Wednesday, August 16, 2017

من أرشيف محمد الأنصاري في التسعينيات | تعليق على شخصيات رواية The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I have read a novel called The Remains of the Day, written by a Japanese writer whose name is Kazuo Ishiguro.
Here is my comment on the main character of the novel

[left]This novel was written by a Japanese writer called Kazuo Ishiguro. The hero of the novel is Stevens (the butler). He is a very complicated character. He is deeply attached to the traditions of England. He begins a motoring holiday by the ford of his new employer Mr. Farraday .The journey takes him very deep into the fascinating places of the English countryside as well as his old memories of the past. Stevens tells the readers all about this journey which begins from Darlington Hall where he works, to the English countryside. The novel is in the form of a diary, countaining about six days.

But why a butler in particular? The author is very clever in his choice of the job of the hero of the novel. The butler is able to know everything about the house where he works. His main duty is to serve high figures (i.e. Lords, politicians, dukes, etc.). The butler is also superior to the whole staff of servants. He has the authority over them. Therefore, he is a mediator between two different types of people.
Stevens is very serious , strict, straight and unemotional. The utmost happiness could only be reached by keeping the duty. Stevens is the type of people who take their professions too seriously. Throughout the novel Stevens is concerened with the definitions of “dignity” , “professionalism” and “greatness”. To have such qualities, one has to hide one’s feelings behind a mask. Indeed, this is what Stevens did throughout his life. As a result, he gained nothing but disappointments since this strange behaviour made a great gab between him and his father. It was also a direct cause for his loss of the only lady he loved in his life. When stevens tries to get his beloved back, he finds out that she has become a far-fetched image

Professionalism” is very important is Stevens’ life. His life is in governed by this word.He believes that he has a duty to do. Emotions are nothing for him because they may hinder him from fulfilling his profession is an ideal way. Profession is even more important than his father. When his father was dying, Stevens was serving the visitors of D.H. Thus, there is no place for any sort of personal feelings.

Stevens believes that if one wants to be a good butler, one has to have “dignity”. Stevens has been greatly influenced by his father. He has inherited from his father a lot of principles such as dignity and professionalism.

Ironically, we find Stevens offering his father the job of an under – butler. It clearly means that the father will be under the authority of his son. Is that what the father deserves from his son? The relationship between them has been very formal. Each one of them has his own world !

As for Stevens’s relationship with his old employer, it has been a close one and  Lord Darlington is one of the characters who had a great effect on Stevens. Stevens even feels that it was a great thing to be an employee for such a person. He is very proud because he spent most of his life serving that man. However, the reputation of Lord Darlington was defamed, especially after his death. This clarifies why Stevens denies (twice in the novel) that he worked at Darlington Hall for Lord Darlington. He seems to be ashamed of this fact because people considered Lord Darlington a traitor. It was not difficult for Stevens to hide the truth because the mask that he wears gives him the courage to do anything as long as it will be for his good.

Another character who had a great influence on Stevens is Miss Kenton, the old housekeeper at Drlington – Hall. It is only because of her, he accepted the journey. He received a letter from her but he misinterpreted the meaning of what she wrote to him. He thought she has a desire to come back again to Darlington Hall. Stevens keeps getting out that letter and reading some parts of it. This is a clear proof that he is in love with this woman. He never thought of marrying her, yet.It was beyond his priorities. This is because he devoted all his life to his job. Stevens does not want to convince himself that Miss Kenton has become part of the old memories. He never calls her (Mrs Benn) because the one whom he knows and is still in his memory is the (Miss Kenton) of yesterday rather than (the Mrs Benn) of today.

On the whole, the author skilfully succeeds in portraying a good picture of the hero who appears to the reader as Stevens the butler rather than Stevens the person who is supposed to have emotions. We leave him as a self-composed person who tries to make use of the remains of his day.

Miss Kenton works under the authority of Stevens the butter. Mr. Stevens is in love with her. Yet he shows his love through offending her. On the other hand. Miss Kenton’s love to him is revealed through a totally different way from his. She keeps on introducing flowers to his room. She wants to introduce warmth and love to his dull and monotonous life which is governed only by his rules and actions. Stevens never thinks of words such as ‘love’ or ‘marriage’. He is concerned with other things such as professionalism and dignity and how to be a great butter. He hides his love behind his mask in order to be devoted to his profession .To achieve greatness, there must be no place for emotions or feelings.

Miss Kenton is one of the characters who have a great effect on Stevens. This is clarified through certain actions throughout the novel. For instance, Stevens keeps remembering some parts of the letter she sent to him. He even misinterprets some sentences of the letter according to the way he likes in order to satisfy himself. Stevens believes or tries to convince himself that Miss Kenton regrets being married and that she wants to come back to D.H. As a matter of fact, this is one of the reasons which pushed Stevens to accept the journey offered by his employer. Yet, he says to himself that Miss Kenton’s coming back has a professional dimention; she is the only one who can put every thing to the right place.

One day, Miss Kenton finds Stevens reading a novel of romance. When she asks him about what he is reading, his reaction is ‘ I must ask you to respect my privacy’. Then Stevens emphasises that reading improves his langauge and will add to his professionalism. However, the reader is aware that this is not the truth because Stevens tries to compensate what he lacks of love and emotions by reading such a kind of novels.

It is Miss Kenton who makes it clear that Stevens puts a mask on his face to hide his feelings. She uncovers this truth in front of Stevens’s eyes.

‘Why do you always have to pretend.’ Miss Kenton says these words when Stevens tells her about the desire of Lord Darlington to bring the two Jewish girls back. Stevens tells her that he was very distressed by what happened. It comes as a surprise to Miss Kenton because she finds out that he shared her the same attitude. But why does he not show? Why is he pretending all the time? Of course, Miss Kenton herself failed to know the answer.

Another example may clarify the strange nature of Stevens’s behaviour with Miss Kenton. Miss kenton tells Stevens that an acquaintance proposes to her and she will accept that proposal. She wants to know his reaction. But, to her disappointment, he is like a stone. She is trying to push him to say something; to go out of his usual coldness. What concerns him is serving the visitors who have reached D.H. Stevens’s feelings are compressed inside him. No one can remove the mask that he wears. She tells him that if he does not want her to go out at her holiday, she will not go. The deep meaning of her words shows us that if he asks her not to marry that person, she will obey.

At the end of the novel, Mr. Stevens evaluates all his past after the departure of Miss Kenton. Now he is disappointed because he finds himself alone in this world. Stevens used to be cold with everyone. He used to have barriers between him and the people around him. His policy was behaving in a cold way and using a very formal langauge. Only by this way he can protect himself.

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