Analysis of the “Doctor in the house” by Richard Gordon

This text is an extract from the book “Doctor in the house” written by Richard Gordon. He was born in 1921. He has been an anaesthetist at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, a ship’s surgeon and an assistant editor of the British Medical Journal. He left medical practice in 1952 and started writing his “Doctor” series. The novels were very successful in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s. “Doctor in the House” is one of Gordon’s twelve “Doctor” books and is noted for witty description of a medical student’s years of professional training.
The text under analysis belong to the psychological type and description type as it is concerned mainly with the emotional actions of the characters. This text is narration with elements of dialogues. The style of written prose is formal. Author mainly uses past tenses, but present – in dialogues. The events in the text refer to the real world and the author seeks to judge the text subjectively. The text under consideration is a witty and humorous description of such a hard and important thing in students’ life as their final exams.
The author shows us the condition of students before, during and after exams, therefore, the aim of the text is to describe the students’ feelings, emotion and preparations for them. The subject-matter of this text is about sitting for examinations. The author tries to show the reader different actions and feelings during the passing the examinations. The composition of this text consists of the following components: exposition, when the author gives the concept of an examination. narration, when the author describes passing the examinations, an interesting story about passing an examination at Cambridge.

climax, when the author shows the examination results. The ending is absent it means that the structure is opened. In that text Author shows us in detail the process of examination, but tries to show it through different actions and feelings of students during the passing the exams. The main character is medical student R. Gordon and his student-colleagues. The story takes place at the examination room when their fate is being decided. The atmosphere in the text is filled with tension and pressure that is drawn on hero by the situation and conflict he is facing.
We learn about the students well, because the author has created true-to-life characters, even more so the Author was passing the examinations himself. The author proves to be a real master. And he employs a lot of expressive means and stylistic devices to make the story vivid and bright. The text is emotionally moving, and some details produce an emotional reaction. The conflict is to be considered as tension in the story. This particular extract of the book gives us the idea of uncontrollable force impersonated by examinations against the student whose fate is in their hands.
At some point oral exam becomes some kind of a lottery for the hero “to win” the question he know answer to. However the real answer here is with the hero himself, struggling against his lack of self-confidence which marks the inner conflict and the unfairness of life The type of conflict here is Person and Self. The story is told from first person narration and we can see the situation with his own eyes. The main character – medical student R. Gordon is round and dynamic character. Author tells us about him nothing, because he wants to say that Gordon is an ordinary student.
Author uses indirect method of characterization, and we can learn something of him only through his feelings. The general slant of the text, judging from the peculiar usage of epithets and metaphors with intentionally tragic coloring towards common life situations is comic. Let`s simply remember the comparison of written papers exam room with the court hall, the doors of which are flanked by dispassionate porters and the judge sits above all, just the way the invigilator was placed.
Another vivid example is the simile of viva waiting room to the condemned cell, which seemed incredibly accurate to the student but to the reader it only proved how very afraid of viva the narrator was. For example by a simile “the final examinations are something like death” the author shows condition of a student before an examination as close to death, “like a prize-fighter” also shows a contest, then the author compares, using the simile, the students that want to produce a certain impression and looking at professor like the “impressionable music enthusiasts gazing at the solo violinist”.
Author uses a lot of very bright and vivid similes in order to give us a chance to feel the nerves and stress characters felt – “My palms were as wet as sponges”. Medical textbooks compared through metaphor to a “well-trodden paths”. Also the usage of hyperbolas lets us to understand how the hero felt while expecting the results “room had suddenly come to a frightening, unexpected silence and stillness, like an unexploded bomb”. The author brilliantly uses the allusion referring to the Bible’s Judgment day. We discover that final exams are death and the Secretary as an archangel corresponds where they would go to the paradise or to hell.
“The candidate would step up closely to the Secretary, who would say simply “Pass” or “Failed”. Successful men would go upstairs to receive the congratulations and handshakes of the examiners and failures would slink miserably out of the exit to seek the opiate oblivion. ” This extract is constructed around the single theme which can be formulated as procedure of the exams. The author uses numerous thematic words, such as: the student, the final examinations, the exams, to prepare, the examiners, cheating, textbooks, to swot up, the written papers, uniformed, examinees, knowledge, tripos, viva, marking, grading, to pass and so on.
Besides the basic theme the text touches upon many very important secondary themes: the psychological types of students, cheating at the exams, students’ prejudice, disadvantage of women student at the exams, the psychological pressure of the process of the examination on the students. The main idea conveyed by the author may be expressed as: the final examinations are reason for a great psychological pressure and a real challenge for the students. The following key words can prove it: student, exams, viva, writing papers, contest, prize-fighter, fighting spirit, to hope, to hit, depressing and others.
Thanks to an interesting subject this story occupies the reader’s attention. It makes us to empathize with the students and feel their psychological state. But despite of numerous frightful similes we may see ironical slant of text which make it interesting to read. Having read only one fragment from the “Doctor in the house”, I found that Richard Gordon is a talented writer, who could perfectly reflect the students’ emotion avoided usage of cliches and shown the common issue of young people with self-confidence and self-esteem from the angle of irony.

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