A Friend in Need

Topics: Of Human Bondage, Narrative, W. Somerset Maugham Pages: 3 (795 words) Published: June 3, 2013
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I’ve just read the story which is entitled “A friend in need”. To begin with I’d like to say a few words about the title. In my opinion, on the one hand, the title is quite suggestive because it’s a part of well-known proverb: “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. So we can predict that the story is about friendship, may be one friend got into trouble and the other helped him. But, on the other hand, the title made me think why the author gives only the first part of the proverb. From my perspective the writer did it on purpose. After I’ve read the story up to the end I realized that the title and the content are contrasted. The title seems positive whereas the events of the story are brutal and tragic.

The text is written by William Somerset Maugham, an English writer. He achieved a great success as a novelist with such novels as “Of Human Bondage”, “The Razor’s Edge” and others, as a dramatist, but he is best known by his short stories. His novels and short stories are characterized by great narrative facility, simplicity of style, and ironic point of view. Maugham says that a writer can’t change life, he must only try to amuse his reader, stir his imagination. And this is where Maugham achieves perfection: his stories are cool and pessimistic but always fascinating.

As for the subject matter of the story it’s about a young man who come to his friend to ask for a job and what he was offered. Preceding to the structure of the text it should be noted that the composition of this story has its own peculiarities. The writer uses the device which is called “a story in the story”. So there are two plots: outer and inner.

The story starts with the exposition of the inner story, where the preliminaries to the action are laid out. From the first lines we learn the main characters: young Burton, old Burton and a narrator. Although the time of the action is not clear, we can easily infer from the story it happens nowadays....
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