Plot twists in Somerset Maugham's short stories
Dec 16th 2011 06:16 essay fiction English help
Short stories written by famous British writer William Somerset Maugham are not actually that short. Verbose and detailed descriptions that precede the start of any action are characteristic of his style. First of all Maugham introduces his personages to us. He shows them in surroundings and in communication, and then tells us the whole story of their life. In the story “The Facts of Life” we are given a clear view not only of the main and acting character, but even of the narrator’s temper, habits and life story. He’s a father of the only son of whom are all his worries and hopes; so he’s role is more then just to be a teller of son’s adventures – that’s why Maugham goes for it. Only when he’s sure we are acquainted with the personages he gives as a story. We can see the same method in “Rain”, “Gigolo and Gigolette” or “The Fall of Edward Barnard”.
After that the character (and we as well) faces the trouble or conflict. Sometimes it comes like a bolt from the blue, but more often we’re prepared to it by what we learnt about personages. Once we hear advice of the father to his son - not to gamble, not to lend money to anyone and not to have anything to do with women – we start to expect him to disobey it. The progress of conflict is as unhurried as the introduction was, and the plot twists are quite smooth and gradual.
In this sense “The Unconquered” differs from other stories. It started with an action, violent, rude and tragic. We see everything like Hans sees it. We don’t know his story so we don’t feel any sympathy for him at the beginning. If reader’s feeling can change, they are changing in progress, as we discover more about Hans and Annette, again, not from their past, but from their thoughts and words.
But it have something in common with other stories too. And that is one great breathtaking turning in the very end, in the very last sentence. It’s not...