Where does poetry come from?

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I come from haunts of coot and hern, 

I make a sudden sally, 

And sparkle out among the fern, 

To bicker down a valley. 

Even before Freud, people would have observed that dreams are the result of our unfulfilled desires. This is plain common sense. Freud made this idea systematic without bothering to make it scientific. He resorted to speculations. 

Art and literature, especially poetry, seem to have the same origin as dreams when we considers the similarities in their form and content. We all have our instincts, mostly biological in nature. But our sense of self, the ego and our sensitivity to the world, the super ego, suppresses our instincts.

Finding no way to materialize, our instincts go for the second options, they ideate as dreams in our sleep when our guard is down,  and when we are watchful as daydreams  or art or poetry, good poetry that is. In dreams art and poetry our instincts go for two kind of disguises, condensation in which several instincts are all fused into one and displacement in which instead of hitting the bull’s eye we hit something else. 

Translated into poetry these disguises become metaphor and metonymy, two basic ways of symbolism. Metaphor which we also seen in homonyms and other figures of speech and metonymy as we see in sublimation. These are only convenient examples.  

Freud calls this wish fulfillment which is not the same as materializing our real instinctual desire. Needless to say it is not as good as the real, second best. So, when it comes to poetry, like a child who over decorates a toy house, we embellish the second best to more satisfactory for us and more enjoyable for others.  

For example, one may wish to have children but has only Dorothy as a companion. No chance there. The sexual instinct is here suppressed by the ego and super ego, and rightly so. This leads to an ideation of the instinct into an incestuous dream about the sister (more direct) day dream about a solitary reaper (less direct) or a poem on daffodils (symbol of fertility, disguised or indirect) 

We don’t have access to Wordsworth’s dream but his two poems are there for us. In Solitary Reaper we see several of the instincts fused into the form of a reaping girl, enjoyment, fertility, (“Reaping and singing by herself”) Thus the girl becomes a metaphor or the poet’s (and everyone else’s) biological instincts. 

In Daffodils, it is not only that the flowers being symbol of fertility is again a metaphor, it is also a sight the poet has often enjoyed watching with his sister as they went for long walks in Lake District. Perhaps, more than the symbolism, it is their association with his sister which prompted the poet.  The lines,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

say a lot.

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A question and an answer based on an extract from The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

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Read the following paragraphs which appear at the end of the story The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, and answer the question that follows.

“Not hear it? –yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long –long –long –many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it –yet I dared not –oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am! –I dared not –I dared not speak! We have put her living in the tomb! Said I not that my senses were acute? I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them –many, many days ago –yet I dared not –I dared not speak! And now –to-night –Ethelred –ha! ha! –the breaking of the hermit’s door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangour of the shield! –say, rather, the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Oh whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? MADMAN!” here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul –“MADMAN! I TELL YOU THAT SHE NOW STANDS WITHOUT THE DOOR!”

As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell –the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust –but then without those doors there DID stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold, then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated.

From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued; for the vast house and its shadows were alone behind me. The radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon which now shone vividly through that once barely-discernible fissure of which I have before spoken as extending from the roof of the building, in a zig-zag direction, to the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened –there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind –the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight –my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder –there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters –and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “HOUSE OF USHER.”

How far does Poe successfully tie almost all the loose ends of the story at this point but leaves some questions unanswered for the reader to ponder on?

In these three paragraphs, noted for their fast pace and quick action which are in contrast with the tone of the story in general, Poe ties up the loose strings and purposely leaves a few questions unaswered. Each of these paragraphs has a surprise which had already been foreshadowed in the story in different ways. In the first paragraph, we hear Roderick losing his control over himself and being very open to what was happening to him and his sister.

“Not hear it? –yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long –long –long –many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it –yet I dared not –oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am! –I dared not –I dared not speak! We have put her living in the tomb!

He even admits that she was still alive when they buried her and he had known for days that she was alive inside her coffin. In the next paragaraph we see Madeline in vigorous action for the first time.

…the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, ponderous and ebony jaws.

Till now she was as good as dead. She comes close to Roderick and dies with him. In the third paragraph we see how the narrator flees and the house collapses behind him.

While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened –there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind –the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight…

The language used in each case also is very peculiar to what is being said. The first paragraph has incoherent sentences and phrases which gives us the idea that Roderick might be either under the heavy effect of a drug or speaking in delirium from his sickness.

I heard them –many, many days ago –yet I dared not –I dared not speak! And now –to-night

He does not wait for an answer but goes on like in a rhetorical expression of his inner troubles. It is also in this paragraph that he referes to the story which the narrator had been telling him and suggests that the story was like a hypnotic suggestion by the narrator. The sick and the hallucinating see things. They see what they fear the most. Here, the narraor talks about

Ethelred –ha! ha! –the breaking of the hermit’s door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangour of the shield!”

and it holds more than story telling or the distraught Roderick. He sees this story as a prediction and for him it comes true. He utters the word MADMAN twice but there is no telling whether he was calling himself a mad man or whether he meant the narrator. We stumble twice on a stone that we anticpate on our path. Poe uses the same principle here. He tells us in detail what has happened and suggests what might happen now.

Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair?

Instead of this leading to an anti-climax, it only mounts the tension further, sicne what is suggested in something impossible and improbable.

Shocking us in the next paragraph, Poe shows us that it is the impossible that happens no matter how improbable it might sound to the reader.

Madeline’s arrival at the door and the change in weather are described in such a detail that there is no chance to take them as hallucinations any more.

For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold, then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother

Madeline’s resurrection is real and she has come to take her brother away. She can’t die alone. She was the one who got hurt but with blood all over her body, and with her intention to take Roderick away with her, she looks like a vampire now or even worse.

There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame

When the writer says that Roderick was “a victim to the terrors he had anticipated”, the same applies to the reader too as the narrator had hooked him for long with his story telling craft.

Though there is no exact direction to this place it is pretty clear that it exists beyong a deep tarn with black water in it. Once a man is inside it, he is charmed and he sees things. Thus the house also serves as a metaphor for the realm of story telling itself. Like closing a book, one only has to cross the old causeway and he is in the world of the mundane and the ordinary.

“for the vast house and its shadows were alone behind me.”

This is exactly how we feel at the end of a story telling session. This is further accentuated when we read how the house too collapsed. The enchanting palce is dashed to the ground and we are back in the world of realities.

The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued; for the vast house and its shadows were alone behind me.

It is as if the house and the siblings never existed. Coming at the end of an enchanting story, this even has an added effect on the reader. In the concluding paragraph, at least by comparison with the beginning of the story, the style is more lucid and easy flowing.

From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast

It is just like the words of Roderick in action. However, the second paragraph here still uses long sentences to slow down the pace so that the reader gets a fair share of concentration on the ghastly scene.

Thus, in every way we find that Poe has created a work of art in words. It has intrigued readers for generation and it will continue to do so like great works of art.

The Rattrap

The Rattrap by Selma Lagerlof, the Swedish Nobel laureate, reads like a folk tale but holds a very meaningful message for us. In the context of a man’s experience around Christmas time, the story explores the edge experience has over intelligence, knowledge and wisdom. It also highlights the importance compassion has in transforming a person.

The story features a vagabond who earned his living selling rattraps. He made rattraps using the scrap metal he found. When he couldn’t find the raw material, he begged or stole them. He always looked hungry and led a life of monotony and boredom.
Then, one day, a thought struck him. He found that the world was very much like a rattrap. The world offers wealth and other pleasures just the way a rattrap offers cheese and meat. Once we go in for them, we are imprisoned in it forever and it entails nothing but eternal misery. He went around telling this idea to everyone he met.
Though he tried to spread this great philosophy of life, a truth which is expounded by all religions, it only remained in his brain as a piece of information. He was intelligent enough to figure it out and talk about it. He was wise enough to understand its significance. But when it came to practising it, he failed miserably. He realized this only when it was spelled out to him by an incident.
One dark evening he was walking along the road and knocked at the door of a poor old man’s cottage. The old man let him in, served him food and gave him shelter for the night. They played cards and the old man told him his story. He used to work in Ramsjo Ironworks but now he was a small time crofter who had just one cow. He said that was good enough for him since it had even given him thirty kroners in a month. Like the Bishop did to Jean Val Jean, he even showed the vagabond the money kept in a cloth bag hung on the wall.
The next day both men left the hut at the same time but the peddler came back and stole the thirty kronor from the old man. Like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment he got hunted by his own conscience and he thought he was being followed. He left the highways and entered a forest, but as much as he walked, he was not able to come out of it. He realized that his own medicine had not worked for him and that he had been trapped by money and that the forest was his prison.
At some point later in the same night he heard sounds from the Ramsjo Ironworks and moved in that direction. He reached the factory and went in. Nobody asked any questions since it was normal for vagabonds like him to walk in and enjoy the warmth of the furnace in a chilly night like this.
Just then the owner of the mill walked in. He addressed the peddler as Captain Nils Olof mistaking him for an old friend. The peddler didn’t contradict him. The miller invited him home and this the peddler refused since he feared getting himself exposed in better lighting. Later the owner’s daughter Elda came to get him and forced him to go with her. She had even brought a wrap for him since it was too chilly outside. The peddler went with her. That night both the father and the daughter were so nice to him and made him wear good clothes. But seeing him in those clothes they found they had made a mistake and he too confessed that he was only a peddler. The father thought of calling the sheriff to arrest him. The vagabond told him that he was innocent and if he was dragged into trouble that would entail another cycle of misery through which the miller would also get caught in the trap. His words made the owner change his mind but he asked the peddler to leave. Now the daughter intervened saying that they couldn’t ask him to leave since they had invited him. Moreover, it is Christmas Eve and the man deserved a peaceful life at least once in a year. She served him a good supper. The next morning he slept on and was woken up only for lunch and dinner. He was even invited for the next Christmas.
That night at church, Elda heard that one of the old crofters of the ironworks had been robbed by a man who went around selling rattraps. The iron master now feared that the man might have stolen all their silver spoons. When they returned home the peddler had already left. He had left a tiny rattrap for Elda. There was a note attached to it. It was his confession. There were thirty kronor in the rattrap and he asked Elda to have the privilege of returning it to the old man. He thanked her and her father for the being compassionate to him and thereby transforming him. His intelligence, knowledge and wisdom only took him close to hell (symbolized by the hot burning furnace and the thirty kronor hinting at Judas’s reward for betraying Christ). His transformation came from his real life experience when he was shown compassion by two strangers even when they found him a sinner.

Illusion and Reality in Macbeth

Illusion and Reality



Illusion as a corollary of reality seems to be a favourite theme for Shakespeare. The theater itself is a world of illusion and Shakespeare talks endlessly about it. The news from the new world and the flood of Greek and Roman literature also would have influenced Shakespeare to explore this aspect of life.

When the witches say ‘fair is foul and foul is fair‘, we are told of how the world is seen differently by people depending on what they are. Evil operates through deception. Macbeth’s mind has an inkling of the deeper water he is led to when he says,

So fair and foul a day I have not seen.

Duncan refers to Macbeth as a worthy gentleman and pays with his life for his inability to see through Macbeth’s outward appearance. Macbeth is called noble and also a valiant cousin. But in reality Macbeth is a potential traitor. Duncan trusted the earlier Thane of Cawdor. Now he trusts Macbeth and makes him the new Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is happy when Duncan plans to visit his castle but Duncan fails to see why Macbeth is so happy about the visit. Both Duncan and Banquo find the atmosphere at the castle wholesome and welcoming. They don’t know about the serpents that reside there.

Lady Macbeth welcomes Duncan very politely and expresses her desire to serve him very effectively. But we know that she has already made up her mind to kill the king. She herself refers to the occasion as the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements. She tells her husband to don a pleasant appearance to hoodwink the others. She says,

Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it,

She tells him that ‘to beguile the time he has to look like the time’. Macbeth more than echoes her words when he says later,

False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

He later gives her a taste of her own medicine when he says,

Let your remembrance apply to Banquo:

Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue

 

Macbeth is presented as a great warrior who vanquishes all his enemies.  But his main enemy is within himself. He says the he has given his soul to man’s eternal enemy. He fails to see that the enemy is within himself in the form of ‘vaulting ambition that overleaps itself’. His courage and determination fail when he confronts Lady Macbeth. He is not powerful than his enemies in anyway. But she is able to work on him by fanning his own desires. We hear her counsel Macbeth and persuade him with diabolical cogency.

Appearance and reality becomes very clear when Banquo’s ghost appears. Hallucinations are used very effectively to reinforce this theme. The witches give Macbeth some false promises which he considers as protection against his downfall. But he fails to see the double meaning in their words. He is killed not by a man born of a woman. He is killed by a man who was brought into this world by ripping open his mother. The foerst which is thought not to move, finally moves toward Macbeth’s castle in the form of branches held by his enemy soldiers. This kind of cheating makes Macbeth call the witches ‘these juggling fiends’.

When Malcolm meets Macduff in England, he suspects Macduff is a spy. Malcolm pretends to be unfit to be king and fools Macduff. In effect, they both misunderstand each other. Later Macduff is found to be a trustworthy person and Malcolm is found to be a man of integrity. There several instances of life considered as a drama and the world as theater, both examples of reality and illusion. The supernatural also is made use of to reiterate this aspect of the world.

Character Analysis: Macbeth


Characters in play can be assessed by studying the following aspects

  • What do they say, what do they do and what do others say about them
  • What are the beliefs, values and motivations
  • How much do they succeed in practicing what they preach
  • Who are they made to be in conflict with or how do they differ from the other in the play

When attempting a character analysis of Macbeth, bear the following points in mind:

  • His bravery
  1. Report by the sergeant
  2. Macbeth accepts Lady Macbeth’s challenge to act like a man
  3. He faces the witches and goes to confront them again
  4. He responds well to challenges and never shies away
  5. All his words show determination and dynamism
  • His ambition
  1. Obvious from his actions
  2. Lady Macbeth is aware of it.
  3. Banquo is aware of it
  4. The witches exploit it
  5. He goes blind with ambition  and commits horrible murders
  6. The price he pays for his ambition and consequent action does not deter him
  • His imagination
  1. He is able to look his circumstances and the consequences of his actions
  2. His words are highly poetic
  3. He sees a lot of apparitions and hallucination
  4. He is able to daydream about his prospects
  • His affection
  1. He loves his wife and confides in her
  2. He accepts her guidance and advice
  3. He uses terms of endearment in his conversation
  4. He insulated her against more evil news after the first few murders
  • His nobility
  1. It takes a lot of persuasion from the people around him as well as the circumstances to make him commit the crimes
  2. He aborts his plans several times
  3. Other characters comment on his good nature
  • His fear
  1. he gets scared when he sees the witches and seeks clarification from Banquo
  2. He shies away from his own evil plans
  3. He fears Banquo
  4. He is superstitious

An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls by J B Priestlyis an interesting play which thrills the reader in several different ways. Written in 1912, this play is a mixture of social criticism, religious idealism and family drama.
       
The play opens in Mr. Birling’s dining room where the family is hosting a dinner. Present in the room are Mr. Birling, Mrs. Sybil Birling, Miss. Sheila Birling (their daughter), Mr. Eric Birling (their son) and Mr. Gerald Kroft, who might marry Sheila. Mr. Kroft is to inherit his father’s industry which has been offering tough competition to Mr. Birling’s.
As soon as Gerald gives a ring to Sheila as a sign of engagement, an inspector called Mr. Goole calls and the plot begins to thicken.
Eva Smith, a young working class lady, has committed suicide. Mr. Birling admits that he had to dismiss the lady, even though she was a good worker, when she asked for a pay rise. He dismisses her from a photograph shown by Mr. Goole. He confesses that it was an unfair thing but he believes that he was left with no option.
        Sheila who walks in also gets to see the photo and recognizes her as the girl she forced a ready-made shop to fire from service. This was the girl’s second job. When she brought a dress to Sheila she first held it close to her body and it looked great on her. When Sheila tried it, it looked ridiculous on her. She noticed the girl smiling at another salesgirl. Infuriated with jealousy, Sheila forced the shop to dismiss her, using her father’s position as an major industrialist and a politician.
Now Gerald is also shown the photograph and he confessed that he also met her at a bar and gave her some money and a place to stay in. In other words, he kept her as his mistress. She had changed her name. During that time, he did not come to meet Sheila and his excuse was that he was too busy with his work. Sheila immediately returns his ring though she acknowledges his honesty.
Now it is Mrs. Sybil Briling’s turn. As the head of the charity committee she also wounded Eva when she approached her as Mrs. Briling. She was put of by the fact that the  fake name Eva used was her own. She asked the committee not to help her though the girl was pregnant. She also refused to believe the girl’s story that the man who impregnated her had offered her some compensation but since it was stolen cash, she did not take it so as not to make the man a thief. Mrs. Briling asks whether a girl of her standing could afford to be so conscientious. Sheila tells her not to play into the inspector’s hand by being so innocent as he might tear her to pieces. However, against Sheila’s protest, Mrs. Briling says that the young man should be properly punished.
         The last one to fall in is Mr. Eric Briling. He admits that he was the one who impregnated the girl and stole the money from his father’s office to pay the girl. In a way the girl didn’t lie about her name this time. She considered herself as the wife of Mr. Eric Briling. So she introduced herself as Mrs. Briling.
Eric and Sheila confess their guilt but their parents and Gerald sticks to the idea that it was the girl who should be blamed. The inspector walks out telling them that such uncivil practices will be met with fire, blood and anguish.
After the inspector leaves, Gerald manages to find out that there is no inspector by that name in the entire police force. They also find that no girl had committed suicide that night. This makes the inspector and impostor and all except Sheila and Eric consider themselves exonerated. They vehemently argue their way out of it, though they admit that he was of a strange nature and behaviour. He knew everything even before they opened their mouths.
The play ends when they get a phone call informing them that a girl has committed suicide and that a police inspector is on his way to meet all of them.
The real identity of the inspector is left to the reader’s speculation. So is the question whether he was showing them the photographs of different girls. We also hear the parents and Mr. Gerald passing a poor opinion about some of the great writers of the time.
          If we take the play as a symbolic representation, it can be observed that Eva represents the woman folk from the working classes about whom the rich people has no regard. They exploit them in different ways. They are either workers, or sleeping partners for them.
The inspector’s words ‘fire, blood and anguish’ refers to suffering in hell or at the hands of the revolutionaries or a stern legal system in future. We see that Sheila and Eric are willing to learn a lesson but the others refuse to do so. Everyone’s real nature is brought out by the inspector.

Whether they all wronged the same girl or different one is not an important question. It is only as insignificant as the parents’ and Gerald’s question whether the inspector was real or fake. See holistically, this is what working class women suffer at the hands of the rich everywhere in the world, then and now. This is how the rich see their own mistakes, then and now. This is the lesson that many refuse to learn, then and now. In other words, this is a theme that goes beyond time and place. The writer is able to present it in such a way that it has several layers of meaning and all of them are more blatant and not subtler than the other.

An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls

 

 

An Inspector Calls by J B Priestly is an interesting play which thrills the reader in several different ways. Written in 1912, this play is a mixture of social criticism, religious idealism and family drama.
The play opens in Mr. Birling’s dining room where the family is hosting a dinner. Present in the room are Mr. Birling, Mrs. Sybil Birling, Miss. Sheila Birling (their daughter), Mr. Eric Birling (their son) and Mr. Gerald Kroft, who might marry Sheila. Mr. Kroft is to inherit his father’s industry which has been offering tough competition to Mr. Birling’s.
As soon as Gerald gives a ring to Sheila as a sign of engagement, an inspector called Mr. Goole calls and the plot begins to thicken.
Eva Smith, a young working class lady, has committed suicide. Mr. Birling admits that he had to dismiss the lady, even though she was a good worker, when she asked for a pay rise. He dismisses her from a photograph shown by images (3)Mr. Goole. He confesses that it was an unfair thing but he believes that he was left with no option.
Sheila who walks in also gets to see the photo and recognizes her as the girl she forced a ready-made shop to fire from service. This was the girl’s second job. When she brought a dress to Sheila she first held it close to her body and it looked great on her. When Sheila tried it, it looked ridiculous on her. She An Inspector Callsnoticed the girl smiling at another sales girl. Infuriated with jealousy, Sheila forced the shop to dismiss her, using her father’s position as a major industrialist and a politician.
Now Gerald is also shown the photograph and he confessed that he also met her at a bar and gave her some money and a place to stay in. In other words, he kept her as his mistress. She had changed her name. During that time, he did not come to meet Sheila and his excuse was that he was too busy with his work. Sheila immediately returns his ring though she acknowledges his honesty.
imagesNow it is Mrs. Sybil Briling’s turn. As the head of the charity committee she also wounded Eva when she approached her as Mrs. Briling. She was put off by the fact that the fake name Eva used was her own. She asked the committee not to help her though the girl was pregnant. She also refused to believe the girl’s story that the man who impregnated her had offered her some compensation but since it was stolen cash, she did not take it so as not to make the man a thief. Mrs. Briling asks whether a girl of her standing could afford to be so conscientious. Sheila tells her not to play into the inspector’s hand by being so innocent as he might tear her to pieces. However, against Sheila’s protest, Mrs. Briling says that the young man should be properly punished.
The last one to fall in is Mr. Eric Briling. He admits that he was the one who impregnated the girl and stole the money from his father’s office to pay the girl. In a way the girl didn’t lie about her name this time. She considered herself as the wife of Mr. Eric Briling. So she introduced herself as Mrs. Briling.
images (2)Eric and Sheila confess their guilt but their parents and Gerald sticks to the idea that it was the girl who should be blamed. The inspector walks out telling them that such uncivil practices will be met with fire, blood and anguish.
After the inspector leaves, Gerald manages to find out that there is no inspector by that name in the entire police force. They also find that no girl had committed suicide that night. This makes the inspector and impostor and all except Sheila and Eric consider themselves exonerated. They vehemently argue their way out of it, though they admit that he was of a strange nature and behaviour. He knew everything even before they opened their mouths.
The play ends when they get a phone call informing them that a girl has committed suicide and that a police inspector is on his way to meet all of them.
The real identity of the inspector is left to the reader’s speculation. So is the question whether he was showing them the photographs of different girls. We also hear the parents and Mr. Gerald passing a poor opinion about some of the great writers of the time.
If we take the play as a symbolic representation, it can be observed that Eva represents the woman folk from the working classes about whom the rich people has no regard. They exploit them in different ways. They are either workers, or sleeping partners for them.
The inspector’s words ‘fire, blood and anguish’ refers to suffering in hell or at the hands of the revolutionaries or a stern legal system in future. We see that Sheila and Eric are willing to learn a lesson but the others refuse to do so. Everyone’s real nature is brought out by the inspector.images (1)

Whether they all wronged the same girl or different one is not an important question. It is only as insignificant as the parents’ and Gerald’s question whether the inspector was real or fake. See holistically, this is what working class women suffer at the hands of the rich everywhere in the world, then and now. This is how the rich see their own mistakes, then and now. This is the lesson that many refuse to learn, then and now. In other words, this is a theme that goes beyond time and place. The writer is able to present it in such a way that it has several layers of meaning and all of them are more blatant and not subtler than the other.

The Destructors

The Destructors by Graham Greene is an interesting short story which has allegorical touches. The story tells us how some unruly boys, vying with one another for leadership in their gang, go beyond all levels of evil and redefine it as a motiveless act.
There are three levels of characters in the story: Old Misery who owns the house, the gang of unruly boys and a truck driver. People at the church are also mentioned. The story happens near a car park overlooked by buildings which have been partly destroyed by ‘the last bomb of the first blitz’. The house owner Mr. Thomas whose nick name is Old Misery is actually nice to the children. But that doesn’t prevent Trevor, one of the boys,  from proposing to the gang that they should destroy Old Misery’s house completely when he is away. This proposal impresses the others and Trevor is voted up as the next leader and the old leader Blackie has to step down. None could come up with a worse mischief they could enjoy during the week. The story reminds us of Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
Houses have always been symbols of security and refuge. Hence they also stand for human institutions. Even the parliament is referred to as a house. House as a symbol appears in several parables in the Bible. Old Misery’s house stands for the established religions which were attacked more than a little by the two World Wars. People who had always been living in misery (old misery from the first sin?) had sought refuge in religions. But the religions lost their strength when the atrocities of war eroded many people’s trust in humanity and human kindness. This made e.e.cummings, a famous poet,  coin the phrase ‘human unkind’ in place of human kind.  The unruly gang is worse in its evil than those who steal or murder. They have no motive. It is motiveless malignity. They think there is no point in being vengefully evil.  Insisting that nothing should be stolen from the house they are destroying, the hero of the story Trevor says about the house owner, “There’d be no fun if I hated him.”
The truck driver who sees Old Misery’s house being pulled down bay unseen hands laughs at it, not realizing that they might destroy his house the next day. At another level, those who passively watch the age-long institutions like religion and family disintegrate or made to disintegrate do not realize that the society and its institutions came into being to protect people and if they vanish we are again defenseless against evil.
More than the descriptions, it is in the dialogues that we find suggestions about the hidden meanings of the story.
“Wren built that house, father says.”
“Who’s Wren?”
“The man who built St. Paul’s”
“Who cares?” Blackie said. “It’s only Old Misery’s.”
In these lines we hear the echo of Satan addressing the other fallen angels in the pandemonium. Through the name of Wren, the man who built St.Paul’s Church, we are reminded of the people who organized the religions. However, now the religions belong to the miserable masses.
Again,
“What do you mean a beautiful house?” asked Blackie. They all hate beauty and culture.  They are things that flow along with the flow of life down the ages. It is interesting to see that they also consider the flow of things as a power against them. The pipes through which water flows are broken, the wires through which current flows are clipped and currency (that which moves around) is burned.
In very few words we are shown what we stand to lose when social institutions symbolized by Old Misery’s house are taken away from us. Old Misery’s helplessness is revealed when he wails over his disappeared house:
“He gave a sobbing cry. “My house,” he said, “Where is my house?”  The truck driver is passive but still makes fun of him. “Search me,” the driver said.
Thus, it is easy to see that The Destructors has more to it than meets the eye. As we read the story, we also want to see the children being successful. If the destruction was checked at some point, most of the readers would be disappointed. Thus it makes the additional point that we are not free of aggression and destruction. The popular movies and novels are all about destruction though they uphold constructive values at some point towards the end. There is a basic instinct in man to revel in his own aggression and it is through culture, art, religion and other similar activities that we overcome such tendencies.