The last stanza is a general putdown of the applicant. The opening line is ‘Married, children, we see.’ The ‘we see’ gives the reader the hint that these features alone are enough to reject a contender. The following sentence is extremely cynical, as it has no main verb, e.g. ‘The usual dubious desire to perpetuate what had better not have happened at all.’ The ‘perpetuate’ as well as ‘adequate’ in the opening line of the poem both show the interviewer’s pure contempt for the interviewee. This sentence shows pure prejudice, the interviewer is insulting his candidate to a very high level, and this is personal rather than professional.
The interviewer may be annoyed with this type of candidate who he knows have no chance of getting the job, yet still waste his time. This may be his way to deal with them as quickly as he can. We can see the prejudice is personal in the next line, ‘We do not ask what domestic disasters shimmer behind that vaguely unsuitable address.’ The interviewee’s domestic life is not relevant to the application; he is also prejudiced against certain areas, such as one that this candidate comes from, which also is not relevant to the job application.
The final phrases ‘And you were born’ and ‘So Glad we agree’ finish the poem off with a rhetorical question, which is another example of a suggestive insult with actually stating it to the candidate’s face. The final sentence ‘so glad we agree’ just sums up the interviewer’s feelings that the candidate is entirely unsuitable. As he says ‘we agree’ this suggests to the reader that the candidate has given in and accepted the fact that he is not going to get the position.
Between each stanza the interviewer says a comment in response to the interviewee’s defence over what the interviewer has just said. These are always sarcastic, such as ‘Indeed’, ‘So glad we agree’, ‘Quite so’, etc, which makes the interviewee feel intimidated, and slightly mocked as it gives the impression that the interviewer is not taking any notice of what he/she has just said.
Therefore, in ‘You will be Hearing From Us Shortly’, the interviewer is portrayed as a typical interviewer who is prejudiced against any applicant not matching up to his ideal criteria. U A Fanthorpe shows his prejudice using a number of techniques, such as the cynical tone, intimating sentences, suggesting facts (not stating them), sarcastic and insultive tones, a distant style, the Freudian slip, the use of rhetorical questions, the absence of the candidate’s replies, and the lack of verbs.
‘Not My Best Side’ by U A Fanthorpe is a poem describing the reaction of three characters from the legend of St. George and the Dragon to a painting of them by Uccello. The poem not only challenges the stereotypes of the myth but also creates new ones and comments upon relationships today.
The poem is in a informal form of three monologues, spoken by the Dragon, the damsel and George (the knight.) The poem therefore has an informal structure; each monologue is in free verse with no regular line length. Each character has a stereotypical voice, as the poet challenges the typical stereotypes of the legend. U A Fanthorpe challenges the themes of man versus beast and heroism. The first monologue is spoken by the dragon, he is portrayed as a stereotypical actor. The dragon is very critical of the painting, he does not approve of the style. He is very self-obsessed; he ‘was sorry for the bad publicity’.
He sees himself as an important character in the poem e.g. ‘taking me seriously’, but he feels that he is not being treated with the respect that he deserves. The dragon is slightly pompous, he wants only the best actor to play George, to match his own great qualities, e.g. ‘Why, I said to myself should my conqueror be so contentiously beardless, …’ He is also critical of the actress who plays the damsel, e.g. ‘Why should my victim be so unattractive as to be inedible’.
The voice created by this character is very cheerful, not evil and threatening like in the traditional story. This voice is created by word choice, such as ‘Poor chap’, ‘Literally on a string’; these phrases are not associated with evil characters, but more with high-spirited people. There are no threatening or intimidating phrases or words in this monologue. He also asks questions to himself, such as ‘Why, I said to myself should my conqueror be so ostentatiously beardless…’.
This makes the tone less formal, and shows the talkativeness of his character. The dragon uses quite complex sentence structure; he uses a lot of main clauses linked together with conjunctions and commas, which also adds to the chatty tone. The shortest sentence is the opening one, ‘Not my best side, I’m afraid’, all of the other sentences are much longer, with at least three clauses.
The dragon is obviously relatively well spoken, as he uses some complex words such as ‘ostentatiously’. The tone created by this character is a combination of agreeable, friendly and pleasant tones. Therefore the stereotype created by U A Fanthorpe is of a quite well spoken, chatty, pompous actor. The original stereotype of the dragon in the legend, such as in ‘A book of dragons’ from 1970 was of a fierce, evil dragon e.g. ‘The dragon rages for his food – and our children perish. Let your daughter be given to him as our sons and daughters have been.’ This version of the story uses traditional stereotypes, whereas U A Fanthorpe creates new stereotypes, showing us that not all dragons are necessarily evil and vicious.
The damsel speaks in the second monologue, and once again is not the stereotypical princess from the traditional story. She is portrayed as more of a modern, feminist woman, who is not enthralled with the knight. Instead she is actually enchanted with the dragon, e.g. ‘And lovely green skin, and that sexy tail.’ She is also quite courageous as she does not mind the threat of the dragon, she even says that ‘he made me feel he was all ready to eat me’. She didn’t approve of the boy turning up; unlike in the traditional story where George rescued the princess, this damsel is much more independent. She is perhaps a stereotypical feminist doesn’t need any male help. She appears to be a much more modern woman; she judges whether the boy is suitable to rescue her, and she decides he is not as ‘he might have acne, blackheads, or even bad breath for all I could tell.’ This shows how modern society judges people more for their appearance opposed to their actions.
She is also a bit snobbish; the dragon wasn’t good enough for her as ‘the dragon got himself beaten by the boy’. She, like the dragon, also has a cheerful, chatty voice created by questions to herself, e.g. ‘Still what could I do?’, and chatty comments such as ‘to be honest’. She uses quite a basic vocabulary, the longest word she uses is ‘machinery’, when she says this it shows another modern feature of society. She also uses the word ‘boy’, not knight as she presumably considers him too immature to be a knight. Her sentences are all quite simple but nevertheless quite long as she uses many conjunctions and commas to make one sentence out of many main and subordinate clauses, which makes her voice a lot less formal and more cheerful.
The original stereotype of the princess in the legend, such as in ‘A book of dragons’ from 1970 was of a damsel in distress, who needed the knight to rescue her from the evil dragon, e.g. “‘By your Gods and mine, fly swiftly, noble knight,” she begged. “No-one may save me and you will only share my fate.” ‘ This is not at all like the woman portrayed in ‘Not my Best Side’, as she has no respect for ‘the noble knight’, and she doesn’t even feel threatened by the dragon.
The third monologue is that of George, the knight. He is portrayed not as the heroic figure of St George, but of a modern, technologically minded, self-obsessed man. In the poem, George is very boastful, e.g. ‘I have diplomas in Dragon management and Virgin Reclamation’, showing the stereotype of a young male. The knight also has ‘the latest model’ horse, and his spear is also ‘custom built’, which is also a stereotype of a young man who has to get the best car etc. U A Fanthorpe creates the stereotype of a man who is always trying to get the latest gadget. George tells the dragon that ‘You can’t do better than me at the moment’ showing his snobbery and that he is self-centred (in his monologue he mentions no-one but himself).
He is very offensive; e.g. ‘So why be difficult?’ which is basically telling the dragon that he has no chance of beating him. It may also show laziness, as he would rather the dragon give in than for him to fight him properly. He is conservatively minded, as he believes in ‘the roles that society and myth have created for you’; this is probably the cause of his snobbery as he believes he is better than everyone else. He is prejudiced against the dragon, he sees him as his lower, e.g. ‘What, in any case does it matter what you want? You’re in my way.’
George is proud of the painting, which shows his ‘latest model’ and hi-tech equipment. He sees himself as a hero, considers himself brave and the rescuer of the damsel. His character creates a offensive, impolite and abrupt voice. He uses some quite advanced word vocabulary, such as ‘prototype’, ‘obsolescence’ as he feels this words make him more important. His questions e.g. ‘So shy be difficult’ help to create a superior, offensive tone. He uses quite long sentences, mostly compound opposed to complex, unlike the other characters he is not chatty but he simply describing and praising himself, using lists, statements and questions. Therefore George is portrayed as a stereotypical modern, young, conservatively minded, self-obsessed, snobbish man.
The original stereotype of St. George the knight is that of a brave hero, risking courageously his life to save a beautiful princess, such as in ‘A book of dragons’ from 1970, e.g. ‘Then George leapt upon his horse, made the sign of the cross, and commending himself to God and Our Saviour set his spear in rest and charged the Dragon. So true and strong was his aim that the spear went through the monster’s throat and deep into its body, and it stopped in its course and fell upon its side, grievously hurt.’ This shows how brave the traditional George was, opposed to the self-obsessed modern George in ‘Not my Best Side’.
Therefore ‘Not my Best Side’ challenges the traditional stereotypes; U A Fanthorpe makes the point that not all dragons are evil and vicious, not all women are dependant on men and not all men are brave and heroic. U A Fanthorpe creates new stereotypes, e.g. a stereotypical actor, a stereotypical feminist woman and a stereotypical self-obsessed, hi-tech man. Her intention for this may be to comment on how the relationship between men and women today is a far cry from the day of St. George, nowadays there is more equality and freedom, but people of both sexes are more judgemental. U A Fanthorpe also emphasises the point that you cannot escape ‘the roles that sociology and myth have created for you’.
In Telephone Conversation, Wole Soyinka creates a stereotypical landlady who is racist. Prejudice is portrayed using a number of techniques; direct speech, the Landlady’s feelings, repetition, the fact that the narrator identifies with her racism, use of dialogue, change in volume (including use of silence), rhythm and questions. In comparison, in ‘You will be Hearing From Us Shortly’ U A Fanthorpe shows prejudice using a number of techniques, such as the cynical tone, intimating sentences, suggesting facts (not stating them), sarcastic and insultive tones, a distant style, the Freudian slip, the use of rhetorical questions, the absence of the candidate’s replies, and the lack of verbs.
Also the interviewer is portrayed as a typical interviewer who is prejudiced against any applicant not matching up to his ideal criteria. In ‘Not My Best Side’, U A Fanthorpe challenges the traditional stereotypes and also creates new stereotypes, (a pompous actor, a snobbish feminist and a self-obsessed man). She also emphasises the point that you cannot escape ‘the roles that sociology and myth have created for you’. Therefore the three poems all convey prejudice, racism and show stereotypes in different ways that are all effective and work to make the poems successful.