Essay

Analysis of the Verger by W.S.Maugham

William Somerset Maugham (born Jan. 25, 1874, Paris, France—died Dec. 16, 1965, Nice), English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer whose work is characterized by a clear unadorned style, cosmopolitan settings, and a shrewd understanding of human nature.

Maugham was orphaned at the age of 10; he was brought up by an uncle and educated at King’s School, Canterbury. After a year at Heidelberg, he entered St. Thomas’ medical school, London, and qualified as a doctor in 1897. He drew upon his experiences as an obstetrician in his first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), and its success, though small, encouraged him to abandon medicine. He traveled in Spain and Italy and in 1908 achieved a theatrical triumph—four plays running in London at once—that brought him financial security. During World War I he worked as a secret agent. After the war he resumed his interrupted travels and, in 1928, bought a villa on Cape Ferrat in the south of France, which became his permanent home.

His reputation as a novelist rests primarily on four books: Of Human Bondage (1915), a semi-autobiographical account of a young medical student’s painful progress toward maturity; The Moon and Sixpence (1919), an account of an unconventional artist, suggested by the life of Paul Gauguin; Cakes and Ale (1930), the story of a famous novelist, which is thought to contain caricatures of Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole; and The Razor’s Edge (1944), the story of a young American war veteran’s quest for a satisfying way of life. Maugham’s plays, mainly Edwardian social comedies, soon became dated, but his short stories have increased in popularity. Many portray the conflict of Europeans in alien surroundings that provoke strong emotions, and Maugham’s skill in handling plot, in the manner of Guy de Maupassant, is distinguished by economy and suspense. In The Summing Up (1938) and A Writer’s Notebook (1949) Maugham explains his philosophy of life as a resigned atheism and a certain skepticism about the extent of man’s innate goodness and intelligence; it is this that gives his work its astringent cynicism.

The text under study is a short sory called “The Verger” which tells us about  Albert Edward Foreman who has been the verger of  St. Peter’s, Neville Square for 16 years. One day the new vicar is appointed and Forman is fired because of his ignorance: he can’t read and write. Walking along the street with his sad thoughts about what he should do now he decided to buy cigarettes, but there are no tobacco shops in the street. An idea comes in his mind, he opens a tobacco shop in this street. During a short period of time it successes and he had a lot of money and number of shops.

This story has an introduction in which we meet Albert himself and the new vicar, a succession of actions shows us Forman’s dismissal, his idea to open tobacco shop, his becoming a succesful businessman, and his visit to the bank. The climax comes in the moment he is proved to be unable to read  when he is proposed to sign the agreement in order to invest his money. The denoument is the Forman’s reply that he would be the verger of St. Peter’s, Naville Square to manager’s question about what he would be now if he could read.

This text is about churchwarden who is devoted to his work. In the text we can find a lot of church terms, such as verger’s gown, vicar, vestry,font, chancel etc.

The author’s purpose is to show that illiteracy is not equal to intelligence.

The story is told from the 3d person singular, the author is just a narrator, his tone is impassive and detatched. The mood of the text is peaceful.

This text is written in belles-lettres style. The bookish words prevail there. For ex, complacence, dignified, vacant, lamentalle, etc..

But in the dialogues there are contracted forms (I’ve, you’d, etc) to create the atmosphere of real conversation..

In Albert’s speech the author employs simple words and contractions  to show his simple character. He uses wrong words and doesn’t know grammar and it is presented in his speech. (don’t he know I want my tea?, all this hustle, in me head)

As this is a narration, the author uses the Past Simple and Past Perfect tenses.

Compound sentences are principally met in the text  produsing the effect of measured and neat ralation.

At the lexical level the author reveal the idea using methaphors to show the depth of Foreman’s sadness when he loses his favourite work  (the blow inflicted upon him;  his heart was heavy)  (he sighed as he thought of all ceremonies his gown had seen); – as it says at the beginning of the story he is proud of his gowns, keeps him in tidy and pleasant condition, can’t throw them, neatly holds them in the wardrobe, etc, that is why the author personificates it.

Exaggeration  used in the vicar’s speech (the most amazing thing I ever heard, the highest opinion both of your character and of your capacity) shows his character, he try to hide his attitude to Foreman’s illiteracy, he thinks Foreman doesn’t deserve to be the verger of the church.