Disgrace, by J.M Coetzee

962 Words4 Pages
Disgrace was written in 1999 by author J.M Coetzee. Born in South Africa in 1940, Coetzee grew up during apartheid, something that has tinged his writing to a great extent (Nobelprize.org). Disgrace is set in a post-apartheid Cape Town where the protagonist David Lurie is forced to terminate his job after Melanie, a student, files a sexual abuse claim against him. In this essay I will explore how David Lurie's own view on masculinity is affected by his idolization of Lord Byron, and how this allows him to justify his immoral actions. The protagonist, David Lurie, a university professor, is particularly interested in Lord Byron; a poet known for his licentious lifestyle, and an inspiration to the literary concept of 'Byronic heroes'. A Byronic hero is arrogant, intelligent, emotional, morally and characteristically flawed and often sexually irresistible to women (Fleming ). Lurie possesses many of these qualities, visible already on the first page, as the omnipotent narrator describes Lurie’s thoughts. He drily explains how “for a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well. On Thursday afternoons he drives to Green Point. Punctually at two p.m. he presses the buzzer at the entrance to Windsor Mansions, speaks his name, and enters. Waiting for him at the door of No. 113 is Soraya.” (Coetzee 1) Lurie has seemingly no regrets towards engaging with the prostitute Soraya. He is pleased with the way he has dealt with the “problem of sex” (1) perhaps implying that it is equal to buying food when hungry; that men need this itch to be scratched? He confuses the reader, as he shows affectionate feelings towards Soraya when he says: “I miss you all the time.” He strokes her ho... ... middle of paper ... ...ng profound and beautiful even though he appears to know that what he is doing is immoral. But not even guilt or shame is a force strong enough to alter Lurie’s behaviour. A man who has failed at most things, all he wants is to be the hero of his own life before his “period of grace is almost over” (147). Works Cited Byron, Lord G.G “The Corsair” Poem Hunter.com 2010. Web. 16 Dec 2013. Coetzee, J.M. Disgrace. England: Secker & Warburg, 1999. Print. . “Fleming, J. Education Portal “ Education-Portal.com. 2013. Web. 16 Dec 2013. "J. M. Coetzee - Biographical". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 16 Dec 2013.
Open Document