Michael Ondaatje, "The English Patient". Essay

1236 words - 5 pages

"Michael Ondaatje's fiction has been met with the highest praise - for its startling narrative inventiveness, its richness of imagery and emotion, the spellbinding quality of its language. Now with "The English Patient", he gives us his most stunningly original novel yet" (New York Times Book Review). "The English Patient", displays four destinies lost forever, shattered by War, lost everything, love, family, home and even their own identities. All that is left now are fragments. Fragments of memories, fragments of experiences and for one fragments of his own physical body. One of the themes of the novel "The English Patient" is a reflection on identity, which all four main characters have to realize in order to regain their lives."A man falls burning out of the sky and into the lives and hearts of three very different people" (Pg. 5). The best possible way to describe the English Patient. Originally a Hungarian cartographer, who studied in detail the Libyan Desert from 1931 to 1936. Real name Laszlo Almásy, joined the Germans during the Second World War to provide his expertise regarding the Libyan Desert. During this period he falls in love with the wife of a British spy. The spy and his wife die in front of him in the desert in a plane crash, unable to save her, looses his point in life and stops helping the Germans. He takes an old plane buried in the desert, to escape, but the plane malfunctions and he falls out of the plane burning. Allied unable to recognize him, and he himself unable to tell even his own name, shocked by the experience gets transferred to a military hospital in Italy. Lost his love, lost his identity, faceless, getting cared by a twenty years old nurse the English Patient, addicted to morphine, is in an identity crisis. He is able to recognize the Villa he is living in but fails to remember his own name, a typical example of inner conflict. Even when under the influence of morphine, he doesn't talk about his lost love or lost identity, up until he is given a cocktail of morphine and alcohol by Caravaggio. "The morphine and alcohol will take away the pain" (Pg. 166). And that's what exactly it did. Caravaggio was able to get his real name, and even about his love affair.Hana the twenty year old nurse has fallen into more of less the same predicament as the English Patient. She thinks herself as a curse. Hana's self identity too is endangered by her unwillingness to recognize or celebrate her body "In her print dress she walked away from the celebration" (Pg. 52). She was so immensely depressed and lacked self esteem that "she had refused to look at herself for more than a year now and then just her shadow on wall" (Pg. 52). Hana's shadow is illustrative of her problem; her body's sensuality has been squeezed out of a voluptuous three dimensional form "the way maps compress the world onto a two-dimensional sheet of paper" (Pg. 161). One of the main reason of this depression and situation of internal conflict in which...

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