Sunday, June 17, 2018

Louise by William Somerset Maugham --- Analysis

The short story 'Louise' by William Somerset Maugham was written in an ironic style. The narrator spoke about his acquaintance - Louise, the young girl in the beginning of the story and an old lady in the end.

Her parents cared about her very strongly, as the narrator said, they "worshipped her with an anxious adoration" because she had a weak heart. When Tom Maitland proposed marriage, they were dismayed because they thought that the role of wife was difficult, given her poor health. But Tom was rich and they were not well off, so eventually they agreed to the marriage.

Tom promised to do everything for Louise, he gave up gambling and hunting for the sake of her. Meanwhile, the narrator noticed she might walk for few miles, she might dance all night. Once the narrator said to Tom that Louse might be not so weak as it seemed. Tom shook his head and answered that the best heart specialists in the world concluded that her life hung by a thread.

Louise outlived her husband. He died from pneumonia. According to the narrator, while they were sailing Tom cared only about keeping Louise warm and didn't think about himself. He left Louise with the fortune and a daughter, Iris.

A year after Tom's death Luisa accepted a proposal to marry from George Hobhouse. He was an officer who resigned because of his intentions to care about his poor wife who suffered from heart disease. They lived in Monte Carlo. The narrator asserted that because of it, George allowed his wife "to go beautifully dressed to all the most lively parties, to gamble very heavily, to dance and even to flirt with tall slim young men." Meanwhile, George braces himself with a stiff drink. When the war started, he rejoined the army again and a few months later, he was killed in the First World War.

In order to ease her mind, Luise turned her villa at Monte Carlo into a hospital for convalescent officers. The narrator met her by chance in Paris at the Ritz with a tall, handsome young Frenchman. She said that she was there on business related to the hospital.

Next time the narrator met Luise in London. She lived there with her daughter, Iris. Iris met a good man. He asked her to marry him but she refused because she decided that she needed to care for her mother. The narrator asked Luise about her attitude to this proposal and she answered, 'she can marry her young man tomorrow if she likes. If it kills me, it kills me.' The narrator suggested, ‘Well, let's risk it, shall we?'

In the last lines of the story, the author wrote,
"On the wedding–day, at ten o'clock in the morning, Louise, that devilish woman, had one of her heart attacks–and died. She died gently forgiving Iris for having killed her."

This story was the subject of many discussions. We can find lots of essays and an analysis on the Internet. Commentators mostly focused on the theme of manipulations, which some people use. This idea was confirmed by the ironic style which the author used in this story. The circumstances of the deaths of Luise's former husbands seem also to prove this statement. But is it really so? Let's call it into a question. Because she was ill, she accepted the idea of death. Because of it, she spent her time in parties, gambling, flirting and so on. There is an idiom in English “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. Her death was real. The narrator believed in her insincerity, but he might be mistaken.

This is a link to the story:

This is a link to the sixty-five short stories of W. Somerset Maugham:

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