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Captain Corelli’s Essay

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By focusing on at least three characters from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’, consider the importance of the range of viewpoints used in the novel. Throughout the novel, Louis de Berniere gives every character a clear identity. By this every individual is representative of those that were present at the time of the war. This identity entitles them to show the reader different prospective and viewpoints on how they feel. Thus it portrays a sense of reality as it is not all fiction and does consist of facts from the war.

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However I do feel that there are central characters in the novel that make it seem more interesting and therefore grip the reader to make us want to read on. These characters don’t only represent the individuals in the horrific war but manage to make the storyline seem more intriguing. Dr Iannis, Pelagia, Carlo and Mandras are selected well by Berniere to highlight different views of different people from different places. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin opens with an insight into Dr Iannis’s daily routine.

He is perhaps the most educated individual on the island and therefore well respected and known by all those who live amongst him. He is symbolic of the independence of Greece and through him we gain an incite into the historic and patriotic pride of Cephallonia. The deep desire and passion for the island is portrayed by the doctor are clear as he begins to describe the infamous island; “… Cephallonia rises improvidently and inadvisedly from the Ionian Sea, it is an island so immense in aniquity…. rocks themselves exhale nostalgia… ”

However his views about the island, its past and its people’s beliefs prove to be inevitably subjective also showing us the history itself is subjective. This part is included by the author in the very first chapter to make readers know Dr Iannis and understand the way Cephallonians live and think. This clearly indicates the fact that this place isn’t just a common ground but is, in fact a true beauty of nature to Dr Iannis. Having the doctor describe this makes us realize his view on the country and how he feels it should be written down in history as.

Also the doctor’s occupation tells us that he is a man who likes to help others and therefore his character becomes more appealing and loved by the audience. His simple but actually quite basic procedures of operating such as “carefully inserted the straightend hook into the hirsute orifice” makes the patient very thankful and increases the doctor’s need to be with ‘his people’. The method itself sounds very complex yet in reality the operation is a simple one but as Dr Iannis is carrying it out, Bernieres adds sophisticated language to show the high level of intelligence the doctor has.

Education is the reason why the doctor and his daughter stand at the top of the island’s hierarchical system, and are therefore respected more than the commoners. The war brings out a side of Dr Iannis which is slightly more opinionated. We later realize that he is more into politics than he at first seems. He predicted that Greece was going to be attacked before war was even apposed upon them. To get his view across he prepares or rehearses a speech for Kokolios about Communism and its connection to Capitalism however doesn’t manage to tell him as Lemoni interrupts. Pelagia is a young, ambitious women who takes after her father.

She too would like to be a doctor even though she knows that women of her time have restrictions opposed onto them by a male dominating society. Her ‘first patient’ was her fianci Mandras; “… it’s an irritant… when the lice have gone, but oil of paraffin takes about two weeks to work… ” This keen interest Pelagia has in medicine makes her question her future. As she goes to help Mandras with his poor health and severe condition, she realizes that she has ‘learnt enough from her father’ and is in doubt about there being “such a thing as a doctor who was also a woman”.

However it is this knowledge and education that Pelagia obtains which makes the division between Mandras and herself wider. In addition this event of her lover returning home in this condition makes Pelagia hate war even more and blames it for standing between her love and his love to fight. Pelagia is described as an attractive woman and many men on the island fall in love with both her beauty and intelligence, combining to make a perfect ideal for a woman. However, Pelagia’s perfection is her own downfall as she is confused about what to do when the captain is the one she loves.

As of this the Doctor continued talking to Pelagia about her situation, and reminded her that she was betrothed to Mandras and that technically the captain was an enemy. He told her that love was a temporary madness; “it erupted like volcanoes and then it subsided”. Then he pressed her hand harder and told her that marrying the Captain would be impossible until their homeland was liberated.

One can only forgive a sin after the sinner has finished committing , he said and argued that there was an equation to be balanced, with love on one side and dishonour on the other, adding that Mandras may still have been amongst the living. To this Pelagia responds by saying i?? You make everything squalid. You don’t know how it isi??. Even though later on Dr Iannis tells her that he knows how it is, because her mother had been betrothed to someone else, and he shared all her feelings. She still doesn’t realize why all this has to happen to her and says to her father that ‘The captain has never tried to compromise me.

The doctor says that Corelli is a good man but there are restrictions set and Pelagia can not go ahead with this as it is immoral and the war again is standing in her way. Mandras effectively speaks “behind the veil”, in secret, to the reader. What he actually went through and the way he returned from the front are revealed in his stream of thought. He starts by pointing out the indecency of his mother and his fiance seeing him “naked amidst the infections, rashes and parasites infesting” This portrays war as an inhumane and revolting event to be part of.

All those who go to war in one way or another are ‘infected’. Whether that’s physically or mentally. Then he goes on to describe what he thinks death is “a brother and not an enemy” He has obviously been very affected because he goes on about death being beautiful, a saviour and a good friend. However, he does not go so far as to say that it keeps him going; Pelagia does. Mandras proceeds to venerate her beauty and to say that she meant home to him, but that he has noticed that “she is disgusted with her returning hero”.

From this he concludes that she does not think he is good enough for her and feels her love for him as changed into a formality. He realizes she may no longer have deep feelings for him, but can’t understand why. Bernieres makes Mandras a lucky survivor from the war front so his description is the only valid one of the war. He describes the walk as an unpleasant travesy through the remnants of the war; “… decaying donkeys, charred bodies, crippled tanks and vast amounts of abandoned, useless equipment… “

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