• C's analysis of Extract 2

    C's analysis of Extract 2



    Introduction:  - extract taken from the fifth Child – by Doris Lessing.

    by C. M. (Marx Dormoy)

    -          won Nobel Prize of literature thanks to this novel

    -           story: Harriet and David= young couple : want to start a family, be happy forever so 4 children, achieve their projects but fifth child: Ben= different, a “freak”, violent, uncontrollable. Destruction of the family because of him.

    -           Extract 2: at the beginning of the novel, after the 1st extract in which: meeting of H&D, decision to get married.

    -          In extract 2: visit of their future house, dreams, projects, want babies, wonderful expectations.


    I)                    An idyllic scene for H&D: an ideal house for a perfect life…

    1)      A house like in a fairy tale

    -          Bedroom qualified as the “heart of their kingdom”: kingdom= big house, garden, many many rooms like in fairy tales.

    -          This house: as if their dreams would come true, over-excited, happiness like in a fairy tale.

    -          As if they were character of a fairy tale: H: queen, perfect housewife, cooker and D: king in a story “Once upon a time H&D… and they lived happily and had many children”.

    2)      A rising scene full of emotions:

    -          Scene like a story, plot of a book = divided into different parts with physical steps (when they move in the different rooms of the house) related to emotions.

    1. Beginning of the book: H&D are visiting the ground floor, first floor and second floor (quickly). Emotions: happy
    2. Rising action and after all climax: in the attic. Emotions: ecstatic, exhilarated= climax in emotions and imagination: they are dreaming about children, playing magical games.
    3. Finally, resolution: in the bedroom when they are making love. Emotions go down, H said: “No” because she is reluctant to make love: doesn’t take the pill, doesn’t want to be pregnant now.

    So for them, this house: not with ordinary rooms but it brings them emotions.

    3)      Symbolic elements related to H&D’s behavior and situation:

    -          Season (spring) and lilac tree= not a coincidence because

    1. Spring: Symbols? Cheerfulness, fertility (trees turn into flowers, fruits), rebirth (life again after winter). Link with H&D: happy, forward-looking, hopeful, H’s fertility: “at the height of her fertility” = her body is ready for pregnancy= biological climax.
    2. Lilac tree: symbol of love: H&D love each other, young couple, make love. Lilac could represent: H&D and buds of the lilac: future babies.

    II)                  … but also full of bad omens:

    1)      Some dark elements, curses in the scene

    -          Lilac tree: shadow. Represent threat for H&D= bad omen: must be Ben’s birth: he’s a rotten fruit on the tree= a monstrous child for the family.

    -          H afraid to be pregnant:

    1. Doesn’t take the pill: also reason of Ben’s birth= maybe punishment because she could take the pill if she wanted but she didn’t take it.
    2.  D’s behavior: influences H’s decision = they must wait 2 years before starting a family but he doesn’t care about that= not cautious, they don’t keep their promise (to wait 2 years) = too fast= bad omen.
    3. The bed: not their bed = belongs to the previous owners. H&D not ill-at-ease to make love in a bed which is not their bed. Maybe cursed bed, and also haunted house

     = misfortune, tragedy for H&D’s future.

    -          Manor, castle: elements in gothic genre = bad omen. Ben:  qualified as a freak (also element of gothic genre).

    2)      Ivory tower and bad endings:

    -          H&D: decision to lock themselves in their house to feel protected, in their bubble= bad omen, isolated, they don’t have any contact with the rest of the world, outside world= danger, they need to keep contact with the outside world in order to feed their love, to be blooming (have friends, met people, learn things, to add a bit of spice in their life, in their couple…).

    3)      Their behavior is hubristic:

    -          Comparison between H and the Milkmaid and her pail . Milkmaid: dreams about what she is going to do with the money she will have thanks to the sale of her milk / H dreams about her future life and projects. However both have their heads in the clouds: doesn’t concentrate on her pail (for the milkmaid) and on the present moment (for H) so unfortunately: breaks the pail (for the milkmaid) / pregnant of Ben and then Ben’s birth (for H)= all is destroyed: the pail, dreams (for the milkmaid)/ dreams, family (for H).

    -          Link with hubris: enormous dreams are not realistic (H&D want to have many many children to be very very elated, they don’t make like other young couples: they buy a big house just after their wedding, with a mortgage= childish behavior), they believe in fairy tales and they want their dreams come true very fast: not a good way to achieve their dreams: people must deserve their dreams.

    So in the end: tragedy.


    -          Apparently: joyful scene for H&D: idyllic house, future. Nevertheless: Doris Lessing shows that there are also threats for the couple, dark side of their happiness.

    -          Behind the text: full of details, symbols to warn the reader about what is going to happen, the type of atmosphere (gothic genre for example, curse, and bad omens).

    -          She may intend to give us clues, indications to help us to distrust appearances (it seems that they are going to happy but it’s not true).



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