clearly represent the despondency reigning in it, some lifeless strangeness and contrast with live music.
In so short description the author places emphasis on transfer of illusiveness, emptiness of a place - a moonlight, a shadow, booming steps, illusive garlands, -all these make setting of further perception of the story. The mention of "Faust" Goethe in which Zeno is interested, and about Edgar Poe's "Crow" similarity with which he feels at conversation with the uncle, serve the same purpose. And even by analogy to it says Zeno ominous "Never" on an uncle's question.
The house of the cardinal is similarly given: “He lives in a dingy house, with a side-long view of the portico of his cathedral from the front windows, and of the monster national school from the back.”, “ ‘This is my study’ he said as we entered an ill-furnished den on the second floor.”
From all this place, as well as from the welcome accorded to Zeno (both in hotel, and in the house of the uncle), blows as the cemeterial atmosphere into which the hero soon plunges already naturally. The impression aggravates motive of madness, through for the novel..

To my mind Bernard Shaw brings new motives in the genre of a novel. He doesn't strengthen the mysticism and at the same time doesn't expose it with a rational explanation. Originality of Shaw's story consists of overturns habitual concepts and the relations, forcing the hero rationalist to make unexpected turn in a plot, having caused a mystical event, and he disproves it from an unexpected side - from himself. The novel is very fascinating, with some pieces of irony remarks and rather perceptive.

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