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Analysis “The Escape”

The Escape is a novel written by a famous British playwright, novelist and short story
writer. William Somerset Maugham is British writer, one of the most successful writers of the
1930-ies, the author of 78 books, a British intelligence agent. The trend he belongs to is
realism with slight influence of expressionism (А.Г. Гилянова). The most popular books are
“Of Human Bondage” (1915), “The Moon and Sixpence” (1919), “Theatre” (1937) and “The
Razor's Edge” (1945). The observer of the first decades of the 20th century, Maugham is
deeply critical of the morals and the narrow-mindedness of his contemporaries. 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.

The story “The Escape” is about a very wealthy man Roger Charing who falls in love with
Ruth Barlow, a woman who is twice a widow. They start to think about marriage but suddenly
Roger falls out of love and he tries to find the way to break up with her. He tells her that they
are going to marry next day they find a perfect house, but for 2 years he rejects all the offers
and Ruth loses her patience and leaves Roger herself. The story explores the theme of
relationships between men and women, but also touches upon the social problem of planned
marriages, the general insincerity that exists between men and women (particularly in marital
affairs), and with the problem of people's dependence upon the public opinion. The story is
told from different point of view. The narration constantly switches from the third person,
when the author simply tells the story of the characters, to first person, as the author
participates in the plot himself as a friend of the personages. There are also dialogues, both
between Roger and the author and between Roger and Ruth. It increases the credibility of the
plot. In the exposition author introduces us with the problem of marriage: for women it is the
aim of life, for men it is a kind of hazard, trap; he uses the metaphors instant flight could save
him and the inevitable loom menacingly before him talking about marriage as a dangerous
thing. We can feel that sarcastic humor that is so typical for all Maugham’s stories. It lies in
the fact that the poor friend came to what he had run away. There are two main characters -
Roger Charing and Ruth Barlow. Here we can also observe ironic humor which are mostly
come forth in these passages – it is said that Ruth was twice a widow, which makes the reader
guess that Roger is the next victim, through the idiom (He went down like a row of ninepins).
The author also uses a question periphrasis to stress that the fact that Ruth could render men
defenseless is not just a gift for her, she got this ability in a lifetime or in other words it's an
acquired skill (or should I call it a quality?). The gradation starts as Roger falls out of love,
and the narrator tells the reader about the two-year period of their house-hunting. The tense is
growing when Ruth loses her temper and refuses to see the houses anymore, here the climax
occurs. As denouement stands their final exchange of letters. In this story the author reveals
the problem of relationship between men and women. He raises the problem of dishonesty in
relationship, he exposes that aspect of human nature that they prefer to lie, to think up
different reasons to change the situation and to avoid explanations instead of telling the truth.
To create an impression of truth the author lays an accent on the personal qualities of the main
character. He gives a direct description of Ruth’s eyes using the definitions (“splendid”,
“moving”, “big and lovely”), (“poor dear”) – all in the ironic way. She seemed unhappy and
exhausted (“her sufferings had been more than anyone should be asked to bear”). The
narrator’s opinion that Ruth is a two-faced woman, he called her stupid and scheming (Idiom
“as hard as nails”). The author describes miserable and unlucky woman directly through
parallel construction "If she married a husband he beat her; if she employed a broker he
cheated her; if she engaged a cook she drank. She never had a little lamb but it was sure to
die”. It is expressed through the definitions “helpless little thing”, “rotten time”,
“unfortunate”, “poor dear”. Especially ironically sounds the metaphoric allusion “she never
had a lamb …”). The metaphor “the gift of pathos”, the definitions “splendid dark eyes”, “the
most moving eyes”, “big and lovely eyes” give us understanding of the author`s attitude to that
woman. Roger is considerate, wealthy, gentle, generous and glad to take care of her. He is also
described directly through the definitions “sufficient experience, careful, his prudence and his
worldy wisdom”. Roger is very happy that he loves her, the writer applies parallel
construction to depict his feelings " He gave her lovely jewels. He took her here, there, and
everywhere. He was committing a good action and at the same time doing something ". He
shows pure love and care. But suddenly his attitude changed, he fells out of love with no
reason. The author indicates that through the metaphor “it was merely that this pathetic look
of hers ceased to wring his heart-strings”. The public opinion is more important for Roger, the
epithets “acutely conscious”, “a solemn oath” make it clear. Parallel constructions used in the
description of the houses “sometimes they [houses] were too large, sometimes they were too
small, sometimes they were too expensive and sometimes they were too stuffy”, the metaphor
“house-hunting” describe Roger’s plan of getting rid of Ruth. The tone of the story is
informal, ironic and humorous. The author takes the mocking standpoint from the very
beginning, comparing a marriage affair initiated by a woman to a life threat. Even the word
“marriage” is humorously paraphrased by him to sound like something menacing. The
atmosphere is cheerful, that helps author to evoke the delight of the story and make the reader
draw his own conclusion. The main idea of dishonesty in relationship and the importance of
public opinion is good depicted. The author disclosed this problem in irony way but he could
evoke a certain attitude. Unfortunately, this problem will exist for a long time because of
human nature. For some people it is easier to lie instead of telling the truth. And author
revealed us how ridiculous it looks.