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"Steerpike and Fuchsia are more than narrative devices. There are means by which Peake can examine the very nature of humanity". Discuss.

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Introduction

"Steerpike and Fuchsia are more than narrative devices. There are means by which Peake can examine the very nature of humanity". Discuss. "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay" - Jiddu Krishnamurti Such has been the case with Gorhmengast over the many years of its existence. Many Earls came and went, 77 in all, but nothing ever changed. Here tradition had become an end, manifesting itself in the dominance of ritual that suffocates all life and whose origins are lost in time. Steerpike's ambition does not allow him to remain content as a kitchen boy in the Earl's castle. Manipulating circumstance and human weakness he worms his way up the Gormenghast hierarchy. Ruthless and murderous, with a Machiavellian mind and a talent for manipulation, he even tries to appear charming and noble. For an author characters are like puppets. He manipulates them, makes them dance to his tune and uses them as narrative devices; not so for Peake who uses the opportunity to play God to delve into the very nature of humankind. In this essay I explore the many ways in which Mervyn Peake explores human nature through the lives and times of Steerpike and Fuchsia two characters from his epic 'Titus Groan'. Peake during his lifetime was influenced by many events from the early part of the 20th century. As a soldier in the army he witnessed the harshness and brutality of war. Born in colonial China he later moved with his family to England. ...read more.

Middle

Steerpike longed for power and his love for power made him reach for great heights. This approach to love is radically different from the loving nature that Fuchsia presents. The love that Steerpike professed for Fuchsia was only a means to an end, the end being social progression and wealth. Even though at times Steerpike might seem to be in love, this is never the case. Peake also explores other dimensions of love as human nature. For example Sepulchrave has his love for books and his library; Lady Groan's has her love for her white cats. Thus Peake exposes the reader to the full range of human experience that goes as love. He does not stop here. He even deals with the lack of love through the character of Swelter and his dysfunctional relationship with the cleaver projecting him as the 'anti love God' of the novel. "Mr Swelter was suckling it in his arms as though he was suckling it." Swelter doesn't know the true meaning of love and has never experienced it either. This is the reason his love remains confined to inanimate objects. Thus Peake helps the reader explore the full range of human emotion that goes as love. Nature nurture is another aspect of human nature that Peake explores through his characters. It is useful to examine how in the course of the novel the role of Steerpike and Fuchsia are used by Peake to bring this out. On the one hand Fuchsia has been brought up in a wealthy background as the daughter of the Earl, with all the luxuries associated with it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Peake also explores passion and reason, and challenges the reader into considering whether these two qualities can work together. As portrayed by Peake in the character of Steerpike and Fuchsia you either have passion or reason, you can't have both. Fuchsia is driven by passion: "'May I walk with you?' said Steerpike sliding up. 'Yes', said Fuchsia. 'Oh, yes; why shouldn't you?' She had never wanted him before, and was surprised at her own words" The above passage reveals that aspect of human nature where you involuntarily say what you feel even though what you say may be illogical or is a hidden feeling you never knew existed. Fuchsia follows what her heart tells her to do (passion) as opposed to Steerpike who follows what his mind tells him to do (reason). Both passion and reason have their own drawbacks and strengths and Peake deftly brings it out. Passion tends to result in emotional and hasty reactions decisions, but they are quick and spontaneous. They may not always best of actions but they are genuine and often welcomed. Those who lack passion lack love and the effects of the lack of love can be clearly seen in Gorhmenghast where everything is dull and ritualistic. In Titus Groan, Peake therefore goes beyond what every author does i.e. to use characters as narrative devices. By delivering such a rich and nuanced treatment of his characters he takes storytelling to another level, i.e that of commenting on the very nature of humanity. Steerpike and Fuchsia two people from completely different backgrounds are used by him with telling effect -everyone has something good and bad in them; the nature of humanity is unpredictable. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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