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‘The Doctor in the House’ by Richard Gordon

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The main feature of Richard Gordon’s art is the deal with the practice of medicine. The novel “Doctor in the House” is not an option. It should be mentioned that Richard Gordon is most famous for his comic nivels on a medical topic starting with the very novel “The Doctor in the House”. In the passage under discussion the author presents the emotional atmosphere of the most important days of the students all over the world – the finals. The text itself belongs to a psychological type as it is concerned with the in-world of the main character, his feelings about all that happens around him. The atmosphere of the finals described in the passage is a tense one. Because of the authors talent we can feel this very well. The plot of the story develops slowly towards a simple and rather foreseen conclusion. The author gets to the conclusion easily through the description the students waiting, the characters hoping, the world stopping. The description is like the heartbeat in the moments of tense emotions. The story “The Doctor in the House” is an in-depth study of the human nature.

Written in the first person narration, it provokes the reader to live the finals’ moments with the narrator, to reflect the reality subjectively, to accept the food for thought. The charm of the story lies in fantastic realistic portrayal of the characters, a truthful description of the general mood. It cannot a surprise for the reader, as the story can be named an autobiographical one because Richard Gordon is a doctor himself and knows about the final medical exams from his own experience. That is why it is an easy task for him to make the problem (the behavior of people under tense circumstances) keep the reader in suspense. Richard Gordon tries to picture the inner world of all the students who take the final exams by making all the thoughts of the main character clear. That realism can be felt during the whole passage starting from the introduction up to an end.

Compositionally the text falls into four logical parts: the introductory part with the description of how the finals are senn by the students, the narration of the process of taking the writing and the oral exams, the climax which lies on pointing out the “waiting for the results” moment and finally, the denouement – learning the results of the exams. The first part of the passage reveals the exams to be the fighting battle between the exaniners and the examinators. The vividness of the description has been achieved by the use of the metaphors which disclose the author’s emotionally coloured individual attitude towards the situation which is described in the passage. The author compares the examinations with the fight, with the death: “to a medical student the final examinations are something like death”, “examinations touch off his fighting spirit”, “the examiners, conducted on well-established rules for both, and he goes at them like a prize-fighter”.

Giving the information about the rules of the written examinations, the author compare the students with “poor victims”, controlled dispassionately by two or three uniformed porters. That is done to clear up an scaring atmosphere in examination rooms, full of students who are scared to death. Speaking about taking a written exam, Richard Gorgon keeps picturing the exam as s fight. The fight that lasts eight rounds, a hard three-hour fight to win according to the narrator. The next fight that is taken by the narrator is the oral one. The allusion used in the narration helps to bring the real state of things: “But the viva is judgment day”. It’s the day after which nothing can be changed: you win or you lose, that’s it. The author also resorts to such similes as “the god’s brow threatens like imminent thunderstorm”, “struggling like a cow in a bog” to show the significance of this day and the logics of the students: you pass or you are dead, your future is dead.

The oral exam is a hard thing to deal with. The narrator is so nervous that he cannot recognize the examiners, one of whom is “ like a retired prize-fighter”, the other is “invisible”. The author here uses a great effect of a simile and an epithet. It also should be mentioned that in this part the author pays great attention to the characters. According to him, there are four types of students: “There was the Nonchalant, lolling back on the rear legs of his chair with his feet on the table. Next to him, a man of the Frankly Worried class sat on the edge of his chair tearing little bits off his invitation card and jumping irritatingly every time the door opened. There was the Crammer, fondling the pages of his battered textbook in a desperate farewell embrace, and his opposite, the Old Stager, who treated the whole thing with the familiarity of a photographer at a wedding”. All the descriptive attributes used in this passage serve to convey to the reader the environment of the waiting-room.

Days after the oral exam are black ones. Richard Gordon compares them with “having a severe accident”. That device is used to demonstrate the mood of the narrator after all that hell. That makes us forget all what has been before and concentrate on what is today and what will be in the future, what the results will be. From this very part of the passage time matters. The author pays attention to time a lot: “One minute to twelve”. Only one minute, which does mean nothing to us and does mean everything to the narrator. That is the minute of “ a frightening, unexpected silence and stillness , like an unexploded bomb”.

By using these stylistic devices, the author catches the reader’s attention to the culmination, the climax – the results. “The world stood still. The traffic stopped, the plants ceased growing, men were paralysed, the clouds hung in the air, the winds dropped, the tides disappeared, the sun halted in the sky”. That special choice of words, that usage of asyndeton and parallel constuctions produce a great effect on our minds and makes us read faster, makes us wait for the results as if they are ours. As you can see the author’s style is remarkable for its brilliant illustrations and deep psychological analysis. Everything he touches seems to reflect the feelings of the heroes, and his power in depicting their feelings is enormous.

“Doctor in the House” by Richard Gordon
In our world, full of difficulties and various problems I am sure no one can say that he is free from spoiling his nerves and health in order to overcome some important destiny barriers. As a matter of fact, who can agree that life is more interesting, when it flows as a calm river of constantly and monotonously changing events?

A person becomes experienced and strong only having felt the whole disgrace of the world he has a chance to live in. And what an amazing quality our memory has; it specially chooses the worst recollections and with the sense cruelty reminds us our past mistakes and annoyances, making us feel that awful feelings again and again.

The fact that nothing can be as memorable as our misfortunes was remarkably proved by Richard Gordon in his novel under the title “Doctor in the House”.

Having a great medical practice, the author reveals his own recollections of the old days, when he was just a student, stumbling through the most scaring trial in his life – the finals. He colourfully describes all the sides of his extremely important event. Cheating is practically impossible, all the knowledge is an inseparable mass in the heads of young and full of hopes students. Oral and writing examinations become some kind of a “judgment day”. And not everyone becomes that lucky, who will take the diploma from the professor’s hands. With an irony the author gives us the description of students’ feelings and behaviour. Some of them have “superiosity in their faces”, others were trying to complete the last brilliant sentence, “dissatisfied with the period allowed for them to express themselves”.

Richard Gordon describes in details the examiners too, people, who were maybe the most scaring ones for poor students. All the professors were calm and steady. For most of them the finals were just a point in their schedule, and their calmness seemed to the narrator to be the act of real cruelty.

“One doesn’t fail exams. One comes down, one muffs, one is ploughed, plucked or pipped”. In this amplification the author shows the real significance of the exams, and for somebody the failure can be a synonym of “dying”. The hopelessness of the situation is supported by the day, when the results are published. The past can’t be changed, and everything a person can do is just waiting, the most annoying thing for people, who practically won through the circles of hell. Fortunately, the narrator reached the finish line with success.

After years such event seems to be extremely funny. The author showed us the atmosphere people sometimes have to be in. Recollecting my own experience I can say that in many cases my feelings were the same. Everything, which happens to us sooner or later turns into the simple recollection. Of course it puts a trace in our mind, and not always pleasant one. Richard Gordon gives us a way to understanding of such things. It is humour, the best “cure of the injures” the life gives us. Remembering this rule a person is able to overcome many life trials, becoming stronger and wiser. In this case even the best professor can’t be compared with the teacher we all have – our past.

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