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Food and Drink in literature

Ranez.Ru > Помощь в учебе абитуриентам и студентам > Студенту > Английский язык > Topics advanced (ПУПР) >

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Food and Drink. These words have always been considered as something important in our daily life. Everybody likes fresh drinks at summer, warm drinks at winter. We always care about what we’re going to serve on our table to treat ourselves, or our guests. But we hardly ever think about the meaning of food and drink in the literature, whatever it may be – prose or poetry.

So what is the meaning of food in compositions of different authors? How drinks can show us the point of the poems we read?

To answer these questions I would like to address two authors – Anne Frank and Thomas Moore. I would like to start with analyzing food. For this purpose I am going to use Anne Frank’s book “The Diary Of A Young Girl”. It was 1942 and Germans had invaded. All Jewish people were frightened for their lives and the Frank family decided to hide. Life was dangerous but they hoped for the best, until they were finally discovered. This is the diary of Anne Frank, where she describes all details of living in so-called “Secret Annexe”. Of course, the food is included to this description.

First reference to food appears after about a month of hiding. “Well, what about food in the Annexe? A man brings bread every day, a very nice friend of Mr Kleiman’s. And we’ve stored a hundred tins of food here”. “…we’ve also bought three hundred pounds of beans”. As days went by, members of “Secret Annexe” had fewer opportunities to get food. Every single possibility to get food encouraged a sense of joy. “The Annexe was delighted to hear that we are all getting an extra quarter pound of butter for Christmas. We are each going to cook something with butter”. Little amount of food encourages a sense of greed. “We are sharing our butter a different way now. Everyone gets their own piece on their own plate. But it’s not done right – the van Daans make breakfast for everyone, and give themselves the biggest share of the butter”. Soon the food gets “terrible”. “We have plain bread and coffee – not real coffee – for breakfast. We have lettuce or green vegetables, and bad potatoes and that’s all”.

When people don’t have problems with anything (including food), they don’t seem to worry about that. And it is natural, of course. People don’t even estimate that. Food is just usual thing for them. When we have deficiency of things, whatever they may be, we act like happy children when we finally have an opportunity to get it. “Yesterday was Dussel’s birthday. He pretended that he wasn’t interested, but when Miep arrived with a large bag of presents from his friends, he was as excited as a child! He had chocolate, eggs, butter, oranges and books. He arranged them on the table and left them there for three days, the silly old fool! He already has plenty of food. We found bread, cheese, jam and eggs in his cupboard. He hasn’t given us anything, but we’ve shared everything with him”.

Reading this story we can see how the main character was unhappy about the food they had to eat. And it is understandable. “The food is awful. Lunch today is potatoes and some very old vegetables out of bottles. They smell terrible, which is why I have the handkerchief! We’ve got to eat them too – I feel sick when I think about it! Half potatoes have gone bad, and we have to throw them away. If life here was pleasant, the food would not matter so much. But it’s the fourth year of the war, and we are all in bad moods”. Here, in last two sentences, we can see that sometimes food doesn’t even matter! Life rules. I guess most of us would prefer good life rather than good food.

Now one more example of birthday during the war: “Today is Mr van Daan’s birthday. He received several presents and a cake. The cake wasn’t perfect, because we can’t buy the right things to make it with, but it tasted wonderful anyway!”

Food during the war became just a source of getting energy, no more. People forgot about delicious food, just to treat themselves. In this connection let us turn to one description of food those terrible days, which shows us all the details: “I’m going to describe our food rations: Food is a difficult and important problem not only for us in the Annexe, but for everyone in Holland, all of Europe and even further away. We’ve lived here for twenty-one months, and often at any one time there was only one kind of food to eat. For example, one kind of vegetable or salad. We would eat it with potatoes, in every possible way that we could think of. But now there are no vegetables at all. We have potatoes, and brown beans. We make soup – we still have some packets and stores to make dishes which are a little bit more interesting. But it’s beans with everything, even in bread. The most exciting moment is when we eat a thin piece of sausage once a week, and put some jam on our bread – no butter, of course! But we’re still alive, and much of the time the food tastes good too”.

The last mention of food appears to us when we read about events happening on 5th of June 1944: “The are new problems in the Annexe now. There’s a quarrel between Dussel and Franks. We can’t agree how to share out the butter”.

Time during the war was very hard to survive in. We can see it by the reading this story by Anne Franks. Description of food shows us how much difficult it was it get it.

Now let us turn on to the theme of Drinks. For this purpose I’ve decided to use compositions of famous Irish poet Thomas Moore. Irish people themselves like drinking a lot. Nowadays their favorite drink is beer I guess. Having read some pieces of Moore’s poetry I understood that it was wine earlier. So let’s now analyze meaning of this drink in the poetry of Thomas Moore.

“Come, send round the wine”.

“Come, send round the wine, and leave points of belief

To simpleton sages, and reasoning fools;

This moment ‘s a flower too fair and brief,

To be withered and stained by the dust of the schools’.

Here wine appears as a symbol of enjoyment and lighthearted attitude towards this life. Author tells us not to be maybe even serious, but just take this life as it is, not to worry about the future. If we followed this ‘commandment’ I think we would live unconcerned about what will happen, until something would happen! But here Thomas Moore stresses upon brevity of life. We can find the following idea: don’t think about the future, life is too short, live the present moment, enjoy yourself. Wine has always been a symbol of joy, but sometimes it can even be a sign of sadness. Here wine certainly plays part of thing that brings pleasure to man.

“Fill the bumper fair”.

“Fill the bumper fair!

Every drop we sprinkle

O’er the brow of Care

Smooths away a wrinkle.

Wit’s electric flame

Ne’er so swiftly passes,

As when thro’ the frame

It shoots from brimming glasses.

Fill the bumper fair!

Every drop we sprinkle

O’er the brow of Care

Smooths away a wrinkle”.

Here the author emphasizes on ‘healing’ function of wine. People can forget about all their problems if they drink wine, here it is like medicine, which help us to recover not from the physical pain, but a ‘spiritual’ one. “Wrinkle” here is a symbol of sadness, worry or disappointment. So wine helps us to “smooth” this “wrinkle”. That means not dealing with the problem, but just healing the soul for some time. The poet shows us that every time we feel unhappy we can just “fill the bumper fair” and all our problems will leave us, we will be in a good mood. Look, doesn’t it solve our problems? Everybody thinks of his or her own answer. People are different and it depends whether person wants to leave his problems in the cup with wine, or just continue solving it till it’s done.

“Take Hence The Bowl” (Neapolitan Air)

“Take hence the bowl; - tho’ beaming

Brightly as bowl e’er shone,

Oh, it but sets me dreaming

Of happy days now gone.

There, in its clear reflection,

As in a wizard’s glass,

Lost hopes and dead affection,

Like shades, before me pass.

Each cup I drain brings hither

Some scene of bliss gone by;-

Bright lips too bright to wither,

Warm hearts too warm to die.

Till, as the dream comes o’er me

Of those long vanished years,

Alas, the wine before me

Seems turning all to tears!”

The meaning of wine here appears different from the two poems before. It shows us that wine can be not only the symbol of enjoyment, healing the soul, but also the symbol of sadness, even suffering, I think. It can’t be harder than thinking about the time passed, “happy days now gone”. Being young, people try everything this life can bring. They live happy life, spend time visiting different places, having parties (or balls), drinking wine, and eating different kinds of food. Yes, youth can afford it. But when the time for being old comes, all this stuff doesn’t bring that joy any more. The only thing old people have is reminisce.

In this particular poem this reminisce appears to us in kind of sad form. And this line “the wine before me seems turning all to tears!” shows us the tears of nostalgia for old good days.

So, having analyzed some pieces of literature, we can see that the meaning of food and drink was really important and it played a great role in showing us the point of these pieces of literature.



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