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Analysis: Narrative and Story Essay

The stylistic analysis of Richard Gordon’s story “Doctor in the house” by Arailym Zharmukhamed from IN-11-2

“Doctor in the house” was written by Richard Gordon, a famous English writer. He was born in 1921. He had been a surgeon and anaesthetist, he wrote numerous novels, screenplays for film and television and accounts of popular history, mostly dealing with the practice of medicine. He was most famous for a long series of comic novels on a medical theme starting with “Doctor in the House”, and the subsequent film, television, radio and stage adaptations. Everything that author described in the story “Doctor in the house” was true to life, that is why it made this story so popular among people. The subject of the story is sitting for examinations.

Well, now I’m going to analyze the story. The story is short. And narrative mode of the text are both narration and description. The author describes us what examination means for students and narrates about exam itself and his own experience when he was a student. The plot structure of the story is interesting one. The exposition of the text starts with the explanation what examination means for a medical student and what examination means in whole. After the explanation we come to the inciting moment when the narrator takes his exam. I slowly pass to the climax of the story when Richard is waiting for the results.

And I come to the resolution when he has learnt that passed the examinations. Having analyzed the plot structure, I would like to give the summary of the extract. The story takes place during the examination for medical students. As the narrator mentions it’s something like a death. The exam is consists of two parts, they are written papers and oral examination. 3 hours are allowed for the paper. Students swott up the spot questions, because there is rarely any frank cheating in medical examinations. When the narrator is finished with the written papers, he meets Grimsdyke who knows that there’s a special system of marking the tripos and the narrator shouldn’t worry about it. As for the viva, it was a judgement day, because a false answer and the student is finished. There were 5 other students with the narrator who were passing the viva. When it was his turn to pass it he easily copes with the first question, but stumbles through the second, that is why the days after the viva are black ones. At last the day when students could learn their results comes. It’s the Secretary who simply should say “pass” or “failed”.

The narrator worries so much that even doesn’t hear the Secretary who named his number. So it turned out that the narrator passed his exam. His feelings are mixed. Now, I’m gradually passing to the main characters of the story. Here is only one main character – the narrator. The method of character drawing is indirect. He is round, dynamic, protagonist character. The narrator is a medical student. During the whole story we can see him passing through examinations. The day of the examination was the worst thing on the earth, something like death for all students. If you want to pass it you should be ready. So, I think he is well-read in medicine, hard-working person, because there is rarely any frank cheating in medical examinations, so a student should know the material and help himself. He managed with this. I also can say that he is very observant. The narrator notices different kind of emotions on people’s faces.

For example he talks about porters who look dispassionately down at students, he sees an awkward expression of self-consciousness and superiority in students faces, he notices that the woman’s suit was neat but not smart, that her hair tidy but not striking, that she wore enough make-up to look attractive. The narrator is an interesting character, he likes to compare people with somebody. For examples, he compares porters with policemen, examination is something like death as he mentions, the Old Stager with a photographer at a wedding. He can easily find the right word to describe the person. So, I can say that he is smart. We also know he passed his exam, it means his knowledge of medicine are good enough and maybe one day he’ll become a doctor. On the whole, I can say that he creates an image of an ordinary student. I slowly come to the author’s style of the text. If to look at the text, we may notice that it is written in the first person narration: “I walked down the stairs feeling as if I had just finished an eight-round fight…”,”I was shown to a tiny waiting-room…” or “I stood before table four. I didn’t recognize the examiners.” And so on. Speaking about vocabulary of the story, it is important to say that the language is expressive, emotional.

Richard Gordon uses lots of thematic words such as “student, cheating, the examiners, to pass, tripos the viva, written papers”, etc. The author uses stylistic devices and expressive means to achieve desired effect in describing characters and examination itself. Well, on the whole the text is emotionally moving. Now I want to provide some examples of Stylistic devices. Richard Gordon uses simile, metaphor, hyperbole, allusion, metonymy. By the simile “examinations are something like death”, the author shows what the students feel before it, their condition; “like a prize-fighter”, here Richard Gordon wants to show the atmosphere of contest between the student himself and the examiner; by using metaphor “well-trodden paths” the author shows the attitude to the medical textbooks; “frustrated brilliance” about a gone hope of a student; by using a hypebole “an examination is nothing more than an investigation of a man’s knowledge”, the author shows what the examination is.

Or “But the viva is judgement day. A false answer, and the god’s brow threatens like imminent thunderstorm” to show the importance of examination for students; the author excellently uses the allusion referring to the Bible’s Judgment day. We discover that final exams are death and the Secretary as an archangel corresponds where they would go to the paradise or to hell. So, we can see that the text is rich in stylistic devices, it makes it vivid. It’s important to mention that the syntax of the story also helps to make the story vivid. Each sentence is complete. The structure of the sentences is characterized by a strict adherence to logic, the author uses parallels constructions which help to reflect the tense during anticipation of the narrator’s result: “The world stood still. The traffic stopped, the plants ceased growing, men were paralysed, the clouds hung in the air, the winds dropped, the tides disappeared, the sun halted in the sky.”

Having analyzed stylistic devises we can describe the atmosphere and tone of the story. In the beginning the atmosphere is strained, in the middle of the test when students start examination it becomes nervous, but in the end it’s relaxed because the narrator has known that he passed the exam. The tone is serious because the narrator describes the examination and shows the importance of it for students. Having realized the story we can easily find the theme and the main idea of it. The theme of the story is worries about examination. The main idea is that examination is a real challenge for students and a real testing of being ready for different difficulties. And now, I’m trying to conclude my thoughts. In our world, there are full of difficulties and various problems. I’m sure no one can say that he is free from spoiling his nerves and health in order to overcome some important destiny barriers. As a matter of fact, who can agree that life is more interesting, when it flows as a calm river of constantly and monotonously changing events?

A person becomes experienced and strong only having felt the whole disgrace of the world he has a chance to live in. And what an amazing quality our memory has; it specially chooses the worst recollections and with the sense cruelty reminds us our past mistakes and annoyances, making us feel that awful feelings again and again. The fact that nothing can be as memorable as our misfortunes was remarkably proved by Richard Gordon. Having a great medical practice, the author reveals his own recollections of the old days, when he was just a student, stumbling through the most scaring trial in his life – the finals. He colourfully describes all the sides of his extremely important event. Cheating is practically impossible, all the knowledge is an inseparable mass in the heads of young and full of hopes students.

Oral and writing examinations become some kind of a “judgment day”. And not everyone becomes that lucky, who will take the diploma from the professor’s hands. With an irony the author gives us the description of students’ feelings and behaviour. Some of them have “superiosity in their faces”, others were trying to complete the last brilliant sentence, “dissatisfied with the period allowed for them to express themselves”. After years such event seems to be extremely funny. The author showed us the atmosphere people sometimes have to be in. Recollecting my own experience I can say that in many cases my feelings were the same.

Everything, which happens to us sooner or later turns into the simple recollection. Of course it puts a trace in our mind, and not always pleasant one. Author gives us a way to understanding of such things. It is humour, the best “cure of the injures” the life gives us. Remembering this rule a person is able to overcome many life trials, becoming stronger and wiser. In this case even the best professor can’t be compared with the teacher we all have – our past. For me, every time the examinations require from me much effort and nerves for preparation and passing them. So, heaving read this story, I found that Richard Gordon is a master of witty descriptions of serious and important events in people’s life. Not many authors are able to achieve this effect in his or her works, but Richard Gordon made this perfectly.


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