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Анализ текста «A friend in need» by William Somerset Maugham (Английская Литература)
The text I’m going to analyze is “A friend in need”, the short story written by William Somerset Maugham. Although the author does not raise the main message of the text directly, it can be easily found through the plot. The title of the text seemed a little bit satirical after I had read it on account of the word “friend” used by the author to bring some irony to it. At the same time, the title is contrasted to the plot of the text because actually, it would be confusing to say that young and old
urtons are friends. So the choice of the title was not random. It is used to show how some of the prosperous people “give a hand” to those who have failed in life. It would be rather superficial to try to denote the subject using one or two words because the raised problem is the result of the influence of many factors.
Among them, there are wealth, vanity, cruelty, social prejudice etc.
The composition of the story is rather simple. It presents a narration by the mouth of the man who is talking with old burton that is the smallest part of the text. It would be better to say that it is a monologue of old
urton. The old burton’s narration from time to time is interrupted by the main narrator’s inserts which consist of the description of old burton’s body language and the narrator’s impression of the story he has just heard. The composition of “Friend in need” is called a double narration. The story opens with a short exposition told by the mouth of the businessman. He introduces his namesake with a short description of his lifestyle. Then the story develops step by step without unpredictable plot twists. Honestly, it was hard for me to denote a culmination point of the story because for me any climax includes the highest stress point while the old burton’s narration is filled with indifference and calmness.
ut if this short story has the climax indeed, I would say that it is framed with the laconic sentence “he never turned up” which bears the strongest emotional influence on the man he was talking with. Its’ brevity only intensifies its hidden implication and emphasizes the old burton’s despicable nature. Speaking about the author's participation in the text, it is minimized.
As far as I understood the story takes place in the author’s lifetime. It is impossible to define where it takes place because there is no background described and it doesn’t play a big part in the narration. Since the story is connected with human nature, I believe that it is bound neither with time nor with the place. Certainly, dozens of years have passed since the creation of “Friend in need”, but it has not lost its relevance yet.
As I have already mentioned this story represents a story framed with a story. So there are a few ways to separate it into parts. The first thought that occurred to me is to break it into 2 parts which alternate with the rising actions. The first one is the narration from the mouth of the man who is listening to the businessman. The second one is led by the mouth of old burton who retells his story. The second variant of division is to divide the story into 3 parts. The first one or ‘introduction’ includes the part of the text where a reader is getting acquainted with
urton. The second part or ‘a funny story’ which is the biggest one comprises the story told by the character. And the last part or ‘reaction’ consists of a few final paragraphs with the reaction of both the listener and the final brief question which manages to reveal the inner mud of the vain businessman.
The atmosphere of the short story under discussion is made by the narration of the main mouthpiece. So I suppose that it is created by the system of images. When it comes to the pieces of the text where there is author narration, it is clear that it is not rich in emotions. Old burton’s speech, on the contrary, causes more reader’s feedback. The reason is that the character of the businessman is brought forward so the vast part of the text represents the retelling of his words. As it seems to me there is no dominant mood but it varies from character to character. Old burtons’ speech is emotionless with a satirical tone. He feels superior to his namesake because of his wealth. He uses laconic and quite dry sentences as though he even sees no need to waste words for such a loser. Speaking about the listener, though his speech amounts for the smallest part of the text, it is clear that he is bewildered by what he has just heard.
The gallery of the characters is not quite big. It includes old burton, his namesake and the person he is talking with. The author uses indirect ways of describing his character because there is neither description nor detailed biography of them. I’d like to emphasize that the tool which is used here is speech. Old burton’s speech is retold in the smallest details. The tone of the story told by burton is rather cheerful though the object of it is tragic. The mouthpiece of the story pays big attention to the way he tells the story. There are pieces of narration with deep psychological insights into his human nature that bring to light the soul of the speaker. They interpret the body language of the businessman. As we know, there is a lot of information that can be taken from the way somebody speaks because it contains the content which shows what a person thinks. The gestures are probably unconscious so sometimes they are more truthful than the words. Such collocations as ‘to give a kindly little chuckle’ or ‘to rub one’s chin’ also have certain information about the speaker. It shows that old burton has something to hide because before saying anything he thinks over what he is going to say. I guess that he is a good pretender who can adjust to any situation if he needs to. It is obvious that he is a sly and vain person who is able to sacrifice anyone or anything just to please his vanity. Speaking about his namesake, I suppose that though he leads an unworthy way of life he is not as bad as it seems to be. It is not fair to judge him in such a situation because he is terrified. He does not know what to do to get out of the trap he had got into. He can do anything his namesake asks him to do. And yet, I think it is worth noticing that he doesn’t turn to illegal activity to get some money, he has come to get a normal job at the office. You’d say that he did it because he had been unlucky at cards and you might be right. We have too little information to conclude.
The author’s point of view is not stated in the text. The only character whose opinion is represented there is the narrator’s one. Judging by his reaction to what he has just heard it is clear that he was scared stiff. I believe that at that moment he saw a beast in front of him. It is so confusing to know that a person who is just higher on the social ladder can easily destroy another person’s life. There was no pity in the kind blue eyes of his. Young
urton’s life meant nothing for him just because he was wealthier. It is so terrifying to know that the value of your life is priced with the amount of money you have. The wealthier you are, the safer your life is.
But no one guarantees that your possessions will never leave you. Nobody is insured from failures so even the prosperous businessman who seems to be so protected may fall one day. As well as the narrator, I believe that it is unacceptable to treat people the way old burton did. He turned into a greedy monster who did not give a damn for anybody but himself. He did not want to give a hand to a person who was about to commit suicide, so he just got rid of him. The narrator warns us against the problems of our society who just blindly follow the wealth. From the angle of the onlooker, we see the situation from the neutral point of view that helps us to see the situation from the neutral position.
Внимание! Спасибо за внимание.
Спасибо за внимание.
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