E.V.Lucas in his essay Tight Corners speaks about the two types of Tight Corners namely physical and mental tight corners. This particular essay brings out the elements of mental tight corners.
Once E.V.Lucas, the narrator went with his friend to Christie’s an auction-sale hall. Barison pictures were put up in the sale's hall. The narrator didn't have any idea about auction and bidding. He had sixty-three pounds in the bank. He had no money with him at the auction-sale hall. He started the bidding amount highly without any seriousness. A Daubigny picture was bidden by a rich man for four thousand guineas. The narrator raised the bid by fifty guineas more.
E.V.Lucas was now stunned because no one raised the amount. He was now tight cornered mentally. He was in a position to apologise his foolishness to the auctioneer and free himself from the critical position.
The event changed and the unexpected happened. The rich bidder's agent came there. He requested the narrator to withdraw his bidding by offering fifty guineas. The narrator felt very happy. He accepted to take hundred guineas. He got a cheque for hundred guineas. The narrator got relieved from his mental Tight Corner.
Three Days to See! - Helen Keller
Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She became blind and deaf when she was eighteen months old. In this essay she expresses her wish to see different things, if she is given eyesight just for three days.
Helen Keller wants every human being to become blind and deaf for few days. Only then he can appreciate eye-sight and understand the joys of sound. Being a blind person, she longs to see all things in life. She imagines what she would do if she were able to see for three days.
She says that her first day would be a busy one. She wants to meet her friends and see the beauty within them. Next, she will have the vision of the eager, innocent beauty of a baby. She wants to see the books that have been read to her. She wants to have a glimpse of her dogs, scooty and great garden. In the afternoon, she would walk through the woods enjoying the beauty of nature. She longs to see the glory of the sunset. That night, she won't sleep.
On the next day, she would enjoy the splendour of the dawn. She wants to spend the rest of the day in museums. In the museum, she will learn about man's evolution and the past and the present of animals. In a museum of Art, she wants to see sculptures of historical importance word and Goddess of Egypt, Athenian warriors and even Homer, the blind poet. She can probe into the souls of man through his art. In the evening, she will enjoy the plays of Shakespeare in a theatre.
Helen Keller desires to see the day-to-day life of modern man on the third day. Standing at a busy corner, she will watch people passing by their smile, determination and suffering. At New York's fifth avenue, she will have the sight of the colourful dresses of women. Then she will move to the slums, factories and finally to the parks where children play. She wishes to have deep understanding of how people work and live. In the evening, she wants to enjoy a hilarious comedy at the theatre.
Helen Keller closes the essay with a request to make use of our eyes as if tomorrow we would be struck blind, if she wants to apply the same method to the other senses.
Science and Culture - Laurence M.Gould
Laurence M.Gould was an American Geologist, educator and polar explorer. He published a number of scientific articles and received 26 honorary degrees. His Science and Culture is about the gap between science and Arts. The essay tries to offer a solution for merging the two.
Modern life completely depends upon science and technology. Science and its products determine our economy. Science dominates our industry, affects our health and welfare and shapes our relationship with all other countries. These two factors can fulfill all the needs of the mankind.
During Greek civilisation, there was unity between art and science. Philosophy and science were inseparable till the end of 18th century. But a dangerous gap developed later. We should have humanities to understand and include science with art.
According to Laurence M.Gould, science is not a form of black magic. Only after many experiments and researches, the scientific goal is achieved. There is no end for scientific research. They are always open to re-examination and to question. Scientific truth is dynamic and self-correcting and never final.
The great scientists make guesses and look for order. George Boas defines science is the art of understanding nature. A scientist invents concepts to make the world understand them. Science, like art, is always the record of someone's personal experience. Only the form of exploration differs.
The romantic poet Shelley says that the artist should have the knowledge of science and assimilate it to human needs. Dante and Milton were inspired by astronomy. The great philosopher Aristotle was the greatest naturalist and father of biology. Science and technology, like art, have become part and parcel of our society and so none can escape from them.
Springtime - O.Henry
O.Henry's short stories are known for their wit, word play, warm characterization and clever twist ending. The present day Springtime is a fine example of all these.
Sarah was a young woman residing in a separate room in New York City. She was a free-lance type writer doing some odd jobs. She could type any matter in a neat and perfect manner.
One day, Sarah was dining at Schulenberg's Home Restaurant. When she took her bill of fare, she found the script unreadable and the items listed in a jumbled manner. The next day, Sarah showed Schulenberg a neat card on which the menu was beautifully type written. Immediately, the job of typing the bills of fare for the twenty-one tables in the Restaurant was given to her. Everyday new bills for breakfast, lunch and dinner were to be typed. Sarah cleverly made an agreement with the restaurant. She told Schulenberg that they had to send three meals to her room for a certain amount daily. The next day, the patrons of the restaurant found the bills of fare typed in an attractive manner.
One day, the arrival of the spring season reminded Sarah her love with Walter Franklin, a modern agriculturist in the countryside. Sarah and Walter Franklin had decided to marry in spring. But for about two weeks, she had not received any reply from Walter. This made her upset and she began to cry. She could not type the bills of fare as usual. She saw the next item on the bill of fare mentioned- dandelions! It was with dandelion flowers. She was crowned by Walter Franklin in the farm last summer. With her heart and mind in the farm, she fingered the typewriter keys absently for a little while. Soon the waiter came and carried away the typewritten bills of fare.
In the evening, surprisingly Walter Franklin entered into Sarah's room. Sarah jumped in joy and asked him why he had not replied her letters. Walter told her that he had never got them. Sarah wondered as to how he was able to locate her new address then. Walter told her that when he was dining in the Schulenberg, he found in the bill of fare some peculiar remarks. He at once understood the person that would have typed the matter. When he asked the hotel manager, he guided him to Sarah's room. Now the young man showed Sarah the bill of fare in which was typed Dearest Walter, with HARD-BOILED EGG. Sarah recognised her mistake and laughed with Walter.
Part II English Essays – Poetry
Lead, Kindly Light - Cardinal Newman
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) is best-known as Cardinal Newman. He is an important figure in the history of religion in England. He joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1845. His conversion to Roman Catholicism became an object of severe criticism.
The poem, Lead, Kindly Light was written in 1882. It was the time that he was passing through a period of religious doubt. In this poem, he appeals to God to show him divine light and guide him through the dark journey of life. The poet discloses to God that he has left his home and is far away from his home, the Roman Catholic Church. He believes that God alone could lead him on the right path. Hence, he pleads to God to help him find his way back home. The poet needs God's support and enlightenment.
The poet confesses that his present condition is more crucial than even before. He has also not prayed for help before. The poet lived the life of his own choice. But now he has realised that he could not do anything without the grace of God. He lived a luxurious life in the past. Sometimes he came across moral fear. But his pride overruled them. Therefore, he requests the Almighty not to take into account his wrong deeds of the past.
The poet hopes that the Supreme Being would bless him and lead him on the right path. The hardships and obstacles of life could be easily overcome with the help of God. At the dawn of new life, he is sure to meet the smiling faces of Angels.
Thus Cardinal Newman exposes his heart and mind, his despair and hope and his religious faith in a vivid manner. The poet's complete trust in God is much revealed in this poem.
The Paper Boat - Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore is an outstanding poet of modern India. He translated many of his Bengali Books into English. His poetry is filled with deep humanism. As he is a universal poet, he conveys a universal message of peace, love and joy to the whole humanity.
The Paper Boat is taken from his poetic collection The Crescent Moon. The poem is a recollection of his joyful childhood experience. Like Wordsworth and Walter De La Mare, Tagore also found in children a mystic quality.
The poet narrates his childhood experience of floating paper boats down the stream. It is a raining day in the month of July. He enjoys the game of floating paper boats.
Suddenly, there appear dark rainy clouds along with a gust of cool wind. It is at once followed by a heavy torrential rain. The rain water increases the water level of the stream. As a result, the paper boat sinks into the muddy water and it is quickly washed away by the current of the water. The happiness of the poet is short-lived. The unhappy child begins to scold and blame the storm and the rain. He thinks that nature purposely spoiled his happiness. He believes that nature had let out all its might against him.
The poet remembers his childhood days whenever he meets with failures. In short, the poet blames fate for the many tricks it has played on his life.
Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?
- William Shakespeare
William Wordsworth is one of the important literary figures in the world of English literature. The first collection of his sonnets was published in 1609. There are totally 154 sonnets. These sonnets are believed to be addressed to three persons namely a young aristocrat, a dark lady and a rival poet.
Sonnet XVIII, Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day? deals with the theme of immortalization of his friend. The poet uses many images to highlight the endless beauty of his friend.
As England is a very cold country, the English people welcome the arrival of the summer. The poet compares his friend to a summer’s day. He exposes various defects of summer. The summer is like a lease valid for a limited period of time. Sometimes, the summer witnesses the scorching sun. Often, the golden complexion of the sun is hidden by the thick clouds. Summer wind shakes of the buds from the plants. But his friend is eternal and is free from all these defects.
William Wordsworth wants to make his friend, the earl of Southampton eternal through his lines of poetry. He believes that his poetry will be read as long as the mankind has love for his poetry. His friend who is sung in this sonnet will be remembered by his posterity. In this sense, he is deathless.
Robert Browning is one of the most outstanding Victorian poets. He is marked for his keen insight into character, original themes and extra-ordinary poetic skill. He makes use of dramatic monologue to portray various characters. His monologues reveal the vary souls of the characters that speak them.
My Last Duchess is a dramatic monologue spoken by the Duke of Ferrara to the envoy of a count whose daughter he proposes to marry. The Duke takes the messenger through his portrait gallery. He draws the attention of his visitor to the portrait of his dead Duchess. The Duke is a proud, cruel and selfish man. The Duchess was of a character that was very easily pleased with everything and everybody she saw. The Duke wanted his wife to be his servile admirer paying all her attention only to him. He was therefore very much irritated by her kind and polite attitude towards others. The spot of the joy on the face of the Duchess as seen in the portrait was not caused by the presence of her husband. The Duke complaints that any trivial remarks are complement of the painter would have made her pleased. A passionate complement of the Duke, her husband drew the same happiness as that of the sight of a beautiful sunset, a bough of cherries presented by some official and a ride on her white mule. The Duchess smiled at her husband whenever she passed her. But she smiled the same way at everybody that caught notice. The possessive Duke gave commands to stop her smile completely.
... I gave commands;
Then all smile stopped together...
Thus Browning's Duke is shown as a proud, pompous, cruel and selfish man. The bronze statue of Neptune is used to imply that the Duke will tame his future wife just as Neptune taming a violent sea-horse.
Mending Wall - Robert Frost
Robert Frost's Mending Wall is a thought-provoking poem. On the surface, the poem describes a wall separating to neighbours. Here, it stands as a barrier between individuals. The subject matter of the poem represents two opposing attitudes, the conventional and the liberal.
The poem reminiscences the thoughts of the narrator. Robert Frost describes how a boundary wall of two farmers is damaged. The speaker begins with a liberal idea that something there is that does not love a wall. There are always some natural or man-maid forces that cause a gap in the wall. The gaps are often so wide that even two can pass abreast. Neither of the farmers noticed the change in the beginning. But the arrival of the spring season forced them to repair the wall. This process is conventional. The neighbour insists that good fences make good neighbours. According to him, man cannot exist without boundaries, walls and self-limitations. Still, he resents all those boundaries and feels happy at the downfall of such barriers.
The speaker firmly believes that the dividing wall is not at all necessary. The speaker grows apple in his orchard but the neighbour grows pine in his. He also argues that fences are necessary only if there are cows to stray into each other's farm.
The speaker wants to know what he was walling in and what he was walling out. The neighbour carrying stones in each hand like savage carrying stone weapons. The speaker feels that the neighbour moves in the darkness of ignorance. The neighbour however repeats: Good fences make good neighbours.
Thus Mending Wall has all the characteristic qualities of Frost's poetry, especially ambivalence and use of apt symbols.