Straightforward and double-edged satire in “The Broken Boot”
By Xudong Wang
“John Galsworthy is viewed as one of the first writers of the Edwardian era who challenged some of the ideals of society depicted in the preceding literature of Victorian England.” Famous for his realism, John Galsworthy devoted all his life to revealing the truthfulness of society and life, especially the hidden truth of struggle and dilemma within the luxurious and splendid exterior of “his” class—upper-middle class. Though at the very first John Galsworthy was famous for plays, he is now far better known for his novels, particularly The Forsyte Saga, his trilogy about the eponymous family and connected lives. The Broken Boot, a master piece of him, focuses on a contradiction and hypocrisy of capitalists. Different from implicit satirical style with complex subjects, the satire art in this story is straightforward and double-edged.
John Galsworthy was widely regarded as a compassionate humanist whose work evinced sensitivity, sincerity, and charm. In the short story “The Broken Boot”, he satirized the decay and dilemma of mankind.
Galsworthy satirized the self-dilemma of his protagonist by indirect internal monologue. With his keen observation and excellent writing skill, Galsworthy presents a vivid as well as precise observation of the declined life of the middle class.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) was a major scholar of the English language, specialising in Old and Middle English. Twice Professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at the University of Oxford, he also wrote a number of stories, including most famously The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955). The name “Tolkien” (pron.: Tol-keen; equal stress on both syllables) is believed to be ...
A salary of four pounds a week would not, he was conscious , remake his fortunes, but a certain jauntiness had returned to the gait and manner of one employed again at last.
The short story begins with an introduction of Caister, who had been “out” for six months. This direct opening lays a tone for the whole story—once a noble gentleman had to face the reality of rocky and poverty-stricken life. Galsworthy highlights some special objects that stand for upper-middle class: monocle, lobster, cocktail and so on. Caister’s insistence on monocle, his long for lobsters, his love of cocktail, imply that although he is not rich any more, he insists on some luxurious habits of noble and rich life.
Galsworthy uses indirect internal monologue to satirize the hypocrisy and self-dilemma of mankind.
“Shall be delighted.” But within him something did not drawl: “By God, you’re going to have a feed, my boy!”
“Nothing of a part,” he drawled, “took it to fill a gap.” And below his waistcoat the gap echoed: “Yes, and it’ll take some filling.”
The effect of indirect internal monologue helps readers fully and easily understand the real thoughts of the protagonist. The echo, actually, is the deep secrets of his inner heart. Instead of implicit satire, Galsworthy directly put forward his criticism and mockery to life. It seems funny to the readers at the very first sight of Caister’s dialogue undergoing beneath, while after the second reading, readers begin to ponder, and then, ask themselves the questions about life. This is the dramatic effects of indirect internal monologue. Galsworthy’s straightforward satire successfully presents the faults of noble class—they are restricted by traditional thoughts, and they are keen on conventional moral codes, thus, there’s no doubt that they’re afraid of revealing their truthful thoughts when they suffer from self-dilemma.
“Tha-a-anks. Anything!” To eat—until warned by the pressure of his waist against his trousers! Huh! What a feast!
Galsworthy’s technique of indirect internal monologue earns acclaim for his short story. The internal monologue without quotation marks, on the other hand, bears a better effect of satire. The struggle with lust of inner side, as well as the inevitable meet with rocky and rough reality have made Caister more discreet and hypocritical.
Norma Jean Mof fit is a simple, southern woman, but she is also a caterpillar who is discovering that there is more to life than crawling around on the ground. She has with-in her, the power to grow wings and fly away; The opportunity to view the world through the eyes of a butterfly. Since Larry's accident, she has come to realize that she has reached a crossroads in her life. If she goes ...
Galsworthy’s satire in this short story is undoubtedly double-edged. “Double irony” means the satire upon one object contains the satire to another object stealthily.” (Yao Junwei 1995：107) He not only focuses on the sarcasm of his protagonist, but also does he spent considerable ink on the modeling of his antagonist in order to compare with the former one, with the intention of highlighting satiric themes. In this short story, there’s a sharp gap between Gilbert Caister and Bryce-Green, two from different social backgrounds. Obviously, Galsworthy often mock two birds with one stone.
And—elegantly threadbare, roundabout and dapper—the two walked side by side.
Galsworthy never fail to mock two objects at the same time. How ironical we can see from here, they two are the mirrors of two totally different kinds of life. The occasional meeting of the two is the climax of this short story, in other words, this encpunter foreshows the conflict between the upper-class and lower-class, one enjoying and having opportunity to show their “kind” and “generous” heart to the underprivileged, meanwhile, the other suffering the unbearable misfortune of life. On the one hand, Galsworthy satirizes the declined life of Caister by describing his pale appearance. On the other hand, he sticks out the shining appearance of Green. There’s a smell of satire between the lines, one capitalist, roundabout, dapper and provincial, one yesterday’s actor, elegantly threadbare and shabby.
A face rosy, bright, round, with an air of cherubic knowledge, as of a getter-up of amateur theatricals.
Here, Galsworthy ironically takes the angle from Caister, an actor’s way of thinking. That’s the reason why he says “as if a getter-upper of amateur theatricals.” He skillfully satirizes two different classes with the intention of revealing the decay and corruption of capitalists, the hypocrisy and dilemma of middle class.
The typical image of the broken boot is the hypocritical mask that Caister wants to hidden. On one hand, it is the only “good boots” that he had before war, “which he was nursing”, it is the symbol of status and social class. On the other hand , it is worn out so badly that it can ruin his reputation. It is not only the dilemma of Caister, but also the dilemma of the declined class. The satire art in this short story assert the acclaim of John Galsworthy.
“Both Swift and Dryden are masters of satire. Usually the satire is directed against an opponent/enemy or a political process. Using references from one poem from each writer, discuss how and why each uses satire and wit as a cutting sword.” John Dryden and Jonathan Swift became remarkable satirists through their ability to cleverly entwine political innuendos into their writings. ...
“A critic must bear the capability of feeling the impact that comes from the complex and power of the work of art.” There’s no doubt that John Galsworthy has the capability. A master of realistic satire, a supreme literary hero, successfully facilitate the complex and strengthen the power that art developed. Readers definitely see a brand new aspect of life through Galsworthy
[ 1 ]. Wikipedia, ”Life of John Galsworthy ” 21st , May,2011
[ 2 ]. “The Broken Boot” by John Galsworthy
[ 3 ]. D.H Lawrence “John Galsworthy” 1928