The Man Who Was Thursday was written by G.K. Chesterton and published in 1907. We enter the story in the suburb of Saffron Park in London during the Edwardian era. When the sun is setting Mr. Lucian Gregory, the anarchic poet, is brought into the novel, along with Gabriel Syme, an undercover policeman. Further in the novel we meet Sunday, the head of the anarchist council, and his fellow members. Syme later finds out that all the members of the council are cops just like him. Syme and the others are on a mission to end all anarchy. However they meet some obstacles that are purposely put into their path. The council struggles with doubt and certainty. There are two central symbols in the novel that bring the story full circle, the forest and the blue card.
The forest symbolizes doubt. Physically the forest is mysterious, dark and suspicious. G.K. Chesterton uses alliteration to describe the physical qualities of the forest. For example, he uses the phrase “chaos of chiaroscuro” to portray the “patterns of sun and shade.” The forest is dark in some spots and dazzling in others with shadows overlapping. Within the forest there are strange animals and insects roaming the woods. The symbolic meaning of these woods in G.K. Chesterton’s story is the “wood of witchery.” He uses this statement to explain the doubt one can feel in the woods and to refer to the uncertainty of what could happen next. The word witchery is used because the woods are enigmatic. One has little clue as to what could be around the corner. In the novel, Syme has an epiphany upon entering the woods and thinks “Was not everything, after all, like this bewildering woodland, this dance of dark and light? Everything only a glimpse, the glimpse always unforeseen, and always forgotten” (Chesterton 189). Syme realizes that the woods are very similar to his life. One minute he thinks he knows exactly who he is talking to in the light. Yet, in the next minute he is back in the dark...
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