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Commentary on The Nine Tailors

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Introduction

WL Commentary Natasha Frost Mrs Noyes The Nine Tailors - Dorothy L. Sayers In this piece of prose, the protagonist has climbed up to the ringing chamber and finds himself alone with the clanging of the bells. Wanting not 'to hear anymore', he finds the bells unbearable as they rip at his eardrums and thus is forced to leave. Sayers uses a combination of literary techniques and particular emotive language to create an effect of disaster and disarray which correlates with the idea of the unstable character as portrayed by the first sentence ('Wimsey did not want to hear anymore.') The first paragraph is littered with figurative speech and personification: the writer makes the bells seem angry and desperate through the use of metaphor through personification. The bells' 'frenzied call' is mentioned, which conduces with the idea of desperation and madness. The tone shifts slightly throughout the paragraph as the bells go from being merely insane to ragingly angry 'the brazen fury of the bells.' From this, we are given the idea that the bells are working against Wimsey and that they are against him and thus attempting to hurt him, as Sayers compares them to the 'blows from a thousand beating hammers.' ...read more.

Middle

The final paragraph seems, while still somewhat strained, dramatically less urgent than the previous and the reader can relax somewhat as the worst appears to be over. The text describes less the action of the bells and more what exactly is going on: the movements Wimsey is making, the blood that is running from his nose and ears, which creates a more detached feel as at the start of the passage. Stripping away the evident bells, we see three main themes within this text, all of which seem to relate to the internal conflict Wimsey is experiencing only briefly outlined within the text. The text appears to be alluding almost to hell: the 'sweating ringers' would not be out of place with Sisyphus. This furious, infernal atmosphere continues as it gestures towards sin and loss of control: the text mentions drunkenness and violence. Finally, in line 17, the bells are compared to an 'assault of devils'. There is definitely an element of punishment to it, both for the aforementioned and for Wimsey. This leads us to the second theme which is Wimsey's self-abuse; as stated at the very start of the text, he no longer wishes to 'hear anymore' and we see that this is something which, at the beginning, he wants to inflict upon himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

The final sentence is a lot calmer than the prior paragraphs. It seems almost to allude to hell and heaven once again, as Sayers mentions the 'demoniac clangour'. The bells, 'transmuted to harmony' seem angelic and celestial. The serenity of these three words seems only to make the previous two paragraphs more intense and angry in comparison. It also demonstrates how the bells are lovely and melodic when kept at arm's length but that overindulgence in them or just over-exposure makes them painful and insufferable. The words 'sunk back into the pit' seem to indicate that the bells are a defeated monster and that, as Wimsey has escaped them, they have slunk back and surrendered; that by walking out of the door, he has managed to evade them and leave with his life only just intact. Overall, the passage creates an image of fear and distress. From the beginning, the protagonist appears to be at breaking point. However, the fury and anger of the bells show him that he is not prepared to give it all up and that he cannot handle the pain. Sayers uses figurative speech and emotive language to show Wimsey's desperation and, by subtly alluding to battle and hell, shows the stress and, above all, inhospitability of the situation. ...read more.

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