Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Diary of a Chambermaid Reveals Lack of Values

The novel is a very accurate representation of the French society in 19th century. The main character is called Celestine and she is a chambermaid that spent all her life cleaning in people’s houses. The book is written in the form of a diary, where the woman shares all her observations about the people she meets and the place she works comparing it with old ones. Her character is unique due to the fact she acts elegantly, with a style of a Parisian and takes care of her look, even of her job as a cleaning lady. She illustrates many stories about her experience in life, where more attention is paid to stories about sexual relations and seductions. This is due to the fact that her father died, her mother prostituted, so she was traumatized and matured in her early teenage year. An interesting point of view is how she does not judge people about their temptations. Even she shows understanding and support because according to her this is just a physical need. When she goes to the last destination- village where she works at one mansion (which owners are Lanler’s family), she realizes how different people are than from the ones from the big city. She is astounded by the lack of style and the over-weight among all women. Her detailed observations rise up her memories in order to make connections with the rest of the places she has been. The character has a pretty high self-confidence and often feels free to criticize her superiors. The most often themes she comments on are hygiene, and the pettiness and the stinginess of the mansion’s owners. A problem that all the time concerns Celestine is how even of all the money her superiors owe, they are people either with no moral qualities or “owners” of dirty humiliating stories. At the end she marries the coachman of Lanlers- Joseph and goes back to her home town at the seaside. The chambermaid feels happy with her husband working in a cafĂ©, but still readers can observe that her life continues to be devoted to the physical and primitive emotions and feelings.
The amazing fact that makes the novel even more fascinating and obsessing is that it is base on true story. It was actually written by the real Celestine R. but she looked for some help in Octave Mirbeau to polish it. The kept structure of a diary makes the book more interesting because it gives more authenticity. The chambermaid as being the narrator makes her a character that is closest to the reader. The woman may be a cleaning lady, but she has style and with this extraordinary personality the author wants to stress on the lack of it among the rich high class families. As well, the novel reveals how money does not really matter, because all of the represented wealthy people are unhappy, either they are alone or if they have partners, they do not live on good terms with each other. In conclusion, the whole book as a collection of different stories representing the experience of a chambermaid deal with the lost souls and moral values of people.

Paralysis In Irish Society

James Joyce was an Irish author that sought to reveal the real situation in his country. Through his book Dubliners he wanted to show the Irish society and its main problem- the paralysis of all individuals. Joyce chose this theme in order to prove that Dublin’s citizens, no matter whether they are young or old, high or low class, they are all united under the characteristics of being incapable in changing their lives and following their dreams till the end.
The stories included in Dubliners show all aspects of standstill among the society. Joyce used characters with different positions in life, so that he could make all citizens realized that their everyday problems and dilemmas are exactly the ones represented in the short stories. The piece of writing “Araby” has the purpose to reveal paralysis among children. The main character, a young boy, is highly attracted by a woman, so that he decides to go to the bazaar in Araby in order to buy her a present. When the boy arrives there he understands that he would look funny and foolish in the eyes of his love that was not familiar with his feelings. His words “I knew my stay was useless,…., then I turned away slowly and walked down,” (p.35) reveal the lack of the character’s ability to be brave and show his attraction. This end of the story is used in order to introduce the boy’s last decision as his standstill, because the young gentleman is afraid of taking the next step, so he stays paralyzed.
The Irish author succeeds to express the theme of standstill among Dubliners not only through children, but as well through people from all ages. In his story “After the Race”, he represents Jimmy, the main character that loses his money in a cards game. Jimmy is young and has his money from his father, so somehow he does not really knows how difficult is to amass wealth. He used to spend it in car races, but now it is all gone. The revealing of the character’s thoughts “He knew that he would regret it in the morning, but at present he was glad of the rest, glad of the dark, stupor that would cover up his folly” (p.48) proves the theme of paralysis through the fact that he lives for the moment and does not want to do anything in order to change his waste of the wealth. Even though Jimmy soberly realizes that there will be consequences in the morning, still he prefers to enjoy the night and not to worry about tomorrow. This way of thinking effectively reveals the character’s standstill and lack of desire to change the situation in order to make his future better, so as a result he accepts to live with the idea to leave the things the way they are.
In opposition to most of his stories, where there is no gradation in the character, Joyce used his trial story to reveal that some of the Dubliners dare to analyze their life and think over it. “The Dead” is a piece of writing where Gabriel, the main character, at the beginning is presented as someone that exists just for pleasure and not for reaching soul enrichment. Later on, when he finds out about his wife’s ex-lover who died for her, Gabriel starts speculating on his aimless life where he did not show any bravery to prove himself as a worthy person. The character realized that just existing without a purpose and without a person to share excitement with is a pointless life. Then Gabriel finds out he is a shadow because his being could be equal to death. The snow at the end of the story symbolizes how it covers and hides all these people in Dublin that did not reach any deep soul development, they were just living their simple boring every-day routine. “The Dead” reveals the paralysis of Gabriel who understands that it is too late to change his life, so that he will not even try too, but on the other hand the main character at least realizes the present standstill and spends time thinking over it.
Dubliners is a book which James Joyce wrote in order to represent all these problems of the Irish society of not being capable to go through the next step of changing their life, so they prefer just to be some paralyzed individuals. The author’s writing effectively shows the standstill as a main theme building his stories and as well he succeeds to reveal the readers the real situation in Ireland.