The Force of Circumstance
Until the 19th century the writers of short stories mainly focussed on the Awhat happened' element. Now writers began to concentrate on the motivations why characters did certain things. First they concentrated on what happened, but now they began to focus on why and because of what it happened. The short story developed into a recognizable genre.
Maugham, W(illiam) Somerset (1874-1965)
Maugham was an English author. He wrote several novels and short stories. Maugham was born in Paris and studied medicine at the University of Heidelberg and at Saint Thomas's Hospital, London. People consider his autobiographical novel AOf Human Bondage' (1915) as his masterpiece and it is one of the best realistic English novels of the early 20th century. His stories are characterized by the simplicity of style and an ironic view of point.
The force of circumstance is a story which tells about a man, Guy, and his wife, Doris. They live in Malaysia. Guy moved there right after his school and has lived there for years. He left once and he came back with his white wife Doris. The story is not written in the I-person, it is a narrator who tells you the story. The language use is normal and the tone of voice a little bit ironic.
When Guy was young he was very alone at night. Night after night it was the same. One evening his boy asked wether he'd like to have a girl to come and live with him. First he had doubts about it, but he said yes after all, and she stayed. They got three children. After several years he sent her back to the village because he was leaving. Their Arelationship' was over. Then he returned with his new white wife Doris, but after a while she leaves him and the Malay woman returns.
The title 'The Force of Circumstance' can be explained from three different kinds of views:
- The common side
- Guy's side
- Doris' side
- In hard circumstances people have to make decisions, and they open up under pressure.
- Guy's side: his force of circumstance was that he was alone and he felt like he would go mad if he would stay alone. So he let the girl stay: it was also regular thing. He said that five men out of six do so.
- Doris's side: what she did was out of force of circumstance; she did what she had to do. She could not live there anymore. She could not see the woman, the house, everything. AHuman nature is very odd' (p 150 L 20). It was not her own choice, she could not help it.
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