Sunday, February 15, 2009

Autobiographical elements in Charles Lamb’s essays

Autobiographical elements in Charles Lamb’s essays

Charles Lamb's attitude in his essays is autobiographical-for his essays convey such elements from where we get to know his personality, nature, character, relatives, work places and people around him. Thus the subjective note in his essays is vital. As he belongs to the romantic age, the personal “I” is prominent is his essays. In almost all the essays, we find and we learn something about his life. Thus he speaks about his life, likings, whims and feelings. Lamb talks to the reader as if he were his friend and confesses and confider in him. Lamb's own personality is the basis for most of his essays. His own memories are reflected in them.
Actually autobiography is that kind of writing in which the writer's states, life and conditions are delineated. His personal experiences are revealed in autobiography. Moreover, the facts of personal life of the writer and the activities, relatives, friends, likings, dislikings, character etc. are written by the writer himself. In Charles Lamb's essays, we find the autobiographical touch. However, the autobiographical elements that we can get from his essays are written below:-

From his essays, we, the readers, come to know about Charles Lamb's life and we learn certain facts of his life- he was born at the Inner Temple and he was schooled at Christ's Hospital and he worked at South Sea House and India House as a clerk. We know that he was a bachelor; we also know that he apparently loved but was refused by his early beloved. We get to know a great deal about his school life in the essay "Christ's Hospital Five and Thirty Years Ago". We know that he had some privileges in his school. He says about himself in the guise of Coleridge, "I remember L. at school, and can well recollect that he had some peculiar advantages, which I and others of his school fellows had not". Again he says "His friends lived in town, and were near at hand; and he had the privilege of going to see them, almost as often as he wished". Moreover, he got his "extraordinary bread and butter" "from the hot-loaf of the Temple".


The reason for why his essays appeal autobiographical is his subjective note which is predominant in all his essays. The subject of the Essays of Elia is Lamb himself. In all of them, he makes some reference to himself. And the personal "I" is so abound in his essays that readers ere sometimes fretted, although some critics consider that use as an extra charm of Lamb's essays. In almost all the essays, he talks about himself, his family, relatives, and friends. From these essays, we come to know about his personality, nature and character which are revealed by himself. After reading his essays, we know all about his stammer, his work al India House and his companions there. It is this quality of self-revelation and confidential tone that entitles Lamb to be called the "Prince of English essayists".

We also come to know about his relatives and friends. In the essay "The South Sea House”, he writes about his colleagues and gives the readers a very clear view about them. Similarly, In "Christ's Hospital", he tells about his relatives and friends. Some of his relatives and friends lived in London and who were, no doubt, very caring to him. They used to bring delicious foods for him in Christ's Hospital and used to look after him very cordially. He says in “Christ’s Hospital”, in the guise of Coleridge, "He had his hot plate of roast veal, or the more tempting griskin...., cooked in the paternal kitchen...., and bought him daily by his maid or aunt". In the same essay, we have collections about a number of other friends who studied with him. We know his friends lived in town. In “Christ’s Hospital Five And Thirty Years Ago”, he says, "His friends lived in town, and were near at hand".


From the essays like “The South Sea House”, “Christ’s Hospital Five And Thirty Years Ago”, “A Bachelors Complaint”, we got to know about his activities and the jobs that he used to do in his student and professional life. In the essay “Christ’s Hospital Five And Thirty Years Ago”, we see that he was not like his other school fellows and enjoyed much concessions than other's. We also come to know that "he was a home-seeking lad" and did not enjoy him much with other boys. Other essays tell his feelings, ideas, dreams and unfulfilled longings. But through all the essays shine the personality of a man who was alive to the absurdities of the world, sympathetic towards others' sufferings and tolerant towards shortcomings.

As we know that Charles Lamb was a bachelor and worked at The South Sea House and India House, he had experiences some bitter and humorous experiences from there. These experiences sometimes seem humorous and sometimes seem pathetic. In the essay “A Bachelors Complaint”, he tells about some of the bitter experiences and expresses his agony for the behaviour of the married people whom he thinks pretend lovers. Here he says, " What oftenest offends of at the houses of married persons where I visit, is an error of quite a description:- it is that they are too loving". He thinks that the married people generally show that they are "too loving" and they show these things to the unmarried people "so shamelessly". This type of behaviour of the married people is painful to him.

Charles Lamb is a true lover of the past. He loves past people, books, buildings and fashions, and does not care much about future. Memories of the past haunt him; recollections of events of the past are more important than the present; old familiar faces hold more attraction for him. In the essay, “The South Sea House” and “Christ’s Hospital Five And Thirty Years Ago”, Lamb is seen as a visualizer of the past memories. In “The South Sea House”, he says about the building as "it was forty years ago, when I knew it- a magnificent relic". Here he recollects the memory of the old building, its damp and dark rooms, the inner rooms which were even more sparsely peopled and the gloomy cellar which saw no light of the sun.

Although Charles Lamb loved the past things, he loved his life and was loath to die. Like all other man, he loved the sun, the breeze, solitary walks, the very green earth. He declares his love for good food and drink. He also loves the theatre, books, good company, gossip and scandal. And again from many of his essays, we come to know that he likes irony, jokes, pun and paradox. He never wanted to hide his likings, dislikings, whims and oddities. He frankly confesses all these things to the readers. He desires the friendship of his readers, and not merely their respect. He confider in them all about his own weakness, follies and foibles.

As Charles Lamb loved fun, he sometimes used to mystify the readers by declaring something true to be false, or by mischievously changing names and speaking under assumed personality. In the essay, “Christ’s Hospital Five And Thirty Years Ago” , he writer in the guise of Coleridge. And it is the last three or two paragraphs when he unveils the curtain and writes as Charles Lamb.

Lamb speaks of his personal reactions to various aspects of life in all his essays. Even in the essays like “Christ’s Hospital Five And Thirty Years Ago”, “The South Sea House” , where he is primarily concerned with other people, he is talking about them from his personal point of view. In “The South Sea House”, he delineates the characters of Evans, Thomas Tame and John Tipp by his thoughts and feelings. And the comments about them are his own. He comments about John Tipp, "He sang, certainly, with other notes than to the orphan lyre". Them again he comments about the clerks of The South Sea House, “they formed a sort of Noah's ark” .

In most of the essays, he reveals the incidents, people and glories of the past. As a result he picturizes not only other people's conditions and states, but also his own conditions, feelings and character. In fact, his own life is revealed by his essays. So, considering the subject matter of his essays, it can be said that a large portion of Lamb's biography can be written from his essays.

5 comments:

petrecia said...

very useful for those who do m.a eng lit.. stil need essays on various topics...
thanks
regards
chandrika

Md. Rajibul Hasan said...

Thanks Chandrika for your kind comment.I am preparing more essays that will be added very soon.And thanks again.
Rajib.

Anonymous said...

very beautiful and helping project for the students of english literature

Anonymous said...

dear kindly post Pathos in Lambs essays. thanx

Anonymous said...

thank u rajib for providing us d details. this proved to be really helpful.