Somerset Maugham’s The Lotus Eater is one of the impeccable short stories uncovering the actual routine-based human life on earth. It says human life is like tram-cars.
Yes, the opening paragraph of the short story The Lotus Eater begins with an appealing introduction. It depicts the inner reality of the so-called diverting human life. There is a familiar concept that common people have to spend their lives in intense hardships. And, a small number of people get the opportunity to choose and cherish a pleasurable lifestyle.
However, Maugham has tried to explore and understand the difference between the diverting lifestyle and the ordinary people’s monotonous lifestyle. The author did this by comparing the strange lifestyle of Thomas Wilson, the main character of the story.
The story shows Thomas Wilson prefers to choose a living style that is somewhat strange for the conventional world. It is different from the one that general men and women bear with them. And, here lies the actual meaning of human life.
There is no denying that most ordinary people get no choice but to spend a dull, monotonous, routine-bound mode of living. Maugham compares this majority of the common men and women to tram-cars. He opines that human life is like tram-cars that continuously move through the same track. These people seldom get the luck to taste life differently. In a word, there is a rare chance of deviation from the known usual way of living.
Tram-cars always go forwards and backward on the same rail tracks. And no deviation is visible from that typical line of movement. Even no different turn or swing in any other direction is possible. Similarly, most common men and women have to bear what their circumstances have thrust upon them. They don’t have any choice but to spend their daily life in the same tedious, humdrum way.
They spend their days being calm and dumb in a monotonous way with only moan and murmur till their death. Similarly, after prolonged wear and tear, tram-cars are sold as scrap iron pieces in a similar routine-bound process. And, it happens when they are no longer in a state to be used. No doubt, most ordinary people face the same destiny. After having a purposeful existence, when life turns into a piece of little purpose or no importance, then it becomes meaningless. It gets lost over time and removed from human records. Indeed, human life is like trams cars.
The deep pathos, lying in the inner part of human lives, is the ultimate destiny of most people. Humans indeed bear the same fate of revolving along with the same old, tedious, dull courses the tram-cars that run regularly on the same rail tracks uninterruptedly without any relief. It seems that, like the tram-cars, most men and women have no words to utter regarding their existence. They seem to have been forced to surrender to the situation in which they were forced to live. Maugham, for sure, has delicately presented a profound, meaningful analogy to describe human life.