Essay on 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...

... middle of paper ...

... 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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