Sunday, 29 May 2016

BSc BA English Notes Short Stories The Duchess and the Jeweler (Virginia Woolf) Summary and Question Answers

BSc BA English Notes Short Stories The Duchess and the Jeweler (Virginia Woolf) Summary and Questions Answers


Summary

Oliver Bacon is this story's protagonist. Once a poor boy in the streets of London, he has become the richest jeweler in England. As a young man, he sold stolen dogs to wealthy women and marketed cheap watches at a higher price. On a wall in his private room hangs a picture of his late mother. He frequently talks to her and reminisces, once chuckling at his past endeavors.
One day, Oliver enters into his private shop room, barely acknowledging his underlings, and awaits the arrival of the Duchess. When she arrives, he has her wait. In his room, under yellow gloves, he opens barred windows to get some air. Later, Oliver opens six steel safes, each containing endless riches of jewels.
The Duchess and the Jeweler are described as "... friends, yet enemies; he was master, she was mistress; each cheated the other, each needed the other, each feared the other..." On this particular day, the Duchess comes to Oliver to sell ten pearls, as she has lost substantial money to gambling. Mr. Bacon is skeptical of the pearl's authenticity, but the Duchess manipulates him into buying them for twenty thousand pounds. When the Duchess invites him to an event that includes a cast of royalty and her daughter Diana, Oliver is persuaded to write a check.
In the end, the pearls are found to be fakes, and Oliver looks at his mother's portrait, questioning his actions. However, what Oliver truly bought was not actually the pearls: it was Diana.
In "The Duchess and the Jeweler" Virginia Woolf skillfully depicts the greatest amount of communication that takes place between the characters in the text in spite of their lack of verbal communication and also the deep understanding that the readers can get of the characters within the text though their emotions and states of mind is not expressed explicitly. She replaces the lengthy dialogues and direct descriptions of the states of the characters with brief but meaningful dialogues and use of images and entrance in to the mind of the characters and giving the reader the chance to read much of their present state and enough of their past lives needed to accomplish her story.



Question Answers


Character of Oliver Bacon

The Duchess and the Jeweler is the story of the world's greatest jeweler who had promised his mother to become the richest jeweler in the world in his childhood but now that his dream has materialized he does not feel satisfied. So trying to achieve satisfaction, knowingly he buys fake pearls from a Duchess in exchange for passing a whole weekend with her daughter whom he is in love with.
Oliver Bacon, the jeweler, is really the only developed character in the short story "The Duchess and the Jeweler" by Virginia Woolf. The author uses the indirect stream-of consciousness technique as well as her own words to depicts the enterprising merchant as a many-sided man: He is both ambitious and sympathetic.
The jeweler is highly arrogant and ambitious. His strutting smugness is evident through the animal metaphors used to portray him-from his physical bearing ("his nose was long and flexible, like an elephant's trunk"), to his ambition compared to a "giant hog" snuffing for truffles or a "camel sees the blue lake."He reveals his heart's deepest passion for cold stones rather than other human beings, especially since he does not have any real friends in the story. When Bacon opens his safe to relish his treasures, the jewels-"shining, cool, yet burning eternally, with their own compressed light"-his excitement is clear as he gives human attributes to the germs.
"Tears!" said Oliver, looking at the pearls.
"Heart's blood!" he said, looking at the rubies.
But then, he exclaims "Gunpowder!" at the blazing light from the diamonds, "Gunpowder enough to blow Mayfair-sky high, high, high!" At this point, Bacon becomes not just the mercantile manipulator, but a man of the British ruling structure, an edifice so massive that much of the population remained flattened by its pressures.
However, our sympathies are with the man who recalls his youthful self, "you who began life in a filthy, little alley" and who still incarnates the spirit of "the wily astute little boy;" the man who still works in "the dark little shop in the street off Bond Street" rather than in the world of the Duchess who, for all her dissipation, still covers the jeweler "with sparkling bright colors;" the man who worships the memory of his mother and apologizes to her for paying the Duchess 20,000 pounds for junk, trading his self-respect.

Character of Duchess

The Duchess and the Jeweler is the story of the world's greatest jeweler who had promised his mother to become the richest jeweler in the world in his childhood but now that his dream has materialized he does not feel satisfied. So trying to achieve satisfaction, knowingly he buys fake pearls from a Duchess in exchange for passing a whole weekend with her daughter whom he is in love with.
The character of Duchess represents the downfall of social elites in English Society and how they are desperately trying to maintain their pretense at the cost of their honor and moral values.
This fake appearance of status is shown when Duchess enters the Oliver Bacon’s shop, “then she loomed up, filling the door, filling the room with aroma, the prestige, the arrogance, the pomp, the pride of all the Dukes and Duchesses swollen in one wave.”
We come into contact with totally opposite personality of Duchess when reality unfolds later in the story. She is left with no prestige, wealth and status. These are the virtues she wants to acquire in front of her society no matter what price she has to pay. She is still sticking to aristocratic habits of wasting her money away just to show off her status. She has been gambling and losing money. The writer delivers a contrast between social high-ups and struggling lower class. Royal class of Duchess is going down its way and struggling class of Oliver Bacon is tracing its way higher on the social ladder.
On a particular day, the Duchess comes to Oliver to sell ten pearls, as she has lost substantial money to gambling. Mr. Bacon is doubtful about the pearl's authenticity, but the Duchess is successful in convincing him to buy them for twenty thousand pounds. When the Duchess invites him to an event that includes a cast of royalty and her daughter Diana, Oliver is persuaded to write a check. Apparently, we notice a bargain of peals against money but Duchess is selling out not only her own morality but the honor of her own daughter. It all happens under the cover of mutual greed that they both have in their minds.

Written by: Asad Hussain

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