Tuesday, July 15, 2008

THE LOTUS EATER by SOMERSET MAUGHAM




Introduction: A lotus eater is a person who lives an idle, comfortable life and does not think or care very much about anything. The story tells us about a man who plans to live a happy life to a certain period of time but faces difficulties when things do not work out the way he wants them to be.

Setting: beautiful Island of Capri, ITALY

Main Characters:

1) Thomas Wilson
2) The Narrator
3) The Friend
4) The Cottage owner’s wife (Assunta)

Sequence / Summary of Events

Before the age of 60

1. Thomas Wilson , the main character , is a bank manager in London
2. He goes for a holiday on the island of Capri, Italy.
3. He likes the island very much
4. He has no family or friends
5. Wilson decides to stay on the island
6. He returns to London and thinks seriously about staying on Capri for the rest of his life
7. Wilson plans to live a happy life
8. He sells his house and buys an annuity for 25 years
9. He returns to Capri and stays there

After the age of 60

10. The narrator returns to Capri
11. Wilson runs out of money when he is 60
12. He lives in the cottage for another year
13. The landlord asks him to live because he has not paid rent for over a year
14. He tries to commit suicide
15. He does not succeed
16. The landlord and his wife sympathize with him and help him
17. The condition of the place where his life in is shabby
18. His life changes for the worse
19. Wilson dies six years after he tried to kill himself

Character Analysis

1.Thomas Wilson

Before the age of 60:

- about 50 years old with grey hair and face burnt brown by sun
- a careful person; does not make decision in a hurry
(“but I did not decide in a hurry. I had to be sure that I was not making a
terrible mistake”)
- idealistic (“I decided I was going to live a happy life before I died”)
- a loner (“I had no family... I had no other relations and no close friends.”)
- likes meeting people
- lazy (“for a very long time, Wilson had lived an easy life”)

After the age of 60:

- indecisive (“when the time came to make a decision, he was unable to do
anything”)
- does not recognize friends
- may have become insane (“perhaps his mind was damaged by the smoke”)
- was like a wild animal

2. The Friend

- friendly
- concerned (“I went to visit him in hospital.” “I‘ve tried to speak to him”)
- kind and generous (“I give her some money so that she can buy tobacco for him”)

3. Assunta

- hardworking (“she cleans the rooms and she cooks my meals’)
- helpful (“they took him to hospital…”)
- kind, considerate, sympathetic (“she and her husband let him to live in the Woodshed behind their house”)

4. The Narrator

- inquisitive (“what about your family?” “but what about your work?” “and you have no other regrets?”)
- practical, realistic (“but what about money? Did you have money to leave work and come here?”)

Themes:

1. Man’s quest for happiness

Thomas Wilson wants to live a happy life and goes through the trouble of preparing himself financially until he is 60 years old. When he is 60, he realizes that he is incapable of taking his own life. He is then forced to leave his home and to live on the charity of others. He lives in a very pitiful state. Wilson does find happiness but has to pay a very high price for it during the last few years of his life.

2. Man proposes, God disposes”

Man only has limited control over his destiny. Thomas Wilson plans out carefully to make sure that he leads a happy life until the age of 60, after which he decides to kill himself. However, when the time comes, he could not commit suicide. Despites his careful planning, he has no control over his fate and destiny.