Louis de Bernieres's Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

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Louis de Bernieres's Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Louis de Bernieres uses three principal techniques to portray the

effects of war so powerfully in his book. These techniques are the

powerful narrative, strong pictorial language, and black humour.

Above all, the message is conveyed in the narrative, especially when

Louis De Bernieres graphically describes the war’s impact on the

soldiers who are fighting for their country. At first, the soldiers

are united in their fight against the enemy “you are all young and

strong, overflowing with life, and you are all in this shit together”

– page 38. The mood at the beginning is positive, so much so that

the “soldiers grew to love each other” – page 38. They were excited

about being at war, they felt powerful and strong, and they were proud

to be fighting for their country. On page 39 the text says, “We were

all young together. We would never be more handsome, we would never be

more lean and strong, we would never have such water fights, we would

never again feel so invincible and immortal.” This very effectively

describes their sense of excitement and the strength of their minds

and bodies.

Over the course of the chapters, however, the feelings of excitement

and unity descend into a sense pointlessness and disillusion. For

example the effect the war had on Carlo is evident on page 40 when he

says “That war was an experience that shaped the whole course of my

thought, it was the deepest personal shock I have ever had, the worst

and most intimate tragedy of my life. It destroyed my patriotism…it

made me question the whole notion of duty and it horrified me and made

me sad” – these words contrast hugely with what he felt before. This

powerful quote creates a st...

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... the reality of war

is experienced. Another example of this humour is “ war is wonderful,

until someone is killed” – page 122. This technique creates a

humorous response at first but beneath the humour lies a ghastly

truth, which leads the reader to think about the extreme suffering and

waste of life which make up the reality of war.

The techniques, which Louis De Bernieres uses, are effective as they

combine forcefully to make the reader understand the true atrocities

of war. He destroys the idea that some people have about war being

an exciting and honourable opportunity to defend one’s nation. Louis

de Bernieres portrays the reality of war in a dramatic and effective

way through various techniques, but the most notable of these are

strong language, black humour, and above all the dramatic mental and

physical decay of characters within the narrative.

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