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“The Suit” by Can Themba and “Vendetta” by Guy de Maupassant

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Although “The Suit” by Can Themba and “Vendetta” by Guy de Maupassant are both well written short stories based on the theme of revenge, they achieve excellence in very different ways. In each story the basic aspect of a short story have been used in vastly differing ways.

The first difference the reader comes across is the way the opening paragraphs of each story is utilized. In The Suit the author sets an almost majestic scene using an elegant choice of words, which we later find out is rather misleading and contrasts with the actual surroundings. By using unity of effect, the first few paragraphs also show the deep love and bond between Philemon and Tilly, and indicates a happy environment.

In contrast, Guy de Maupassant describes a troubled and uneasy environment in the opening paragraphs of Vendetta. The harsh landscape described reflects the emotional state that the old woman is in and captures a very morbid atmosphere.

Through unity of effect the conflict of the short stories is suggested very early on and sets a brisk pace. In both stories the conflict begins on a mental level and ends with a death, with which the protagonists’ revenge is satisfied. The detached and clinical style with which Vendetta is written compliments the quick pace and cold atmosphere of the story. However, in The Suit the pace and style used is quite methodical.

Idioms and allusions are important aspects of “The Suit”. The motif of the suit is a powerful allusion the Coleridges’ albatross – a constant reminder of humiliation – and plays a vital role in building the characters and tension throughout the story. Powerful imagery is used superfluously in Vendetta to make up for the lack of idioms and allusions. A wonderful example of this is the description of the coast at the beginning of the story where “black points of innumerable rocks jut out from the water, with trails of white foam streaming from them” foreshadows, and creates a vivid image of, a savage dog.

Both stories are told using an omniscient narrator, giving insight into the thought and feelings of the characters. This is a very important aspect of both stories as the reader is given very little time to get to know the character. In The Suit a small amount of dialog is effectively used to show the reader the deterioration of Philemon and Tillys’ relationship as well as to help make them feel more ‘real’. Vendetta on the other hand uses a continuous narrative.

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