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IRONY AND THE WAYS OF ITS EXPRESSION IN A FAIRY TALE “THE RING AND THE ROSE” BY W. M. THACHERAY

IRONY AND THE WAYS OF ITS EXPRESSION IN A FAIRY TALE  “THE RING AND THE ROSE” BY W. M. THACHERAY
Римма Майборода, преподаватель

Николаевский национальный университет им. В.А. Сухомлинского, Украина

Участник конференции

 

У статті розглядаються особливості англійської літературної казки на прикладі казки У. М. Теккерея «Обручка та троянда»,де головним є поєднання розважливого та повчального змісту. Особлива увага приділяється ролі іронії для досягнення цієї мети.

Ключові слова: англійська літературна казка, розважлива література, повчальна література, маска, іронія.

The article analyzes the peculiarities of the English literary fairy-tale on the basis of W. M. Thackeray’s fairy-tale “The Ring and the Rose”, where the main feature is the connection of entertaining and instructive contents. The special attention is paid to the role of irony for the achievement of this purpose.

Keywords: the English literary fairy-tale, entertaining contents, instructive contents, mask, irony.

 

The literary fairy tale, which emerged as an independent genre in other European literatures much earlier (in the middle of the XVIII century in France, at the beginning of the XIX century in Germany), in Britain gets its development only in the Victorian era. Of course, this does not mean that until the middle of the XIX century in England there was no literature for children. According to the British researcher Humphrey Carpenter, at the beginning of the XIX century in England there were "... a lot of children's books that were intended solely for entertainment, and lots of children's books, which were moral and instructive, but both were almost not seen in a single volume" [6, 15]. In this literature the moral and didactic tone prevailed, and was generally quite dry and didactic. Its main purpose was to instill a child certain ethical standards and the truth according to the strict Puritan morality: for example, that hard work always leads to financial prosperity, and the idle and lazy are to burn in hell. For the recipient of this kind of literature - a child - the authors treated very seriously, seeing in him, above all, the future adult, and the tone of these edifying sermons was far from being light and entertaining. As for entertaining reading, it was presented mainly in the form of cheap editions of folk tales, ballads, and retellings of stray adventure stories, in turn, which were completely deprivedof didacticism.

The Victorian romantics managed to combine these two elements - entertaining and instructive, making the process of children's reading pleasant and useful at the same time, and irony, according to K. A. Mnatsakanyan, played a significant role in the achievement of this synthesis [4, 117].

It should be emphasized that irony is present in one or another form in every English fairy tale, that is why it is one of the most permanent style-forming features inherent to the genre as a whole [4, 117]. Irony is absent, as a rule, in the narrative intonations of folk tales, enters the author’s story almost from its appearance.

It is not accident that most works of this genre in the English literature have a "dual destination", as they are, mainly due to the very constant irony, equally interesting and attractive for both children and their parents.

The purpose of this article is to analyze irony as a style-forming feature inherent to the genre of the English literary fairy tale. The object of the research is the fairy tale "Ring and the Rose"
written by the Victorian writer W. M. Thackeray.

 To tell the truth, the Victorian era was hostile to the spirit of a fairy tale, with its cult of positive knowledge, religious and moral prohibitions stiffness. But it was during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) when the English literary fairy tale appeared, and its creators were the ones who were called the great realists of the XIX century - Charles Dickens and W. M. Thackeray.

This fact has left a unique fingerprint on the English tale. Its fantasy world is surprisingly similar to the surrounding reader’s world. Before the reader there is a  tale with the characters, who can be easily recognized in his life, and there is the abundance of specific details, that is why the reader cannot understand: whether it is daily routine, captured a fairy tale, or a tale, penetrated the routine. In this fabulous country people also go in the coach, door knockers in the form of amusing figures hang on the doors, inconvenient people are put into the Newgates  prison or into the Tower, and a shoe polish by which the fairy princes clean boots has a familiar to everyone name of "Warren's blacking" [3, 11]. These words were told about the tale "The Ring and the Rose" by W. M. Thackeray.

Thinking about the fate and character of his heroes, W. M. Thackeray frequently sketched their portraits in pencil on paper, then his illustrations appeared. The tale about the ring and the rose came to light in such a way - directly from the sketches. The funny figures drawn by W. M. Thackeray for the familiar children (among them were his two daughters – Annie at the age of thirteen and Minnie at the age of fifteen), excited his interest greatly, so he wanted to think about them the whole story.And in 1854 this work, published under the pen name M.-A. Titmarsh was written. The focus of this research is irony as an integral feature of the author's fairy tale, so now look at specific examples of the most common ways of expressing the author's irony on the material of this tale "The Ring and the Rose" by W. M. Thackeray.

The most common kind of ironic utterances, especially peculiar for the  Victorian fairy tale writer’s style, is the author's comment. The pathos of such comments can range from a mild, slyly humorous, good-natured tone to a biting sarcasm and a biting satire. The author readily uses traditional methods of English prose, for example, ironic litotes (understatement). For instance, when Princess Angelica fell down in a fainting fit, the king ordered to pour on her majesty from the kettle, “…Turn the cock of the urn upon Her Royal Highness,' said the King, and the boiling water gradually revived her”[5], or, conversely, to hyperbole (overstatement): «He (Prince Bulbo) knows all languages perfectly: sings deliciously: plays every instrument: composes operas which have been acted a thousand nights running at the Imperial Theatre of Crim Tartary, and danced in a ballet there before the King and Queen; in which he looked so beautiful, that his cousin, the lovely daughter of the King of Circassia, died for love of him”' [5] or "… and as for Giglio, they forgot him as much as I forget what I had for dinner last Tuesday twelve-month" [5]. The author's comment may sometimes acquire a synthesis and an aphoristic tone, "Thus easily do we deceive ourselves! Thus do we fancy what we wish is right!" [5],"All Valoroso wanted was plenty of money, plenty of hunting, plenty of flattery, and as little trouble as possible.As long as he had his sport, this monarch cared little how his people paid for it..." [5],"However, praise is welcome from the ugliest of men or boys" [5].

As the events in the fairy tale develop in the fairy-conditioned space, so the typical ironic technique is the introduction of a realistic household detail. W. M. Thackeray’s narration is often characterized by the usage of the products of well-known and popular brands, as well as habitual realities familiar to any Englishman of that era: a shoe polish named "Warren's blacking”, Astley’s – the circus, Wombwell’s – the menagerie, or light beer of "Bass Charrington" company in these fairy tale kingdoms Paflagonia and Padella. Sometimes the real detail is included into the list of fictional fantasy images and is described with them. For example, in the list of awards, which a court painter receives, together with Order of the Pumpkin (sixth class) and Order of the Cucumber (rather transparent allusion to the English Order of the Garter and the Thistle), an actually existing regalia Order of St. Patrick is mentioned.  This certainly intensifies the ironic effect and the effect of parody.

Another frequent device is the usage of speaking names, which may comprise, for example, an ironic description of the character: Countess Gruffanuff, King Crim Tartary, Prince Bulbo, First Minister Glumboso. Sometimes the names are of a foreign manner of pronouncing (mostly Italian and German), which is especially characteristic of W. M. Thackeray’s style, whose tales have a strong element of parody: King Valoroso XXIV, Lords Bartolomeo and Ubaldo, Captain Hedzoff, Marmitonio the cooker.

The irony may occur in the verbal description of the characters, because the dialogues and monologues play of an important functional role in the literary tale and occupy, as a rule, quite a considerable amount of work in the text. The words of a character are often of parody sense in relation to the certain literary cliches, or in relation to sustainable patterns of behavior. For example, King Valoroso from time to time starts failing in his monologues at the pompous blank verse, which immediately noted in the author's ironic comment: "Could a poor boy, a snivelling, drivelling boy—was in his nurse's arms but yesterday, and cried for sugarplums and puled for pap—bear up the awful weight of crown, orb, sceptre? gird on the sword my royal fathers wore, and meet in fight the tough Crimean foe?' And then the monarch went on to argue in his own mind (though we need not say that blank verse is not argument)…” [5].

An ironic imitation of someone else's quotation or manner is a quite often used method in the Victorian fairy tale. Thus, N. M. Demurova says, "as for irony, Dickens and Thackeray’ fairy tales are focused on second-rate examples of melodramatic and adventure literature, as well as in some sense on their own works ... The irony here is primarily of parody and self-parody" [2; 299]. The usage of the parodied text and ironic imitation of the author’s  manner can be hidden (without mentioning the source cited), and clear: "Had I the pen of a G. P. R. James, I would describe Valoroso's torments in the choicest language; in which I would also depict his flashing eye, his distended nostril—his dressing-gown, pocket-handkerchief, and boots. But I need not say I have NOT the pen of that novelist; suffice it to say, Valoroso was alone" [5]. It is also worth noting that in this W. M. Thackeray’s tale the reader can find the hidden and explicit reminiscences and quotations not only from the second-rate literary specimens, but also, for example, from Shakespeare’s, always used in an ironic context: " Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown!"[5] (a quotation from Shakespeare's "Henry IV”), "The man that lays his hand upon a woman, save in the way of kindness, is a villain" [5] (a slightly modified quotation from the play by English playwright John Tobin (1779 - 1804), "Honeymoon").

Thus, W. M. Thackeray in his tale skillfully put together an entertaining and instructive beginning, which made his work interesting and enjoyable for both children's perception and appreciation of an adult. In a young reader the tale generates a positive image of a hero: kind, intelligent, strong, faithful to his word, and, what is the most important, teaches his reader not to be afraid of any difficulties, overcome them in any situation. The tale contains a hidden, unobtrusive moral: do not cheat, do not be greedy, do not betray friends. The main thing is that good always triumphs over evil. The proximity to reality makes the events more familiar, understandable for children. As for irony, it runs through the tale "The Ring and the Rose" by W. M. Thackeray at the lexical and semantic levels, remaining the moral-ethical orientation clear, this helps a child to perceive morality in the most easy, accessible and playful manner, and an adult reader opens the door for (to) a variety of figurative meanings, literary and philosophical associations and interpretations.

 

References:

  1. Whipper Yu. B. The course of lectures on the history of foreign literature of XVII century. - Moscow: Publishing house of Moscow Univ., 1954. - 425 p.
  2. Demurova N. M. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass / / Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Through the mirror and what Alice saw there, or Alice in Wonderland. - M., 1991. - P. 299.
  3. Kagarlitsky Yu. Almost like in a real life. An English fairy tale and a literary fairy tale. - M., 1987. - P. 11.
  4. Mnatsakanyan K. A. Irony and how to express it in the English literary fairy tale of the Victorian era. - Journal of PSTGU. III: Philology, 2006. No. III: 2. - P. 116-122.
  5. Thackeray W. M. The Rose and the Ring. - http://www.gutenberg.org/files/897/897-h/897-h.htm
  6. Carpenter H. The Secret Gardens. - Boston, 1985. - P. 15.
Комментарии: 2

Галлямова Мария Сергеевна

Irony is created by practically all known language means, which take part in its actualization on different language levels: lexical, syntactic and textual. An utterance can become ironical only due to the correctly chosen context. For description of irony as a stylistic device, realized in the fairy-tale “The King and the Rose” by W. M. Thackeray, the author of the article cites a number of stylistic devices (understatement, overstatement, speaking names, verbal description of the characters, expressive words, exclamations, interrogative sentences, etc.) which realize irony as tropes.

Gref Elena Borisovna

Dear Rimma, your article is a thorough analysis of the Victorian literary fairy-tale, presented through W.M.Thackeray’s work. Among numerous ways of expressing irony, vividly presented in your analysis, one deserves special attention: an ironic imitation of someone’s quotation or style is one of the most popular means the modern writers resort to in their works. Good luck in your research. E.Gref
Комментарии: 2

Галлямова Мария Сергеевна

Irony is created by practically all known language means, which take part in its actualization on different language levels: lexical, syntactic and textual. An utterance can become ironical only due to the correctly chosen context. For description of irony as a stylistic device, realized in the fairy-tale “The King and the Rose” by W. M. Thackeray, the author of the article cites a number of stylistic devices (understatement, overstatement, speaking names, verbal description of the characters, expressive words, exclamations, interrogative sentences, etc.) which realize irony as tropes.

Gref Elena Borisovna

Dear Rimma, your article is a thorough analysis of the Victorian literary fairy-tale, presented through W.M.Thackeray’s work. Among numerous ways of expressing irony, vividly presented in your analysis, one deserves special attention: an ironic imitation of someone’s quotation or style is one of the most popular means the modern writers resort to in their works. Good luck in your research. E.Gref
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