Analysis of the story “The Escape” by W. S. Maugham William Somerset Maugham is one of the best known English writers of the 20th century. He was not only a novelist, but also a one of the most successful dramatist and short-story writers. Maugham wants the readers to draw their own conclusion about the characters and events described in his novels. His reputation as a novelist is based on the following prominent books: “Of Human Bondage”; “The Moon and Sixpence”; and “The Razor’s Edge”.
Though Maugham doesn’t denounce the contemporary social order, he is critical of the morals and the narrow-mindedness. Realistic portrayal of life, keen character observation, and interesting plots coupled with beautiful, expressive language, a simple, clear, style, place Somerset Maugham on a level with the greatest English writers of the 20th century. In general, Maugham’s novels and short stories could be characterized by great narrative facility, an ironic point of view, cosmopolitan settings, and an astonishing understanding of human nature. His short stories gained the greatest popularity.
And it’s right time to speculate upon one of the stories – “The Escape”. It is about a man, Roger Charing and a woman Ruth Barlow. Through the story we see the development of their relations and “evolution” of their love. Until the moment Roger understood, that he does not want to marry her. So he made up a plan of making her go away. And it worked. Ruth gave up their relations and easily picked another man. The text can be divided into three parts. The first part is the beginning. The author shows use the general problem of the story, also giving a few examples.
Syntax of this part is complicated; there are compound sentences with many subjects and verbs of action not to loose the thought. The epithets “instant flight”, “the inevitable loom”, “menacingly” show us fear and trembling of such men. They don’t know and don’t respect women, the epithet “fickle” confirms it, that why they are afraid of difficulties of the marriage. And through these stylistic devices we feel the author’s tone, it is ironical. The second part contains the case of Roger and Ruth and starts with their descriptions.
Roger was tall and handsome, rich, experienced middle-aged man. Of course, many women wanted to marry him. But he was happy to live the life of an unmarried man: the epithets “sufficient experience”, “careful” give the direct description of his lifestyle. Ruth was quite good-looking and she had big, beautiful, dark eyes and she had the gift of pathos. When a man saw those big, sad eyes, he wanted to help Ruth. The epithet “defenseless” expose the power of her look. It was Ruth’s mode to get what she wanted because she had no other means. This “gift” helped Ruth to reach her goals.
The metaphor “the gift of pathos”, the epithets “splendid dark eyes”, “the most moving eyes”, “big and lovely eyes” and the repetition of the word “eyes” make us pay our attention to this peculiarity. While reading we came across a lot of pure literary words (gift, splendid, wonderful, hazards, sadness, lovely) and some cliches (“the world was too much for her”, “stand between the hazards of life and this helpless little thing”, “how wonderful it would be to take the sadness out of those big and lovely eyes”) which are peculiar to the description of ordinary situations concerning love affairs.
All these devices increase the ironical effect. The epithets “helpless little thing”, “rotten time”, “unfortunate”, “poor dear”, the metaphor “a little lamb”, parallel constructions “if she married… “and pure literary words such as “sufferings”, “hazards”, “sadness” display hopelessness of Ruth’s life. Roger took an interest in her destiny and was ready to relieve it: the repetition of the pronouns “she” and “her” in Roger’s speech, the epithet “dreadfully sorry” prove this assumption.
The epithets “very happy” and “pleased” make us believe that it wasn’t a nuisance for him. But according to the narrator’s opinion, Ruth was two-faced woman of few ideas: he called her stupid and scheming. The epithets “stupid”, “scheming”, the simile “as hard as nails” add some points to her description, so the method of character-drawing here is direct.
Also are used epithets “acutely conscious”, “a solemn oath” and “an immoderately high figure” which stress the importance of decisions of people; as to the epithet “pathetic look” and the metaphor “heart-strings”, they produce the humorous effect. Parallel constructions “sometimes they were too large, sometimes they were too small, sometimes they were too expensive and sometimes they were too stuffy”, the metaphor “house-hunting”, the epithet “innumerable kitchens” also help to create the atmosphere of irony in actions of the characters.
The last part consists of two short letters. This part is also full of literary words as “herewith”, “consideration”, “anxious”, they also create an ironical atmosphere in the end of story and relations between Roger and Ruth. Maugham, with his outstanding mind, made an ironical mirror, which reflected the world and helped us to look at our life. For me this story was interesting, because I think, that the same problems exist in our modern society too.