"The Moon and Sixpence" by Somerset Maugham_
The story under the title “The Moon and Sixpence” was written by famous English writer - W. Somerset Maugham.
The extract under the discussion acquaints us with the protagonists – Captain Nichols and his wife and describes us the situation in this family. Reading the text we find out the main problem lying in the power of wife on her husband and complete obedience and silence of Captain Nichols. While reading on we realize he reconciled this fact and continues such an existence.
Let’s turn to the general definition of the text under the study. First of all we should say it is told in the first person narrative and we constantly feel and see the presence of the author: “I am certain that…”, “I never heard her speak…” etc.
Then we should note the narration is interlaced with descriptive passages and basically these exact passages present us full sketch of the characters.
It is enough to have a look at the first sentence of the text. There we obtain the most significant characteristic of Captain Nichols. It is conveyed through a wonderful case of oxymoron, which is a feature of Maugham’s style: “married bachelor”. Indeed, it gives us the key image of the hero. The rest of his traits of character such as fear of wife, submission, inactivity are just included in his portrayal.
What concerns his wife, while describing her the author twice used intensifiers, which demonstrate she wasn’t a usual “bird”: “She gave me an impression of extraordinary tightness”, “Captain Nichols was frightened to death of her”. The following sentence depicts her nature at full rate: “Her plain face with its narrow lips was tight, her skin was stretched tightly over her bones, her smile was tight, her hair was tight, her clothes were tight…” The case of parallel construction together with the repetition of the word “tight” proves that Maugham attempted to underline this feature of hers.
Besides, a very specific and even philosophic metaphor applied by the author also illustrates her world: “inexorable as fate and remorseless as conscience”. Thus, we realize Mrs. Nichols wasn’t a match for her husband; she possessed callousness, cunning and insincerity which for sure were not the nouns suitable to portray Captain Nichols.
Furthermore, reading the following sentence combined with the case of parallel construction we can imagine that she had no desire to leave him, as he was a convenient victim for her: “He could as little escape her as the cause can escape the effect.”
To crown it all, she didn’t show her higher position to people, she tried not to address to him directly, but for example send a daughter, and all that proves she was a rational and reserved person.
“She did not call him; she gave no sign that she was aware of his existence; she merely walked up and down composedly.” Here the repetition of pronoun “she” reveals her strict and reticent but complete power on him.
We can assume that even her daughter lacked her love and support, as the author shows her as “a pale-faced, sullen child of seven”. Is that the influence of mother? I guess so.
Speaking about the extract, we can add that the prevailing mood of it is rather pessimistic. The majority of the sentences is quite long, as they bare some description to the reader.
We can outline the inner conflict of man in the extract. Surely Captain Nichols realizes his position in the family, but he undertakes no steps to make himself free, and this is his greatest problem. Thus, the extract provokes contradictory assessments, as we see Captain is able to change his life but has no wish to do that.
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