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.
- Beginning of the book: H&D are visiting the ground floor, first floor and second floor (quickly). Emotions: happy
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
Tags: their, , they, house, dreams
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