Tag Archives: irony

Film as escapism

“Some lights went out and the show started–a Tamil film with all known gods in it. He soon lost himself in the politics and struggles of gods and goddesses; he sat rapt in the vision of a heavenly world which some film director had chosen to present. This felicity of forgetfulness lasted but half an hour. Soon the heroine of the story sat on a low branch of a tree in paradise and wouldn’t move out of the place. This portion tired Iswaran and now there returned all the old pains and gloom. ‘Oh, lady,’ Iswaran appealed, ‘don’t add to my troubles, please move on.'”

Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006. 55.

Attila, the humanized dog

“But as time passed our Attila exhibited a love of humanity which was sometimes disconcerting. The Scourge of Europe—could he ever have been like this? They put it down to his age. What child could help loving all creatures? In their zeal to establish this fact, they went to the extent of delving into the ancient history to find out what the Scourge of Europe was like when he was a child.”

Narayan, R.K. “Attila.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print. pp 98.

It is both interesting and ironic that Narayan personifies the dog so much in this chapter as though he were human, yet at the same time he also never forgets to remind you that it is just a dog, and is incapable to actually communicate with humans or to be understood completely by them; as though their was some sort of gap between consciousness that cannot be breached as they try to figure out Attila. However, complicating things further, the reader is given access to Attila’s mind/thoughts.

Hurston and Janey’s sense of humor

“When it was all done she stood in front of Joe and said, ‘Jody, dat wuz uh mighty thing fuh you tuh do. ‘Tain’t everybody would have thought of it, ’cause it ain’t no everyday thought. Freein’ dat mule muakes uh mighty big man outa you. Something like George Washington and Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln, he had de whole United States tuh rule so he freed deh Negroes. You got uh town so you freed uh mule. You have tuh power tuh free things and dat makes you lak uh king uh something.’

Hambo said, ‘You’ wife is uh born orator, Starks. Us never knowed dat befo’. She puts jus’ de right words tuh our thoughts.'”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 2000. Print. 58.

Similar narrative technique as Joyce?

“Oh quite,” said Lord Peter, grinning at the telephone. The Duchess was always of the greatest assistance to his hobby of criminal investigation, though she never alluded to it, and maintained a polite fiction of its non-existence.

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009. 29.

Most of the novel is driven by characters’ dialogue and readers discover details of the case at the same time as Peter. When an omniscient narrator does step in, the tone seems ironic and humorous. This resembles the narrator in Joyce’s Portrait because we also don’t know if the narrator agrees with Stephen or is gently mocking him. This passage resembles Lord Peter’s style of speech in that Peter would also resort to the most drastic descriptions, such as describing his mother’s unknowing aid as the “greatest assistance.” He might also sugarcoat negative aspects of people and refer to his mother’s coldness towards his career as maintaining a “polite fiction of its non-existence.” However, the narrator maintains some distance by referring to Peter’s mother as The Duchess. We know it is not free indirect discourse as Peter refers to his mother as “Mummy.” In this way, the narration technique resembles Joyce’s because the narrators adopt the voice of their characters but maintain a humorous and critical distance.

Irony in Jane Harden’s Character

“But what could you expect when Melanctha had such a brute of a black nigger father, and Melanctha was always abusing her father and yet she was just like him, and really she admired him so much and he never had any sense of what he owed to anybody, and Melanctha was just like him and she was proud of it too, and it made Jane so tired to hear Melanctha talk all the time as if she wasn’t(p. 64).”

“Jeff Campbell did everything he could for Jane Harden. He did not care much to hear about Melanctha. He had no feeling, much, about her. He did not find that he took any interest in her. Jane Hardin was so much a stronger woman, and Jane really had had a good mind, and she has used it to do things with it, before this drinking business had taken such a hold upon her(p 65).”

Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” Three lives. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. 64-65. Print.

The shifts in perspective within Stein’s writing allow characterizations of certain characters over multiple pages and in completely different paragraphs. In this passage that spans from page 64 to page 65 captures this irony in Jane Harden’s thinking. From Jane Harden’s point of view, we see Jane’s thoughts on Melanctha that she has a good mind but does not put it to good use. On the other hand, Jeff Campbell feels that same about Melanctha, but we also are reminded that Jane is a college educated woman that did have a good mind by Jeff Campbell. We see the irony in her thinking that a good mind is wasted if not put to use, while she does not recognize this about herself. This is only possible through Stein’s repetition of this same scenario while changing perspective of the character’s in her story.

Descriptions of the Forest

” ‘The earth seemed unearthly.  We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there–there you could look at a thing monstrous and free.  It was unearthly, and the men were—–No, they were not inhuman.  Well you know, that was the worst of it–this suspicion of their not being human”  (Conrad 139).

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Oxford Universe Press Inc. 2008.  Print.

This particular scene within “Heart of Darkness” was interesting because it is a small description of the area and natives, which are essentially two of the biggest entities of the book.  The travelers, describe the natives the only way they can; they look like humans and act like beasts, from their perspective at least.  The jungle is described as unearthly, when it’s the most earthly thing that the humans have experienced.