Comparing the Language Style in “Love in a Fallen City” and “Fortress Besieged”
The stories selected for comparison in terms of language styles include Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang and Fortress Besieged by Qian Zhongshu. Accordingly, Love in a Fallen City highlights Liu-Su’s longing for love after being divorced for seven to eight years. The separation that she experiences in her life makes it difficult for her to love anyone, and she only longs for a marriage that will take her away from the Bai’s residence. Finally, she ends up with Fan Liu-yuan, and a middle-aged couple falls in love. On the other hand, Fortress Besieged talks about Fang Hung-chien, who returns to Shanghai from an American university with a fake degree. On his way back to China, the hero meets Miss Su and Miss Pao, two Chinese beauties. Subsequently, he falls in love with Miss Su and later with her cousin Miss T’ang. He also ends up taking a teaching career and finds himself trapped in an unhappy marriage with Sun Roujia. Their marriage collapses because of increased distress and misunderstanding. Notably, both authors employ the use of satire and symbolism. However, the two stories differ in the nature of comparisons and the tone used in the language.
This essay compares the language style in Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City and Qian Zhongshu’s Fortress Besieged, highlighting the use of satire, symbols, tone, and comparisons.
The style of language in Love in a Fallen City is similar to that in Fortress Besieged because both stories employ satire to explicate the thinking and condition of their characters. In Chang’s story, love between Liu-Su and Fan is satirized because both of them appear to have different intents as they get to each other. For instance, Chang states that “He was just a selfish man, and she was just a selfish woman”. This episode satirizes the funny relationship, where Liu-Sue seems to aim at marriage while Fan pursues platonic love. They are initially in this relationship for different motives and not real love because Liu-Su is only looking forward to getting away from her family home. Zhongshu’s work employs a similar sense of satirical language which he uses to illustrate Hung-chien’s disillusionment and disappointment when he gets back to Shanghai during the wartime. He finds that everything has changed, and most of his colleague teachers are fraudsters. However, the real satire here is that the hero manages to get employed with his fake certificate from abroad, and he still goes ahead to surprise the other fraudulent members of the staff. He tends to look beyond his own personality as a fake graduate in order to judge what other teachers at the institution engage in during their operations. The employment of satire in both stories is relevant in bringing out their comical nature and keeping the reader focused on the real message of both Chang and Zhongshu.
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Additionally, the language style in both novels contains the use of symbolism, which makes it easier for readers to connect with the books. For instance, Chang’s story utilizes the words, “fallen city” as a symbol of the broken marriage that Liu-Su has suffered. The fallen city symbolizes more than seven years of divorce that she has experienced in her life. The separation drives her to the point where she falls out with her family, and the only thing she thinks about is a man to marry her. In line with this symbol, Liu-Su longs for a time when she will be able to repair the collapsed marriage by finding another man who will take her away from her problems. The symbol of the fighting city is the illustration of her own struggles as the heroine tries to get over the difficult life of being undermined by other people in the society, especially by her family. Zhongshu’s story also utilizes symbolism in its language style. The “fortress under siege” is a symbol of the struggles that Hung-chien undergoes throughout his life from the beginning of his education abroad. When the hero initially begins his study, he is under siege from his family, and he ends up buying a degree just to impress them. The events do not stop here because Hung-chien also faces incessant siege during his marriage with Sun. He does not get any moment to be happy in their mutual life, and the hero is the fortress under siege. All these misfortunes happen despite his strong attitude to always find a way to survive through different tactics. The use of symbols as a part of the language is significant to both stories because it keeps the message subtle and interesting in the mind of any reader.
On the other hand, these stories differ in some aspects of their language style. Love in a Fallen City by Chang utilizes a humorous tone to bring out the feeling of love between Liu-Su and Fan, while Fortress Besieged tends to primarily rely on irony in the depiction of Hung-chien and his maneuvers in life. For instance, Chang captures Fan’s humorous assertions toward Liu-Su saying “Basically, you think that marriage is long-term prostitution.” This is a humorous approach to the attitudes of both partners to their expected relationship. As noted earlier, they seem to have different intents of getting into this relationship. It is not just a normal union that comes about because of love. This form of humor plays an instrumental role in the story because it enhances continuity. Additionally, it brings about tension relief and ensures that the story is captivating to all readers in the best ways possible. On the other hand, Fortress Besieged contains the wide usage of irony, which is also illustrative of the character’s behavior. For instance, Zhongshu while referring to Miss Pao says, “With Miss Pao, it wasn’t a matter of heart or soul. She hadn’t any change of heart, since she didn’t have a heart.” This is an ironic presentation of her character and attitudes toward relationships. It is simply used in this context to highlight the view that she is a rigid person who would not take any step of getting into a relationship with anybody. The woman does not have the heart to give to another person in the form of a relationship. The use of irony is vital because it offers some sense of criticism to the character or an event in the story. It leaves a reader with that vivid understanding of the story and its impact on life.
Lastly, the style of language utilized in the two stories differs in terms of tone. The tone in Love in a Fallen City is a melancholic one despite the humor that is used by Chang. On the other hand, the tone in Fortress Besieged is a confident one, as seen through Hung-chien’s character. Notably, Chang’s novel talks about a lady who undergoes extreme suffering and longs for a marriage after her long divorce. She faces numerous tribulations and maintains a melancholic tone, as she looks forward to a savior who would marry her in the end. The use of a melancholic tone as a part of the language is effective in emotional emphasis. It brings out the real emotions of Liu-Su and her craving for better things in life. On the other hand, a brave and determined tone is widely used by Zhongshu in her story to bring out the strong nature of Hung-chien. For instance, he remains firm and becomes a great person in life despite his own failure to get a real degree while studying abroad. He is determined to use his fake degree to acquire teaching job. More so, when his intended girlfriend dies, he aims at getting another woman and marrying her. However, everything does not end up well as he separates with his wife.
In conclusion, Chang’s Love in a Fallen City and Zongshu’s Fortress Besieged exhibit both similarities and differences in their use of language. The most notable similarity is that these stories utilize satire in the explanation of events facing their characters. For example, Chang portrays the romantic relationship between Liu-Su and Fan through the explication of their different ambitions of getting into this union. In a similar sense, Zongshu satirizes Hung-chien’s view of other teachers while he is a fake graduate from an international university. These stories are also similar in the use of symbolism in their language. They utilize symbols to bring out the real meaning of their character’s behaviors and intentions. However, they differ in the tone and the use of humor as a part of their language style. The approaches of the language used in both stories are crucial because they ensure that the message is delivered in the intended manner. The diverse language styles utilized in both stories are crucial because they make them more interesting and captivating for readers.
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