The Analysis of the Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables

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2. The analysis of the grotesque elements in The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables

The second chapter of the diploma thesis deals with the analysis of the grotesque elements in the collection of short stories by Robert Louis Stevenson which is called The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables. The collection of short stories is chosen due to various depictions of the grotesque elements in its six short stories, namely The Merry Men, Will O´the Mill, Markheim, Thrawn Janet, Olalla, The Treasure of Franchard. Each of these short stories offers grotesque elements in different extent and representation. For the purpose of the analysis, the focus is put on three selected short stories – Markheim, Olalla and Thrawn Janet. Since the fact that the collection was written just one year later than the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the grotesque elements presented on the character as well as on the setting are strengthen. The second chapter focuses on the analysis of the grotesque elements in the collection of short stories.

Each short story from the collection is unique and deals with the different subjects like murder, strange vampire family, strange woman working at the parsonage. The first short story Markheim deals with the murderer Markheim, who came to the shop during the Christmas Day and killed the dealer. In addition, strange being visits him while he is looking for the keys to the safe. At the beginning it must be said, that the story creates the grotesque effect through the grotesque elements, which together create the abysmal world. Furthermore, the story presents demonic characters and motifs. The setting of the story is put in the pawn shop, which creates the contrast with the outer world. The contrast is visible in the whole story, mainly on the transformation of the protagonist into the character with moral values. The beginning of the story introduces Markheim´s discussion with the dealer of the shop. There are several strange elements, which creates the strange world. At first, it is the time of the whole story, which is Christmas Day. The presence of Markheim in the shop in that day is unusual, since people tend to spend Christmas Day at home. The dealer´s reaction on this unusual time is offered, when he says that Markheim came in very strange time, when he knew that the dealer is alone (Stevenson, 1905, p. 104). The dealer´s amazement is reflected also in the amazement of the reader. Secondly the setting is created by the strange rooms in the shop and its contrast with the outer world. While the shop is described as dark, with the flames of candles, the outer world is full of life. The presence of Markheim creates the strange silence, which is perhaps the herald of something horrible. It is disturbed only by clocks and outer world since it is stated that “the ticking of many clocks among the curious lumber of the shop, and the faint rushing of the cabs in a near thoroughfare, filled up the interval of silence” (Stevenson, 1905, p.105). The strange situation at the beginning gradually moves to revelation of Markheim´s character. He becomes very angry when the dealer offers him a mirror as a Christmas present and his behavior influences the dealer: The little man had jumped back when Markheim had so suddenly confronted him with the mirror; but now, perceiving there was nothing worse on hand, he chuckled. (Stevenson, 1905, p. 106)

The reaction of the dealer is probably the fear, since the world in the shop becomes alienated for him. The character of Markheim creates abysmal world for the dealer, especially his presence and behavior. The dialogue between two men becomes very strange, it is full of the changes in the mood. For a while, Markheim is angry and he cries, in the other moment he tries to be very polite and calm. It is evident in the dialogue shortly before he kills the dealer: "Ah!" cried Markheim, with a strange curiosity. "Ah, have you been in love?...
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