William Somerset Maugham is one of the best known English writers of the 20th century. He was not only a novelist, but also a one of the most successful dramatist and short-story writers. Maugham wants the readers to draw their own conclusion about the characters and events described in his novels. His reputation as a novelist is based on the following prominent books: “Of Human Bondage”; “The Moon and Sixpence”; and “The Razor's Edge”.
Though Maugham doesn’t denounce the contemporary social order, he is critical of the morals and the narrow-mindedness. Realistic portrayal of life, keen character observation, and interesting plots coupled with beautiful, expressive language, a simple, clear, unadored style, place Somerset Maugham on a level with the greatest English writers of the 20th century. In general, Maugham's novels and short stories could be characterized by great narrative facility, an ironic point of view, cosmopolitan settings, and an astonishing understanding of human nature.
His short stories gained the greatest popularity. And it’s right time to speculate upon one of the stories - “The Escape”- which impressed me deeply and made me think about its subject.
It is about a man (Roger) and a woman (Ruth), their complicated relations and scheming in order to achieve different aims. So they are the main characters. The author hides behind the narrator who is the secondary character.
The essence of “The Escape”, to my mind, is that Roger and Ruth have diverse approaches towards the relations. Of course, the men and the women like the first step: flowers, attentiveness, passion. But then their paths diverge. The romance disappears, the man looks for the way out, he craves for new emotions, but the woman deems that the relations should develop into the marriage. And “The Escape” is the example of such a mismatch.
From the very beginning the narrator convinces us that if a woman once made her mind to marry a man nothing but instant flight could save him.
One of his friends seeing the unavoidable hazard before him, took ship and spent a year traveling round the world. He hoped the woman who was considered to be his bride would forget him being fickle, but he was mistaken; when he got back thinking himself safe, the woman, from whom he had fled, was waiting for him on the dockside. This funny thing supports the idea that the inevitable loom of the marriage frightens some men and they try to evade it. This portion of the text is some kind of preamble, it prepares the reader for the following plot-development and presents a piece of narration. Its syntax is complicated, there are compound sentences with many subjects and verbs of action not to loose the thought. The epithets “instant flight”, “the inevitable loom”, “menacingly” show us fear and trembling of such men. They don’t know and don’t respect women, the epithet “fickle” confirms it, that why they are afraid of difficulties of the marriage. And through these stylistic devices we feel the author’s tone, it is humorous, but this humor is with bitter flavor, so it’s natural to begin to reflect once more on the essential principles of the relations between the man and woman, but the story continues, let’s turn to the text again.
Further on the narrator says that he knows only one man who escaped successfully. Once upon a time his friend, Roger Charing told him he was going to marry. Roger was tall and handsome, rich, experienced middle-aged man. Of course, many women wanted to marry him. But he was happy to live the life of an unmarried man: the epithets “sufficient experience”, “careful” give the direct description of his lifestyle.
But then he met Ruth Barlow. He fell in love with her. He immediately wanted to look after her and make her happy. Ruth was twice a widow, she was younger than Roger. She was quite good-looking and she had big, beautiful, dark eyes and she had the gift of pathos. When a man saw those big, sad eyes, he wanted to help...
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