Dowells Character And Reliability As A Narrator English Literature Essay

In The Good Soldier ( 1915 ) by Ford Madox Ford, the storyteller, John Dowell tells the reader his narrative, the narrative of his matrimony to his married woman Florence and when she met an English gentleman, named Edward Ashburnham. ( The good soldier from the rubric of the novel ) . He goes on to depict the events that lead to Ashburnham ‘s matter with his married woman and it being revealed to him. Edward and Florence had both committed self-destruction by the terminal of the novel. However, John Dowell seems non to narrate any of these events in a additive, traditional manner. Ford Madox Ford attempts to animate John ‘s ignorance of Florence ‘s criminal conversation by stand foring the events of the shop, non in a insouciant sequence but alternatively as they occur to him in his remembrances and reminisciences. It ‘s non that Dowell himself intends to be deceptive, but he has an atrocious wont of badgering the reader by uncovering the important parts of information in an off-hand, insouciant mode. He says “ I do n’t cognize how it is best to set this thing down-whether it would be better to seek and state the narrative from the beginning, as if it were a narrative ; or whether to state it from the distance of clip, as it reached me from the lips of Leonora or from those of Edward himself. ”[ 1 ]Reading The Good Soldier feels like the reader is a investigator in a enigma novel, seeking to do sense of the hints presented to them along the manner. Ford ‘s advanced usage of this fallible or “ undependable narrative ” plays a major function in the novel and other modernist fiction.[ 2 ]In this essay, a peculiar subdivision of the book will be examined, between page 37 and 43. The essay will take a figure of illustrations in the text, in an effort to pull attending to the linguistic communication used in this subdivision to uncover a deep apprehension of Dowell ‘s character, particularly concentrating on his dependability or in this instance undependability as a storyteller. Then, the essay will convey all the facts into a decision. ( Lewis, 2007 )

Dowell has a wont of remembering, in great item, the parts of an experience that most people would disregard or retrieve less of. Yet, when something of import or climactic happens his remembrance is weak and limited. It becomes apparent throughout the novel that Dowell is a curmudgeon. He seems to see perfectly everything in a negative visible radiation and what is most apparent is that he seems to take pleasance from other people ‘s wretchedness. A good illustration of this is when Dowell tells us about Leonora learning Edward and “ Leonora would merely nod her caput in a manner that rather cheerily rattled my hapless married woman. ” ( Ford, 2002, p. 38 )

Another first-class illustration of Dowell seeking for the negative in a positive state of affairs is when he is depicting their jaunt. He describes shortly the green grass and the beautiful location but the ground he remembers the trip and the scene is nil to make with the beauty but something else. “ Why, I remember on that afternoon I saw a brown cow enlistment its horns under the tummy of a black and white animate being and the black and white one was thrown right into the center of a narrow watercourse. I burst out laughing, ” . It shows that Dowell focuses on the parts of a narrative that most people would gloss over. He reflects that he likely should hold pitied the animate being but he did n’t ; he simply enjoyed the sight. Dowell adds that no 1 paid attending to him express joying. ( Ford, 2002, p. 38 )

Dowell ‘s evident inability to understand any of the events that are about to go on, intend that he creates a batch of ‘dramatic sarcasm ‘ . A important illustration of this sarcasm is the obvious disagreement between Dowell ‘s perceptual experience of himself and the reader ‘s perceptual experience of Dowell.

Dowell for illustration, considers himself to be truly intelligent, perceptive and insightful. Because he has had nil to make for nine old ages, he grounds that he must be a faithful and dependable storyteller. He explains to the reader that his attending was wholly focused on his milieus, for illustration: the dining room ornaments, the hotel program layout, the flirtatiousness of Florence. But as he relates to the narrative of their trip to Nauheim, Dowell is rather the antonym of insightful. He is so haunted with seeing things at face value and in swearing those he sees as “ good people, ” that he seems to be incapable of detecting the things go oning all around him. He does n’t even detect that there is a budding love affair between Edward and his married woman, Florence.

Even when Leonora explicitly tries to uncover the truth to him, Dowell does n’t understand. He merely accepts her “ I ‘m an Irish Catholic ” ( Ford, 2002, p. 43 ) alibi rather merrily with no expostulation. Dowell seems to merely recognize the inside informations which have small bearing on the state of affairs or of small importance. Florence ‘s treachery and Leonora ‘s absolute horror seem to stay wholly crystalline to him.

When Dowell laughs at the cattles, it can be inferred that this is a bigger metaphor for how the reader perceives Dowell while reading the novel. The reader laughs at how hapless and disastrously inept he is. He laughs at what is an act of force among the animate beings in rather an odd, awkward mode. It is unusual that he manages to detect the elaboratenesss of the cow ‘s relationships but fails to detect the force, emotional non physical, that floods his quite intimate quartet. It is besides interesting to observe that when reflecting on the state of affairs Dowell admits that he SHOULD hold pitied the animate being that was hurled into the H2O, but did n’t experience any commiseration at all. With this said, it is difficult for the reader to experience sympathetic for Dowell because though his state of affairs is tragic, it is besides morbidly screaming. His ignorance and naivete agencies that an foreigner detecting the narrative develops merely a fagot captivation. Dowell ‘s character is clearly complex and has a batch of beds. Undependable in life and as a storyteller, Dowell ‘s narrative is confounding and misleading.

Before this essay can analyze Dowell as an undependable storyteller, the term must be defined so that is clear precisely what an undependable storyteller is. An undependable storyteller is a first-person storyteller who for some ground has a biased or compromised point of position. What the storyteller himself does non cognize or see can therefore non be explained to the reader. In this novel, Dowell is an undependable storyteller as the reader is given grounds non to swear his narration.

There are a figure of ways that a storyteller can be seen to be “ undependable ” . He could hold biass against a peculiar age, race, category or gender for illustration. The storyteller may hold an intelligence degree considered to be lower than norm. A common one is that the storyteller may be seeking to do a point reverse to the actions of the narrative or be trying to defame or belie a individual or state of affairs. In Dowell ‘s instance, he seems to fall into a few of these classs.

Dowell has a really confusing manner of speaking, as if he is remembering memories at that place and so and composing them down on paper without the idea of redacting them afterwards. Because of this, there are a figure of issues that arise for the reader. For illustration, on page 37, he tries to retrieve something but can non retrieve when it happened. “ I ca n’t retrieve whether it was in our first twelvemonth – the first twelvemonth of us four at Nauheim, because, of class, it would hold been the 4th twelvemonth of Florence and myself – but it must hold been in the first or 2nd twelvemonth. ” ( Ford, 2002, p. 37 ) . This transition leads the reader to oppugn how dependable the storyteller is, as he is non certain of the clip he is mentioning to and in his diction confuses the reader even more than possibly himself. By adding in the mention to him and Florence, he makes it unnecessarily confounding to understand when he is speaking about.

Soon after, when depicting a European palace, Dowell says: “ It has the disadvantage of being in Prussia ; and it is ever disagreeable to travel into that state. ” ( Ford, 2002, p. 38 ) This shows that Dowell is seeking to coerce his sentiment onto the reader as if it were fact. If it were his sentiment, he could hold said “ It is my sentiment that it would be disagreeablea╦ć┬Ž ” or something similar.

When speaking about Florence educating Edward, Dowell makes another remark to look undependable. He mentions that Florence was “ singularly adept as a usher to archeological ruins ” and so went on to state “ there was nil she liked so much ” as demoing people around ruins. However, he so says that “ She merely did it one time ” . For something to be considered person ‘s favorite thing to make in the universe, it would be typical to presume that they had done it many times, non merely one time. This inquiries one time more whether the storyteller, in this instance Dowell, is dependable.

To reason, the subdivision of the book analysed shows us that John Dowell has a alone and vivacious character and personality. He is shown to be instead naA?ve and nescient in the manner he does non detect or understand that his married woman is holding an matter or even that Leonora was trying to state him about it. His wont to happen the negative in every state of affairs makes the reader instead depressed and frustrated, which seems a unusual manner of stating a narrative, both by Dowell and by Ford himself. When seeing the cattles battle, he finds this amusing, retrieving this illustration of force over retrieving the pleasant milieus and the merriment of a vacation. This shows us that Dowell is a reasonably undependable cat to trust on when it comes to remembering the narrative as he does non retrieve the things of importance. When it comes to being an undependable storyteller, it becomes progressively apparent that Dowell fits this standard as he invariably glosses over of import facts giving his ain sentiments and slant alternatively of the facts, taking the reader to believe everything that he says to be the truth when it clearly is non the instance.

The Good Soldier presents the reader with a confusing and at some times frustrating read. The narrative throughout the novel is convoluted, misdirecting and annoyingly fickle. Regardless, the narrative creates a morbid comedy of the state of affairs, with the reader warming a small to Dowell ‘s inutility and sheer dumbfoundedness. One thing is clear, John Dowell is undependable as a storyteller and would non be a good pick to state a narrative!