Corruption of The Twentieth Century in Western Society in A Pair of Silk Stockings and The Happy Prince
“The Happy Prince”
Themes: Generosity, selfishness, appearance, struggle, sacrifice, corruption, dedication, compassion. It is a fairy tale by “Oscar Wilde” who tries to elaborate the corruption of that age. This is a story of a prince who lives in a palace in England. This is a palace where sorrows and griefs have no permission to enter. He has spent a luxurious life dancing, drinking and jumping. He is unaware of the sorrows of life. This is why, he is called the happy prince. He has made corruption throughout his life but is unaware of it. There is social corruption in this story.
Now after his death, he is converted into a statue and placed in the middle of the city. As it is the statue of a prince so decorated with precious gold, sapphires and ruby. Everyone appreciates its beauty. Also In this way, there is corruption as statue is made of lead but only coated in gold. To Judge a book by its cover is also corruption. A bird swallow who was flying to England stays in the feet of the statue as it is difficult for him to keep flying during night. He feels that statue is weeping. He asks its name. The statue when tells him its name he becomes confused that if it is happy prince then why it is weeping. The happy prince tells him that when he was alive he did nothing for others and was unaware of their sorrows. He himself spend a happy life. Now when he is a statue, could observe the miseries of the common people from the top view.
A female’s son is sick and asking for oranges but she cannot afford. Then, there is a girl who is selling match boxes but all of them fell into the gutter. She starts weeping as if she will not take money to home, her father may beat him. Under a bridge, two brothers are standing too close to each other to avoid the cold weather but the watchman of the bridge pushes them into the rain. Then there is a playwright who could not write as his hands become cold because of cold weather. This all makes the statue unhappy. Through all these miseries, the writer has tried to reveal the corruption of that age. As there everyone is leading a life of poverty and full of miseries so definitely it is because of corruption made by the upper class. If there is no corruption, people will be happy.
The happy prince asks swallow to spend a day and night with him and distribute his wealth among the poor and needy. The swallow becomes his messenger and distributes his sapphire to young play wright. The little match girl is helped with another ruby. Now, the statue itself is blind but still asks swallow to distribute the remaining wealth as this sacrifice gives it peace. Gradually its external beauty is lost but it is now really happy and satisfied. The innocence of the children now turns into bravery. They all becomes rich and happy. After distributing everything, the swallow dies in the feet of the statue because of the harshness of the weather. This broke the leaden heart of the Happy prince. The swallow is thrown into the heap of rubbish. The statue is sent to the foundry to melt. The prince who has sacrificed his every thing for people, they are still judging it by its outlook. So, as it is looking ugly now so they melt it. This is the irony of fate that mayor and members of his office are judging statue by how it looks. They melt it but its broken heart does not melt. So, they throw it to the place where Swallow was thrown. This is the biggest corruption.
This is a short story written by “Anton Chekhov” who is a Russian writer. The writer has used symbolism here. The story reveals the corruption of the twentieth century and the changing attitude of people during different situations. There is criticism on modern society where there is no ethics, no laws. There is moral corruption made by a policeman. It shows selfishness of people and inequality. The looks of people itself reveals and confirms the corruption as their wide open hungry mouths have been mentioned by the writer. Basically, the title of the story is about the police superintendent Ochumyelof. He is continuously changing his mind towards an incident. He does not know how to act in a situation where he is unaware of all the facts. Firstly, he has been in the favour of the man whom the dog has bitten without any reason. He says that the dog should be killed. It may be a mad dog. He has been made a claim to punish the owner of the dog and asks Yeldyrin to search for the owner of that dog.
When by the yelling of someone in the crowd, he came to know that it is general’s dog, he blames the man for this accident and considers the dog very innocent. He asks the public that Khriukin has lied. Still now the policeman is in doubt that general don’t like this type of dogs. His mind again changes and he says that the dog will be punished. When again from someone in the public he hears that it is general’s dog his decision again gets changed. He again threaten Khriukin and felt cold. He ordered to take the dog to general and tell him that Ochumyelof has found and sent the dog to him. When someone suggests something in different way the Ochumyelof keeps on changing continuously just for his own benefit. Throughout the story there is immorality and inequality.
Then Prokhor, the general’s chef reports that the dog does not belong to general. This time he says that discussion should be stopped now and dog should be exterminated. It’s a useless dog. As the people in the presence of this type of mad dog are not secure. When Prokhor tells that it’s not our but belong to general’s brother’s, he again starts showing affection towards the dog. Everyone was laughing at Khriukin. The writer has also tried to create humour through the changing behavior of policeman. This all shows corruption, injustice and inequality during that age. Corruption is also clear from the hungry mouths of the people. At the end, dog has been sent to his owner without any punishment to the dog and its owner. Even he threatens the man at the end also. Ochumyelov is a very corrupt man. He cares for what is useful and good to him. He is a model of injustice and hypocrisy at all. That’s why given resemblance with the chameleon.
The Verger by Somerset Maugham:
In this story, educational corruption is there. In the story the verger Albert Edward foreman was illiterate. He can not read or write. But the new vicar was well educated and talented guy he wanted the church at its best. When he came to know that the verger can’t read or write anything thing he became suspicious that how he can help him to bring the church at it best. Then he asked him that he must be educated and if he wants to keep his job he has a deadline of three months to get education and to learn how to read and write. But the verger refuses his offer by saying that he has been working for years in this church and he dis his duty very well and no one ask him about his education even not the old vicar so he didn’t accept new vicar’s proposal and resigned from his job. We can say that the old vicar was also corrupted because he gave the job to a person who cannot even read or write any thing. And who was not eligible to that job. But compromise with the situation as the verger done his duty very well.
“A Pair of Silk Stockings”
Themes: Responsibility, freedom, identity, independence, consumerism, escape. It is narrated in third person. This short story starts revealing the theme of responsibility and identity even from the beginning. In this, a mother Mrs. Sommers who seems very careful about his children. She has become very surprising to have the money and was involved in too much thinking and imagination that how and where to spent it. She spends days pondering about and nights awakening. This too much excitement of her shows the corruption of that age. As if there is no corruption she has not been too poor and even by finding a small amount of money she becomes so happy. She has an intention of spending majority of the dollars she has on the new shoes and clothes of her children. Later on, we realize that the theme of identity is in the sense that Mrs. Sommers who is going to spend majority of her money on her children now seems ending up spending money on herself. Also corruption is in the way that she has not even mentioned her husband. She has only mentioned her children but with whom she has also made the corruption.
This story also shows that at that time, women have responsibility of taking care of their children and bring them up. So, they are to look after their children rather than taking care of their partner. As her neighbour has talked about certain better days which shows that her life before marriage was different. So not the life of every woman gets improve after her marriage.
There is also a theme of consumerism. Here by the selfishness of Mrs. Sommers that writer has tried to reveal the corruption and selfishness of people during that time. She spent the day buying things for herself in imagination that it will improve her life. In reality, very little change occurs to her as in the eyes of society her behaviour towards her husband and children is still same.
Then, we can see symbolism in the story. Here Chopin by focusing on 15 dollars tries to show that money can increase person’s confidence and boosts his self-esteem irrespective of the reality of their lives. A person’s appraisal and money are short lived. Just for short moment, she escapes into another world and able to forget about her life.
Throughout there is corruption. So Chopin by the small package of silk stockings relates these changes of life which are small too and not long lasting. This story has an interesting end. Mrs. Sommers wait for arrival of the cable car is also indicating her too big and long lasting wishes about her life. As she wants to be continuously in the world of freedom and independence. Society wants to see woman as a wife or as a mother. As Mrs. Sommers wants to see herself being individual and independent. So she is corrupt and society continues to see her as a woman whose responsibilities lie within the family. She could not be both, an individual and a mother.
“The Death of The Hired Man”
This is a dramatic poem written by “ Robert Frost”. There is social and moral corruption. In this, there is a philosophical debate between Warren and his wife. Wife is a kind hearted woman while husband is a man who demands reason, rationality. He gives importance to those who are worthful and do work honestly. Then there is an old hired man Silas. He is an old laborer and has served them for many times. The debate was about him between husband and wife. He has a bad habit of leaving one job if someone else pays him the more. Many times he came back with a promise of not leaving this time but fails to keep his promises. He don’t consider that how, when and where he is useful to others and even to himself.
This time when he comes back, he is in a very bad condition of health. The Mary is convincing her husband to forgive Silas and talks to him. She told him that Silas wants to complete the contract. He says to me that he will cut the upper pasture and ditch the meadows. Warren was not willing to keep him because he has left them many times even at the time when they needs him the most. He has left them when there is a peak of harvest. So he is not a man of trust. He comes back when we need no laborer. He has made corruption by making promises all the times but has not kept them. Mary has seen his illness and as she has a beautiful heart, she wants to help him. She further tells Warren that Silas has demanded to accompany him with that school boy with whom he has been very dissatisfied. It seems that he comes back to correct the mistakes, to make everything right. No doubt he has made corruption before but this this time, he’ll not cheat us.
So the Warren goes to him but comes back soon and says only one word to Mary, “dead” which means Silas has came back to die not to serve them. He is so corrupt that he could not kept his last promise, and his contract also remains incomplete. Corruption is not only made by the Silas, rather it is also revealed by the character of Warren. The Silas has served Warren and his wife when they were so young. So it is necessary for the Warren to help Silas. There must be some reason which forces him to go. He is now an old man and he demands some more salary to fulfil his desire of tobacco. Warner does not seems to increase even a small amount in Silas salary. So Silas has to left. Now he is in a critical condition of health and is old so deserves more respect and peace. Warren is not willing to help him which may be considered the reason of his death. So corruption is made by both Silas and Warren also.
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