The Luncheon by Somerset Maugham Full Analysis
- Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) was a British playwright, novelist, and short story writer. His works, such as “Of Human Bondage” and “The Razor’s Edge,” often explored human nature and relationships. Maugham’s storytelling and acute observations made him a prominent figure in 20th-century English literature.
“The Luncheon” by W. Somerset Maugham is a short story narrated by the author himself. It recounts an encounter with a woman he met years ago. She invites him to lunch at an expensive restaurant, and he eagerly accepts, expecting a romantic reunion. However, she orders an extravagant meal, oblivious to his financial struggles. As they dine, he realizes her superficiality and self-absorption. The story humorously explores the clash of their social statuses and the author’s exasperation at her lack of consideration. It serves as a satirical commentary on the follies of social pretense and the discomfort that can arise from such situations.
Use of Irony in this story
Irony is a literary device characterized by a contrast between expectations and reality, often resulting in humor or a thought-provoking insight. Irony is a prominent literary device in “The Luncheon” by W. Somerset Maugham. The story employs several forms of irony to convey its satirical message.
- Situational Irony: The story’s central irony lies in the situation itself. The narrator expects a romantic and nostalgic lunch with a woman from his past, but it turns out to be a completely one-sided affair with the woman displaying no awareness of his financial constraints. This disconnect between his expectations and reality is a classic example of situational irony.
- 2. Dramatic Irony:The narrator’s situation is shared with the reader, but the woman remains oblivious to his financial discomfort throughout the lunch. This creates dramatic irony as readers understand the true nature of the situation while the character remains ignorant.
- Verbal Irony: The narrator employs subtle, sarcastic language to describe the woman’s extravagant and selfish behavior. His tone reveals his true feelings, contrasting with his polite outward demeanor.
Overall, irony serves as a powerful tool in “The Luncheon” to highlight the divide between the narrator’s expectations and the disappointing reality, as well as to satirize the superficiality and lack of consideration displayed by the woman. It adds depth and humor to the story’s social commentary.
Character of the Lady Guest
In “The Luncheon” by W. Somerset Maugham, the lady guest is portrayed as a complex character who embodies certain characteristics that make her both intriguing and frustrating to the narrator.
- Superficiality:The lady guest is depicted as shallow and materialistic. She appears to be more interested in displaying her affluence and sophistication than in having a genuine connection with the narrator. This is evident in her choice of an extravagant, expensive restaurant for lunch, despite knowing the narrator’s limited financial means. Her superficiality is a source of irony and frustration for the narrator, who expected a more meaningful encounter.
- Self-Centeredness:Throughout the story, the lady guest displays a self-centered attitude. She seems oblivious to the narrator’s discomfort and financial constraints, ordering an elaborate meal without considering his ability to afford it. Her lack of empathy or consideration for the narrator’s situation highlights her self-absorption.
- Materialism:The lady guest’s obsession with luxury and extravagance is evident in her choice of a pricey restaurant and her preference for expensive dishes. Her focus on material possessions and status symbols overshadows any genuine connection or conversation during the luncheon.
- Manipulative: There is a subtle manipulative aspect to her character. She uses her charm and the narrator’s past infatuation with her to get him to agree to the lunch. Her ability to sway him into accepting the invitation despite his reservations showcases her manipulative tendencies.
- Appearance-Conscious: The lady guest places a significant emphasis on appearances. She seems concerned with how she is perceived by others and is willing to go to great lengths, including ordering a costly meal, to maintain a certain image.
- Lack of Self-Awareness:Despite her sophistication and worldliness, the lady guest appears to lack self-awareness. She doesn’t seem to realize how her actions and behavior affect the narrator. This lack of insight into her own impact on others adds depth to her character.
In “The Luncheon,” the lady guest serves as a symbol of societal pretense and materialism. Her character embodies the theme of appearances being deceiving, as she presents herself as a charming and gracious hostess, but her actions reveal a self-centered and materialistic nature. Her interactions with the narrator highlight the disparity between her outward image and her true character, making her a compelling and memorable character in the story.