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Fiction analysis: “The adventures of Peregrine Pickle”

Under Freud’s theories of psychodynamics, the id houses people’s primitive, unconscious desires while the superego acts as the moral compass that controls the id. The passage demonstrates the perfect conflict between the id and the superego and presents a hilariously intense confrontation between who characters who show mutual hostility and contempt towards each other while constraining their angry behavior to appear as the better gentlemen. Using carefully crafted dialogues that fire between the two characters under a rapid pace of angry exchanges and employing sarcasm and the contrast between the two characters, Smollett brings the heated conflict between the two characters to live, during moments of confrontation characterized by attempts to render the other weaker and less worthy.

        To begin with, the author focuses on the intense exchange of dialogues as a way to reveal the underlying conflicts between the two men, translating the structure of the sentences into the obvious hostility between the two characters from the very beginning. From one character’s angry exclaim to the response, the passage zooms closely into the initial contention between the two men and shows in great details the ironic coexistence of feigned politeness and courtesy and the hidden motives. For example, the dialogue always begins with capitalized “Sir,” the symbol of respect and politeness in languages while quickly transitioning into more vulgar languages. However, even when the two characters express anger and outrage towards one another, their languages are very implicit, like when one character uses the phrase “jealous of his own honor” to convey his unconscious desire to remain in dominance. From the rapid pace of the dialogues that shift from one person to the next, the author establishes intensifying conflict while using the language to emphasize the remaining decency.

        Moreover, the sarcasm used by the narrator and the omniscient and unbiased third person perspective adds more context to the story by elaborating on the specific identities of the characters. During the dialogue, the narrator first refers to Mr. Pickle as “our lover,” which foreshadows the conflict of interests between the characters while adding a sense of humor and wit into the storytelling. As Smollett juxtaposes the personal “lover” with the more impersonal confrontation and even the dual, Smollett reveals that the two characters have channeled their personal relationships into the masculine fight between two men, just like how the perspective shifts from a more focused on to a more detached view of the fight, no longer using dialogues as the direct way of storytelling.

        Finally, the contrast between the behavior of the two characters compare their different reconciliation between aggression and socially acceptable behavior, using the awkwardness and recklessness of Mr. Pickle to magnify the remaining superego of Godfrey, where Godfrey’s calmness represents the social norms. Referring to Gauntlet as “the soldier” and to Mr. Pickle as “the youth,” Smollett establishes a contrast early on by portraying Mr. Pickle as the more immature character. During the “formal challenge,” Mr. Pickle is described as someone who “returned the assault with such fury and precipitation” while Gauntlet “loath to take advantage of his unguarded heat.” Similarly, Smollett again emphasizes Godfrey’s refined and controlled behavior by writing that he, “far from making an insolent use of the victory he had gained, put up…like a man who had been used to that kind of recounters.” The lines and contrasts between the fragility and insolence of one character and the repressed aggression of the other brings the central to light: while the two characters abhor each other, they care more about their own appearance and dignity than actually hurting the other. Using the phrase “sullen dignity of demeanour” in the last line, Smollett resolves the conflict as one character wins by generosity and not actual aggression.

        From the use of dialogue, tone, and contrast, Smollett juxtaposes the anger in the pace with the refined language and the insolence of one character and the feigned courtesy of the other to portray the two characters as extremely conscious of how they are being perceived while trying very hard to repress their obvious hostility that would render them less of a “gentlemen” and thus less worthy of the love of Emilia.


Published by Sunny

I am a high school rising sophomore and I love to read and write.

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