Jan 25, 2018 in Research

The Humble Man

Indifference, indecision and disillusionment are common to Eliot, Plath, and Bambara. On the other hand, Bambra’s heroes appear to be inherent to those who have no strength in themselves. This includes those who lack self-satisfaction, but desire to change for better lives. These authors clearly show light to the theme of heroism, with heroes feeling worthless and humiliated in different situations. The reader is challenged to unfold literature in these books so as to get the clear meaning. The meaning in literature means what the authors intend to mean in his work. For perfect identification of the real meaning of these three authors, the reader has to apply the theory of a humble man from the word go. At the beginning, the authors do not have any similarity in their work. They present the incidences in different ways. The common incidents include a grown up man, Silvia’s school life and pregnancy description.  The three authors have significantly used ‘humble man’ image to present their art.

Societal chains make people feel insignificant and humbled. This is evident in all societies, and has been impossible to ignore cultures. Cultural chains have made people live uncomfortably as they fear rejection which can face them in case they break the taboos. The image of humble man in these three books represents people who suffer as a result of prohibitions and taboos in the society. The social aspect of life is more affected as compared to the other aspects. Traditionally, the romantic scheme occupied the greatest part of life. The inner person is suppressed by the outside passion which is exposed to traditions, culture and taboos. This is what suppresses human individuality and cause people to do what is not their will. There exist two origins of heroism. These are rational and irrational origins. The rational origin is social while the irrational one is spontaneous. The rational origin forces human beings to adjust in every situation, while the second origin forces them to face challenges courageously until they accomplish the goals. These two origins keep competing. This is clearly observed in the inner monologues of human psychology. In fact, this difference is the source of all injustices.

Whenever the inner self is awakened, the individual tries to fight with this inferiority complex. This makes him dislike everything around him as s/he terms them as part of his/her suffering. The struggle of the humble man gives different results depending on the individual’s ability to cope with stress. This inner fight can make him/her stronger, or destroy the inner comfort zone which makes people peaceful. As the authors go deep in the work, they appear to have several differences. This is ironic as they seemed to have a different angle at the start of the work. Their languages, devices and figurative speeches become common as the reader digs into the work. They all use first person narration to present their work. Bambara’s work is narrated by Silvia who is a young girl at school. Plath and Eliot narrate themselves the story in their poems. These techniques make the learner understand first hand feeling of the narrator. The three narrators are suffering psychologically. The reader is forced to sympathize with the narrators considering the pain they are experiencing.  The discomfort is important in ‘The Lesson.’ Miss Moore goes through discomfort which represents the uncomfortable changes which are just about to happen. Plath and Eliot are narrators who go through disillusionment. This discomfort is symbolic as it represents positive changes which occur after perseverance. The narrators feel they are going through unfair humiliation and discomfort. Plath’s Silvia metaphor represents a pregnant woman who feels uncomfortable in the society (Plath 44). Silvia in Bambara’s work is also going through humiliation. Eliot’s narration shows great suffering and discomfort.


The three authors have categorized people in three main groups, though this is not stated directly. These groups are the young, middle-aged and the old. They describe the young as tomorrow’s leaders who should be protected. Silvia in Bambara’s work is exposed to different conflicts, which she learns how to solve successfully. Bambara takes the reader to a long walk before learning the girl solves the conflicts. This symbolizes the hardships youth go through before they mature up and become responsible adults. Silvia encounters different people with different characters. This hardens her, making her resilient in the harsh societal chains.

Bambara’s Silvia is a strong girl who ultimately becomes the hero after a period of humiliation. The author brings into light American economic development using this young girl. The girl faced various adults who behaved differently. This strengthens her and makes her a woman of the people. Her life and challenges clearly show the gap between the poor and the rich in America. This gap seems impossible to bridge considering the social classes which bore the same social class unintentionally.

Silvia denies the fact that her world is uncomfortable and fateful. She struggles hard to make it the best world through ups and downs. This is evident in Bambar’s ‘The Lesson.’ In contrast, Eliot portrays a different picture as the narrator of ‘The Love Song.’ He accepts that the life he is leading is not what is best for him. This poem exposes his regrets as he cannot love and is forced by circumstances to make wrong decisions. Silvia has no money and Prufrock is wealthy. The two characters are similar in that no one feels comfortable in their respective societies which worship wealth. Conversely, Bambara’s hero is a young girl who faces challenges and emerges the winner while Eliot’s hero is an old man who makes decisions in his life to keep moving. The old man pretends to be too religious just for the sake of his success. This character is almost tragic as he speaks ironically concerning his life. Plath has also used irony in his work. The poem is written in a humorous tone which does not show up as there is no fun in the lines. This is ironic. All the heroes use irony to make their lives comfortable and to evade reality.

Travels appear in these works which is a common feature worth noticing. Silvia travels from one part of New York to the other. She visits the rich and the poor noticing the gap. Eliot’s and Plath’s narrators travelled from one place to another (Eliot 130). However, their routes are vague as the authors do not clearly indicate their destination. It is probable that the narrators were not travelling physically. Eliot illustrates one narrator in the town while Plath illustrates travel with a single train (Eliot 129). The main aim of the travel in these works is to make the reader travel with the heroes without losing way. This is the only way the authors could move with the reader. The travel is symbolic. It represents the reader’s self search for the humble man. The heroes undergo different feelings throughout their journey. This makes the reader understand their psychological move towards becoming heroes.

Symbols and metaphors are so common in works of Bambara, Eliot and Plath. The three authors use metaphors as the most common figurative language in their work. Silvia Plath has several symbols and imagery in her work. She uses common metaphors correctly to present her theme. In contrast, Bambara and Eliot use more complicated metaphors in their presentation. Plath uses the first line of the poem to declare his theme (Bambara 174). The first line states that it is a riddle having nine syllables. This means that the poem needs critical analyzes for one to understand the narrator. It has nine syllables as well as nine lines. This number nine symbolizes the nine months of pregnancy. The poem has various metaphors which compare the narrator with different objects. This gives the reader a clear meaning of the poem. He compares himself with a reproduction plant and this is the main idea. She feels that she is not worth anything and the society is only respecting her for the sake of the unborn. Plath fears that her poetry work was endangered as she would soon be a mother with countless responsibilities.

Bambara has used more metaphors than the other two writers. The children meet Miss Moore near the mailbox before departing for their trip. This symbolizes departure to the outside world. Miss Moore continuously challenged children telling them to read hard and analyze the world. She keeps encouraging them to work hard at school. Her character symbolizes the tools of change. There is a great need to change the economy and bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. The injustices in the economy could only be fought using education. Names in Bambara’s work are also symbolic. Sugar is Sylvia’s best friend. She is the only child who declared that Miss Moore loves listening to children and being associated with them. Fat Butt and Big Butt loved eating and, thus, their names indicate that. Junebug is too silent in the story. Mercedes was named this symbolic name with a purpose. She is the first one to go to the store as she loved staying with the rich (Bambara 172).

Eliot’s poem ‘The Love song’ has enough metaphors to give its real meaning. The main theme in this poem is love. The narrator commented that he has used the name Alfred intentionally. This name appears to be belonging to the most famous romanticists in England. This is ironic. The author criticizes romanticists claiming that they replace the reality with their unreal work. He becomes afraid of the main hero in the poem. He tries to suppress the hero’s life as he is uncomfortable with him (Eliot 129).

The three authors create despaired characters. The characters are divested of their worthiness. They are afraid of the future, including the next minute of their lives. The characters realize the humiliation they go through and take a step to eliminate it completely. This is a significant decision which transforms the humble man to a hero. Plath’s Silvia fights for her importance. However, she realizes that she has lost freedom as she becomes a protector. Silvia in ‘The Lesson’ realizes that her world is not perfect (Plath 44). She realizes this and starts the struggle to fight against injustice in the society. There is hope that the girl will succeed in her fight against unfair treatment. The main hero in ‘the Love Song’ risks his life as he tears himself away from the frame of bourgeois lounge to the spaciousness. He went to the sea in respect of the mythical events. This is where visions of Lazarus and Prince Hamlet flash back in his mind. These were images of people who reproached human inconsistency. In controversy, Prufrock considers daily life as a petty thing irrespective of the painful incidents in his life. Ironically, he rejects his rebellion using his mouth. Finally, he becomes paralyzed in dreams and in life too.

In conclusion, ‘humble man’ is a topic with various definitions depending on the reader. The man runs through the minds of these three authors in a different way. The images in these works portray a different meaning though with some similarities. The authors leave the reader with a duty to analyze whether he would accept leaving luxurious life and start a humble life to be more important in life. 


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