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Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Carlo asserts "War is a wonderful thing, in movies and in books." By close reference to the novel, explore how war shows people at their worst and their best.

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Introduction

Rebecca Brackley - Captain Corelli's Mandolin Carlo asserts "War is a wonderful thing, in movies and in books." By close reference to the novel, explore how war shows people at their worst and their best. The novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin, written by Louis De Bernieres in 1994, explores "humanity; we sigh at their suffering as they are ripped apart and forever changed by war."1 The quotation in the title is spoken by Carlo quite early on in the novel, at the end of chapter 15, titled 'L'Omosessuale (4)'. He is referring to the idea that war is repeatedly shown to be patriotic, heroic, and indeed wonderful especially in film and literature. However, from Carlos' experiences in Albania, he knows the true reality of war, as he has seen and experienced the suffering. We can trace Carlos' progression of thought through his personal chapters; all entitled 'L'Omosessuale'. He begins saying, "How wonderful it was to be at this war"(p.119) We hear him describe crossing the foreign border as "exhilarating", and he and his comrades view themselves as "the new legionaries of the new empire that would last ten thousand years."(p.119) This was his view at the very beginning of war, before he had really experienced any suffering. As he is yet to encounter any conflict, it is likely he has been influenced by the propaganda at the time, organised by the Italian leader, Mussolini. The next quotation is said slightly further on during Carlos' experience, "How wonderful it was to be at war, until the weather turned against us."(p.120) It is here that we begin to hear of some of the suffering that Carlo and his comrades had to endure, such as "we were ten thousand men soaked to the bone"(p.120). ...read more.

Middle

We owe everything to people like him." He is indoctrinated by what is expected of him, and is predicted to conform. However high Mandras' expectations were, the war does not elevate him, it brings him down. During his experiences in war he saw others abuse their power, and now feels he has a right to do the same, The war de-humanises him, and instead of changing him for the better it changes him for the worse. The war in Cephallonia showed the best and the worst in people. In Antonio Corelli's case it displays his merits as he has the opportunity to exercise his humanity in the treatment of others. From the beginning of the novel, Corelli is represented as a laid-back, light-hearted leader. Although he has a great talent as a leader, he is very modest and introduces Carlo as "one of our heroes, He has a hundred medals for saving life and none for taking it"(p.202). He proves himself as an excellent comrade and Captain by being faithful to his men until the very end. "There is no honour in this war, but I have to be with my boys"(p.392). His introduction of La Scala also shows good comradeship, as it is a humorous and practical solution to having to use communal toilets. This is also a crucial element of the novel, as before they go to join the shooting line up, they sing to maintain their composure. He also shows his forgiving nature when he chooses to forgive Gunter for what he has done. "I forgive you. If I do not, who will?"(p.397). ...read more.

Conclusion

De Bernieres uses Carlo's narrative in the chapters entitled L'Omosessuale, and this allows the readers to sympathise further with the silent suffering that Carlo has to endure during the war. His writings are eloquently written and his language is poetic and beautiful, showing the gentle side to his character. "He died on a fine day, Signora, with the sun shining and the birds singing."(P.148, Carlo) "Father Arsenios was saved by the war"(p.292). De Bernieres absolves Arsenios after the war and liberates him from his former self. However, the characters perceive him as a mad man and cannot see that war has brought about his finest hour. He is referred to as the "crazy priest" yet he feels he is a saviour and "it is probable that, had he lived, Arsenios might have become a saint"(p.295). De Bernieres chooses to depict war in a graphic and realistic light in his novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Although in many films or books war is shown to be wonderful, this idealised version is proved wrong in De Bernieres novel, as he shows the suffering that the soldiers were forced to endure. He shows that the war has different effects on different people, and it can expose their faults or their merits. Mandras is forever changed by the war, as he returns indoctrinated by the communist party. His death proves that his natural environment is the sea, where he can be accepted and does not have to prove himself. In contrast Corelli's merits are shown to be more prominent as the war develops, and also as his love for Pelagia develops. The reader is drawn to the character of Corelli, even though he is an occupying soldier, as he shows compassion, kindness and respect during his time in Cephallonia. ...read more.

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