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Explore how 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' and 'Never Let Me Go' present the effects of society upon human beings, and what this says about humanity.

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Introduction

Explore how both novels present the effects of society upon human beings, and what this says about humanity. In 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' and 'Never Let Me Go', we are given a vision of the world not by an overall view of society, but by the 'little' individuals within it. We interact directly with Kathy, Pelagia, Corelli and Mandras and through them, we see not only their vision of society, but also the effect society has on them. Carlo Guercio argued that 'history ought to consist only of the anecdotes of the little people who are caught up in it'. In 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', it is the voice of the seemingly unimportant individual that guides us through the globally important destruction of war, and we can see clearly, through deBerni�res' writing, the effects of society upon the individual. Dr Iannis is respected by all at the beginning of the novel, with the sole problem in life of being unable to write his 'History of Cephallonia'. This is reflected in deBerni�res' style of language in the opening chapters, giving us a clear sense of Dr Iannis' character as he describes Stamatis' 'exorbitant auditory impediment' in his own well-spoken and elitist manner. The uncontrollable war, however, destroys him, and he has his medical equipment, 'gathered together through twenty conscientious years of poverty', and the symbol of his respect and identity, completely smashed by the German soldiers. The complex, educated Doctor is just one of deBerni�res' many perspectives at the beginning of the novel: the emotional, unstable and flighty Pelagia; the amorous, immature and na�ve Mandras; and the utterly insane Mussolini. ...read more.

Middle

It mixes the personal glory of Arsenios' sacrifice to try and achieve something against impossible odds, and also the pointlessness of him attempting to do so. Mandras, similarly, goes from his athletic, 'godlike' state of being, with his 'very splendid backside', to returning the first time 'vile enough to banish demons and disturb the dead', to eventually returning again and attempting to rape Pelagia. He, like so many of the characters, undergoes first a physical, and then a moral, degradation and corruption. These constant mood changes, and the archaic changes of character perspective chapter by chapter, give the impression of the Cephallonian society, in wartime at least, to be highly emotive and volatile. Moreover, it exerts tremendous impact upon the welfare and personality of the characters, and they are all at liberty to it. Not even the widely respected Dr Iannis, a key, much-loved figure in Cephallonian pre-war society, can escape being 'dragged away' against the will of the reader and the people who hold him dear. In 'Never Let Me Go', there is a marked difference. In sticking with Kathy's perspective throughout, there is a much more flat, consistent and anticlimactic atmosphere to the novel. Indeed, it is hard to tell, other than Tommy's occasional outbursts of anger, what the characters are feeling at any time. This adds further to the tragedy of the novel, helping to further compound the inevitability of the clones' fate, and the fact that none of them ever seem to want to do anything about it. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, what these novels both seek to tell about humanity is that there is no escape. Kathy and Tommy's hope of escape is nothing more than 'a wishful rumour', and the 'Liberation' of Cephallonia only brings with it a Communist imposition of even worse than the occupation had been before. Fate and society are so in control of the characters' livelihoods, in both novels, that the paths of all of them are already mapped out. Kathy's roads are laid out for her, and the tragedy is she already knows it, knowing that she 'won't be a carer any more by the end of the year', and she will start donating. The fact that she has been forced to live through the deaths of both Ruth and Tommy compounds our loss of faith in humanity even further, as the clones are made to 'care' for each other as they die, coupled with the lack of argument or resistance from Kathy, or anybody else, to the inevitable road she drives along. In 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', there is so much death and strife, and it is sad for the reader to see those who are left trying to rebuild their lives at the end of the novel, but the scars of war still remain on society, just as they do on Captain Corelli. DeBerni�res deprives us of the fairytale ending we so desperately hoped for, and after reading both novels, we feel a much deeper sense of regret in our own society, and indeed begin to question it, just as we had hoped Kathy and Tommy would do, and as they tried to do with Madame, but, sadly, to no avail. Jack Harrison ...read more.

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