William Somerset Maugham is famous for portraying odd characters in his writings. His words, “I kept my eyes open for character, oddness, personality…” support the said view. Even the short story, The Lotus Eater’s main character, the lotus eater’s physical appearance, reveals W. Somerset Maugham’s eagerness to find uniquely odd and interesting characters.
However, his search also unveils both his strength and limitations as an author in collecting human materials. As a great writer, he is eager to distinguish one attractive personality possessing rare and exceptional characteristics. In short, Maugham’s curiosity lies in finding out the queerness of a character. And, this feature is probably the driving force of his writing.
As an excellent short story, The Lotus Eater shows how Somerset Maugham deals with the queerness of an interesting character, Thomas Wilson. As the story’s main plot progresses, it appears very clear that Wilson is indeed a fellow with queer characteristics. Maugham’s representation of his hero sets up the most captivating part of the said famous short story. In addition, it unlocks a sense of association with the Homeric episode.
In reality, the Lotus Eater’s physical appearance is one of the best fascinating aspects of the story. At the same time, it unfolds the author’s simple but extraordinarily rare characterization of queerness. Even the beginning of representing Thomas Wilson or the Lotus Eater’s physical look reveals a strange but straightforward and fascinating mindset of an odd personality.
As a narrator, Maugham’s words about the appearance of Wilson disclose the said fascinating frame of mind. While describing the lotus eater’s look during the first interaction, the author observed that his hero was commonplace. Also, the simple man conferred a not-so-charming smile during the exchange. The smile was not so attractive because he didn’t have good-looking teeth. However, his gesture was, no doubt, gentle and kind.
About his attire, Somerset Maugham reports that Wilson possessed a plain look wearing a blue-colored cotton shirt and one pair of ordinary grey trousers. Most interestingly, the trousers didn’t fit him, and they looked like “pyjamas” or pajamas. His dress was neither impressive nor costly at all. Even the clothes were not very clean. In addition, a pair of old espadrilles or rope-soled shoes on his feet made him a rare and fascinating personality. In short, the get-up was quite charming and, in a strange way, simultaneously suitable to the existing surroundings and the weather.
However, the outfit didn’t match well with Wilson’s face. The long, deep sunburned face contained some lined marks. Besides small-sized grey eyes, carefully brushed grey hair and thin-lipped facial recognition together established an unusual and curious outlook. And, with a genuine analysis, one can quickly assess the carelessness of Wilson’s attire.
It is indeed true that the author’s sketch regarding a man’s exceptional mindset and clothing shows a writer’s brilliant wit. Furthermore, comparing the character with the branch manager of an insurance company ensures Maugham’s unmatchable wit mingled with a thin line of satire. His mighty, inventive power builds an engaging story out of unexciting incidents and commonplace characters. It unquestionably shows W. Somerset Maugham’s literary genius in exploring an unconventional but straightforward theme as the driving force of a plot.
In addition to this, the impressive storyline becomes compelling with the odd physical appearance of an unconventional human being. Yes, the lotus eater’s physical appearance uncovered various ways of thinking. Maugham himself makes one major assumption that his hero might have possessed a stunning but formal look in his youth. Moreover, readers can easily identify something unique in Thomas Wilson’s character as revealed through his life story.
The author’s narration about the hero clearly defines that he possessed a sound concept about happiness. And, accordingly, he pursued that urge for contentment sincerely because he considered it most precious. Also, his strong mentality forced him to face the risks while attaining a state of complete pleasure and satisfaction. From an ordinary perspective, he might be a man with strange or foolish nature. But he was a happy man. Even Maugham’s words, “Very few people know where to look for happiness, fewer still find it. I don’t know whether he was a fool or wiseman. He was certainly a man who knew his own mind.” reveal this truth.
It is undeniably true that happiness is, after all, a state of mind. And, Thomas Wilson, for sure, was indeed happy in his mind. His attachment with nature was the key reason for his contentment. The beckoning impact of the natural beauty was undeniably irresistible to him. Moreover, his demise in nature’s bosom opens up his absolute closeness to it. The best thing is Maugham’s unique search for an odd character like Wilson unveils how a genuine admirer of natural beauty lived and died for it.