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“The Happy Man” by Somerset Maugham


Опасно распоряжаться чужими жизнями, и я часто удивлялся самоуверенности

политиков, реформаторов и тому подобных, кто готов навязать своему народу ценности,
которые должны изменить их манеры, привычки и точку зрения. Я всегда неохотно давал
советы, потому что как можно советовать другому, как себя вести, если ты не знаешь его так
же хорошо, как себя? Небеса свидетели, я не слишком-то много знаю о себе и я не знаю
ничего о других. Мы можем только догадываться о мыслях и чувствах наших соседей.
Каждый из нас – пленник в одиноко стоящей башне и общается с другими пленниками,
составляющими человечество, шаблонными знаками, которые значат для других не совсем
то же, что для него. А жизнь, к сожалению, проживают лишь однажды; ошибки часто
неисправимы, и кто я такой, чтобы говорить кому бы то ни было, как он должен прожить
свою жизнь? Жизнь – тяжёлая штука, и я обнаружил, что достаточно сложно превратить мою
собственную в нечто полное и завершённое; меня не соблазнишь учить моих соседей, что им
делать с их жизнями. Но есть люди, которые путаются в самом начале, перед ними лежит
смущающая и опасная дорога, и порой, хотя и без особого желания, я был принуждён
служить указующим перстом судьбы. Иногда человек спрашивал меня, что ему делать со
своей жизнью, и я обнаруживал себя на мгновение облаченным в тёмный плащ рока.
Я знаю, что однажды дал хороший совет.
Я был молод и жил в скромной квартире в Лондоне рядом с вокзалом Виктория.
Однажды поздно вечером, когда я подумывал, что достаточно поработал на сегодня, я
услышал звонок. За дверью стоял незнакомец. Он спросил моё имя, я ответил. Он
осведомился, может ли войти.
William Somerset Maugham is one of the best known English writers of the 20th century.
William Somerset Maugham (1874-1966), a well-known English novelist, short-story writer,
playwright and essayist, was the son of a British diplomat. He was born in 1874 in Paris and
educated at King's School in Canterbury, studied painting in Paris, went to Heidelberg University in
Germany and studied to be a doctor at St. Thomas Hospital in England. Although Somerset
Maugham did not denounce the contemporary social order, he was critical of the morals, the
narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy of bourgeois society. Maugham became internationally
celebrated; his plays were performed all over the world. Now independent and well able to enjoy
life Maugham began to travel. He traveled a lot and spent long periods in the United States, the
South Seas and China. But his favourite country was Spain and a great deal of his works devoted to
it. For instance «The Happy man» that was written in 1927. Somerset Maugham's style of writing is
clear and precise. He does not impose his views on the reader. He puts a question and leaves it to
the reader to answer it. When criticizing something he sounds rather amused than otherwise.
1)The text belongs to such style as belles-tres as it has the following linguistic features
which are:
1. Genuine, not trite, imagery, achieved by purely linguistic devices.
2. The use of words in contextual and very often in more than one dictionary meaning, or at
least greatly influenced by the lexical environment.
3. A vocabulary which will reflect to a greater or lesser degree the author's personal
evaluation of things or phenomena.
4. A peculiar individual selection of vocabulary and syntax.
5. The introduction of the typical features of colloquial language to a slight degree in
emotive prose.
The belles-lettres style is individual in essence. This is one of its most distinctive properties.
“The Happy Man” belongs to the belles-lettres functional style, the main aim of which is to
give the readers aesthetic pleasure, to make them think and to entertain them by appealing to their
emotions. It is rather a psychological short story because it deals predominantly with the emotions
and the inner state of the protagonist. It is told in the third person, from the viewpoint of an
omniscient anonymous narrator. Dialogue is practically absent, often the author’s narrative is
interspersed with insertions of reported inner speech, revealing the protagonist’s psychological and
emotional state.
2. In the text special type of narration presents. It is a kind of combination of the spoken and
written varieties of the language,—monologue (the writer's speech) and dialogue (the speech of the
The language"of the short story will in the main be chosen in order to characterize the man
himself. True, this language is also subjected to some kind of reshaping. This is an indispensable
requirement of any literary work. The method of character’s portrayed is indirect, which sometimes
called dramatic. The author didn’t comment upon the person ages, the author made them act, speak
and let the reader judge for himself. The main characters of the story are the narrator and Stephens.
The narrator was an intelligent, clever and bright. We can judge by his way of
narration, speech. He was a doctor but didn’t practice. And first of all he was a writer. He was an
experienced person, philosopher and good psychologist, because he could say for sure who the man
was and what life was. He thought a lot about life and tried to understand the value of life. ‘And life
is something that you can lead but once…’ He is responsible man.
The dialogical speech has some peculiarities. First, in the dialogues the colloquial language
is not a pure and simple reproduction of what might be the natural speech of living people. It has
undergone'changes introduced by the writer. Second, the colloquial speech has been made
"literature-like." This means that only the most striking elements of what might have been a
conversation in life are made use of, and even these have undergone some kind of transformation.
The style of the author is clear. Maugham wrote from the first person, it is made the reader
believe that this is a real story, and it is made the narration closer to the reader and more intimate.
The syntactic structure of the story is in keeping with the concise, brisk, and easy-to-
understand writing style so characteristic of the author. Therefore, the majority of the sentences are
simple sentences composed of a single clause.

3. The story can be divided into three parts on the basis of shifts in mood and narrative
The first section presents the Narrator’s thoughts about the life in the form of a desriptive,
philosophical paragraph. The mood here can be described as pessimistic.
Narrator warns about giving advice to others because everybody must decide for himself.
The second section starts off the story and runs up to the point where Stephens, the stranger,
leaves the Narrator. The utterance is inserted with dialogue and the atmosphere is rather emotional
and suspensful, as the reader tries to point out what Stephens wants and what advice would be
appropriate for his wish to work as an English doctor in Spain.
The last part sums up the story fifteen years later and s of shows us what transformation had
happened with predicators. Here, we find more dialogue than narrative, and even some description
in the form of a paragraph describing Stephens’ dissipated appearance fifteen years after his and the
Narrator’s encounter: “He was very fat now and bald, but his eyes twinkled gaily and his fleshy, red
face bore an expression of perfect good-humour.” This description provides some direct
characterization of a changed Stephens and lends the section a warm, intimate atmosphere; it is as
though, despite their physical changes over the years, the two men have not only not parted for a
minute, but have also become good friends. The Narrator’s sympthy with Stephens is evident in the
ironic, slightly teasing, yet still cordial sentence “You might have hesitated to let him remove your
appendix, but you could not have imagined a more delightful creature to drink a glass of wine with”
Thus, we follow Stephens’ transformation from a absent-minded, lost, and average-looking
man into a confident, happy and poised who has gained his aim in life. So, advice of narrators has
proven quite useful to Stephens.
4. In the text we can observe a lot of stylistic devices . The latter ones provide vividness of
the narration, expressiveness of the speech, besides they make narration more attractive for the
It is found the use of metaphor, as in “each one of us is a prisoner in a solitary tower,” “life
is a difficult business,” “some people flounder at the journey’s start,” why on earth not, to keep
body and soul together.
Such device as personification presents here. For example: in “wrapped in the cloak of
Destiny” and “to point the finger of fate,” creates a sense of fatalism.
Epithet :“sharp sentences., along with the epithet “bullet-shaped head, in the epithet
“bacchanalian smile”.
an oxymoron: “Bright and dark eyes”.
Hyperbole ‘I wouldn’t exchange the life. I’ve had with that of any king in the world’ is used
to show that Stephens was very happy and wasn’t concerned about material things. So, also in the
story there is an inversion and repetition ‘Poor I have been and poor I always be’.
Parallel syntactical constructions such as: ‘’I was, I never, I’ve never done…’, ‘there is
sunshine, there is good wine…’ underline the importance of what Stephens told. The sentences in
the story are rather simple and complete, the paragraphs are balanced. Also, there are rhetorical
questions with the help of them the author tries to understand what the value of life are. There are a
lot of antithesis: ‘Stephens’s salary was pretty good, but his clothes where shabby’, in the
beginning he was an unhappy man and in the end he was a happy one, Spain – is full of emotions,
freedom, romantic, and England is conservative. Allusions: Carmen - a symbol of Spain, of
freedom etc.
5. Stephens was a little man, thick-set, stout. He had a round face, small dark bright
eyes. He had black hair. There was nothing special in Stephens’s appearance but eyes. As we know
eyes are the mirror of the soul. And judging by his bright eyes, there was some distinction in him.
He was open-hearted, because he came to the strange man to ask the piece of advice. From the way
he dressed ‘he was dressed in a blue suit a good deal the worse for wear. It was baggy at the knees
and the pockets budget untidily’. He didn’t care what he looked like. So, he wasn’t a pragmatic
person. He was emotional. He was very excited when he came to the narrator, he had some
difficulty in lighting a cigarette without letting go off the hat. He was romantic, because he wanted
to live in Spain. In the beginning the readers see him as an unhappy man in England and in the end
a happy man in Spain. The author used such stylistic devices as metaphoric epithets to show the
appearance of Stephens: “cursory glance, eyes flashed, forcible ring, fleshy face” etc.
And in the end such vocabulary to characterize him was used as “his eyes twinkled gaily”,
“bore an expression of perfect good-humour” (metaphor); “his fleshy”, “red face”, “perfect good-
humour”, “shabby clothes”, “widebrimmed sombrero”, “delightful creature” (metaphoric epithets).
So, we understand that he did not become a famous and rich doctor but he was very satisfied
and happy with his life.
6. The style is a mixture of neutral and literary layer (poetic words: dark cloak of Destiny,
paint the finger of fate). Although the bulk of the words encountered throughout the story mostly
consists of neutral vocabulary, we do come across quite a few infrequent or semi-literary words that
contribute to the story’s expressiveness (solitary, indisposition, voluptuously, hazardous, trifling,
and others), alongside numerous synonyms that increase the story’s lexical diversity
(dangerous/hazardous, unwilling/forced, confused/embarrassed, total/perfect stranger, alter/change,
twinkled/shone). Besides such literary word help to draw portrait of narrator as educated and wise
person in imagination of readers.
7. The title of short story is a kind of “speaking” one because it predicts the end of it.
Consequently, the predicator became a “Happy man”. Of course, he is not a rich and famous person
but he really enjoys his life as happiness can be different for everybody. For him it is to live in a
way he does wants.
8. The key words are : happy, man, life, Spain, Carmen, Spanish woman. These ones helps
to convey main meaning of it. The author’s message is not expressed directly in the text. However
from the context we can understand that happiness is the most important aim of each human and for
everybody it is different. Stephens is a great example that happiness is in the simple things.

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