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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Essay on "In Westminster Abbey" - A Critical Analysis of Dramatic Monologue


            “In Westminster Abbey” is another dramatic monologue.  It is a poem by John Betjeman.  The setting for this poem is the beginning of World War II in Britain.  The only character in this poem is a woman who enters the Abbey to pray for a short moment before she goes to a lunch date.  The woman was not named but she appears to represent the people who belong to the upper class and lived in the classy Chelsea neighborhood of Cadogan Square.

            The first character trait of this woman that was revealed is that she is a racist woman.  This is apparent in this line, “Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans.” The setting for this poem was in Great Britain during the start of the World War II, the time when Germany joined forces with Italy and Japan to wage against the Allied forces of the United States and Great Britain.  At this time, Germany had started to launch its attack by dropping bombs against Great Britain.  In order to afford protection, the main character entered the church and asked that she be spared and that the Germans should be bombed instead.  She asked the Lord to use His power to protect them and instead annihilate the Germans.

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               The second character trait of this woman that was revealed is that she is a hypocrite woman.  Her hypocrisy is evident in the following lines, “I will labour for Thy Kingdom, Help our lads to win the war.” In these lines, the main character showed her hypocrisy by promising that she will obey the Church’s commandments and do something for the Church.  She even stated at the start of the poem that she was willing to remover her glove commonly worn by women of her social stature and to clean the Abbey.  However, she expected that she will get something in exchange for her promise to work for the Church.  She hopes that Britain will win the war against the Germans.  She also hopes that the Lord will bomb the Germans but let her survive the war.  She also hoped that at the end of the war, the Lord will spare her of the damage and that her business investment will not be affected.  This evident in the following lines, “So, Lord, reserve for me a crown. And do not let my shares go down.”

            The third character trait of this woman that was revealed was that she is a selfish and self-centered woman who only cared about herself during the time of war.  She went to church not to pray for the people in Britain who have been attacked by the Germans.  In fact, she went to church only to ask that her prayers be granted which is for her to be able to survive the war and for her business investment not to be affected when the war is over.  I think the poem sought to show that at this time in history there were many women saw the church as a place where they could benefit from.  God was seen as someone who can grant their wishes like a genie in a lamp.  For them, God was someone who existed for their benefit whom they can command as their servant.  

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