Dr. Zhivago Literature Review Examples
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The last chapter of Pasternak’s novel ‘Dr.Zhivago’ consists entirely of poems prompting certain authors to call it a novel-poem. Pasternak in his novel time and again stresses the importance and the relevance of the poems to the personality of the hero as well as to the plot of the novel. In many instances the narrative seems to be an extension of the poems. As the chronology of the novel suggests many of the poems were written at the same time as that of the prose parts. The reader is told that Dr. Zhivago (Yury) wrote poetry in his student days, much later in the novel when he is living with Lara Varykino, he is actually shown writing several of the poems that constitute the last chapter. In the novel, Yury also writes the poems after he is separated from Lara and they are finally published when he moves to Moscow. The poems and the novel as a whole contain three basic themes-nature, love and the protagonists views on the meaning of life. In the novel there is a complex and convoluted structure of poetic associations that underlies the prose. It could also be said that the novel and the poems in the last chapter share similar cognitive and linguistic patterns.
There are connections between a perceived image in the novel, Yury’s meditation on it and the later transfiguration of it into a poem. Some instances that can be taken from the novel and the poems are when Yury describes the candle behind the frozen windowpane when Lara talks to pasha (Chap 3), his perception of the image, the beginning of a poem and finally the poem itself in the last chapter. There is also the link that could be found between Sima’s discourse on Mary Magdalene in the thirteenth chapter and the Magdalene poems in the last chapter. Yury’s suffering from typhus in the novel is also used as an extended metaphor in the poems, relating typhus to robbers, doom, nightingale’s song and easter awakening.
The treatment of nature in the novel as well as the poems is important as it is parallel to the author’s conception of nature as the destiny of the modern man as well as a symbol of the life that he leads. Yury describes the urban milieu and the Russian countryside and there are a lot of references to nature in the novel as well as the poems. The modern town in the book is not just a storehouse of imagery but rather a central theme that runs through the novel as well as the poems. The plight of Moscow during 1917 moves Yury so much and fills him with so much pity that in the epilogue he calls it the ‘principal heroine of the long tale’ ( Pasternak 530). Several of the poems such as ‘Summer in the town’, ‘White Night’ and ‘The Earth’ talk about the urban, at the same time comparing it with the countryside. In the ‘White Night’ the view from the urban skyscrapers fade into the distant countryside with nightingales and forests while in ‘The Earth’, the houses and streets of Moscow are compared to the smell of dung in the countryside. Nature in the poems and the novel is in a constant movement and spring seems to be the favorite time of the year as it makes an appearance in a lot of poems such as ‘March’, ‘In Holy Week’, ‘Spring Floods’ and the ‘White Night’. The poems and the novel also bridge the gap between the urban city and the countryside. While the Urban town shapes the destiny of the modern man in the description of the countryside or the rural areas he justly says that he has made the ‘whole of the world weep over the beauty of the land’. Nature, thus in the form of the urban landscape, the rural areas or the seasons make continuous appearances throughout the novel and the poem and is quite important as it shapes the protagonist and also gives a vivid description of the times that he lives in. The reader understands the misery of the people at the time and the general sadness of the author through the description of nature. The description of nature, especially the countryside shows the success of the author in making ‘sense of the earth’s wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name’ (Pasternak 76).
Although the novel is set during the Russian revolution and the civil war, at its heart, the novel is a tragic love story between Yury and Lara and hence romance is given a lot of importance in the novel and in the poems. The same intensity that is used to describe nature in the poems is well brought out to describe love and romance. The poems bring out one of the most passionate romance and the mutual love between a man and a woman in contemporary literature. The poems are evident of Pasternak’s belief and thought about love; the combination of the carnal and the spiritual. The poem ‘Winter Night’ is especially important in its discussion of romance through it connection to the structure and the overall plot of the novel. The phrase, ‘the candle burned’ is repeated throughout the poem and this burning candle is a symbol that can be found throughout the novel. Yury sees the Lara for the first time in the candlelight, he writes about the burning candle ten years later when he is living with her and finally Lara returns to her childhood home to find Yury lying in a coffin and all that she can remember is the candle burning and nothing of the meeting with Yury. The intensity of their love and romance is described through the metaphor of the candle burning. As intense it is it also is a forecast of their doomed relationship. Just as the candle burns itself, their passionate love too is doomed. Union and separation form the principal themes of the love story between Yury and Lara. The lovers are united and separated many times throughout the novel due to circumstances that are beyond their control.
Yury describes his love for Lara through allusions to nature. Their love is passionate in its union as well as in its separation. They are undeniably attracted to each other knowing fully well that they would part eventually and yury cannot stop himself from falling in love even while he is trying to get out of it. At the end it is the social upheaval of the country and Yury’s deliberate will that separates the lovers forever. The description of nature and romance and their interrelation becomes all the more vivid given this as it is the nature of their world that affects their love. Yury is disturbed by both what happens to his country as well has a overwhelming pity and love for Lara. It is these two things that form the crux of the novel and that of the poems and hence these two themes of nature and love are quite important in the book. The urban landscape and his love for Lara are what makes Yury the person he is as nature is both a symbol of life and the destiny of the modern man.
Although the poems are in a separate chapter and are found at the end of the novel, they have a close connection with the rest of the novel so much so that it can be said that the prose is actually an extension of the poetry at the end. The themes of love, nature and identity run throughout the novel and each poem has a connection to what the narrator experiences during the novel. What he thinks about in the novel finally comes to a conclusion as a poem at the end. The novel is an extension of the poems in a way and they share the same linguistic and cognitive patterns. The poems also bear a striking resemblance to actual situations that happen in the novel. The poems then are a completion of the protagonist’s thought and cannot be seen separately from that of the novel.
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