Inner Depths of The Dwarf

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Inner Depths of The Dwarf

"Human beings need flattery; otherwise they do not fulfill their purpose, not even in their own eyes." These are the words of the bold and heartless main character of Par Lagerkvist’s novel, The Dwarf. The keen insights of this twenty-six inch tall man, described throughout the book, are both shocking and thought provoking. Told from the point of view of the dwarf, the book entails numerous expressions of hatred towards humans and towards the dwarf’s own "detestable" race. The dwarf also displays his disgust for the Princess intermittently throughout the novel. Living as the servant and confidante to a Prince during the time when the Black Death was wiping out Europe, the dwarf experiences many instances in which he must commit wicked crimes for the Prince. He does so willingly, considering his lack of conscience. Ultimately, these crimes force him into eternal imprisonment in the dungeon under the fortress, where he can only write daily recordings of his empty life during the hours when the sun shines through the cracks, and hope to be called upon again by the Prince.

From the beginning, the dwarf condemns human beings as "a pack of ingratiating cows" who value nobility and beauty and who babble about virtue, honor and chivalry. He believes humans are "shrouded in mystery," but he exclaims, "nothing ever comes up from my inner depths," nothing is mysterious about him. Despite these feelings, he is loyal to and respective of his lord, the Prince. He expresses his gratitude for the graciousness of his masters, and he remains allegiant, though he is erraticly appalled by their actions. Yet, the main feelings of disgust come from his view of his race and of himself. "It is my fa...

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... and therefore, longs to kill everything. Why should these disgusting creatures who call themselves men exist? He claims that it is human culture to fight and that "All human culture is but an attempt at something unattainable, something which far transcends the powers of realization. There it stands, mutilated, tragic as a torso. Is not the human spirit itself a torso?" These shocking insights demand thought from the reader on the subject of human culture and the human spirit. The dwarf's pensiveness is extremely effective in relaying the meaning of the work as a whole. His belligerent, negative attitude portrays the sense of despairing and savagery, which makes the novel so intense and interesting. This attitude is responsible for noticing the cloudy view that humans have of the world, but "Human beings like to see themselves reflected in clouded mirrors."
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