The given extract from “The Nine Tailors” by Dorothy Sayers talks about the unendurable pain experienced by the character, Wimsey by a rather simple notion of a loud noise. The passage has a concise beginning and end, further giving it a whole look. In this passage, features such as language, style, sentence structure and characterization have been analyzed, portraying the effective ways in which Sayers has illustrated Wimsey’s feelings.
The style of the author is ornate and emotive, giving a dramatic effect to the readers. The language used is concrete and descriptive, and forceful. Sayers has seldom used repetition and has managed to use a diverse vocabulary. Nonetheless, in order to stress on the intense sentiment experienced by the character, words like “brazen”, “reel” and “totter” have been repeated. The word “brazen” in the personification “the brazen fury of the bells” describes the extent to which the character finds the sound of the bells agonizing and loud, almost indicating it to be blatant and shameless. The word “fury” further gives persona to the sound, and accordingly the sound can be called the antagonist of this passage. It must be noted that there is no protagonist as such in this passage, hence making the reader focus solely on the pessimism of the sound and its effects.
The language used is mostly of emotion and there is no reason at all displayed in this passage :- “unendurable shrill clangour”, “raving madness”, “stunned and shaken”. The author has, thus, hinged on using extremity in terms of displaying feeling of the speaker, which could also be because of the omniscient point of view. The effect this has on the reader is one of surprise, at the degree of pain felt by only a certain sound, and sympathy. At the same time Sayers ensures that the reader is able to maintain an easy flow of reading throughout the passage, as the reader soon realizes that no reason is involved. The language barely has any control displayed, as the author clearly states the speakers feelings repeatedly and openly, as a result not much connotation is required to figure out what the speaker is thinking or feeling. “It was brute pain, a grinding, bludgeoning, ran-dan, crazy, intolerable torment”. The personification “brute pain” implies how the character felt suppressed by the sound. The feelings evoked in this passage are rather intense and mostly downbeat, but due to the intensity the tension is effectively built.
The sentences are well-balanced, with a scarce usage of phrases. “He made his way down to the belfry door and climbed the stair to the ringing chamber”. Nonetheless on the whole, the passage is not as balanced as it focuses only on one area of feeling, except the end paragraph. This helps in creating the meaning and keeping the steady but uptight rhythm. The punctuation used was ordinary, with mostly full stops and commas. Caesura was used in the passage only to list down the description of the noise. “shrill, high, sweet, relentless note went stabbing and shivering.” This rambling on of description of the noise, along with the pain, displays to the reader the only two things that were focused by the speaker, or by the character in this passage. Adjectives were stressed on, partly due to the use of caesura and also due to the kind of adjectives used – most were hard sounding and long, with a fair usage of words starting with “b” “t” “d”. A lot of parallels are used, i.e. many a times different words describe the same idea or thought, this keeps the reader in order with the big picture and makes it easier to understand. Repetition has been used in certain cases, sometimes using forms.
Similes have been used often. “The brazen fury of the bells fell about his ears like the blows from a thousand beating hammers”, “staggered like a drunken man”, “like a sword on the brain” all describe the outcome of the sound. Personification has been used in the second example, where the tower has been compared to a drunken man, another example would be “sweating ringers”. Even though the tower was not actually whirling, Sayers uses this simile in order to illustrate how the character felt perceived, in that state of mind. Metaphors also bring out the same effect, “it was brute pain”. This tells the readers that the outlook of the speaker has been heavily influenced by his feelings and consequently his sensibility is abridged, within the passage. Cacophony is utilized in the passage, to further augment the mood with this pain, “grinding, bludgeoning, ran-dan”. Furthermore, Sayers has used irony – “It was infinitely worse than any heavy roar of artillery. That had beaten and deafened, but this unendurable shrill clangour was a raving madness, an assault of devils.” where she implies that even a notion as strong as artillery, which is of an attacking nature, doesn’t overpower the sound, as even that dies.
There are recurring images of wheeling, and of the painful sound. Feelings aroused by them are of weakness, mostly, as the speaker is profoundly subdued by them.
The setting of a belfry seems ideal in the light of the passage, that is to say that in order to describe the thoughts and feelings of a person enduring the arduous crash of the sound of outsized bells, it is fitting and creates a sense of realism. Mood is created by the usage of diction. The state of mind of the speaker seems to be one of averting the agony created by the bells.
The passage does not tell us about the character in general, as it started off with the a tense situation and ended as soon as it was solved. However, it does tell us about the thoughts and feelings of the character very clearly, and the motifs. We can see a sort of a battle being fought within the character himself, trying to be sane in the midst of the insanity not deliberately felt by the character. The reader can also sense the pessimism of the character, as virtually the whole passage solely talks about that. The effect on the character, of the noise is very clearly seen as well. The feelings experienced by the character are of the same kind however slowly increasing along the course of the passage, barring the last paragraph. Wimsey is well oriented, as he clearly realizes what he needs and is well aware of his surroundings.
The speaker doesn’t directly speak but once, and the thought portrayed again confirms his feeling. He also screams but he can’t hear himself, describing well again to the readers the penetrating noise. This sole line is one of the few rational aspects of this extract, perhaps because it is not his unspoken feelings but a given need. Even though the readers are aware of the speakers thoughts and feelings, the speaker does avoid saying things, possibly in an attempt to control the madness felt by him or because he was the only one placed in this situation.
The change of mood created in the last paragraph is largely due to the shift in the feelings of the speaker, created by the usage of words. “As he flung the doors behind him, the demonaic clangour sank back into the pit, to rise again, transmuted to harmony, through the louvres of the belfry windows.” The end last sentence contains a contrast, and clears up the constant sense of worry and irritability felt by the character throughout the passage, as well as the reader. By using words like “harmony”, Sayers creates a more optimistic feeling, and one of relief. The phrase “As he flung the doors behind him” further shows how Wimsey at long last didn’t feel suppressed by the sound, but in fact faintly superior, and this feeling is strengthened by the fact that Wimsey was now standing on top of the tower. This line changes the tone and the mood of the passage from a harsh and tense one to a fairly calmer one.
Concluding, Sayers has effectively managed to portray Wimsey’s feelings as he endures the sound, weaving descriptions of the pain along with those of the sound. The contrast gives the passage a good end, and the setting effectively complements the tone and the mood, making it a well-balanced piece of work.