Elemental Existence in "The English Patient"
This paper looks at how the elements add to the tension and theme of human suffering in Michael Ondaatje's novel "The English Patient".
# 25314 | 3,153 words | 1 source | MLA | 2002 |
Published on Apr 26, 2003 in English (Analysis) , Film (Analysis, Criticism, Etc.) , History (European - World Wars)
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This paper discusses the central motif of the desert and the imagery of fire, air, water and earth in Michael Ondaatje's novel "The English Patient". The writer uses quotes from the novel to illustrate the significance of the elements in revealing the uncertain lives of Ondaatje's characters who are struggling to survive passion and war in North Africa during World War II.
From the Paper:"Water and fire are frequently juxtaposed. Katherine and Almsy experience the fire of passion. Each interlude fuels the desire for more as possession and jealousy, both fiery qualities enter the scene. They are possessed as if by the flames of hell. Katherine has married her best friend from childhood to avoid passion and pain. She tells Almsy (while in the bath with him) that what she likes most is to swim alone, and to take baths alone. Thus ironically, her attempt at emotional aridity is overcome by her passion for Almsy. The first time Hana sees Almsy, he is to her: "A man with no face. An ebony pool" (48). She "swims" under her wool blankets as he moves "in his cloth placenta" (49). Hana uses a candle to read to Almsy at night. "The candle flickers over the page . . .He listens to her, swallowing her words like water" (5). Water, so essential to desert survival becomes a symbolic oasis, symbolizing emotion and nurturance, and representing hope of life. Burned, transported by Bedouins, Almsy, "could smell the oasis before he saw it. The liquid in the air. . .The banging of tin cans whose deep pitch revealed they were full of water" (6)."
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Elemental Existence in "The English Patient" (2003, April 26) Retrieved July 03, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/elemental-existence-in-the-english-patient-25314/
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