A Critical Analysis Of The Basement Room By Graham Greene

The Basement Room is a characteristic modern short story written by Graham Greene. Greene is an important and exciting writer in the realm of modern English fiction. He has made his mark both as a novelist and short story writer His interest is primarily topical. The depression, international capitalist, mon lies war-scare, diamond smuggling by neutrals, spy scare, the cold war and anti-Americanism constitute the theme of Greene’s works. Greene is also very sensitive to climates of opinion. In his novels and short stories, these problems emerge not through spokesmen for period-views but though their mood. Their general feeling about the topical events is made use of by the plots.

Graham Greene is a writer of absolute human condition. His social observation and characteristic attitudes have found suitable expression through his metaphorical prose. Greene’s social consciousness is extensive as well as intensive. As far as its social insight goes, each of his novels and short stories remains an isolated entity like Eliot’s “The Waste Land”, Greene presents a dismal picture of seediness, sterility and despair of modern materialistic life in his works. Like Eliot, Greene works through metaphor to convey a particular range of feeling which ratifies an unstated general view of life. Greene sees the spiritual struggle of man against a background of seedy town life. He also shows a concern with the paradox of the man or woman who technically a sinner, is really a saint. In both his novels and short stories the art of Graham Greene is not so expert and finished, it shows comparable vigour.

As the title of the story suggests, its action takes place in the basement room of the great Belgravia house. Baines is a butler of the house. He is living with Mrs. Baines in the hall. Philip is the solitary man living in the basement room because his parents have gone for a fortnight’s holiday. He was feeling to be a stranger in his home because he could go into any room. But all the rooms were empty. Philip had a strange experience of life all his seven nursery years. He was a man of very sensitive mind. His crowded and busy brain was like a city which felt the earth tremble at a distant earthquake shock.

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Philip was emotionally disturbed and as such Baines invited him to refresh himself by sharing cake and beer. Baines discovered something refreshing in the cake and beer. So, he took a long draught of ginger beer. After that both Philip and Baines ate chop prepared by Mrs. Baines. Yet Master Philip was suffering from a sense of disappointment. Knowing nothing of love or jealousy or passion, he could understand better than any one this grief for something hoped for not happening, something promised not fulfilled, something exciting turning dull. A little later another character is introduced in the framework of the story. Her name is Emma. She is no other than the niece of Baines.

This story has practically no plot. The complex study of the relationship among Baines, Mrs. Baines, Master Philip and Emmy may be said to be the theme of this story. Graham Greene belongs to the group of the novelists of the stream of consciousness school. As such, here, he makes abundant use of suggestion, implicit action, indirect narration and symlelism. His main purpose in this story is to study the atmosphere of the mind of the characters. In this story, the creation of atmosphere and evocation of mood is skillful and masterly. We can examine the following lines in this context. “A kind of embittered happiness and self-pity made him cry, he was lost, there wouldn’t be any more secrets to keep, he surrendered responsibility once and for all. Let grown-up people keep to their world and he would keep to him safe in the small garden between the plane-trees.’ Graham Greene, here has been successful in depicting the state of the mind of Master Philip, the protagonist of the story. Like a typical modern man, he is a victim of frustration and bitterness. His surrender of responsibility is also a negative quality of the modern man.

This story shows the superb craftsmanship of Graham Greene as a writer of modern short story. It has enabled him to depict the diversified experiences of his characters. His descriptions are evocative and forceful. His language is typically modern.



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