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Discuss the sense of isolation and helplessness in ‘The Devils Carousel’ and ‘The Restraint of Beasts’.

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Introduction

Discuss the sense of isolation and helplessness in 'The Devils Carousel' and 'The Restraint of Beasts'. The hierarchy explicit within the both 'The Devils Carousel' and 'The Restraint of Beasts' highlight the isolation of all the characters, where efficiency and working practices lead to cold formality of roles. In 'The Devils Carousel' the use of categories and labels such as "Martians" and "supersnipe" initially present a sense of unity and community through an open humour amongst the workforce where these nicknames are accepted. However gradually Torrington presents how sporadic and disengaged relationships actually are, and the lonely atmosphere in each role, where the seemingly friendly labels attached to people are in actuality cruel and alienating. Likewise in 'The Restraint of Beasts' the hierarchy excludes others, such as Donald who is completely segregated and divorced from his workforce, too concerned with running the company with the "utmost efficiency". Robert has been utterly reduced through his obsession with work, being pushed out in work leaves him isolated in life, his "role (being) generally unimportant" which causes him to latch on to his belittled role within the firm by "staying a little longer to remind (them) he existed". Likewise the anonymous narrator, although establishing a relationship with Tam and Richie is isolated, as he is foreman. ...read more.

Middle

The author's present simplistic and pitiful attempts to break free from work that emphasise employment's tedious capability of demolishing one's individuality. Likewise in 'The Restraint of Beasts' the endless construction of fence building remains a menial task despite the changing locations, which is exacerbated as Mills creates a narrative where very little happens. The characters have learned to accept their job to the point where they cannot even acknowledge its incessant dullness, David Hall comments that its "enough to drive you mad, all that repetition" yet Tam's only reply is the accepting "you get used to it". The whole book follows the mundane routine with the endless repetition in both characters lives and events in the novel such as the death of Mr McCrindle and Robert, which are almost identical. Even paragraphs from the text are copied exactly for much the same context such as the tools "in various states of disrepair" and Tam and Richie's interrogation with "two hard chairs....slightly less than full adult size, made from wood". Likewise in 'The Devil's Carousel' the book is more of a collection of short stories as no character is developed fully and events are retold to the reader by different characters such as the reintroduction of 'Kikbak' and gradual sporadic reiteration and updates of character deaths. ...read more.

Conclusion

The imprisonment of their work undeniably is a major cause of each characters isolation; their personal segregation is a protection against the oppression created by those around them, but ultimately leaves them more conquered by their work. The symbolic "cuckoo's frantic rapping on the inner side of the clock's unyielding door" in 'The Devil's Carousel' portrays the entrapment of mechanical objects such as the Widow, the failure of the mechanisms is heavily resonant as the workers fail leading to automaton and inevitable redundancies. This is exemplified as "a Dalek, (stands) there with a beaky head poised, awaiting the power that would have it pecking out welds at a rate no human could hope to match", tragically highlighting the finite nature of a human workforce whilst posing a threat to any sense of community within the firm as employees fear for their jobs causing further isolation. Likewise this sense of confinement appears in 'The Restraint of Beasts' when Donald assuredly tells the narrator "I don't ever expect you to leave" where such an ominous tone is "very reassuring" highlighting Mills' view of work as a trap. Similarly the symbolism of the "small boy adrift in a rowing boat", the "stockade around the house" and the large pens create a sense of controlling imprisonment in both books. Both authors present the secluded character's as forced into their role and unable to escape the requirements of work suggesting their view of work as dehumanising and overpowering. ...read more.

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