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Formalist Analysis of the story The Other Margaret by Lionel Trilling

Submitted by: Roswin Anne D. Limon ABDC3-1

Submitted to: Mark Anthony Moyano, Ph.D Department of English and Humanities College of arts and Sciences


Roswin Anne D. Limon ENG115 December 13, 2013


The Other Margaret by Lionel Thrilling

Summary: The story started when Stephen Elwin purchases the Rouault King from his dealer designer friend, Mark Jennings, another costumer, a young lieutenant, comes in to disturb their community of feeling, delicately poised as they are in deliberation of the strangely attractive cruelty of this work of art. Elwin envies the younger man decision to off to war in order to share the experience of his generation. It is now that Elwin recalls and reflects on the Hazlitt line, No young man believes he shall ever die, from On the Feeling of Immortality in the Youth. First heard in Mr. Baxters high school classroom, the line, then the repeatedly thereafter, defines the nature of the inspiration for Elwin, crystallizing the wisdom he would live by and impart to his daughter. Or so Elwin believes. Three incidents now test this belief, however, as he returns home, his bus driver, an older man, intentionally closes the door on a young boy and his brother for no visible reason. Elwin only supposes that he is displacing on to these strange boys a desire for revenge for filial ungratefulness he has suffered. Lucy Elwin, his wife, retells with ironic disregard an anti -Semitic joke picked up on her bus ride home, and young Margaret jumps to the mistaken conclusion that her own mother has been a secret racist. And finally, the family debates the difference between the old black maid and the new one, discovering the Margarets delight in for reading expressions of decency and the capability from victims of lifes injustices as nothing but example of slave psychology. Creeping hatred and critical suspicion, abroad in the land, even in the schools, have thus invaded the homes. Thus when the other Margaret intentionally breaks the Lamb, a birthday gift for her mother which is a small and delicate object in the sight of the idealistic Margaret, her father can offer her only a small solace. His daughter weeps bitterly and uncontrollably. And she weeps, not for the smashed object but for her knowledge that the maid has indeed committed purposely a malicious act. Her father also knows that it was not the other Margaret but herself that his Margaret was grieving for, that n her foolish and passionate argument; she was defending herself from her own impending responsibility. Interpretation: In this story, it means understanding that under the shadows of death, social melioration is not that easy to consider and personal responsibility is everything. The

story is to serve fictional enactments of a remaining belief on trillings part as he emerged from the late 1930s and 1940s which all political doctrines particularly Liberalism in its interesting conception of improvement, progressive change, and individual enhancement are the suspect. Wisdom consists, as Margarets father believes he discovers, in positioning oneself somewhere beyond local and the temporary. A familiarity with death, surely a great leveler, is the one relationship that can assure a man a viewpoint from which he can judge well a political emptiness.

Technical Analysis: The other Margaret by Lionel trilling portrays the modern critical consciousness as the general tragedy of culture life. The story focuses supposedly on the conflict engendered in Stephen Elwins teenage daughter, Margaret, by her stubborn adoption of the liberal goodness learned in school- the society is responsible for all evils. Margaret Elwin, to her fathers mind, refuses to face reality and recognize what she cannot know, that all of us, even the worst victims of social injustice, are to be held morally accountable for the actions we commit. Occasions for this conflict of illusion and reality arises when the open hostility of the Elwins new black maid, the other Margaret of the title, is left uncheck out of tolerant admiration to the girls progressive attitudes. Nastiness rise then to a climatic incident of offended violence, the planned smashing of the beautiful green porcelain lamb that Margaret Elwin made herself as a birthday gift for her mother.

Judgment: The story, the other Margaret by Lionel Trilling contains a serious and critical subject matter. One who is unaware of the situation between the 1930s and 1940s would not easily comprehend with the story. Arrangement of the story created a surprising turn of events from the purchase of the Painting throughout the climax and open ended finale. The words used are somewhat complicated especially in my age that I consulted the web to verify the meanings. The story is more of symbolism which depicts the lives of the characters. Overall, the story is knowledgeable, but doesnt interest me that much probably because of little knowledge of the theme.